Lucic muscles way to dominant Game 7 performance

Lucic muscles way to dominant Game 7 performance
May 15, 2013, 1:45 am

BOSTON – Milan Lucic is one of the most dominant players in the NHL when he slips into beast mode.

It can be sporadic during the regular season as the normally good-natured Bruins power forward sometimes grapples with tapping into the anger, aggression and fierceness needed for him to reach that highest level. But Lucic was there and then some in the final period and overtime of Monday night’s epically thrilling 5-4 comeback in overtime of Game 7.

The only goal among Boston’s five goals in the game that Lucic didn’t have a direct impact on was Patrice Bergeron’s overtime game-winner, but No. 17 was on ice for each of the other four goals scored by the Black and Gold. He worked to gain possession in the offensive zone on the fore-check for Matt Bartkowski’s goal in the first period, he worked to carry the puck behind the net before setting up Horton for goal No. 2, he popped home the rebound of a Zdeno Chara shot for Boston’s third goal.

Then he crushed Carl Gunnarsson on the next shift before lifting a stick to make sure the puck stayed in the offensive zone, a subtle play from a player whose game is anything but understated. That allowed the puck to touch the sticks of Jaromir Jagr and David Krejci before Patrice Bergeron rocked home the game-tying shot with 51 seconds remaining in the game.

For the series Lucic finished with nine points (2 goals, 7 assists) and a plus-9 in seven playoff games, and appears to be fully back to his dominating ways.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Looch [from Game 7]. He had a terrific game, and especially that last part,” said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. “I know he’s been the object of criticism for a while this year, but he certainly has turned his game around.”

He also noticeably kicked things up a notch in the third period when he dialed up his skating game, challenged every play going on around him and punished Toronto defenseman like Gunnarsson with merciless, clean, intimidating hits.

After the game Lucic said it was a mindset that the left wing was going to go down fighting and swinging if the Bruins were to somehow lose Game 7, and get ousted in the first round for the second year in a row.

“The mindset was different. During the regular season when you’re on a 6-on-5, you start thinking ‘oh, I don’t want to be on for the empty net goal,’ said Lucic, who finished with two points, two shots on net and seven hits in 21:44 of dominant ice time. “Where this time, it was ‘we are going to score. We’re going to retrieve the puck, and we’re going to score.’ An empty net goal wasn’t even on our minds, so the mindset was definitely different in the last two minutes compared to what it’s been like for a 6-on-5 in the past.

“It was a frustrating game for the first two periods, but I finally said to myself, ‘Screw it…you just need to leave it all out there.’ That’s all it took. You do whatever you can to give yourself a chance. Anything can happen, and that’s what happened.”

If Lucic continues to play exactly like the sneering, producing power forward everybody across the league dreads playing against, there will be plenty more triumphs awaiting the Black and Gold in their immediate playoff future. All No. 17 has to do is keep saying ‘screw it’, and then going out on the ice like everybody in an opposing uniform is trying to steal the playoff glory that’s rightfully his.