Lucic, Bruins find success with 'quick strike' play

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Lucic, Bruins find success with 'quick strike' play

The Bruins have become masters of the quick strike attack over the last several seasons, and it helped them again in their time of need against the Ottawa Senators.

The Bruins were down by a pair of goals late in the second period and were getting outshot by a 13-4 margin in a middle block of time they were badly losing to a hungry, young Sens bunch.

But that all changed with Milan Lucic potting his 17th goal of the season with 46 seconds left before the second intermission, and pulling the Bruins to within a single goal of a 3-3 score. Claude Julien was quick to say afterward that Lucics goal didnt swing any momentum, but instead merely let the Bs know they had a chance to come back if their director really killed it.

Brad Marchand and Dennis Seidenberg cooperated with a pair of third period goals to pull the rug out from under the Senators, and the Bs improved to 10-1-1 while scoring a goal within the last two minutes of any period this season. Thats the quick strike cause and effect, and the demoralized look from Ottawa in the third period spoke volumes about the goals effect.

Its huge. Obviously its a great way to finish off a period, feeling good about yourself heading into the dressing room," said Lucic, who holds five points in the last four games. "It still wasnt that great of a feeling because we felt like we got outworked and lost a lot of battles in the second period.

"But in the end we still had some confidence knowing that we were just one goal down . . . instead of two goals down heading into the third. And obviously our power play came up big and we were able to pull one through.

The Marchand goal was a thing of beauty as he muscled Chris Phillips off the puck in front of the Ottawa net, and Dennis Seidenbergs game-winner should have plenty of people talking given that the shot was fired from center-ice at TD Garden.

But it was Lucic, who took a Rich Peverley feed off the side wall, that went bombing down the lane and fired away with a blistering wrist shot that completely hand-cuffed Anderson. That goal wasnt the moment that turned the tide for the Black and Gold, but it did give them a pathway to success where there hasnt always been one over the last month of hockey. Instead Lucics goal was a stark reminder that their power forward fills a huge role on a Bruins team that badly needs him.

We didnt see the Lucic goal as a momentum shift. We kind of looked at it as, were fortunate now that were only one goal behind after two periods," said Julien. "It just put us in a better position. I think what we did is we recognized that we werent playing very well. We had to be a lot better in the third period, and that goal just kind of game us some hope that the next goal hopefully would be ours. Wed be in a tie game and then scrape away from there.

I really thought our guys focused; their intent is there. Were just fighting it right now, and every game seems to be a battle for us to win. Hopefully that third period is something we can start off with next game, with Carolina coming in, a team that we havent beaten yet this year. So Im hoping that we can kind of get some confidence from that third period and go from there. Were a little out of sync. We look rusty, especially offensively. We dont look like a very confident team right now."

So while all of the fanfare will be all about Bostons third period revival thats been going for the better of the season, it should be about the quick strike offensive philosophy that once again paid dividends for the Bs.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is trading for Paul George worth the risk?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is trading for Paul George worth the risk?

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0:41 - Michael Holley, Kayce Smith and Tom Giles recap their thoughts on drafting Jayson Tatum and trade rumors involving the Celtics.

6:21 - Ian Thomsen joins BST to discuss if it would be worth trading for Paul George as a one-year rental and if there would be a chance he could still around long-term if traded to Boston.

11:13 - Evan Drellich joins BST to talk about Rick Porcello’s outing, the Red Sox offense coming to life, and Doug Fister being claimed by the Red Sox. 

15:10 - Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely look back at the Celtics/Nets trade, what the assets have turned into, and if Danny Ainge has done a good job turning those assets into players. 

Haggerty: Bruins playing it pretty safe at the NHL Draft

Haggerty: Bruins playing it pretty safe at the NHL Draft

CHICAGO – As opening nights go at the NHL Draft, Friday night was a bit of a ho-hum affair for the Boston Bruins at the United Center home of the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Bruins went the safe route by drafting a smooth, defensive-minded defenseman with the 18th overall pick when they selected Finnish product Urho Vaakenainen, and in doing so left more dynamic forwards like Kristian Vesalainen and Kailer Yamamoto still on the draft board for other teams to claim as their own. It was a bit of a curious choice given how many defensemen the Bruins already have in the prospect pipeline, but the lack of strength in the draft class seemed to lead teams to carve their own paths looking for players.

