Pacific: Eriksson keys Stars’ first place surge

By Ken McKenna

Photo: Dallas Stars forward Loui Eriksson, shown here scoring a shootout goal vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins, has been a picture of consistency this season (courtesy of

Matt Pearce/Icon SMI)

With their 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks last night, the Dallas Stars grabbed first place in the NHL’s Pacific Division. A recent surge by the Stars, including a sweep of a three-game Western Canada road swing that ended last night, has the Stars in a position to win their first division title since the 2005-06 season.

While the play of several players has contributed to the Stars current run, the play of left winger Loui Eriksson has been a prime factor in driving the offensive success that the team has experienced of late.

Eriksson has been a steady performer for the Stars for most of the season. But he has elevated his play of late, tallying 11 points in his team’s last seven games. Included in that point total is five goals and six assists, with one goal coming on the power play and another shorthanded. Eriksson is a +9 in those seven games.

Currently, Eriksson’s season point totals include 23 goals and 38 assists for 61 points in 67 games. If the Gothenburg, Sweden native continues on his current scoring pace, he has a good chance of topping his previous best season point total of 73 points, set during the 2010-11 season.

Perhaps the best indicator of Eriksson’s value to the Stars’ current run of success is the fact that he has been chosen as a star of the game in four of the seven games that constitute his recent point surge. Three of those star selections were Second Star awards, with the other being a Third Star selection.

To be sure, Eriksson hasn’t been the lone reason for his team’s improved playoff prospects. Veteran center Mike Ribeiro is playing some of his best hockey in the 2011-12 season as of late, while goaltender Kari Lehtonen has been providing the kind of goaltending that would be expected from a former second overall NHL Draft selection.

But, as has been the case for the past three seasons, Eriksson has been a model of consistency for the Stars. Since the 2008-09 season, Eriksson has played in 310 of the Stars’ 313 games played during that period. In those 310 games, he has totaled 268 points while has posting a +38 rating.

At just 26 years of age, Eriksson is just entering his prime years as an NHL player. And, while his name may never be mentioned along with the superstars of the game, there isn’t a team that wouldn’t want the talented Swede in their lineup on a nightly basis.