Are you still reading this? Good, you made it past the title without shutting down your browser, ripping your computer off your desk, throwing it in a dumpster, and then setting said dumpster ablaze. I’m here to tell you why it’s a good thing that Loui Eriksson is going to see a whole lot more ice time this year.
Listen, nobody in their right mind would tell you that Loui Eriksson and Tyler Seguin are the same caliber of player. At least when the cameras aren’t rolling for Behind the B. In their current situations, Seguin will always outscore Eriksson. But a season full of starts and stops limited the potential for a multiple time 70 point scorer to flourish.
In Loui’s first 7 games with Boston, he didn’t exactly light it up. But 2 goals and 1 assist while trying to learn a new system with completely different linemates is nothing to sneeze at, especially considering that other big new right winger only had 2 assists over the same timeframe, while playing on a more offensively talented line. Why pick 7 games? Anybody remember what happened in game 8? A single celled organism doing his best impression of a traffic cone did pretty much the only thing that keeps him on an NHL roster by targeting the head of a superior athlete.
After possibly being rushed back two weeks later to play against Dallas (since Chiarelli needs to be the smartest person in the room and feared getting torched by Tyler Seguin) Loui went on a 6 game point streak, tallying 2 goals and 5 assists. He ended October with a total of 11 points in 14 games, highlighted by a 3 point night against Pittsburgh. He was really starting to find his groove just before a cardboard cutout of Brooks Orpik one upped Mr. Scott by knocking Loui out for over a month.
If there was a low point in his on ice performance, it was certainly after the comeback from concussion number two. In the 13 games between his return and the Olympic break, he logged an abysmal 1 goal (against the Islanders!) and 5 assists as he adjusted to playing on the third line. After an impressive showing in the Olympics, including a huge goal against Finland to help send Sweden to the Gold Medal game, Eriksson finished the season with a promising 17 points over the final 24 games, forming a great chemistry with fellow Swede, Carl Söderberg.
*WARNING: THERE BE FANCY STATS AHEAD*
Throughout the year, what was encouraging about Eriksson is that he was an absolute monster when it came to puck possession, ranking 4th on the team in Corsi. By looking at his WOWY (With Or Without You…stop singing U2, NOW!) we can see that it was Loui driving the bus for a majority of the time he was on the ice.
In the following chart, the blue column represents the Corsi rating for when Eriksson and the player on the bottom were on the ice together. The green column is when Eriksson was on ice without that player, and the yellow is when that player was without Eriksson. The chart shows the ten players that saw the most ice-time with him.
The blue column tells us that, with the exception of Kevan Miller, each combination yielded a Corsi rating of over 50%, meaning that the Bruins were almost always spending more time on the attack with #21 on ice. To determine if a player was a driving force or merely along for the ride, you have to compare the green and yellow. A higher green column means that Eriksson was making that players numbers look better, while a higher yellow means he was dragging that player down. Other than Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand (the guys that just so happen to have the #1 and #6 Corsi ratings in the LEAGUE), every players numbers were improved by skating alongside Eriksson.
Unfortunately, Corsi only puts the puck towards the net, not in the back of it. There’s definitely a problem when a career 14% shooter suddenly drops off a cliff and only pots 10 goals over 61 games with a shooting percentage of 8.7. It’s almost as if there were something wrong with his head, oh right, the concussions.
These are the career stats of a promising young Bruins center who suffered a career threatening brain injury 10 games into the 2007-08 season, sidelining him for the remainder of the year. He returned the next year, and unfortunately received another concussion, which luckily only kept him out for a month. The effects of two concussions obviously affected his play, as he went on to shoot a career low 5.2%.
Fortunately, that player (and his shooting percentage) recovered and he has gone on to have a semi decent NHL career:
Since one case obviously isn’t enough, let’s take a look at another set of stats. This time, another multiple concussion recipient from the Penguins. See if you can guess which season he came back from his second head injury? 2011-12? DINGDINGDING.
While he may not be putting up 17-20% shooting years anymore, something tells me that not too many fans in Pittsburgh are complaining about this guy’s numbers in the years since he’s recovered from his concussions.
Listen, by no means am I trying to put Loui Eriksson in the same class as Sidney Crosby or Patrice “Perfection” Bergeron. I’m simply saying that perhaps taking multiple shots to the head isn’t exactly conducive to burying the puck. Looking at the post injury numbers for Crosby and Bergeron certainly make me optimistic for what Eriksson can bring to the first line.
Finally, when Jarome Iginla needed some rest towards the end of last year, Claude placed Loui on the first line with David Krejci and
Russell Crowe Milan Lucic against Philadelphia. The results?
Fin. Suck it, Loui haters.
*Special thanks to the amazing JenLC (@RegressedPDO) of Second City Hockey. For a great primer on advanced stats, read her article here: Stats Made Simple Part 1: Corsi & Fenwick