By Joe Haggerty
WILMINGTON, Mass. Milan Lucic is a tone-setter for the Bruins in just about every sense of the word. Hes a big game player with 18 points (8 goals, 10 assists) in his last 24 NHL postseason games, but the 22-year-old was completely invisible for nearly all of Thursday nights 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens in Game One of the playoffs.
The Habs managed to completely neutralize David Krejci in the first game by having Tomas Plekanec shadow the Bs center all over the ice, and Lucic wasnt able to gain any kind of a foothold offensively or physically.
Lucic led the Bruins with 30 goals scored this season, but he didnt even register a shot on net in the first two periods of Game One. He finally got on the board in the third period, but there wasnt nearly enough work by the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Lucic and 6-foot-2, 225-pound Nathan Horton to blast holes in the Montreal defense guarding Carey Price.
"I think we all know that although we played a decent game, we can all be a little better," Claude Julien said. "As a team, we feel we can be a little better. That's to a man. Not necessarily just putting all the emphasis on one guy. No doubt Lucic has a big impact on our hockey club. Certainly we need him at his best."
Hal Gill and P.K. Subban were charged with standing their ground in front of the Montreal net, and didnt really budge at all when matched time after time against the KrejciLucicHorton line.
Bostons size and strength didnt come into play against the Canadiens as many thought it would in Game One, and its up to them to decide to step and join the playoff party after coasting a bit too much in the first Montreal game. Lucic hasnt scored in the last 11 games, and Krejci had a single assist and a minus-3 in his last five games entering the playoffs. Both players need to start putting in a playoffs-style days work if they hope to harvest some results against Gill and Subban.
"Gill is a big defenseman and he certainly does a good job of boxing out, said Julien. Subban is also a very good player. He's a guy that carries the puck very well and is very mobile. He was a good asset for them as well. You've got to give credit where credit is due. At the same time, you've got to look at your team and find ways to make your team better. I think our guys have to be a little better in battling through those kinds of picks and those situations where they box you out."
Tyler Seguin was on the ice at Ristuccia Arena more than 30 minutes after the rest of his teammates had finished up their practice session and retired to the Bs dressing room. Seguin continued to fire pucks at the net and perfect that curl-and-draw wrist shot from the left faceoff dot that he scored against Nashvilles Pekka Rinne a weapon that the Bs could certainly have used while going 0-for-3 on the man advantage during their Game 1 loss.
Seguin continues to split time with Michael Ryder at the right wing spot and it looks like itll be a choice between those two players if it ever comes down to it during this postseason run. Seguins status as the last guy on the ice would seem to indicate hell be a healthy scratch for Game 2 as well.
Every Bruins player that was supposed to be on the ice made it out there for Fridays practice, and appeared to make it out of Game 1 with their health intact. The Bs defensemen corps worked quite a bit on breakouts and reversing the puck, and the kind of transition game that led immediately to Montreals first goal early in the first period on a careless puck reversal by Tomas Kaberle.
General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced Friday that the club has recalled forward Kirk MacDonald and defensemen Andrew Bodnarchuk and Colby Cohen from the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League to serve as Black Aces for the Bs during their playoff run. All three players will remain in Providence and train with the P-Bruins coaching staff.
The Bruins stat of the week courtesy of Bs media relations maven Eric Tosi: The Bruins went 5-1-0 in the six games following games in which they were shut out during the regular season, including an 8-6 win over Montreal on Feb. 9 which followed an 0-2 loss to San Jose on Feb. 5.
They have not been shut out in consecutive playoff games since May 7 (0-5) and May 8 (0-3), 1995 vs. New Jersey in the Conference Quarterfinals.