Lucic establishing "leader" credentials

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Lucic establishing "leader" credentials

BOSTON -- The same words are often tossed around with Milan Lucic.

Words like beast, intimidator, bruiser and prototypical power forward have always been associated with the Bruins left winger during his five seasons in Boston.

But theres a new one that continues to emerge as he gains in experience and stature around the league: leader.

Great leaders summon signature performances when their team needs them most in the big moments, and Lucic had himself a whale of a game in a very necessary 4-3 shootout win over the Nashville Predators at TD Garden.

Leadership is about action every bit as much as its about words, and he had both going for him in a pivotal Saturday matinee.

It was Lucic that tied the game with less than two minutes remaining in the third period to assure Boston would get the overtime point, it was Lucic that led the Bruins with seven shots on net while dominating through 60 minutes and it was Lucic that made sure his hockey club got the W by whatever means were necessary.

Tyler Seguin had a solid effort in his own right with offensive chances and Bostons first score in the shootout, but he didnt hesitate when asked what he was thinking watching No. 17 barrel his way through the Preds.

I was thinking hes a leader, said Seguin. We definitely needed our leaders to step up tonight and they definitely did. Zee, Bergie and Loochthe list goes on. I think all the guys stepped up today and showed good character.

Character has never been in doubt for Lucic during his five seasons in Boston, and in the last two years his on-ice production and consistency have matched all of the intangibles he brings to the table. Lucic was just an 18-year-old learning the ropes when he first arrived in town, but his imprint on the Black and Gold has grown stronger and stronger each season.

It was Lucic, after all, who had a goal taken from him early in the embarrassing 6-0 loss to the Sabres.

He was the poster boy for the frustration and aggravation the Bs felt after enduring one of the worst spankings Lucic has endured during his time with the Bruins.

He harnessed all that frustration and pent-up anger into one of his best games of the year. True to his nature, he also didnt want the credit afterward despite being Bostons best forward on the ice that day.

Its, you know not just myself, I think the whole team we have a lot of pride. We dont like losing, even if its 1-0 never mind 6-0. You never want to get down on yourself and start feeling sorry for yourself. I think thats when the pride kicks in. Its up to different guys at different times to step up and play big at key moments, said Lucic. We had that here today. You look at the Campbell line there, theyve been playing so well for so long and they just havent been getting the results.

They finally step up and score a big goal for us so. I talked about it yesterdaysomeone asked me if you cant just depend on one line going and getting all the goals. You have to get it by committee. I think we had all 20 guys definitely going here tonight.

It would have been heart-breaking had Mike Fishers third period goal through the pads of Tim Thomas served as the regulation game-winner after the Bruins had dominated the Predators through three periods. But Lucic and his teammates have learned about the refusal to lose while grinding all the way to a Stanley Cup championship.

That Stanley Cup level stubbornness was on display with the Bruins determined to make Saturday the day that their stretch of mediocrity is dead and buried.

Thats what we were talking about most: not getting frustrated, staying on course, keep getting pucks to the net, keep trying to find those rebounds and keep creating those scoring chances. We wanted to keep working hard and getting on pucks, said Lucic. That was more of the talk than guys getting on each other or getting on themselves. It was a pretty positive feeling on the bench and it was a workman-like feel on the bench and on the ice too. Thats what kept us going for that whole game.

Desperation was in full flight as the Bruins had pulled Tim Thomas from the game, and all comeback efforts seemed futile against Pekka Rinne on a day that he was feeling it. But the Bruins kept pushing and Lucic drew a tripping call on Sergei Kostitsyn while controlling the puck in the offensive zone. That gave Lucic and the Bruins a punchers chance to tie things up.

They did just that on the ensuing power play when Rich Peverley fired a shot wide from the high slot that bounced off the end boards, and took a quick bounce back toward the front of the net. Lucic was barreling down with all his speed crashing at the net, and he lifted a backhander over Rinne after the puck bounced directly on his stick.

With 67 seconds left on the clock it was Lucic giving his Bruins life where it appeared there was none.

At that stage, its all out. We had some good puck bounces off the boards tonight, and it came right out, said Claude Julien. Because he had some good speed, he was able to whack that puck in. We kind of needed that break.

It would have beenit probably would have been a real tough loss had we not been able to come out with a win the way we had played this afternoon. He found a way to get us back into it.

The fortuitous bounce of the puck is exactly what Lucic and the Bruins both needed, but it was hard-earned after the Bs power forward had dominated play heading into the final stretch.

