|01.27.11 at 12:41 am ET|
Milan Lucic had a number in mind before the season. That number was 20.
Never in his three-year career had Lucic reached the 20-goal plateau, and after scoring 17 goals in the 2008-09 campaign, he took a statistical step backwards — both in games played and in scoring — when injuries limited him to 50 regular season contests last season.
After scoring nine goals in the injury-shortened season, Lucic entered training camp set on not only surpassing his career-high 17, but finally scoring 20.
‘I feel like have the ability to help contribute to this team a little bit more,’ Lucic said on Sept. 21. ‘I still in my three years haven’t been able to hit the 20-goal mark. I feel like that’s a realistic goal for me this year and that’s a personal goal that I should be able to meet.”
Lucic expanded his team-leading goal count in the second period when David Krejci won a face-off clean and drew it back to him at the top of the left circle. The 22-year-old fired a quick snapshot past Tomas Vokoun to give the B’s a 2-0 lead and meet his personal goal before the All-Star break.
“It’s great,” Lucic said of finally being a 20-goal scorer. “It’s obviously something that I talked about coming in, and that was a goal for myself and I reached it as quickly as [I did]. ‘¦ It’s a good step for me and I couldn’t be happier right now, but definitely not satisfied.”
Twenty was the number in September. In revising his hopes for the season, Lucic had a new number Wednesday night.
“One game at a time, one goal at a time,” Lucic said, “so we’ll see where I can get to this year.”
The uptick in No. 17’s scoring has been a big factor in the team’s first-place standing in the Northeast Division at the break. Krejci doesn’t see Lucic as the only one benefiting from the left-winger’s scoring this season.
“It’s good,” Krejci said of seeing Lucic’s production. “Especially when he’s on my line.”
|01.27.11 at 12:15 am ET|
While most of his teammates will be going home this weekend, Tyler Seguin will be heading to North Carolina to participate in the rookie SuperSkills competition as part of the All Star festivities. He said he’s looking forward to being around some of the game’s biggest stars for the weekend.
“I’m still a fan,” Seguin said. “I was watching the NHL like any other fan last year and now I’m on the ice, so it’s starting to be a surreal experience.”
When asked if he was going to ask anyone for autographs, Seguin said he might have to, but that he would be “low-key” about it. He added that his sister is going to be disappointed because Sidney Crosby had to back out of the game with a concussion.
“I was supposed to ask Crosby if he wanted to date my sister, too,” he said. “That’s not going to work out now that he’s gone.”
|01.26.11 at 11:39 pm ET|
For as long as there has been hockey, there has been the stereotype that goalies ‘ perhaps even more than other players ‘ have their quirks. In Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Panthers, Bruins netminder Tim Thomas used one of his to make sure he knew what he was working with at all times.
When asked about the closing seconds of the game and a save he made on former teammate Dennis Wideman with 0.4 seconds to go, Thomas revealed a habit of his that he has depended on over the years.
“I count how many right-handed guys and how many left-handed guys there are, and there was only one right-handed guy on the ice there at the end, with Wideman,” Thomas said. “Unless I miscounted.
“I know that if they wrap it on my glove side, a lefty is going to have a different shot, but I knew where the right-handed guy was going to be because I’ve been watching Wides on TV and that’s where he’s scoring a lot of his goals, right from that pocket where he tried to get a shot on me. So to make a long story short, I was prepared for a right-handed shot from that angle.”
Thomas said he counts lefties and righties every faceoff and every line change. It seems like a logical and useful tactic for a goalie, but none of the reporters in the room, including one former goalie, had ever heard of anyone doing it. Thomas said he wasn’t sure how many other goalies did it, either.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I started doing it in Europe because there are so few right-handed guys. So I actually had to be aware of when there was more than one right-handed guy on the ice.”
The way Thomas, who has been dealing with a cold, broke down that final play of the game, he made it sound almost as if he was seeing it all unfold in slow motion. When asked if that’s how it felt to him, he noted that he just seems to be on top of things when he’s under the weather.
“It actually felt like [I could see the game in slow motion] all night for some reason,” he said. “I’ve got a cold if you guys haven’t heard that, and that seems to happen to me when I have a cold. I play some of my best games sick. I personally don’t like it, physically. But for example, my family, whenever they find out I’m sick, they’re like, ‘Hey, you’re going to play good.'”
Whatever Thomas is doing and however he feels, it’s obviously working. And it’s probably best to not try and make sense of it. To paraphrase Reg Dunlop in “Slap Shot,” he’s a goalie, he’s supposed to be like that.
|01.26.11 at 10:59 pm ET|
People thought they knew what to expect out of Bruins forward Brad Marchand for the 2010-11 season. An agitator who could be just as big a pest with his mouth as with the rest of his game, it was safe to assume that if the other team’s forwards were frustrated, Marchand was doing his job.
As goaltenders have learned this season, Marchand has a way of annoying them too.
The 22-year-old struck for his 13th goal of the season when he beat Panthers netminder Tomas Vokoun on a wraparound in the first period of Wednesday night’s win. If one were to project 13 goals for the undersized forward at the beginning of the season, they likely would have received strange looks, yet Marchand achieved the feat before the All-Star break.
“I don’t think anyone even thought that I might score 10 this year,” Marchand said following the win. “It is nice to kind of have a little bit of an offensive flair here and there. I don’t care what anyone says. I have to go out and work hard. Whatever happens, that’s how it goes.”
Marchand has surprised hockey fans throughout town, but has he surprised himself? For a guy who was itching to score his first career goal earlier in the season, the confident yet humble Marchand admits he’s surpassed his own projection.
