Lucic named 'toughest' in NHL player poll

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Lucic named 'toughest' in NHL player poll

ST. PAUL, MN The Bruins have longed to forge an identity as a tough team to play against and their success in that department is undeniable.

The Bs have a Stanley Cup championship built on the back of that rough reputation, and now it appears the team holds the overwhelming respect of their opponents around the NHL.

The NHLPA and CBCs Hockey Night in Canada released a joint poll of over 250 NHL players on a wide range of questions about the leagues best players. And there were Bruins at the top of the list in a bevy of categories.

Bruins power forward Milan Lucic was voted the toughest player in the NHL with fellow teammates Zdeno Chara and Shawn Thornton voted in by their peers as No. 2 and No. 3 respectively in that category.

Lucic took 20 percent of the vote from the NHL player voting.

For Lucic it was an honor and a testament to how good hes become as a reliable goal scorer, a feared fighter, and a player that can intimidate with his bone-rattling body checks.

Its good, obviously. Its good to hear that youre recognized by your peers with something like that, Lucic said. Its an honor to be recognized around the league as being a tough player. I take a lot of pride in being tough and Ive just got to keep it up.

Its not just me. I think our whole team does a great job with that. Playing with Chara and Thornton and normally having Nathan Horton on my line really helps in the toughness element.

Lucic also joked he might have a target on his back in practice with Chara and Thornton coming after him to prove who is toughest.

Patrice Bergeron was voted the most underrated player in the NHL with nine percent of the vote, and Chara was voted as holding the hardest shot and being the toughest defenseman to play against in the poll.

Interestingly enough 24 percent of the NHL players polled also voted the Vancouver Canucks as the most overrated team in the NHL further cementing their reputation as one of the most disliked teams in the league.

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."