While some of the Bruins can use the 10 days of rest afforded by the Olympic break – Chris Kelly, Adam McQuaid — there are others for whom the break comes at an inopportune time. One of those is Loui Eriksson, who has spent far too much time off the ice this season dealing with the two concussions he sustained in 45 days.
Fortunately for Eriksson (and for the Bruins), the winger won’t be getting a break. He’s headed to Sochi, Russia, along with Team Sweden, where he’ll get the chance to keep up the flow that he’s started to find with now 11 games since his return.
“I can build on the things I’ve been missing,” Eriksson said before Tuesday night’s 3-1 win over the Canucks at TD Garden. “I think that will help me. Because I’ve been out for 20 games, so that will help to get some more games in.”
His coach agreed.
“I would think so,” Claude Julien said. “I guess the higher competition you get, the better it is for you. He’ll have that opportunity, so for a guy who has been out for that long it’s not a bad thing.”
It has been a difficult season for Eriksson, with stops and starts and injuries and serious concerns, and 15 games missed after the second concussion.
But though he started slow after his most recent return, Jan. 11, Eriksson has looked to be increasingly in synch with his new line, with Kelly on the other wing and Carl Soderberg at center.
“I’m feeling good,” said Eriksson, whose line was held off the scoresheet Tuesday night. “I think the more games you play, the better you feel. It’s definitely nice to be back playing games and being healthy. It’s good. I think the last couple of games we’ve been playing really good, our line, and everything, so just trying to build on the good things.”
Eriksson had a three-game point streak last week, with a goal against the Islanders and assists against Florida and Montreal. And though Eriksson went without a point Saturday against Edmonton, he was a plus-2 in the Bruins win.
“I think we’re creating a lot of chances out there,” he said. “We’re making some good plays in both areas of the ice. We haven’t really had any chances against us either, so it’s good. We need to keep building on it.
“I’m trying to work hard and I think that’s all you can do, try to do the best you can. It’s coming along and I’m feeling more comfortable out there too, making more plays and trying to hold onto the puck a little more.”
And the fact he won’t be off for 10 days should help. Sweden has a chance to go deep into the Olympic tournament, which should provide time for Eriksson to continue to refine his game, and to continue building.
“We definitely have a good team, and we have really good chances,” Eriksson said. “But at the same time there’s going to be a lot of other good teams there so it’s all a matter of one game, you have to be on the top when you play those games. Anything can happen, but we have a really good chance to win.”
Their level best
With Zdeno Chara’s impending early exit for his flag-bearing duties for Slovakia at the Olympics, the Bruins maintained that there was no more urgency to win against the Canucks than there would have been otherwise — even though they’ll be without their No. 1 defenseman in two games later this week. “Not really,” Julien said. “I think we have to look at these next three games, we want to win every one of them. So it’s not about the urgency of winning with Zdeno in the lineup, more than that there is no doubt that [having him] makes us a better team.” The Bruins have played only one game without Chara this season, a loss to the Senators in Ottawa . . . Forward Jordan Caron and defenseman David Warsofsky were the healthy scratches. McQuaid remains out with a leg injury.
Tuukka Rask said he doesn’t know the role he’ll play for Team Finland in the Olympics. With a stable of impressive goaltenders, it’s not a lock that Rask will start for his country. As he said, “We’ll see when we go there. I’m sure we’re going to have a talk with the coach to see what the role is. But I’m OK with it, whatever it is. If I get to play, that’s great. If not, then you just get your rest.” . . . Jarome Iginla picked up his 600th career assist at 5:12 of the first period on the Milan Lucic score. “I didn’t know that going in,” Iginla said. “It’s fun to get it in a game against Vancouver for a lot of reasons.” Added Julien, “In my mind, he’s got lots more left.” Iginla also scored the winning goal Tuesday.Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.