BOSTON, MA - With Loui Eriksson out indefinitely with a concussion after being diagnosed on October 24, the updates on his status will continue to filter in as the Bruins monitor his progress.
One such update came our way following the Bruins' pregame skate on Saturday morning prior to the matchup with the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden.
"Loui's doing okay, I guess, for a guy who suffered a concussion," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. "It’s the same thing – you have a good day, you have less of a good day – and it’s early on but we’re just, like always, you keep your fingers crossed that it’s going to get better sooner than later for his sake."
Eriksson’s scratch from the lineup for the game against the Sharks on Thursday night snapped a 148 consecutive games played streak with his last game missed on March 19, 2011 as a Dallas Star. Eriksson had missed just three of a possible 436 games over the past 5-plus seasons.
Loui's doing okay, I guess, for a guy who suffered a concussion... like always, you keep your fingers crossed that it’s going to get better sooner than later for his sake - Head Coach Claude Julien
"I don’t think we know the severity of [the concussion] yet and you never know about those things until some days go by and you see if he’s improving or not," Julien had said on October 24 when Eriksson was diagnosed.
His two-way consistency is missed.
"He’s a good playmaker and not only that, he’s smart with the puck. When he has it, he doesn’t just throw it away. And what we missed was probably the chemistry that he started to build with his linemates, and I thought that line was really good – had a lot of chances in Buffalo."
Even before the 5-2 win over the Sabres, in which Eriksson was hit by John Scott in the third period and was later diagnosed with a concussion, the winger had been feeling his line with Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith starting to gel.
"I think the last two games we’ve been creating a lot of chances and we’ve been scoring some goals too and it feels good," Eriksson had said. "I think everyone is feeling good about themselves and if we keep building on the things we’re doing good, I think we’ll be better."
"You could see it coming along so right now it kind of takes a step backwards because of that," said Julien. "But the guys that are there, I think Marchy has been with Bergy long enough so we’ve got another guy playing with him right now that knows Bergy well."
Marchand Joins Bergeron, Smith
Marchand has slotted in on the right wing with Eriksson out and Jordan Caron is in the lineup, playing on the right wing with Chris Kelly and Carl Soderberg.
"I think his two-way game," said Bergeron, when asked what they miss most with Eriksson not in the lineup. "The way that he’s always there on defense but also on the forecheck. He’s a great player, obviously you miss him every time you play with a player like him."
"I thought Smitty [Reilly Smith] and Marchy, I’m used to playing with Marchy, Marchy’s playing a different wing now so he has to adjust to that but it wasn’t bad. I thought we adjusted pretty well."
It's the same adjustment Bergeron had to make with Eriksson, a left shot playing on the right side. Marchand (like Eriksson) has to transition to receiving pucks on his backhand up ice, something that's not that simple to do under pressure. In the zone, though, there's an added benefit to playing the off side, like more open space for one-timers and more time to shoot the puck.
Caron Brings Jump
With a hefty amount of forwards vying for the opening night roster, Julien knew at some point, injuries might arise and he'd have to rely on their depth.
The call to Providence doesn't have to be made quite yet, though, when you have the versatile Caron to slide into the lineup.
After starting off the season on one of the Bruins' strongest lines with Chris Kelly and Reilly Smith, Caron was a healthy scratch for two games so the B's could get Carl Soderberg into game action.
He picked up where he left off against San Jose, providing jump to his teammates coming off the first game of a back-to-back.
"He’s big and strong and can take pucks to the net. He’s certainly another guy in my mind that has come in a better player this year," said Julien, on Caron's versatility. "He’s very determined and every game he’s played, he’s played well. So we’re fortunate that we’ve got some good depth there too."
As in the past, the Bruins depth will come through until Eriksson is recovered.
"We’ve got the players that are ready to play," Julien said after the winger was deemed out indefinitely.
"And not only that, we felt pretty good with the players, some of the players, that we sent to Providence and if need be down the road, I’m sure they’re waiting for a call."