Monday, November 7, 2011
Loui Eriksson quietly produces for Stars
By Mark Stepneski
There’s nothing really flashy about Loui Eriksson’s game, but he does have a knack for producing goals and points. The Stars forward has been on a roll lately and his six points over the last two games earned him the NHL’s Second Star of the Week.
“He’s one of those guys who when I watch video, he doesn’t jump off the screen,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “But you keep watching games and you see the subtleties in his game, and his brain.”
You can look at the score sheet and see his production. He has 8 points (3 goals, 5 assists) over the last four games and now has 15 points (8 goals, 7 assists) in 13 games this season. He currently is tied for seventh in goal scoring in the NHL and is tied for ninth in points.
“He goes to the hard areas to score his goals. He’s not a perimeter guy,” said Gulutzan. “Every time you see Loui score, he’s got his helmet twisted on the wrong way, or he’s fixing something because he’s picking himself up off the ice. He goes to the hard areas, he’s elusive, and he’s got a good hockey mind. He’s a real good player.”
While Gulutzan uses the word elusive to describe Eriksson, teammate Steve Ott throws out a couple of other terms to describe Eriksson’s ability to get to those key areas of the ice.
“You can call him slimy or slippery or whatever you want, but he is always in the right position,” said Ott. “He’s always doing the right play and that’s why he is so valuable out there.”
Over the past three seasons Eriksson has scored 92 goals and chipped in 115 assists for the Stars. The 26-year-old Swede said his formula for goal scoring success is pretty straightforward.
“I am just trying to stay in front of the net all the time and find some open areas,” Eriksson said. “The puck seems to come to me and it’s nice to have that feeling that puck will come to me.”
The last three seasons, the guy getting the puck to Eriksson a lot of the time was Brad Richards. But when Richards signed with the New York Rangers in free agency this past summer, some people wondered if Eriksson would continue to produce at the same rate or if he might take a step back.
“How good was Brad Richards with Loui Eriksson? There’s a big difference if you put it all together,” said Ott. “I truly believe that he made Richie that much better than Richie made Loui that much better because of how much talent Loui has defensively, offensively. He knows to find the great areas around the ice and competes to get to those areas.”
With Richards, a big points producer, moving along the Stars were expecting a lot of players to help fill the void offensively and Eriksson was one of the players they expected to take another step forward in his career.
“You always want to get better. We’ve got off to a pretty good start here, the whole team and our line is getting good, too,” said Eriksson. “We are getting a great amount of chances out there. It’s always good to have that feeling, we’re scoring goals. That’s something I’ve been good at the last couple years, so I want to keep going.”
Eriksson has been playing with center Jamie Benn this season and the two have clicked. Benn also has 15 points (4 goals, 11 assists) and is tied for ninth in the league in points.
“He’s a great player,” said Eriksson. “He can do so much out there; he’s a good player with the puck and has such a good shot. It’s always good to play with a player like that.”
Benn and Richards are different types of centers, but Eriksson said he still does what he always does and that is get to the front of the net.
“Brad likes to pass the puck a little bit more and Benner is the shooting type of center. He has a good shot and he has to use that and I have to be ready for the rebounds,” said Eriksson.
But there’s more to Eriksson’s game than just the goals and points. He’s a complete player and excellent defensive player as well.
“I was lucky enough to play with a Jere Lehtinen when he was scoring 30 goals and winning a Selke Trophy and Loui has that making,” said Ott. “He’s that strong defensively. He’s got Selke written all over him.”
Eriksson, despite being a key player for Sweden’s Olympic team and an NHL All-Star, has flown under the radar a bit during his career, but his ability hasn’t gone unnoticed by his peers. Last year, in a poll of NHL players, he was voted the most underrated player in the league. Maybe that’s because there’s nothing flashy about what he does. He just quietly goes about his business and gets the job done.
"He doesn’t Ovechkin you or Crosby you. He’s got a little Jere Lehtinen in him, he’s got scoring touch in him,” said Gulutzan. “He’s a hockey player. He’s not an offensive talent or a defensive specialist, he’s a hockey player.”