New deal with Bruins 'a dream come true' for Lucic

596024.jpg

New deal with Bruins 'a dream come true' for Lucic

The Bruins saved the biggest piece for last, literally and figuratively, by inking power forward Milan Lucic to a three-year contract extension worth 18 million, and then announcing it on Saturday morning.

Lucic will be the highest paid forward on the Bruins starting in 2013-14 when he will get paid 6 million per year for three seasons, and hell be expected to bring even more now that hes getting paid like an elite NHL player.

Theres obviously going to be more pressure with making more money and you also have to embrace that challenge and embrace the struggle that it takes to win, said Lucic. But I think it all makes us aware because we had that Stanley Cup feeling, but then we lost it. Then we want to do whatever we can to get our hands on the Cup again.

So we definitely have to embrace the struggle and embrace the challenges were going to be faced with along the way. But definitely now that were more of a talk of the town here in Boston, theres obviously pressure that comes with that.

The new deal buys up two years of unrestricted free agency in the current CBA, and still leaves Lucic free for one big contract when he hits 28 years old in the middle of his prime.

Lucic was voted as the toughest player in the NHL last season by his peers, hes one of only three players to total 25 goals and 100 PIMs in each of the last two years and hes a signature player in Bostons run of hockey success over the last five years.

Hes a solid contributor and what I like to call him at times a signature player that likes to be physical and loves to play the game, said Chiarelli. Hes a big part of this team. He marks the end of three signings that he marked the course for over the last few weeks. Im happy that weve completed them.

It shows a commitment by Milan and the rest of the players to commit to the organization, and it shows a commitment from the ownership in Mister Jeremy Jacobs and Charlie Jacobs. It takes a player and a team to be in concert here.

He joins Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand as young players that have signed extensions over the last week a raft of contracts worth 70.5 million that Bs owner Jeremy Jacobs signed off on before locking out the players at midnight over the same players making too much money. Lucic was happy to know where hell be for the next four years, and vowed to step up his performance both on-ice and off-ice now that hes one of the big pieces in the puzzle.

Ive spent five years in the city and Ive embraced both Boston and the Boston Bruins, said Lucic, who weighed the possibility of waiting until a new CBA was implemented but wanted piece of mind with the three-year deal. Theyve also embraced me. Im happy to be remaining a part of this and very excited about it. Theres no other organization in the NHL that Id rather play for.

We believe in the teams play and I believe in the team that we have here. Were competitors. Being an athlete in Boston has been one of the best experiences in my whole life, and to be able to continue that is a dream come true. To be embraced by the fans has been awesome.

Lucic has become the leagues prototypical power forward over the last couple of seasons while racking up goals, points, hits, and fights (nine last season including a thrashing of Brandon Prust in front of a national audience at Madison Square Garden), but Chiarelli hopes to see more consistency out of his player. That includes the postseason where Lucic has slacked recently (five goals and 15 points in 32 games over the last two years) after bursting on the scene as a big game player in the playoffs during first three years.

This could apply to any of our players and what theyve heard from both me and the coaches is about consistency, said Chiarelli. Its something that all players strive to improve. Milans game is a unique and to play that game at a more consistent pace and level would make him even better than he is now. We all want to be more consistent, including myself.

The signings of Lucic, Marchand and Seguin will make Chiarellis job much easier following this upcoming season with only (restricted) Tuukka Rask, Andrew Ference and Nathan Horton now approaching free agency. Before it appeared that the Bruins were going to face some major decisions after this upcoming season, but now they have a solid core intact that will face adjustments once the new CBA is drawn up, approved and implemented at some point in the future.

Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

bruins-noel-acciari.jpg

Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

BOSTON -- Noel Acciari missed a month of game action with a lower body injury, so it would have been perfectly acceptable to show plenty of rust in his game upon returning to the Boston lineup.

But the former Providence College standout didn’t look rusty, a step behind or out of place in any way as he played the fourth line energy forward role to a perfect fit after missing the last 13 games. Acciari did get in one game with the Providence Bruins prior to suiting back up for the Black and Gold on Saturday, and perhaps that helped him manufacture a couple of shots on net to go along with three thumping hits against the Maple Leafs.

The 25-year-old Acciari didn’t factor into the scoring at all for the Bruins, but that’s just as well given that his focus should be on killing penalties, being hard to play against and taking the body whenever the chance presents itself. Claude Julien reformed the B’s energy line that had so much success earlier in the season with Acciari, Dominic Moore and Tim Schaller, and didn’t hesitate tossing them back into the mix together while looking for energy and a spark for an offensively stunted team.

