Notes: Lucic hits milestone with 30th goal

191545.jpg

Notes: Lucic hits milestone with 30th goal

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON No matter what happens for the rest of his NHL days, Milan Lucic will forever be known as a 30-goal scorer.

Lucic cinched that label when, after taking a brilliant Patrice Bergeron feed from behind he net, he rifled home a one-timer from the left face-off circle in the third period to help ice a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils Tuesday night.

Lucic became the first 30-goal scorer for the Bs since Phil Kessel had 36 in 2008-09. He now has as many (or more) goals this season than Kessel, Jonathan Toews, Alex Ovechkin, Eric Staal, Patrick Marleau and Ilya Kovalchuk.

In fact, Lucic and Anaheim Ducks All-Star Corey Perry are the only two NHL players with 30 goals and 100 PIMs this season, and Perry is being bandied about as a dark-horse Hart Trophy candidate.

That should give you an idea of what Lucic has evolved into after breaking into the NHL as a 19-year-old rookie expected to be a third-liner capable of potting in goals every so often. Instead, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound left wing has become the prototypical power forward, an elite game-breaking talent in the offensive end of the ice and one of the important faces of the Bruins franchise in a hockey crazy city.

Andrew Ference was one of the many Bs players who's watched Lucic develop from a talented second-round pick capable of influencing games with body checks to a player that can dominate with his rare combination of skill and intimidating physicality.

I cant say Im surprised, like a lot of people probably are when he came to Boston," said Ference. "He does have such a good story and a good attitude -- and a good approach to the game. You knew that he had all the goods. Not just physically, but the way he approaches the game and is mentally surrounded by a lot of good people that teach him about being professional. Hes really just kind of met expectations.

I shouldnt say it so loosely because its hard. Its hard for a guy like that to meet expectations, and to really rise to the challenge. Its been impressive. Kudos to him because this . . . is an intense city for all sports, or for any athlete in the limelight. Hes definitely, for our team, a highlight player and hes done a good job of it.

That highlight player could also be looked at as a game-breaker offensively capable of making a difference in tight, playoff-style games. That's exactly what he did Tuesday night, scoring the goal that essentially guaranteed victory.

It means a lot, obviously. Thirty goals is a big milestone for me to hit, said Lucic. I never imagined that I would do this so quickly, but it goes to show hard you have to work to get into this position.

Did Lucic really think hed ever get to that position in the NHL?

I know there were a lot of people that would have said no rather than yes, said Lucic with a smile. But I wasnt really thinking about it going into this year. I was thinking about it one game at a time, one goal at a time, one assist at a time and one shift at a time.

Last year when he was hampered by injuries, I kind of looked at the big picture, and it didnt really work out for me. This year I just focused on getting healthy and what I had to do tomorrow. Thats really worked for me so far this year.

The best thing about Lucic hitting 30 goals at such a young age: there is still time fto improve and continue building on whats already been an incredibly accomplished young NHL career.

Hes on the billboards. Hes in the commercials, hes a big player and hes hard to miss, said Ference. When hes out there, hes very dynamic. When you come into a city like this that knows their hockey and youre a big young kid, theres a lot expected of you. And when people are talking about Cam Neely and your name in the same sentence your first year out, its a lot to live up to.

I think youve got to have the right attitude and you have to be able to not let it get to your head, but be able to rise to the challenges at the same time. Its a tough thing to do for any sport, but hes good. Hes a Western Western Canadian guy. We sit together on the plane, and he still has that attitude where he loves the game and he loves to play. Its impressive to see that hes pretty much the same guy as when he came in.

Lucic might be the same person as when he joined the Bruins four years ago, but hes become one of the best, most unique players in the NHL in an impressively meteoric rise up the ranks.

