Is Loui Eriksson Doing More Harm Than Good?

(Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)
(Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

When the Boston Bruins traded Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars, a pox had finally left Boston and the Bruins could start anew. Making the trade even better was the haul that the Bruins got back from Dallas. The Bruins acquired the defensive minded forward Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, and others. Eriksson was clearly the centerpiece in the players coming to Boston. His style of play fits Claude Julien’s defense first style and by pairing him with Patrice Bergeron, it was going to create a great defensive line for the Bruins and could make the team stronger.

However, that hasn’t been the case so far.

With Eriksson on the second line, both Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand’s numbers have fallen drastically. Bergeron only has twelve points in 26 games this season and Marchand only has eleven points in 26 games. Marchand is on pace to have his lowest scoring season since becoming a full time Bruin and Bergeron is on pace to have his lowest scoring season since 2008-2009. Is Loui Eriksson the cause of Bergeron and Marchand’s startling drop of play, yes and no.

Brad Marchand has scored 9 goals on only 20 shots in 2013. (Icon SMI)
Brad Marchand has struggled since the arrival of Loui Eriksson. (Icon SMI)

Bergeron and Marchand are used to playing with Tyler Seguin on the second line, but they are now with Eriksson, a completely different player than Seguin. Seguin is an offensive minded player who like to play to the hashes and by doing that created a lot of space for Bergeron and Marchand to move the puck around and score. Meanwhile, Eriksson like to play very close to the net and close up the space Seguin would have otherwise cleared. Reilly Smith has spent time on the second line this season when Marchand was briefly demoted to the third line and Smith did have some success, but Smith and Eriksson do have some playing time together in Dallas before playing in Boston. Smith and Eriksson played very briefly on the same line last season in Dallas, a line that was only used 1.61% of the time.

However, Eriksson does bring a better defensive play with him than Tyler Seguin. The Boston Bruins are tied with the Montreal Canadiens with allowing the fewest goals per game with two and have only allowed 29.2 shots per game, good enough for eleventh in the NHL. It’s clear that Eriksson’s defensive presence is felt on the Bruins team, he absolutely beats Seguin in that department.

Even though Eriksson missed five games due to a concussion, he still has outscored Bergeron and Marchand and that is both surprising and a problem.

Smith Bruins
Reilly Smith has been great since arriving in Boston. (Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

Even if Eriksson is the problem, one good thing came of this trade: Reilly Smith. Smith has been a great and pleasant surprise for the Boston Bruins this season. Smith is third on the Bruins in scoring with 17 points, two behind leader David Krejci, and is one pace to score 52 points, well above his career high. Krejci said earlier in the week that Smith is playing like a “10-year vet“, Smith is just 22 years old, but he is providing leadership and great play. When it is all said and done, Reilly Smith, and not Loui Eriksson, could be the biggest prize in this trade and it could be because of the lack of play on Eriksson’s second line.

It’s become quite apparent that the line of Eriksson-Marchand-Bergeron is off to a rough and slow start, but that isn’t to say that they won’t  continue like this for the remainder of the season. Bergeron is much too good a player to continue at this slow pace and Marchand is very capable of getting hot very quick. It’s taking more time than it should to mesh and gel with Eriksson, but everyone needs to get on the same page and eventually they will find their former selves.

So, Bruins fans, just be more patient, it’s not Loui Eriksson’s fault.

Do you think Loui Eriksson is to blame for Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand’s poor start? Comment below or send me  a Tweet, @MarkWGraham

3 thoughts on “Is Loui Eriksson Doing More Harm Than Good?”

  1. How can 1 even say its Erikssons fault for Bergy and marchands numbers when Eriksson has better numbers than both of them… not to mention you should do your homework before posting, they are Bostons number 1 line. And being such a stout defensive line they typically face the opposing teams best offensive line which could also contribute to the drop In points. And yet again do some homework, each player on this “second line” is +8 or above with Patrice being tied for second best +/- on the team. So if there points are down but we recognize them as a defense first line and that shows in their +/- numbers it appears as if everything adds up…

  2. Mark: I believe the issues with Bergy’s line starts and ends with Marchand. He is not the same player he was in 2011. He loses the puck regularly, mishandles the puck, turns over the puck, fails to pass to open players, fails to move his feet, falls down, intimidates no one and generally looks uninspired on the ice.

    The better question to me is why Smith was moved back to the 3rd line when Smith, Bergy and Louii had looked pretty solid together, before John Scott’s cheap shot. Marchand was awful on the third line, as he has been on the 2nd line. Other than about 4 minutes during last night’s game, when Marchand actually played like it mattered to him, he has been more than disappointing. There is no excuse for keeping him on the ice, dragging down every line he plays on. Despite the advanced stats guys who will tell you he “drives the puck into the offensive zone and produces Corsi events”, I continue to see a guy who is not playing NHL caliber hockey. Move him to another team or bench him. His disappearance in the last two playoff runs and his over achievement have not fooled everyone.

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