WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Out of his Boston Bruins uniform and equipment, forward Loui Eriksson walks through the dressing room and strikes a figure more reminiscent of Stefan Edberg than Terry O'Reilly.
At 6-foot-2, 196 pounds, Eriksson might be a few pounds shy of qualifying as a "big, bad Bruin." But one look at his coat-hanger shoulders and lanky legs completely rules out any chance that Eriksson can rival O'Reilly, Cam Neely or even teammate Milan Lucic in terms of punishing physicality and the stereotype that has characterized the ideal Bruins player for more than 90 years.
Eriksson is not built to punish opposing defensemen on the forecheck or staple combatants to the glass in the corners. That doesn't mean he can't use other means to be effective and make himself invaluable to the Bruins.
Obviously he has found a way during his second season to increase his importance to Boston's fortunes; after 66 games he leads all Bruins forwards in average ice time at 18:19.
Eriksson has played in all but one of the Bruins' games and he has 17 goals and 39 points, seven goals and two points more than he had in 61 games last season. His 2.7 shot attempts relative (SAT Rel) ranks fifth among Boston's forwards. Eriksson's bounce-back sophomore season continues when the Bruins host the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, TVA, SN360, SUN, NESN).
"That's not really been my game," the soft-spoken Eriksson said about the bruising approach many Bruins stars have taken to the sport over the years. "I've always been trying to have a good stick and try to take away pucks from other guys. That's how I've been playing ever since I came over and [began] playing in the NHL. I don't think it'll change in that way."