BOSTON – Milan Lucic is expecting another lengthy, grueling battle with Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin as the two hard-headed players go up against each other in the best-of-seven series between the Bruins and Canadiens. It’s been a game of nastiness for each player the past couple of years.
Emelin tore up his knee taking a run at Lucic last season, and the Montreal defensemen was repeatedly abused in Boston’s only victory over the Habs this season at the Bell Centre in March. Emelin got under Lucic’s skin with a thunderous hip check on their first shift against each other in the final regular-season meeting in Boston and absorbed the first of a couple of painful-looking spearing incidents involving the Bruins power forward.
Lucic was fined $5,000 by the NHL after similarly spearing Danny DeKeyser in the first round of the playoffs. It's pretty clear there won’t be a repeat of that in the second round against the Canadiens.
“Some people seemed to be acting like it was the first time that it’s ever happened in the NHL. It’s happened plenty of times before, but unfortunately I got caught doing it,” said Lucic of the spear. “I’ve moved on from it, and I’m not thinking about it anymore.”
Instead Lucic is looking forward to the same old battles against Emelin that had the Bruins left winger calling him “a chicken” for attempting to go low with his hits in their last meeting.
“[Emelin] being a right D-man and me being a left winger, just by the forces of nature we found ourselves meeting up a lot out there,” said Lucic. “He’s a guy that plays physical and doesn’t shy away and that’s how he’s played in the first four games we played them this season.
“You don’t expect that to change in the playoffs and that’s what makes a rivalry into an actual rivalry. It’s what makes the playoffs great: battles within the game, and games within the game," Lucic said. "It’s one of the things that a lot of people are going to be looking at. You know he’s going to be game, and he’s going to be physical. So you’ve got to look out for that.”
Lucic agreed with a smile when he was asked if the Emelin encounters reminded him of earlier go-rounds against former Habs defenseman Mike Komisarek, a matchup that didn’t end up going very well for Montreal. The jury is out on how things will ultimately go between Lucic and Emelin, but they’re off to a roaring start.