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Big Rig Rebound

“I had a few bad breaks and I started to think too much about it.  It had a snowball effect. That stretch there, that’s a part I don’t want to do again. I learned a lot about myself, how to handle difficult situations. It was a good experience for me personally.  I just want to start the way I ended the season. I felt good at the end of the regular season and the playoffs.”–Jonathon Ericsson

The Big Rig will be taking home $1.25 million this year – even though his Cap hit is only $900,000.  It is the last year of his current contract, so he needs to perform well this season in order to earn a long term deal worth some bigger dollars if he wants to stay with Detroit.

Before the Olympic Break, Ericsson was in and out of the lineup as a healthy scratch – due mostly to his costly turnovers in the defensive end which helped earned him his -18 rating.  Ericsson seemed to hit his stride, however at the tail end of the season once Andreas Lilja returned to the lineup.  Lilja basically acted as the Big Rig’s babysitter and played that stay-at-home defenseman role in case Ericsson created another turnover.  The pairing seemed to work as Ericsson was a +3 down the stretch, though his overall season +/- was still pretty brutal.

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But coach Mike Babcock still has faith in the young Swede, as he tells Khan(!):

“He should be confident.  He struggled early last year but played real well at the end and got better. He’s a real important guy for us.”–Mike Babcock

Expectations grew for Big Rig after the 2009 play-offs in which he notched four goals and added another four assists in 22 games.  Even the network announcers were claiming that he’d be an all-star in just a few short years.  But he floundered for the most part last season, though Lidstrom thinks that it could be a positive thing in the long run:

“He learned a lot from last season.  You have to take the ups and downs and be ready when things aren’t going your way. Keep it a little more simple and make the easy pass, not try to make the long pass or the complicated pass. If you make that first good pass you’ll have a lot easier transition.”–Nick Lidstrom

One can only hope that:

  1. Ericsson learned from his mistakes last season and won’t repeat them
  2. If he still continues to make bad decisions, that Ruslan Salei can bail him out.

Come on, Big Rig…let’s get the trolley back on the tracks.  Last year was a strange situation, and I think he buckled under the pressure of being thrust into bigger roles on a depleted team.  Hopefully, the momentum of playing better at the tail end of the season carried over into the off-season and he comes back and plays with more confidence.

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