The Bruins scored their first 5-on-4 power-play goal since a Feb. 18 win over the Ottawa Senators, and many of the players within the special-teams units feel that theyre on the verge of something special. Thats difficult to say given that the Bs are still 3-for-39 on the PP since the Tomas Kaberle deal, but the talent is clearly there for better power-play results. "It was better tonight, obviously. Not just because of the goal but I thought we had some other good chances," said coach Claude Julien, when asked about the power play. "Had we been able to jump on those loose pucks around the net and finished it off, we could have had even more success. So its obviously an on-going process here with the power play but I think it was much better tonight. We also won our battles, a lot more battles than we had in the past, so we were able to keep the puck in the end and the end zone and spend more time there."

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli held a conference call Tuesday afternoon with Bruins season ticket holders, and informed Bs fans that Marc Savard is still experiencing daily concussions symptoms while recovering at home in Peterborough, Ontario. Chiarelli said Savard isnt suffering from any depression symptoms, but that it was a delicate matter. Shawn Thornton scored his career-best ninth goal of the year in the first period, and had the line of the night when asked if he was disappointed that Ilya Kovalchuk has lapped him in their one-on-one scoring battle that he was winning earlier in the season. "If I kept pace with Ilya Kovalchuk, there is something wrong with this game," said Thornton. "I will take it anytime our line can chip in with one Im happy."Bruins captain Zdeno Chara's goal was the 400th point of his NHL career.

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

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

BOSTON – The Bruins simply weren’t ready to play on Thursday night when the puck was dropped against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. 

They fell down quickly by a 2-0 score, had a couple of completely inept power plays in the first period that sucked all the game’s momentum away from them and received some subpar goaltending from Anton Khudobin on the way to a 4-2 loss to the lowly Avs. About the only B’s person above reproach in this one was David Pastrnak after scoring a pair of goals in the second period to get Boston back into the game, but it all fell short in a very frustrating, lackadaisical loss to a Western Conference team that isn’t very good. 

MORE: 

Needless to say B’s coach Claude Julien wasn’t too happy after a loss where the Bruins might have had more success with a smarter approach to holding the puck. 

“There were a lot of problematic things [in the loss]. No doubt that the power play could have helped us in the first period, and failed to do that. They’ve got to be better,” said Julien. “We needed some saves tonight, and we didn’t get them. [Anton Khudobin] has got to be better. 

“A lot of things here that we can be better at, and take responsibility [for]. But at the same time, you got to move on here.  It’s one of those nights that had we been smarter from the get go, we would have had a chance.”

Clearly it was about a lacking group effort when dissecting the loss, and the minus-3 for David Krejci on Thursday night marked back-to-back negative performances from the playmaking Czech center in big spots. The goaltending was shoddy with Anton Khudobin allowing four goals on 22 shots for Colorado, and unable to make plays on a couple of Colorado shots from outside the painted area that built up the Avs lead in the first place. 

But it was also very much about the inability of the Bruins to generate consistent offense outside of David Pastrnak’s offensive burst in the second period, and the complete breakdown of the Boston power play in the opening 20 minutes. The Bruins struggled to enter the zone in their first PP possession of the game, and then allowed a Nathan MacKinnon shorthanded goal after Torey Krug futilely dove at the blue line to try and keep the puck in the offensive zone. 

The Krug misplay at the offensive blue line gave MacKinnon a clear path the net, and he buried a wrist shot past Khudobin to get the one-sided loss rolling. Beyond the costly mistakes that ended up in the back of the net, the Bruins looked sloppy and slow-reacting in their breakouts and more than willing to settle for outside perimeter shots.

That doesn’t exactly make for a winning combo even when it comes against a flawed, underachieving team like Colorado, and especially when it comes less than 24 hours after a hard-fought road game in Washington DC. 

“I think we were still sleeping there early in the game and they were able to capitalize on their opportunities. We couldn’t claw our way back,” said Brad Marchand, who picked up an assist on David Pastrnak’s second goal of the night on a perfect dish for the one-timer. “I think it was definitely a mental [block]. You’re able to battle through that physical fatigue. It was more the mental mistakes and not being prepared right off the hop of the start of the game. Again, that’s kind of where we lost it.”

The sleepwalking Bruins lost Thursday night’s valuable two points as soon as the opening puck was dropped against the Avalanche, of course, and the Bruins never got out of lollygag mode at a time when intensity should have been automatic.