All the signs were positive Monday during Bruins practice at TD Garden when forward Loui Eriksson suited up in a gold jersey alongside Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Jordan Caron and took part in his first contact since sustaining a concussion during a game against Buffalo Oct. 23.
There is a possibility that Eriksson could return Tuesday night for Boston’s home game against Eriksson’s former team, the Dallas Stars.
He was traded to the Bruins July 4 in a deal that sent Tyler Seguin to the Lone Star State.
“I’m feeling better,’’ said Eriksson. “I’ve been skating for a couple of days now and the head is getting better. I’m feeling pretty good right now.
“We’ll see about tomorrow. I still have some testing to do. I’m feeling much better than when I got the hit.’’
Eriksson was struck in the head by Buffalo’s John Scott, who was assessed a match penalty and subsequently received a seven-game suspension.
“I didn’t remember it the first two minutes after I got hit,’’ said Eriksson. “I have seen the replay and it wasn’t the prettiest hit. But the league made a decision to suspend him for seven and they took a look at it.
“It’s a bad hit and I don’t have more to say about that.”
Scott did reach out to Eriksson to apologize for the hit.
“He texted me,’’ said Eriksson. “He wrote an apology for me so that was good by him.’’
Eriksson said the first couple of days after the hit were difficult.
“I was just in my apartment doing nothing and resting,” he said, “but I like the progress the last couple of days. I’m feeling better. I’m getting there and I’m feeling better and better each day.’’
Eriksson said he would love to play against the Stars, if he is able to get through all the concussion protocols.
“You always want to play games and especially tomorrow, it’s going to be a big game for me,’’ he said. “We’ll see what happens.
“I’m ready to get going soon, I think.’’
Coach Claude Julien said he’s looking forward to having Eriksson back, on Tuesday or after that.
“He’s able to work out,’’ said Julien. “As long as you pass all the different stages of protocol, you’re good. He’s had no issues so far.
“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.
“He’s been on the ice for four days now. Normally, four days is pretty good for a guy who has missed a little over a week.’’
When Marchand was asked about the current state of his game and whether he is struggling, his answer came out dripping with sarcasm.
“No, I’m playing fantastic,” he said. “I’m very happy with how things are going. Hopefully it continues the same way.’’
He didn’t mean it, of course, given that he has one goal and three assists in 13 games.
“I’m clearly not going to say I’m playing good,’’ said Marchand. “You have to push through it. When things aren’t going right, I think the main thing is to get back to just working hard and playing simple and hopefully things will start bouncing my way.’’
Julien acknowledged that Marchand has not been playing up to his abilities so far.
“He’s not playing the way he should,’’ said Julien. “There’s nothing coming out of his game right now. He’s really struggling to find his game. Sometimes you’ve just got to work your way through it.
“Brad is a good skater; I don’t think he’s skating as well as he can. He’s obviously much better with the puck, at managing it, and he hasn’t been great at that, either. I think a lot of that is a result of frustration and putting a lot of pressure on himself and it’s not making it any easier.
“He’s got to go back to square one and possibly kind of simplify his game and rely on his work ethic and his compete level and I think things will come back.’’
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk practiced with the team and is feeling better since an awkward hit last Thursday night kept him out of the lineup for Saturday night’s road game against the Islanders. “He’s still day to day,’’ said Julien. “He practiced today and he and Loui are both feeling pretty good. It’s just a matter of decision-making tomorrow. We’ll see how they feel tomorrow morning and if they feel good, then we make that decision.’’
Spooner to AHL
Forward Ryan Spooner was sent back to Providence (AHL). Spooner had two assists in two games with the big team. “You have to look at the game,’’ said Julien. “Just because he had a point in both games doesn’t necessarily mean he was dominating. He came and gave us what we wanted him to give us. He gave us some speed and on the power play, he was a good guy on the half-wall. But again, we want him to go back and continue to work on his five-on-five game. I didn’t mind his game at all but I still think he needs to continue to work on that part of his game down there.’’
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.