WILMINGTON -- Milan Lucic was still steamed 48 hours after Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin decked him with what looked like a clean, forceful hip check in the neutral zone.
The Bruins left winger called Emelin “a chicken” after Monday night’s shootout loss to the Canadiens, and wasn’t backing off those statements after practicing with the team at Ristuccia Arena on Wednesday morning. Lucic said he hadn’t watched a video of the hit, and that he didn’t have to after he was sent flying by the hit aimed directly at his lower body.
“I haven’t seen the replay, but my opinion has not changed. Whether it’s a legal, or a cheap shot, or whatever you want to call it, when you’re playing against a guy like that you always have to have your guard up,” said Lucic. “If he was a tough player he would stand up and hit you fair and clean. I’ve been in the league for seven years now, and I’d say I have over 1,400 hits over the seven years.
“I’ve never went at a guy’s knee, or anything like that. That’s my opinion on it, and you can take it whatever way you want.”
Did Lucic think it was a low hit?
“Sure it was,” said Lucic. “I don’t go over too easy, so that’s why I said what I said. Maybe he’s trying to get revenge for him stepping up on me last year, and him blowing his knee out. I have no idea what his thought process is. I don’t need to go into more detail other than you’ve got to keep your guard up when you’re playing a player like that.”
Lucic is referring to an April game between the Bruins and Canadiens last season when Emelin tried to take a run at the B’s left winger, and tore up his knee in a season-ending injury as a result of the collision. There’s probably also some sensitivity from a guy like Lucic knowing that his Team President, Cam Neely, had his career effectively ended because of a hit to the lower body by Bruins villain Ulf Samuelsson during his playing days.
One thing is certain: the Lucic/Emelin battle is one that will keep thriving over the next few years. Lucic leads the Bruins with 219 hits and Emelin leads the Canadiens with 167 hits, and it’s a perpetual battle between the B’s top left winger and Montreal’s top right side defenseman.
It just sounds like it’s going to get nastier and nastier as time goes on as the physical incidents between the two rival players begin to pile up.