Loui Eriksson's two-year slump made worse by Tyler Seguin's rise

Nov 22, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Loui Eriksson (21) skates with the puck during the third period against the Montreal Canadiens at TD Banknorth Garden. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

NASHVILLE – Boston forward Loui Eriksson is well aware of Tyler Seguin’s point producing with the Dallas Stars.

It’s something he says he’s not concerned with. But the annoyance and frustration for the slumping Eriksson is clear, yet also subtle in his polite ‘Swedish’ manner, when asked specifically about the former Boston Bruins wild child.

“Yeah, he’s doing a good job there scoring a lot of goals,” Eriksson said. “It’s a different system they play a different way than we do here, so yeah … he’s on fire right now and he’s playing really well, like I said, scoring goals.

"But that’s nothing I can really do about. I’m just trying to play how I want to play and not worry about that.”

No matter what, Eriksson is currently a symbol of the Bruins’ struggles. Boston, which has lost six of seven and is ranked 22nd in the NHL in offense at 2.45 goals per-game, could definitely use Seguin. But honestly, what it really needs is Eriksson (who has 15 points in 31 games this year) playing at the top of his game.

It’s easy to forget that Eriksson had over 70 points for three straight years on ‘meh’ Dallas Stars teams. He was an all-situation type player. Penalty kill, power play – if you needed an assist he could pass the puck. A goal? He had 36 in 2008-09.

But really, he has never been the same since John Scott ruined him on Oct. 23, 2013 with a dirty charge well after the much smaller Eriksson had delivered the puck.

It was a senseless and pointless play by Scott – who is somehow still employed by an NHL team and only got a seven-game suspension.

The slick Swede has dealt with a much longer sentence. Though Eriksson won’t admit that the concussion changed him, there is something different after a 2013-14 where he had another head injury after the Scott play.

“I feel good right now,” Eriksson said. “It definitely was a tough year with the concussion and everything, but that’s in the past now and I’m used to trying to get better here and playing with this team.”

There are other plausible theories and possibilities that also lend to Eriksson’s swift demise with Boston. The Bruins are a slower-tempo team than the Stars. Also, Jamie Benn is a pretty solid linemate, and anyone would see a drop in production if you took him away from Benn.

But concussions have wrecked careers before. And the more we learn about them, the scarier they seem.

The year before Paul Kariya was concussed by a vicious Gary Suter cross check, he averaged 1.43 points-per-game. The year of the injury, he was at 1.41 before it happened. Then started a decline that saw his points per-game never reach higher than 1.23.

It’s somewhat unfair to compare Eriksson, who is still only 29, to Kariya in his early 20s in the dead-puck era. But forwards need to go to certain areas of the ice to score. Places where they take punishment. And if they’re afraid because of a previous injury, it’s hard. And considering that we know multiple head injuries can lead to various off-ice problems, why would a player like Eriksson want to continue to put himself in major harms way? You can't really blame him if that's somehow playing into his consciousness.

Says the Boston Globe:

When Loui Eriksson arrived in Boston, he was touted as a perfect fit, an underrated forward with offensive and defensive abilities, with skills and talent that would allow him to slide right into the Bruins system. It hasn’t quite worked out that way.

Eriksson’s difficult first season in Boston could be explained by forces out of his control, by the pair of concussions that limited him to 37 points (10 goals, 27 assists) in 61 games. It took until the Olympic break, along with a pairing with center Carl Soderberg, for Eriksson to look even a little like the player the Bruins thought they were getting .

His less-than-stellar second season, though, is slightly tougher to explain.

And as Seguin continues to roll on Dallas, it makes the trade look so much worse for Boston, which is unfair to Eriksson in general. He was brought in to be the anti-Seguin. A straight laced all-zone player, who the team knew would at least change his clothes every day.

Who could have expected a cheap shot would cause an alteration in the space-time continuum?

That being said. Part of this has to do with the Bruins’ struggles as a whole. If Boston was playing well and its offense looked better, then maybe the trade wouldn’t look quite so bad. Center David Krejci has been out since Nov. 18. Hulking captain Zdeno Chara has only played 12 games so far.

“Can (Eriksson) be better? Yeah but there’s 19 others in that lineup where I can say the same thing at times,” coach Claude Julien said. “He’s not going to be the whipping boy or the guy that we’re going to pick on. If we’re going to pick on somebody, we have to look at our team as a whole right now.”