With a new role, Lucic battling hard

191545.jpg

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

B's determined to 'keep it going' during good offensive run

B's determined to 'keep it going' during good offensive run

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- The Bruins are going through a nice, little bountiful stretch of offense right now after a half-season of struggle.

The Bruins are averaging more than three goals per game in their last 12 contests, and have scored a whopping 22 goals in their last six games including dropping six scores on the Flyers Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Combine that with the 7-for-25 performance on the power play during the month of January, and things are finally starting to catch up with a Bruins team that was all shoot/no score for months of frustrating hockey this season.

“If you want sustained success then you have to be good defensively, but you also have to score some goals. That’s definitely part of it and we have to keep it going,” said Patrice Bergeron, who has four goals and eight points in his last nine games after struggling out of the starting gate. “You’re not going to get rewarded every night like we did [against the Flyers], but you have to find that consistency where you’re close to having that every night.”

One thing nobody should expect out of the B’s, however, is to get outside of what they do well now that they’ve started slapping some numbers up on the board. Instead the Bruins are intent on their bedrock of disciplined defense and sensational goaltending with the added offense just making it much tougher to beat them these days.

“I don’t know if we can stand here and say we’re going to sustain that we’re scoring lots of goals. I think what we need to sustain here is winning more games than we lose,” said Claude Julien. “That’s what we’ve got to sustain. Whether it’s a 1-0 or 2-1 game, or it’s a 5-2 or 5-3 game it doesn’t really matter. It’s about winning hockey games much more than it’s about how much you scored, and how much you don’t score.

“Overall when I look at the scoring chances we’re giving up per game, that doesn’t seem to have changed. Goals allowed may have changed a little bit lately, but overall I think we’ve been very steady in that area [of defense].”

So now the Bruins will again be looking for that ideal balance of offense/defense when they take the ice against the Islanders on Monday afternoon for their second straight matinee at TD Garden. 

Morrow has 'confident feeling' as he readies to jump into B's lineup

bruins_joe_morrow_011816.jpg

Morrow has 'confident feeling' as he readies to jump into B's lineup

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It’s been a long month of bag skates and lonely practices for Bruins defenseman Joe Morrow.

That’s about to change thanks to injuries to both Kevan Miller and Colin Miller, who are both not expected to be able to play against the New York Islanders on Monday afternoon at TD Garden. That means Morrow will be in the B’s lineup for the first time since a Dec. 12 win over the Montreal Canadiens, a span of 16 consecutive B’s games that the 24-year-old has been watching from the press box.

Morrow skated in a pairing with John-Michael Liles in Sunday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena prior to Monday’smatinee, and obviously he’s looking forward to getting back into games given this season’s sporadic practice schedule.

“[Playing well after sitting for long stretches] isn’t necessarily something you want to be good at, but if you are good at then it’s a good tool to have in your bag. It’s a confident feeling that I’ll be able to come in [and play well],” said Morrow, who has an assist and a minus-3 rating in 13 games for the Black and Gold this season. “I’ve stayed in good shape and worked hard in practice, and that’s all I can do up until this point.

“Put simply, [this year’s compacted schedule] is exhausting. Countless times I’ve skated by myself, and anybody would tell you there’s nothing harder than skating by yourself on a sheet of ice. Mentally and physically it’s just exhausting. There haven’t been many practices and there haven’t been many game-type situations in the practices we do have. Skating with the whole team is almost like a pregame skate scenario. But you’re still skating every day, so it’s putting it upon yourself to go out there and stay ready for things.”

The one issue for Morrow, a former first round pick, over the last couple of seasons has been maintaining a high level of play once he draws his way into the lineup. It feels like there’s a drop-off in his play once he’s played a few games in a row whether it’s physical mistakes or mental lapses in his play, and that’s something he wants to avoid when given an opportunity to suit up.

“I feel like when I have played this year that I’ve been quite consistent and that I’ve played well,” said Morrow, the last remaining part of the 2013 Tyler Seguin trade still in a Bruins uniform. “I’m just in a situation that the cards are playing out the way that they are, so it depends on how many games I get whether it’s one, two, 30 or however many games are left [in the season]. It’s realistically entirely up to me. If I can shake the rust out in the first couple of shifts and start from there, it’s going to be a big positive in my book. It’s the really the only option I have left now.”

Given that Colin Miller began skating on his own on Sunday morning, it might not be a very big window for Morrow to impress upon the coaches just how badly he wants to play. But one would expect he’s going to bring his best on Monday against the Isles with the hopes that it will be somebody else sitting up in the press box when it once again becomes a D-man numbers game for the 7-8 players for six lineup spots.