New year, new expectations for Lucic


New year, new expectations for Lucic

By Joe Haggerty Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Milan Lucic spent his first three seasons with the Bruins awash in potential, and showered in comparisons to power forwards with gaudy offensive totals.

Last season, the potential was realized as Lucic stepped into the offensive breach to post a 30-goal season. He nearly doubled his previous high in shots on goal by firing 179 shots on net and still maintained a 17 percent shooting percentage, thanks to his quick release, true aim for the scoring areas that he carved out around the cage with his big body.

Thats a gargantuan step up for a big lug of a forward that had previously popped in a career high of 17 goals, and was coming off an injury plagued season of finger and foot problems.

But will this be a case of Be careful what you ask for, because you just mightget it?Because, after all, everyone will expect Lucic to at least match the 30 goals, 60 points and plus-28 he posted last year.

Lucic knows that the expectations are there for him to match it moving forward. No matter what he does offensively over the rest of his NHL career, Lucic will always be looked at as a potential 30-goal scorer and expected to be a key offensive contributor for the Bruins. Its something hes acknowledged heading into the new season, but its also a thought that could get him into trouble if he dwells on it a little too much.

Ill tell you one thing: it was hard to get to that level last year, but I think its going to be even harder to match it again this season, said Lucic. Clearly I set the bar for myself and its going to be a challenge to get back to that mark. But if you start thinking about scoring goals and thats all that youre worried about thats when you start getting frustrated, forcing things and making uncharacteristic plays that you dont usually make.

Lucic can get into trouble when he strays too far away from the punishing forechecking, immovable puck possession and high effort formula that hes become renowned for around the NHL,

I know Ive got to remember those little things and those simple things like being strong up and down the walls that make me so successful, said Lucic. My focus is between the ears and getting my feet moving, and everything else usually tends to take care of itself.

What will be fascinating is if the goal-scoring and 16:35 of ice time per game expected out of Lucic mean that his gloves will be fastened to his hands in a decidedly non-fighting fashion. Lucic has become valuable enough to the Bruins that its counter-productive to have him loitering in the penalty box or banged up from battling the Colton Orr-types of the NHL world, but a good hockey brawl also helps fire up the forwards competitive embers when things get a little too quiet.

One thing is for certain: the career path and expectations of a player with such a unique combination of punishing brute strength and hockey skills wont necessarily go in a straight line.

The effort and will are always going to be there for No. 17, and the results along with some league accolades should start to follow.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Thursday, Oct. 27: Chara top D-man on All-Graybeard team


Thursday, Oct. 27: Chara top D-man on All-Graybeard team

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while saying RIP Vine but not really feeling it since it’s a rabbit hole I never really delved down into. 

*Down Goes Brown celebrates the “NHL’s old guys”, and yes, that means a gratuitous shout out to Zdeno Chara as the top defenseman on the All-Graybeard squad. 

*Hampus Lindholm has signed a long term deal with the Anaheim Ducks, so now that deal leaves everybody to wonder who is leaving the Anaheim roster in the eventual salary cap crunch. It will be interesting to see if this hastens any Cam Fowler trade talk as far as the Bruins are concerned because it looks like they need the help.  

*Pro Hockey Talk has the Oilers off to their best start since the Wayne Gretzky Era and people in Edmonton finally getting to see the hockey they’ve been waiting for over the past few years. 

*In honor of the Halloween season that we’re in, here are a few cool and scary goalie masks with a bit of spooky flair. 

*Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka is confident that his young team is going to rebound after a rough start to the season. 

*Speaking of creative uniforms, it’s a most wonderful time of the year for hockey when they bust out their Oktoberfest sweaters. 

*For something completely different: this matchup of Peanuts and Stranger Things hits all the right notes for fans of both. 


Goalie update: Tuukka Rask dealing with hamstring AND groin injury?


Goalie update: Tuukka Rask dealing with hamstring AND groin injury?

While the good news is that it doesn’t appear that Tuukka Rask is dealing with a knee injury, there are still some significant muscular issues to work with concerning his left leg. 

According to former Bruins defenseman and NHL analyst Aaron Ward on CSN’s Great American Hockey Show podcast, the Bruins franchise goaltender has been dealing with a hamstring issue that’s also become a hamstring and groin issue as he tried to play through in the first week of the season. Rask clearly tweaked something in his left leg opening night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, missed the Saturday night loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs and then appeared to aggravate the injury in last week’s win over the New Jersey Devils. 

According to Ward, it’s hamstring and groin issues for Rask as the Bruins attempt to survive without him while potentially working toward a possible return for the Finnish netminder this weekend vs. the Red Wings. Rask hasn’t skated with the Bruins since finishing out the 2-1 win over the Devils last Thursday night, and tweaking the problematic left leg in the process. 

“What I was told is that it was left leg, and that at first it was hamstring and now it’s possibly hamstring and groin,” said Ward to CSN Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty on the Great American Hockey Show podcast. “You’re always concerned when you’re a goalie and it’s your legs, right? It’s the push-off. The crazy part was watching it on video where the shoot came from the left side and went wide, and the next time he injures it shot comes from the same spot, misses it wide and [Rask] is in the exact same position wincing.

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“I think [the Bruins] are smart rather than trying to play a guy that’s 90, 80 or 70 percent, whatever it is, to just get it over with. Endure the short term pain to get the greater gain, and that’s having Rask in there. There’s no greater endorsement to keep him out than seeing the [bad losses without him] because you need a healthy Tuukka to let the rest of the team settle.”

It’s been disastrous without Rask, of course, as the Bruins have allowed 11 goals in back-to-back losses to the Wild and Rangers with rookies Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre between the pipes, and Anton Khudobin out for three weeks while sporting a cast on his right hand in the last B’s game at TD Garden. 

Meanwhile, Rask (3-0-0, 1.67 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage) is trying to heal and time it perfectly so he returns once he’s past the danger of potentially blowing out the muscles in his left leg and making the situation even worse than it already might be. 

Ward also discusses his relationship with "Toucher & Rich" and the "Cuts for a Cause" charitable event that he helped start.