With a new role, Lucic battling hard

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With a new role, Lucic battling hard

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

TAMPA Milan Lucic sounds almost wistful when talking about the sudden emergence of Tyler Seguin in the Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Bs power forward remembers being a 19-year-old in the playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens, and the kind of ignorance is bliss attitude of the young that came along with feeling no expectations or pressure weighing him down.

Lucic had a pair of goals in that seven game series, but was a younger player adding his thumping physical style while other players shouldered the offensive load as underdogs against the Habs. Thats a lot different than being your teams leading goal scorer during the regular season, and feeling all kinds of pressure while putting up six points (2 goals, 4 assists) in 14 games along with a plus-8 rating.

For me this years playoff feels a lot different than the last couple of years playoffs," Lucic said. "I remember when I was his age playing in the playoffs and there was no pressure. Youd just go out there and play. Its different going into a season rather than going into the playoffs, especially for him where no expectations with all of this other stuff going. He was supposed to score and all of this crazy stuff. Here nobody really talked about him and he was able to walk right in and play.

Thats what hes done; hes going out there and playing and thats why he was able to do what he could do."

Thats the situation Lucic is in now where hes been fielding questions like, Whats wrong? and Are you hurt? from media around the playoffs since the first couple of postseason games when Lucic was losing physical battles to P.K. Subban. The big winger was much better against the Flyers where he could stretch out his 6-foot-2, 235-pound body and punish Philadelphia players without worrying about too much faking, flopping or diving.

Still, Lucic leads the Eastern Conference and trails only Vancouvers Maxim Lapierre with 43 penalty minutes this season aided by a pair of game misconducts in 14 games with the Bruins. Some of that has been bad luck or bad decisions, but there have also been some encouraging performances within the postseason body of work.

Lucic was very good in Game 3 while setting up David Krejcis first period goal, and then going the extra mile to save a puck in the offensive zone that led to Andrew Ferences insurance goal. Lucic said it was a pure hustle play that he had a good feeling would lead to something positive, and it was indicative of the effort put in up and down the Bruins lineup.

He was good," Claude Julien said. "His fore-check, he chipped pucks in, he went after the puck aggressively and when you see a guy like Milan Lucic coming at you it makes you a little nervous. It can put you on your heels. So he created a lot of turnovers last night. But the other part you mentioned is it was important for him to be strong on the puck and not to lose it.

I thought he did that in Game 2 a lot and he got stripped from the puck. Earlier in the game he lost a couple of battles along the boards and I just kind of reminded him that the biggest asset of his game is about winning battles. He did a great job of refocusing and bringing that part of his game back to that game that night. So I thought he was a really good player battling a minor injury, but hes battling through it.

It may not be the same as it ever was for Lucic while he battles through the ins and outs of a scoring slump during the playoffs, but hes fighting through it and contributing in all manner of ways for the Bruins.

Big Bad Lucic still has a lot more to give before its all said and done, and hes proven this spring that he wont ever stop battling no matter the circumstances.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Haggerty: Trade flurry makes Bruins' road to the playoffs more slippery

Haggerty: Trade flurry makes Bruins' road to the playoffs more slippery

Don Sweeney and the Bruins aren’t expected to be big players Wednesday at the NHL trade deadline, understandable since they've won six of seven under interim coach Bruce Cassidy.

But they might be feeling a little more pressure to do something as many Atlantic Division teams -- and Eastern Conference ones, for that matter -- are making moves.

The biggest headline-grabber occurred out of division as the Washington Capitals shipped a first-round pick, two forwards and a conditional second-round pick to the St. Louis Blues for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and a young goaltender. Shattenkirk will turn the already explosive Capitals into a strong Stanley Cup contender, maybe even the favorite. And the pressure's on for them to deliver, since it’s expected the 28-year-old All-Star will head to the New York Rangers in free agency this summer. 

Shattenkirk had been linked to the Bruins in the past but they weren’t about to pay that exorbitant a price for a rental, not while they're still more rebuilder than contender even as they push for the playoffs. Moreover, the Bruins weren’t going to do a sign-and-trade for a player who's going to command a seven-year, $49 million deal on the open market and would ostensibly be blocking the top-4 development of both Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy as stud, right shot D-men. 

Instead, expect the Bruins to invest heavily over the next year in a potential top pairing left-side defenseman who could eventually step in for Zdeno Chara. 

The highest impact moves that concerned the Bruins during Monday’s flurry of activity, however, were the divisional teams they’re competing with direction for playoff spots:

-- The Maple Leafs made a sneaky big move in shipping out a second-round pick to Tampa Bay for gritty, battle-tested, third-line center Brian Boyle, who will bring size, sandpaper and character to a young Toronto team pushing for the playoffs. 

-- Ottawa sent a prospect to Vancouver for bad boy Alex Burrows, whose claim to fame is biting Patrice Bergeron during the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. The Senators and Bruins wplay each other three times in Boston’s final 20 games in the kind of matchup that could dictate the playoff fate for both clubs, and Burrows' cheap-shot antics will undoubtedly make the Sens a tougher team to play down the stretch. 

-- The Canadiens shored up their defense group by adding Dallas D-man Jordie Benn in exchange for young defenseman Greg Pateryn and a fourth-round pick. They did so before pulling off an important, come-from-behind win over the Devils on Monday night. 

The Bruins woke up Tuesday morning still holding their third-place spot in the Atlantic Division and still very much in control of their own destiny. But there’s no denying Boston’s competitors have all improved themselves. The gauntlet has been passed to Sweeney and the Bruins to do something smart for the long haul, but to also improve right now if the right deal presents itself. 

That could mean dealing off veteran players like Matt Beleskey or John-Michael Liles if there’s an interested party. It could mean picking up a cheap rental like Radim Vrbata or Dmitry Kulikov if the price is right. Or it could mean standing pat and not messing with a team playing its best hockey of the season. 

One thing is clear: Monday's moves have increased the Bruins' degree of difficulty for ending their two-year playoff drought. 
 

Bergeron: Julien to Habs 'definitely a surprise'

Bergeron: Julien to Habs 'definitely a surprise'

Patrice Bergeron said Tuesday on Toucher & Rich that he sent Claude Julien a text congratulating him on getting a new job with the Canadiens. Asked then by Fred Toucher whether he secretly celebrated that Julien might ruin Montreal’s season, Bergeron opted not to respond. 

Jokes aside, Bergeron said that while he figured that Julien would get a head-coaching job after his dismissal from the Bruins, he was surprised to see it happen in Montreal.

“It was definitely a surprise, especially that quickly,” Bergeron said. “I knew he was going to turn around and find another job somewhere in the NHL. I didn’t know if it was going to be, I don’t know if it was a week or less than a week.” 

Julien coached Bergeron for parts of 10 seasons in Boston. He is 3-2-0 thus far in his second stint with the Habs. 

“I was surprised, but at the same time, I wish him all the best,” Bergeron said. “At the same time, it’s tough to do when it’s in Montreal.”