“Yeah, I thought I might be able to score 10,” the forward said when asked if he’s surprised himself with his statistical output. “I knew I could, and I know last year I could have had a bunch and they just weren’t going in. They weren’t bouncing the right. This year, I knew if that if I kept getting those opportunities, they’d eventually go in.”
Marchand’s 13 goals this season put him fourth amongst the Bruins. He has 11 points (7 G, 4 A) over his last 11 games.
|01.26.11 at 10:46 pm ET|
Milan Lucic scored his 20th goal Wednesday night in the Bruins’ 2-1 win over Florida, and his coach is hoping to see more of that from the power forward in the post-All Star break portion of their schedule.
“I think what we’ve seen in the first half is what he’s capable of doing for us as we move on,” Claude Julien said. “He’s also one of those players that I think has always come up big in the big games, such as playoffs and all that stuff. He’s one of those guys who always rises to the occasion and you hope that continues as well.”
Lucic made it clear from Day 1 of camp that he had every intention of scoring at least 20 goals this season. Now that he’s reached the goal before the break, bigger and better things should be ahead.
“It’s obviously something that I talked about coming in, and that was a goal for myself and [to] reach it as quickly as I did, it’s a good step for me,” Lucic said. “I couldn’t be happier right now, but definitely not satisfied.”
Last season, the expectations for the 21-year-old star on the rise were the same but the results were not. He scored nine goals in 50 games during an injury-riddled season, with a plus-minus rating of minus-7.
“Yeah, a lot more, definitely,” Lucic said when asked if he might be enjoying this season a little more. “It was real tough going through what I went through. Being out for so long, and especially even when I came back, that high ankle sprain was still bugging me so to work as hard as I did this summer and to get rewarded for it thus far throughout the season is great. And definitely like I said before, I can’t stop here. I’ve got to keep pushing for more.”
A year later, he’s 22 and he’s already surpassed his career-best goal total from 2009 when he potted 17 and had 25 assists, raising those expectations that were there last season. Read the rest of this entry »
|01.26.11 at 9:30 pm ET|
Fans braved the weather on Wednesday night in traveling to TD Garden, and were rewarded with a 2-1 Bruins victory behind Tim Thomas‘ 24th win of the season.
Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic scored in the first and second period, respectively. Marchand is now fourth on the B’s with 13 goals, while Lucic improved his team-leading total to 20. Defenseman Bryan Allen scored the Panthers’ lone goal at 8:37 of the third period.
Thomas, now 24-5-6 on the season, is now tied with Canadiens’ netminder Carey Price for second in the NHL lead in wins. Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller leads the league with 25. Thomas sits atop the league in save percentage, goals against average, and is tied for the league lead in shutouts. He made 34 saves Wednesday night, with the B’s firing 35 shots on Tomas Vokoun.
The Bruins will now break for the All-Star weekend. The skills competition will take place Saturday, with the actual game being played Sunday in Raleigh, N.C. The B’s will will return to action Tuesday in that very city, taking on the Hurricanes in the fourth meeting between the teams this season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
-Milan Lucic reached the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his career. Less than two minutes into the second, linemate David Krejci won a faceoff straight back to Lucic at the top of the left circle, and the 22-year-old winger didn’t waste any time firing a quick snap shot into the top right corner. Lucic now has four goals in his last six games. Coming into the season, he said getting 20 goals was one of his targets. Time to raise the bar a little higher.
– The Bruins didn’t see another center suffer an injury, which was certainly a concern when David Krejci was down on the ice after crashing into the boards following a hit from Panthers forward Rostislav Olesz. Trainer Don DelNegro came out to tend to him, and Krejci left the ice and went down the tunnel. Moments after the scare, Krejci was back on the bench and returned to the ice in short order, not missing any shifts in the process.
Krejci went on to play a huge role in Lucic’s second-period tally, winning the face-off clean in the Panthers’ zone early in the period and drawing it to Lucic, who fired a quick snapshot past Vokoun from high in the circle.
– Brad Marchand remains hot for the Bruins. The surprising offensive contributor now has 11 points (7 G, 4 A) in his last 11 games and has 13 goals thus far in his rookie year. He beat Vokoun on a wraparound in the first period for the game’s first goal. Linemate Patrice Bergeron picked up the primary assist and now has 15 points over his last 10 games.
– The Bruins stayed out of the box. The Bruins avoided the sin bin until the refs found Dennis Seidenberg guilty of a hold 5:37 into the third. The one infraction matched a season low for the B’s.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Nathan Horton now has one goal over his last 20 games. His line had a much stronger effort on Wednesday than in the team’s 2-0 loss Monday in which he was demoted to a line with Blake Wheeler and Tyler Seguin.
– Thomas lost what would have been a league-leading eighth shutout of the season when Bryan Allen made it a 2-1 game at 8:37 of the third. Thomas remains tied with Henrik Lundqvist with seven blankings on the season.
The Panthers outshot the B’s, 16-9, in the third.
– With how well Marchand has been playing, you almost wish he didn’t have to take five days off for the All-Star break.
Scott McLaughlin contributed to this report.
|01.26.11 at 8:37 pm ET|
Milan Lucic is a 20-goal-scorer for the first time, and after two periods the Bruins lead the Panthers, 2-0.
David Krejci, who had an injury scare on the first period after crashing into the boards, made the second period memorable for a more positive reason. The pivot won a face-off clean in the Panthers zone and drew it back to Lucic, who scored on a snapshot at 1:52. Lucic’s career-high for goals in a season was 17, which he scored in 2008-09, a season in which he played 72 games.
There were no penalties in the period, and through two the only penalty came in the form of a first-period high-sticking call on Panthers forward Christopher Higgins.
The shutout remains intact for Tim Thomas, with the B’s outshooting the Panthers, 26-19.