Erik Haula in for the long haul with Bruins – Lowell Sun

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BOSTON – It’s been the most coveted spot in the Boston Bruins lineup this season, and Erik Haula is taking his best shot at finally filling that void.

The second line center netted a pair of goals, including the game-winner in a big 5-2 decision over the Columbus Blue Jackets, Saturday night at TD Garden.

“It’s always awesome when you can help the team win,” said Haula. “I’m happy.”

Haula has been red-hot as of late, the 5-foot-11, 191-pound Finnish forward has netted four goals, six assists and 10 points in five of his last six games. And he’s loving every minute of it.

“I’m having a lot of fun,” said Haula. “The team is playing well. It’s obviously helping a lot, so I’m just enjoying the ride, and trying to do my best to prepare for every game, trying to bring it.”

Known more as a checking line center throughout most of his nine-year NHL career, Haula seems right at home on the B’s second line. He’s flanked by a couple of All-Star snipers in left winger Taylor Hall, and right winger David Pastrnak. Playing with those high-end forwards has been a refreshing change of pace for Haula, who has done a great job at directing traffic.

“I try to create room for them,” said Haula, 31. “I try to get them the puck in areas where they can make plays. If it’s coming with late speed or wide speed, whatever it is, I try to put them in spots where they can use that skill, they can use that speed. I think that’s worked well for me, to try to create space, but also being part of it as well. There are opportunities for me to maybe put up points and score goals from all of that. I’m enjoying playing with them. It’s a lot of fun.”

Haula’s heady play comes a key time for the Bruins, who were in dire need of a second line center following the departure of longtime forward David Krejci. Charlie Coyle originally got the call, and played well initially, but as time wore on, the Bay State native appeared best suited for the checking line.

Enter Erik Haula, who was originally signed by Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney as a free agent, July 28, 2021.

A seventh-round selection (163rd overall) by the Minnesota Wild in the 2007 NHL Draft, Haula came into his own with the Vegas Golden Knights during their improbable inaugural season run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2017-18. Haula scored a career high 29 goals that first year in Sin City, while also posting career bests in assists (26) and points (55).  A knee injury limited him to just 15 games with Vegas the following season. A grizzled veteran, Haula split the past two seasons between three different NHL clubs, with subsequent stops in Carolina, Florida and Nashville.

Haula started his first season in Boston in the checking line but has worked his way up the ranks with relentless precision. He currently has 12 goals, 23 assists and 35 points in 65 games with the Bruins and shows no signs of slowing down.

“It’s worked out well,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “I like the job Erik’s done and continues to do. Good for him. He’s helping our team be a better team.”

And there’s no better group Haula would rather do it with.

“It is nice when you know this is our team,” Haula said. “Now I’m just trying to put the foot on the gas and try to do something special here.”

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