“It’s good to be back with my linemates, and you know, I think we kind of picked up where we left off, but there’s definitely things we need to work on. That’ll come with a couple more practices and games together,” said Acciari, who finished theSaturday loss with three registered hits packed into 11:35 of ice time. “Kind of getting back to our familiarity and kind of get back to where we were before I got injured.

“It was a good start tonight, but we definitely just weren’t clicking like we used to, but that’ll come. I think that will come. Like I said, a couple practices and just kind of getting some games in [are good things]. I thought we were pretty good tonight, but, you know, should get more pucks to score [goals].”

Clearly there is room for improvement for everybody including Acciari, but it was encouraging to see the fearless competitor again flying around on the TD Garden ice playing high intensity hockey for a fourth line that could use every little bit of that. 

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

BOSTON -- This may not come as a surprise, but the Boston Bruins are having some trouble putting the puck in the net.

Despite outshooting the Maple Leafs by an 11-2 margin in the first period and outshooting them by a 32-21 margin over the balance of the 60 minute game, the Bruins scratched for just a single goal in a frustrating, constipated 4-1 loss to Toronto at TD Garden. Clearly some of the offensive difficulty was caused by a solid Frederik Andersen, who improved to 6-0-0 in a career against Boston that’s beginning to take on Bruins Killer proportions.

But a great deal of the B’s struggles to finish scoring chances on Saturday night is a malady that’s dogged the Bruins all season, and marked the 20th time in 29 games this year that Boston has scored two goals or less. In most of these games the Bruins have dominated puck possession and outshot their opponents, but still have come away mostly empty handed in the goals scored department while dropping deep in the bottom third of NHL offenses this season.

“It seems like every game we’re out-chancing teams, but we don’t outscore teams. That’s where the biggest issue is right now. Our scoring is not there and if you don’t score goals you don’t win hockey games,” said Claude Julien. “Because of that we criticize everything else in our game, but our game isn’t that bad.

“If we were scoring goals people would love our game right now, but that’s the biggest part. There’s not much more I can say here except for the fact that if we don’t score goals it’s going to be hard to win hockey games.”

But the Bruins aren’t scoring goals consistently, their power play is below average while trending in the wrong direction and the team has been forced to watch steady offensive players like Patrice Bergeron suddenly slump in a concerning way. Clearly David Pastrnak is doing his part with 18 goals scored this season in 24 games, and others like Brad Marchand and Dominic Moore have also performed above, or beyond, their acceptable level of play.

But there are other players failing with the chance to make an offensive dent: Austin Czarnik has been on the roster for nearly two months, and has zero goals and two points in his last 15 games as the offense is again dried up on the third line. He missed wide on a shorthanded chance in the third period after a Moore centering pass set up him all alone in front, and was critiquing himself for fanning on a perfect dish to him in the slot.

Moments later the Leafs had an insurance score from James van Riemsdyk to make it a 3-1 game, and it was all over for the Black and Gold at that point.

Czarnik is an easy target because he’s young and inexperienced, but there is more than enough struggle and frustration to go around with a bunch of offensive players that can’t seem to get out of their own way. David Backes admitted it’s reached a point where the Bruins are frustrated when they can’t score enough to beat a team like Toronto, and that it falls squarely on the lead guys in the Black and Gold dressing room that are underperforming.

“I think offensive frustration is warranted at this point; we just haven’t done a good enough job scoring goals. We played a heck of a first period. We limited them to two shots and we had an opportunity to have a team that’s coming in here that’s a younger team, to really put them behind the eight ball,” said Backes. “Instead, they think they got a second lease on life and they were able to capitalize. All of the sudden, they were up 2-0 and we’re fighting an uphill battle again rather than -- we have that opportunity to play a heck of a first period and we don’t find a way – it’s easy to talk about, but it’s going out there and doing the job and putting it past or through the goalie, or however it needs to happen. “You’ve seen our goals; you want to do a study on it unless you’re Pasta [David Pastrnak] with the one-timer on the side, it’s been ugly, it’s been rebounds, it’s been greasy goals and that’s our equation and we need more of it, and we didn’t do it. They did a good job of being in front of their net and boxing out, eliminating those second chances. But, we’ve got good players in here that need to create more and find those second chances and win those battles, find those loose pucks, and throw them in the net.”

The Bruins have been talking seemingly all season about the need to get to the “dirty areas in the offensive zone”, and for players to jump all over the second and third chance opportunities currently going by the board unchallenged on goalie rebounds.

Now it’s about speaking with action for the B’s, and more specifically speaking volumes with goals and offensive finish instead of “chances” that aren’t doing much of anything if they’re not being snapped into the back of the net.