BOSTON, MA - Loui Eriksson joined the Bruins on the ice again Monday morning, as he continues to make his way back from a concussion sustained nearly two weeks ago on October 23 in Buffalo.
If the starts align, and Eriksson becomes officially cleared for contact and game action, he could be facing his former team on Tuesday night at TD Garden.
After the seven-player trade between Boston and Dallas, this game will mark the first meeting of the new-look teams, with Eriksson and Reilly Smith facing off against their former squad, and Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley back in Boston on the other side.
"I’m more excited to maybe have the opportunity to see Loui back in our lineup," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien told media following Monday's skate, when asked about Seguin coming back to town.
"That’s more where my thought is on tomorrow."
Along with Eriksson possibly getting back in the lineup, defenseman Johnny Boychuk could also make his return. He's still day-to-day after crashing into the boards during the second period of the B's October 31 game against Anaheim, but practiced with the team Monday. All Bruins were on the ice. Ryan Spooner was assigned to Providence in the morning, prior to the skate.
"[Johnny] and Loui are both feeling pretty good so now it’s just a matter of decision making tomorrow after a good day’s practice," said Julien. "We’ll see how they feel tomorrow morning; if they feel good, then we make that decision."
So far, Eriksson's progress has come along smoothly, as he continues to pass the different stages of protocol. The exertion test allowed him to begin working out, and then skating with the group. He has now skated for about four days straight.
"He’s had no issues so far," said Julien. "Today he had the opportunity to have a full workout with the team and we’ll see; he still has to go through some tests before he’s cleared and we’ll go day-by-day with his situation, but he’s definitely feeling much better."
With Eriksson joining the full practice, it marked the first time he spoke with media since the illegal hit to the head by John Scott, that led to his concussion and caused Scott to be given a seven-game suspension.
"The head is getting better so I’m doing pretty good right now and we’ll see about tomorrow," said the winger. "I still have some testing to do but I’m feeling much better than when I got hit."
When he did get hit, he said he didn't remember the first two minutes afterwards.
"I saw the replay and it wasn’t the prettiest hit but the league made a decision to suspend him for seven games and they took a good look at it. So it’s a bad hit and I don’t have more to say about that."
"He texted me and wrote an apology for me so that was good by him."
For the first couple of days, which he labels as "pretty bad," he just rested in his apartment doing nothing.
"But I like the progress the last couple of days; I’ve been feeling better," he said, no doubt looking forward to possibly having the opportunity to get back into the lineup against his former team.
"For sure, you always want to play games and especially tomorrow is going to be a big game for me. I don’t know if I’m going to play tomorrow, but we’ll see."
Chemistry Back on Track?
When Eriksson sustained his concussion, the chemistry he was beginning to form with Patrice Bergeron had taken an upturn. In the game against Buffalo, they were creating chances, and starting to form a two-way duo, along with Reilly Smith.
At practice Monday, Eriksson was back in his gold jersey, with Bergeron and Brad Marchand, the trio that skated together for all of the preseason and start to the season.
"It’s always great to see him back with us with the gold jersey, so it’s obviously a good sign and a step in the right direction so it’s always fun to see Loui," said his centerman.
"He looked like he didn’t miss a beat at all so that’s even more refreshing to see and he’s such a great player. We obviously missed him the last few games but we have to make sure he’s back at 100% before we think about having him back."
"I thought we were playing a lot better together and starting to find lots of chemistry and finding each other on the ice," added Bergeron, of their time together before the hit.
Eriksson's consistency he brought to the lineup at both ends is similar to that of Bergeron, and has been greatly missed in the last five games.
"There’s no doubt we miss that part of it," said Julien. "He’s very reliable. And probably the thing that I think we missed the most was that chemistry that that line had just before he got injured. I thought in Buffalo, with Smitty [Reilly Smith] and him and Bergy, they were making things happen there and they were a really good line. So when you took Loui out, everything seemed to change so you know he’s a big part of that line."
If Eriksson is back in on Tuesday night, it could help rub off on a B's team that is struggling to find consistency right now in their game.
"He’s a smart player, he just reads the play well, he’s in the right places and, to me, he’s just getting better and better," said the B's bench boss. "I thought if anything, I saw it again this morning in practice – he’s got good chemistry with Patrice Bergeron; you can see they’re finding each other right now. So I think we’ve missed that in the last week, there’s no doubt about that."
"But he’s just a real reliable player; power play, penalty kill, can play against top lines. He’s the kind of player that you can certainly lean on."
White: Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla
Grey: Carl Soderberg-Chris Kelly-Reilly Smith
Merlot: Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
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