New Bruin Eriksson hoping for playoffs
FILE - In this April 7, 2012 file photo, Dallas Stars left wing Loui Eriksson (21) moves the puck during the second period of an NHL Hockey game against the St. Louis Blues in Dallas. Erikkson scored more than 25 goals in four of the last five seasons with the Dallas Stars. He hopes to transfer that offensive punch to the Boston Bruins, who obtained him in a trade for Tyler Seguin. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade, File)
BOSTON – Loui Eriksson played in too few playoff games under too many coaches with the Dallas Stars.
Now the high-scoring forward gets a chance with a more successful and stable franchise.
“The last time I was in the playoffs we went to the conference final,” Eriksson said yesterday, four days after being traded to the Boston Bruins. “It was real fun to go that far, and the last five years in Dallas we haven’t made the playoffs. So it’s been a while.”
The Bruins have reached the playoffs in each of their six seasons under Claude Julien. They won the Stanley Cup in 2011 then lost in the finals in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks this year.
Eriksson led the Stars with 150 goals over the past five seasons, but did it under three coaches – Dave Tippett, Marc Crawford and Glen Gulutzan. On June 21, Lindy Ruff was hired to replace Gulutzan.
Eriksson’s two-way playing style is different than that of the key player he was traded for, the offensive-minded Tyler Seguin, and suits Julien’s disciplined, defensive approach better.
“I’ve been through a lot of coaches and it’s always nice to find one that likes your style,” Eriksson said. “It’s been tough the last couple of years because (the Stars) have been changing coaches almost every second year. So I heard a lot of good things about the coach in Boston.”
Eriksson played both wings in Dallas and was told by Boston General Manager Peter Chiarelli that he’ll play right wing, a position he prefers. The Bruins had vacancies at that spot on their top three lines when Nathan Horton left for free agency, Jaromir Jagr wasn’t re-signed and Seguin was traded.
Eriksson, an alternate captain with the Stars, provides some of the toughness Horton had and a better scoring touch.
One day after the trade, the Bruins signed free agent Jarome Iginla. They figure to play right wing on the top two lines with centers David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron.
“I played against him a lot” in the Western Conference, Eriksson said of Iginla.
Bergeron tied for the Bruins lead with nine goals in the playoffs despite numerous injuries in the finals – a broken rib, a separated shoulder and a punctured lung. He led the NHL in winning faceoffs during the regular season and is one of the league’s best defensive forwards.
“It will be a good fit for me to play with him,” Eriksson said. “I know he’s a smart player and he can play a really good defensive style and he can also score goals and do a lot of things.”
In his seven seasons since the Stars drafted him in the second round in 2003, Eriksson had 207 assists to go with his 150 goals in 501 games. Over the past five seasons, he missed just three games. He led or tied for the team lead in goals in three of those seasons.
But last season was a disappointment.
He played all 48 games of the lockout-shortened schedule but managed just 12 goals and 17 assists, a total of 29 points that still tied for second on the Stars.
Jagr led the team with 14 goals in 34 games despite being traded to Boston, where he scored two goals in 11 regular-season games and none in 22 playoff games.
“It was a tough year for me,” Eriksson said. “I think I hit the post a lot the whole year, so I’m looking to rebound here next year and try to make better plays. It was kind of a weird year for me this year, too. I was playing on every line. It seemed like I didn’t find any consistent play with anyone there, so it was kind of a tough one for me.”
In the playoffs, he got a glimpse of what a stable team looked like when he watched the Bruins.
“That’s a good team,” Eriksson said. “I know they play a tough kind of style and a good defensive kind of style. So I think that will fit me real well. I like to play that way.”
The trade developed quickly, he said, but it was an easy decision to go to a town where hockey has a much wider following and success is more likely.
“It’s a different chapter for me,” Eriksson said, “to go there and try to win games and try to go far in the playoffs and win the whole Cup.”