scorecardresearch Skip to main content
Fluto Shinzawa | On hockey

Matt Beleskey may be auditioning for Loui Eriksson’s role

Loui Eriksson tied the game at 1 in the first period, withstanding a challenge from the Blue Jacekts looking for a call of goalie interference. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Coaches are not quick to change things after a win.

On Saturday, not only did the Bruins score a 7-3 laugher over Dallas, they busted an 0-for-19 streak on the power play with Ryan Spooner unavailable because of an illness. The Bruins went 3 for 6 on the man advantage against the Stars, including two one-up goals with Matt Beleskey serving as the net-front presence.

Spooner was well enough to be back in uniform for Monday’s 6-4 loss to Columbus. But Spooner, usually the right-side half-wall man on the No. 1 unit, did not see a second of power-play time. For the second straight game, with Loui Eriksson handling Spooner’s responsibilities, Beleskey was parked in front of the net.


That’s Eriksson’s usual position.

Only three games remain before Monday’s trade deadline. It’s unlikely there will be a fourth for Eriksson, the only Bruin to have played in every game this season. Eriksson is the organization’s best chip for a good return of assets, albeit the pick-and-prospect package that will not offer immediate help.

Deploying Beleskey in Eriksson’s spot on the first PP unit for the last two games has given the Bruins some data on what life might be like without the versatile wing. Overall, the Bruins will not improve when Eriksson is no longer here. But after two games, Beleskey is showing that he’s the leading candidate to assume Eriksson’s power-play role. Against Columbus, Beleskey logged 3:05 of PP time, tied with David Krejci for most on either team.

Beleskey is usually the high man on the No. 2 unit. Jimmy Hayes is the net-front screener. In his previous position, Beleskey tried to make himself available for shots and tips.

The job is different as the down-low presence. It helps that Beleskey, like Eriksson, is a left shot. The unit’s flow has not been disrupted as it might be if a right shot took the net-front position. Beleskey is also showing that he’s very good at filling the shooting lane to take away the goalie’s eyes and be in position for tips.


One of the things Eriksson excels at, however, is to flash out on the right-side goal line, as well as plant himself in front. It’s unknown whether Beleskey is as good at feeling coverages and knowing where the soft spots are.

Beleskey scored two of the Bruins’ four goals against the Blue Jackets, although neither was on the man advantage. In the second period, during five-on-five play, Beleskey went to the front of the net when Hayes fed the puck to Joe Morrow at the left point. When Morrow blasted a one-timer on goal, Beleskey deflected the puck past Joonas Korpisalo at 2:57 to tie the game at 2.

In the third period, Beleskey was in the right spot for another deflection. When Kevan Miller went down the right-side wall after a loose puck, Beleskey gained inside position on Fedor Tyutin. Beleskey put his stick in the shooting lane and tipped Miller’s shot into the net at 2:52, making it a 4-3 score.

Beleskey, who scored against the Stars, has three goals in his last two games. He had gone 15 straight without scoring.

“Mr. Selanne always said it’s like ketchup,” said Beleskey, referring to former Anaheim teammate Teemu Selanne. “Once it starts coming, they keep coming.”


Beleskey helped Eriksson score a six-on-five goal at 17:03. After Eriksson received a pass from Krejci at the right point, Beleskey planted himself in front of Korpisalo. Because of Beleskey’s screen, Korpisalo never saw Eriksson’s shot until it was in the back of the net.

The first-year Bruin has been a good addition for the organization. The left wing consistently plays a high-energy, in-your-face game. But it’s unfair to expect Beleskey to assume most of Eriksson’s duties. They are different players. Eriksson is a better all-around presence.

For his part, Eriksson is doing what his suitors would like him to do in their uniforms: producing. The left wing scored two goals in 20:20 of ice time. He now has seven goals in his last seven games. In the Bruins’ four victories on their six-game road trip, Eriksson scored three of the game-winning goals.

“I haven’t really focused on the thing going around right now with the team and the trade deadline and everything,” Eriksson said. “I’m just trying to focus on my game and try to play good. Goals have been coming here lately in the last games. You just have to keep doing the same thing. All I can do is try to play my game and help this team as much as I can.”

If the Bruins trade Eriksson, no single player can replace the do-it-all wing. Frank Vatrano, first on the list of wings ready for a promotion, could assume part of Eriksson’s offense. Beleskey can handle some of Eriksson’s heavy lifting on the power play. Another forward will have to pitch in on the penalty kill.


The Bruins are in a tough spot. Eriksson does a lot of things well. Just not at the long-term price they believe is right.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.