Lucic: Bruins top lines need to 'kick it into gear'

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Lucic: Bruins top lines need to 'kick it into gear'

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Bruins big-name forwards know they need to be better. The entire team needs to lift up its game, but those forwards have a lot of work to do.

After managing just one goal in each of the first two playoffs games against the Washington Capitals and making Washington rookie Braden Holtby look like the next Ken Dryden in the process the focus is on big names like Milan Lucic. And rightfully so.

Maybe right now theyre trying to be a little too cute and forcing some passes where either its a forced play or the guys not expecting it. Theyve just got to simplify a little bit more, said Claude Julien. Weve got some guys on that line Rich Peverley can shoot the puck, Dave Krejci is certainly a good playmaker, and Looch Milan Lucic can drive to net as good as anybody.

So theyve got some strength that we know can be extremely useful to our hockey club.

Theres a reason the Bs were the only team with six 20-goal scorers in the NHL this season. They have plenty of offensive skill, but it hasnt materialized during the first two games of the postseason.

After being second in the league in scoring, only getting two goals in two games is something were not happy with, said Lucic. Especially the top two lines. We need to be better . . . all of us. Especially me. We need to create opportunities in the offensive zone and we need to take it upon ourselves to be better.

Lucic and Seguin combined for the same number of shots as Shawn Thornton in Saturdays double-overtime 2-1 loss to the Caps. Lucic said that he knows he needs to be better.

Credit the Capitals for creating an unbreakable defensive front in the slot area and blocking 42 shots through the first two games.

But Lucic, at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, knows he needs to be more of a presence. Lucic should be among the first forwards crashing the net and unsettling the Caps' rookie netminder, and hes acutely aware of it.

Theyre doing a good job of making it tough on us, but its something we need to find a way to battle through it, said Lucic. Its up to us to kick it into gear and fight our way through their tight defensive checking to create offensive opportunities.

Its a mindset that we want to win those battles, we want to fight for the puck and when we get it well make good, strong plays to make the most of it.

In two games against Washington Lucic has appeared to play slowly and indecisively amid a stubborn Capitals defensive plan thats working to near perfection. While crediting Washington for a job well done, Lucic knows the Bs top two lines are better than what they've show: zero goals in two games.

While some might look at Nathan Hortons absence as a reason for the offensive no-show, there is a lot more going on than that. Its about a key piece of the Black and Gold thats given C performances at a time of the season when they need to be straight A students.

Its not like Im trying not to do anything. But youve got to put pressure on yourself to want to do better, said Lucic, who now has five goals in his last 27 playoff games after potting 10 goals in his first 30 postseason contests. I want to be better and Ill do everything I can to help this team win.

The Bruins get their first crack at doing better Monday night when they enter Washington D.C. for Game Three of a tightly-wound best-of-seven series.

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Celtics-Sixers preview: Road has been kind to C's lately

Celtics-Sixers preview: Road has been kind to C's lately

BOSTON – For most teams in the NBA, road games are a necessary evil. 
 
Not for the Celtics. At least, not lately.
 
The Green Team hits the road for its next three games, and that has been a good thing – a real good thing – lately. 
 
Boston (11-8) has won its last four road games, the kind of success that breeds a heightened level of confidence heading into this current trip which begins tonight at Philadelphia. 
 
And it only helps that they hit the road coming off a 97-92 win over Sacramento on Friday. 
 
“We have to carry that momentum with us,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder. “You know how...anytime in this league, the momentum, you have to stay with it. We’ve been having success away from home. It was big for us to get this win (over the Kings) to start the road trip off.”
 
A big part of Friday’s victory was the play of Al Horford who finished with 26 points, eight rebounds, and six blocked shots. The points and rebounds for Horford were both season-highs.
 
Horford’s breakout performance came on the heels of a 121-114 loss to Detroit, a game in which Boston’s $113 million man (Horford) only took five shots.
 
“Coach [Brad Stevens] didn’t say anything about going to him just specifically,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “We just found him and made the right play and when he got it he was very aggressive.” 
 
Part of Horford’s success was that he was in more of an attacking mentality. But he also benefited from a Kings defense that didn’t double-team him nearly as much as the Pistons did. 
 
“I got a lot of early looks in the game and like I said [following the Pistons loss] I think the Pistons did a good job defending and doubling and forcing me to pass the ball. [Friday night] I had more opportunities to be aggressive.”
 
Facing a Sixers team that ranks among the NBA’s worst in several defensive categories, Horford and the rest of his Celtics teammates should have ample opportunities to make plays offensively. 
 
And in doing so, they will be able to add on to what has been an already impressive stretch of play this season away from home.
 
“I think it will be good,” Horford said. “[Tonight] it’s a Philly team that plays hard and we just want to keep building on [Friday night’s win over Sacramento] and just try to be better.”