When he plays like that hes obviously tough to defend, hes so big, and when theres a team that plays on man-on-man like that its tough for that defender to stay on himhes so strong, said Patrice Bergeron, who has watched Lucic mature into a bona fide NHL force of nature over the years. I think he made some great plays to get it to the net and just drive and use his speed and his body. He had a great game.

Aside from the team importance, the goal also had some pretty weighty significance for Lucic on an individual level as well. The game-tying strike was Lucics 20th goal of the season, and made him the first NHL player this season to reach both the 20 goal and 100 penalty minute plateaus in the ultimate signal of his strength-and-skill game.

The 20 goals scored also gives him his second straight season of achieving that mark a piece of proof that Lucic is much more than the third line energy player some thought he might be upon entering the league.

Hes also not done yet. After potting 30 goals last season Lucic is again looking to crack the 30-goal barrier again this season and prove that hes one of the best young players in the NHL today.

When you have a season like I did last year, you kind of set a bar for yourself and you want to keep that consistency in your game, admitted Lucic. Im still young so you want to try to get better every year.

Its been great Ive been able to get to that 20-goal mark two straight years. There are 29 games left and hopefully I can get to the 30 mark again.

Hes done it with his production and hes doing it with big game performances when his Bruins team needs him most.

Thats what being a great hockey player is all about.

Lucic continues to show thats exactly what hes growing into with each and every season.

Veteran center Dominic Moore among Bruins signings

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Veteran center Dominic Moore among Bruins signings

The Bruins announced some organizational signings and one surprise dip into late summer free agency with a one-year, $900,000 contract for 36-year-old depth center Dominic Moore.

The B’s also announced one year, two-way contracts for forward Brian Ferlin, along with defensemen Chris Casto and Alex Grant, and all three of those players will serve as young, organizational depth players in Providence.

Moore has spent each of the last three seasons with the New York Rangers amid a career 765 NHL games played as a solid face-off and penalty-kill player that has fourth line candidate written all over him.

The Bruins will be former Harvard center Moore’s 10th NHL team. He’s coming off a season where he posted six goals and 15 points in 80 games for the Blueshirts, and has previously played for Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Toronto, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Tampa Bay and San Jose along with the Rangers.

While Moore is a solid candidate for fourth-line duty that will provide leadership, good face-off work, solid and gritty penalty-kill work and all kinds of NHL experience, he is also a 36-year-old on a team that has a ton of center candidates headed into camp. 

Moore’s presence could be problematic if he’s standing in the way of developing young centers Austin Czarnik and Noel Acciari. The expectation is that B’s coach Claude Julien, as he always has in the past with safe veterans like Chris Kelly, will go with a player like Moore over the youngsters if times start getting tough for the Black and Gold.

Ferlin, 24, completed his second professional season with the AHL's Providence Bruins in 2015-16, producing six goals and eight assists for 14 points with 27 penalty minutes and a plus-nine rating in 23 games. He was sidelined for much of last season in Providence by a concussion.

Casto, 24, completed his third full AHL season with Providence in 2015-16, establishing career highs with seven goals and 16 assists for 23 points with 47 penalty minutes in 68 games.

Grant, 27, spent the 2015-16 season with the Arizona Coyotes organization, splitting time between the Coyotes and their AHL affiliate in Springfield. He recorded seven penalty minutes in five games in the NHL, while compiling 11 goals and 31 assists for 42 points with 57 penalty minutes in 69 games in the AHL.  

 

 

Haggerty: Bruins say hunger is back, but we must see it on the ice

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Haggerty: Bruins say hunger is back, but we must see it on the ice

BRIGHTON – It only amounts to lip service coming in the first few days the Bruins players are simply getting together for informal captain’s practices, but it’s pretty clear the fire is burning brightly after missing the playoffs two years in a row.

For a group that still includes some players that made the playoffs seven seasons in a row, made it to the Cup Finals twice and hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2011, it feels like that sting of pride is very close to the surface.

Torey Krug wouldn’t even entertain discussion of last season when asked about it following Monday’s skating session at the new Warrior Ice Arena practice facility. David Krejci said he’s officially done talking about winning the Cup five long years ago. Now, it’s about righting the ship for the Bruins, and getting things back moving in a positive, forward progression after moving backwards and sideways over the last two years.

As always, the playmaking Krejci gives a straight, honest take about where the team is on the down side of their Cup years.

“I feel like we’re back to where we started 10 years ago, you know? The teams didn’t make the playoffs, and now we kind of have some new guys. It’s still a good mix with some experienced guys,” said Krejci. “But the hunger, it’s there again. Obviously we haven’t been in the playoffs for a couple of years. It’s exciting times.