MORE: Bruins select defenseman Urho Vaakanainen with No. 18 pick

The 6-foot-1, 188-pounder clearly has miles to go offensively despite his smooth skating and solid passing skills, but there’s also a consideration that the teenager has been playing in the men’s league in Finland for the last couple of seasons. It makes things a little more difficult to project for the Finn D-man, but the Bruins believe there is some upside to his offensive game given the skills, the hockey IQ and the considerable confidence that the player has in his own game.

“His gap control and skating ability are really good. He’s obviously played in the Finnish Elite League at a very young age for one and a half years now and he’s played on the big stage at the world juniors. We feel like there’s a lot of upside for a 200-foot player that gets back on pucks, and then can transition them back out. Being able to cover ice is an important part of the game, and it continues to evolve in that direction,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney, who indicated Vaakenainen will play in North America in 2018-19 after fulfilling his contractual obligations in Finland. “We tracked what he did on offense at the junior league level prior to him jumping to the elite league, and it lines up pretty well with other elite players that made the jump to that level.

“It’s a valid question and whether he gets put into those [offensive] situations this year is what we’re excited about with his [Finnish] team moving forward.”

While Vaakenainen sounded surprised the Bruins selected him after only a single meeting at the NHL scouting combine, Sweeney said that Boston’s head scout in Finland has enough history with the family to vouch for the kid’s makeup.

So while it’s far from a sexy pick and the Bruins could have tried to hit a home run with an 18th overall selection in a mediocre draft, the B’s will also get some time before anybody is ready to label the Finnish blueliner a boom or a bust.

The rest of the draft night didn’t add up to much for the B’s, however. They made the selection of Vaakenainen after strongly considering dropping down in the first round, and in doing so lost one of the better trade chips in the form of their 2017 first round pick. There were discussions with Minnesota about Marco Scandella and a few trade feelers to other clubs that might listen on a D-man, but the Bruins now have to hit the reset button on trade discussions for left-shot defensemen or top-6 left wings.

Perhaps Scandella’s $4 million per season salary was an issue for the Bruins, or maybe the Bruins didn’t want to give up their first round pick for a 27-year-old D-man coming off a so-so season with the Wild. Either way, there wasn’t enough momentum for the Bruins to get a trade done with a bevy of defensemen rumored to be available if the offer is good enough.

“I was on the record saying that we’d be offering our first round pick for target-specific players, and we did do that,” said Sweeney. “I don’t blame teams for not necessarily wanting to go through with it, so we went ahead with a player we wanted with our own pick. We continue to build what we think is a good group of guys moving forward.

“There are a couple of areas we’d like to address and get better. We’re trying to help our team currently. Certainly Brandon [Carlo] jumped into our lineup and we hope Charlie [McAvoy] will carry over what he did, and we have other players that will push. We have six returning defensemen we feel good about and we’ll certainly push from underneath, but it’s an area we’ll continue to address. We have some forwards that we also hope will come online, but we’ll never stop exploring and trying to improve our club.”

So let’s sum it all up after a week of additions and subtractions from the Original Six organization: The Bruins added a decidedly vanilla defenseman in the first round of the NHL Draft that might be a simple stay-at-home guy, and they weren’t able to muster any kind of deals for a D-man or winger to enhance the NHL roster. On the other hand, they didn’t give up much over the week as well and they didn’t do much at all to harm a solid roster that looked like they were finally on the right track pushing into the playoffs last season.

The Bruins could be in store for an action-packed Day Two of the draft on Saturday full of promising prospects and bountiful trades, but it sure feels like the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago isn’t going to be a very memorable one for the Black and Gold.