Here's something that's now a news flash if you've paying close attention to the Bruins during the playoffs: Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand arent exactlylighting up the scoreboard.
That much is obvious after three playoff games where neither winger has managed any involvement in anything remotely close toa goal during the postseason despite combining for an impressive54tallies during the regular season.
But both players also fill the role of emotional catalyst for the Bruins, and performed that task perfectly at a time their teammates needed their spark. Both Lucic and Marchand playedmajor energy roles for the B's in their stirring4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center -- a winthat gives them a slight2-1 leadOvie and Co.in the quarterfinal playoff series. Rest assured that both hockey clubs have gone from cordial, polite playoff hockey to puck hatred in one short 60 minute playoff contest.
"The more we play each other, the more we hate each other and the worse things get out there, said Marchand. Its definitely going that way.
Lucic was breathing fire all over the icewith a game-high eight hits among Bostons whopping58 registered hits for the game. It appeared early that he was determined to make an impact ona pivotal middle game in the serieseven ifgeneratedfrom a menace and intimidation perspective.
It seemed that No. 17 wanted to end every period with a violent hockey flourish that let his Washington rivals know he wasn't going anywhere. He'd be there all night ready to inflict punishment. Lucic ended the first period in a shoving match with Nicklas Backstrom after the Capitals center cross-checked him in front of the Boston net. The play ended when Bostons power forward knocked Backstroms helmet off his head and both sides retreated to their respective dressing rooms.
Both players were whistled off for matching penalties to start the second period, but the lasting image from the incident was Zdeno Chara skating around the ice with Mike Green in a headlock that Jake "The Snake" Roberts would have been proud of.
Lucic was at it again in the second period when he tangled with both Jason Chimera and Brooks Laich before a face-off. Chimera and Laich actually exchanged places because Lucic threw the latter Washington forward down to the ice, and once again both players were whistled off for matching penalties.
Finally Lucic lost his patiencein the third period of a 3-3 hockey game when Dennis Wideman cross-checked the Bs left winger in the back. The cross-check arrived justas play was whistled dead in front of the Washington net. It took Karl Alzner, Wideman and Matt Hendricks to hold back the rampaging, enragedLucic, and he was whistled for a double-minor that some might have seen as ill-timed or poorly conceived at the time.
The skirmish led Alzner to pantomime that Lucic was crying and drying his eyes as No. 17 was being led off to the penalty box. The forward, voted the toughest player in the NHL by his peers, had a fleeting reaction to Alzner and on-ice bravery that will likely disappear when challenged by Boston's brawling left winger.
I dont even know what to say coming from my side to show that Im not a crybaby, said Lucic. Thats a lot to say coming from a guy in Alznerthat has two roughing penalties in three years, so there you go.
But all the aforementionedplays were under thesameheading: Lucic setting a physical tone for the game against a Capitals team that hasn't always been known as the strongest group of fighters when backed into a corner. Lucics Bruins teammates picked up on that when Zdeno Chara banged home the game-winning goal a little more than 30 seconds after Lucic's post-whistle histrionics.The Bruins freelyadmitted afterward that Lucic's actions fired them up as a team this time around, and they pretty much always do once he puts himself into that postseason zone he hasn't quite reached.
I think we showed a lot more emotion and that goes a long way in this series, said Daniel Paille. Lucic is definitely an emotional guy and he does whatever he can to get us going. He definitely has the right attitude. Were happy to have that. He might not be scoring right now, but he cares and he shows it out on the ice.
On Marchands end, the Little Ball of Hate didnt have a shot on net in 15:20 of ice time, but he did draw a Jason Chimera slashing call and a Nicklas Backstrom cross-checking penalty in the third period. The rabble-rousing winger also absorbed an Alzner elbow during the game that had the Washington defenseman following Marchand to the team bus Monday nightto apologize for it postgame.
So its clear Bostons agitator was doing his job as well when the offense wasnt coming quite so easily. That's just as important for Marchand as an emotional catalyst as it is for Lucic, who gets the crowd moving in a completely different way.
Emotions are running a little higher out there and things are getting a little more physical, said Marchand. Those are games that you get emotionally attached to and those are the ones that you want to play in.
When things arent going your way then you have to bring something else to the table. You saw Looch getting physically involved and trying to take control. Thats what you have to do: find a way to draw penalties or play physical to get momentum somehow.
Lucic and Marchand are still looking for their first playoff goals this season for the Bruins, but make no mistake: their paw marks were all over a pivotal road victory in Washington.