“If you go back to 2011 and then to 2013, we were in the Final. But we knew that we had already won two years before. We did try, but you always knew in the back of your mind that you’d already won the Cup. Now, it’s like the Cup is out of the window and that was a long time ago. I’m going to talk about the Cup when I retire, so now we’re all hungry again. We missed the playoffs two years in a row, and it’s a new excitement again. I just can’t wait to get back into it.”

Krejci’s first full season in the NHL was actually the year that the B’s made it back into the postseason in 2007-08, but he was close enough to the organization to see what it was like at the 2006 training camp when a great deal was in flux for the Black and Gold.

It’s not unlike the big changes that the Bruins have seen in the past two years with the hopes that there will start being a payoff in the near future.

It’s exciting for Krejci, in particular, as he should be 100 percent healthy for the first time in three years after surgery on his left hip last spring. A healthy Krejci and Patrice Bergeron will give the Black and Gold their potent 1-2 punch down the middle and there’s also a healthy chip on the shoulder of the B’s defensemen crew after a difficult campaign last year.

Krug admitted as much while brushing off big picture questions about what happened last season, and why this season should be any different for a group of seven defensemen returning from last season’s crew ranked 19th in the league.

“I’m not going to talk about [last year]. We’re moving on. This group will use it as motivation moving forward. With this new practice facility, everybody is excited to get back together and start moving forward,” said Krug. “We have [D-men] pieces in here that maybe people aren’t getting too excited about, but we know what we have in this room. We’ve grown and developed together.

“We know that we’re highly capable of taking whatever is thrown our way. But I know the D-men especially are motivated to prove a lot of people wrong that we’re not ready to compete, and not ready to be a playoff team.”

That’s essentially what it comes down to for the Black and Gold. They can talk about regaining the hunger to compete and utilizing last season’s failures as motivation for this season, but it all amounts to nothing unless they show it on the ice on a consistent basis.

It will be months before everybody truly knows if it’s more than talk from the Bruins and before we learn whether the B’s even have the talent on the roster to truly compete in a difficult, improving Atlantic Division. 

For now, the optimism is running high for the returning Black and Gold players and that registers as something as they slowly ramp up to the start of training camp next month and the season opener on Oct. 13 in Columbus against the Blue Jackets. 

 

Bruins come away impressed with new practice facility

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Bruins come away impressed with new practice facility

BRIGHTON – It’s been a summer brimming with anticipation for Bruins players and management alike with the prospect of moving into a new, state-of-the-art practice facility.

The Bruins contingent hosted Jimmy Vesey at their new Warrior Ice Arena home a couple of weeks ago and the B’s players christened the ice by kicking off their informal captain’s practices on Monday morning.

Torey Krug, David Krejci, Adam McQuaid, John-Michael Liles, Noel Acciari and Frank Vatrano all hit the ice to work with a local goaltender and went through skating drills for the hour-plus to get the blood pumping. Krejci left the ice after roughly 15 minutes as he recovers from left hip surgery, but was still left excited at the prospect of practicing in the new digs after spending his entire Bruins career with Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington as their practice home.

The arena doesn’t officially open until the Bruins and New Balance hold a grand opening on Sept. 8, but color several Bruins veterans impressed.

“It’s beautiful. It’s great. It’s a little bit different than Wilmington,” said Krejci. “You guys will get a chance to see it next week, but it’s pretty cool.”

The captain’s practices will continue in earnest with more Bruins players joining the group as the calendar gets closer to the start of training camp. The expectation is that all of the B’s skaters will be wholly impressed with the new facility. 

Clearly, it’s got all the bells and whistles of a new rink, and the closer proximity is a bonus for Bruins players that these days live in and around Boston rather than in the distant suburbs.

There's even the distinct possibility in the not-so distant future that the Bruins could start holding game day morning skates at the practice facility rather than at the Garden. It's something already done in Montreal, where the Habs have a similar setup with their practice rink in Brossard, just outside of the city. 

“It’s beautiful. For the guys that have been the scenes and doing all the work in Wilmington all of these years, it’s great for them to be a part of this and move into a new building,” said Krug. “I’m fortunate to be here and be a part of it. That’s exciting.”

Krug joked that being an early arriver at Warrior Arena doesn’t guarantee him one of the big lockers in the dressing room once training camp gets going: “I’m pretty sure Zee [captain Zdeno Chara] will kick me out of whatever stall I picked. It’s obviously exciting to be one of the first guys skating on this ice.”