Lucic, Krejci snap slumps, show the way for Bruins

Lucic, Krejci snap slumps, show the way for Bruins
January 17, 2014, 10:00 am
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DALLAS –There’s only so long the Bruins offense can function without getting production from their top offensive line. They’d managed to get by offensively over the last couple of weeks while their defense, goaltending and special teams failed them in the first few days of new B’s reality without Dennis Seidenberg.

The five losses in eight games prior to Thursday night’s game against the Stars wasn’t the fault of the KIL (Krejci Iginla Lucic) line, but the uncomfortable strain for offense is always obvious when Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla suffer through a cold stretch during the season.

Thankfully for the Bruins both Krejci and Lucic snapped goal-scoring droughts of varied lengths in a 4-2 win over the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center, and brought back the good offensive times.

The two goals helped wipe away some of the frustration of a team-wide wasted opportunity earlier this week against the Maple Leafs, and some prime scoring chances for that line that went unfinished. Lucic’s goal turned out to be the game-winner for the Black and Gold, and it was a score of the hard hat variety that become so important during the hard offensive times.

Lucic tipped a David Krejci shot from the high point while filling in for Zdeno Chara as the big body in front of the net on the power play, and scored for the first time in his last 10 games while snapping his longest slump of the season.

The goal was immediately under review by the NHL war room for a possible high stick, and Lucic’s stick level was absolutely in the neighborhood of the crossbar upon viewings of the goal replay. But it was ruled a goal on the ice, and it stayed a goal for Lucic much to the relief of the left winger.

“I knew it was going to be really close, but thankfully [the refs] called it a goal on the ice,” said Lucic. “I’d imagine the conversation was that it was inconclusive on the video. I’ll take them any way I can. [Krejci] and Krug did a good job of switching up top to create that shot, and I was able to get a good tip for a big goal.”

It was a big goal for both the individual player as a slump-busting measure and for the team as an insurance policy against a Dallas club that pushed them until the very end of regulation.  

“From a team standpoint and also from a personal standpoint [it was big]. Goals really haven’t come easy for me for the last 18 or 19 games, and it was nice to get one there. It ends up being a big goal, and it was on the power play,” said Lucic, who had scored once in his previous 18 games headed into Thursday night’s tilt against the Stars. “It was a good road win. I thought we played good start to finish.”

Lucic and Krejci also teamed up for the first goal of the game that kick-started the Bruins at the end of the second period. Lucic overwhelmed Rich Peverley in the offensive zone corner in a one-on-one puck battle, and dished the puck back to David Krejci in the slot for a one-timer.

The Bruins center’s shot sizzled past Kari Lehtonen to the top right corner thereby snapping a six game goal-scoring drought for Krejci as well. The goal arrived with just four seconds left on the clock in the second period, and gave the Bruins a huge amount of momentum headed into the final 20 minutes of a game they desperately needed to win. It was a big performance from a line that had showed signs of an offensive breakthrough two nights earlier against Toronto, but hadn’t been able to put the finishing touch on any of their chances.

“We’ve been close. Especially in that Toronto game we felt like we had chances, but we just didn’t bury them. Sometimes that’s going to happen,” said Lucic. “You just want to get out of the slump, especially as a line, as quickly as possible.

“It was good to have [the breakthrough] here tonight. If you look at our game we didn’t spend much time at all in the defensive zone. I think that’s why we were able to have the [good] results. Now we need to bring the exact same thing against a good Chicago team.”

Lucic is correct that they’ll need top notch performances in the much-anticipated rematch against the Blackhawks for the first time since last year’s heated, ultimately frustrating Stanley Cup final loss to Chicago.

But the undermanned Bruins need those kinds of performances from the Bruins every night. The Bruins need close to 20 minutes a night from David Krejci in all situations where he creates offensive chances, wins 14-of-22 face-offs and plays like the elite player that he is when things matter most for the Black and Gold. They need the muscle and the skill from Lucic, who scored and passed with delicate offense touch and also buried Alex Goligoski with one of his patented wipeout hits in the corner that left a lasting impression on the Stars defenseman.

They need more from Iginla, who was okay with three shot attempts in 14:37 of ice time while sporting just a single goal and a minus-3 rating in seven games during the month of January.

Thursday night was a good start in the right direction for the KIL line, but it’s time for the forward group to go on another goal-scoring bender likes the ones in October and December that carried the Bruins offense for weeks at a time. If it’s boom or bust for that group this season, the Bruins are screaming “Here Comes the Boom” while waiting for more the Krejci and Lucic that came to play against the Stars.

That is part of the puck prescription for once and for all getting over the loss of Seidenberg that seems to have made an adverse impact on just about every facet of the Bruins’ overall game this month.