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Mike Milbury on D&H: Milan Lucic ‘can’t lose that edge’

12.01.10 at 1:05 pm ET
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NESN, NBC and Hockey Night in Canada NHL analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday. To hear the interview, including Milbury talking about whether he would consider a return to coaching, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

With the Bruins struggling, Milbury was asked what the team needs to do to turn things around.

“I haven’t seen the intense forecheck, except when they get desperate,” he said. “That’s not a good thing. You want to get on the forecheck. You want to get in and create some havoc. And when you’re doing that, that means physical play. And if you’ve been watching the Bruins for the last five or six games, you’re not seeing a ton of that. And I’m not talking about fighting. I’m talking about in-fast, pressure forechecking, intimidating not only with your bodychecking, but with your speed and intensity to cut down the time the defenseman has to move the puck. They’re sort of blah. ‘€¦ The Bruins have to play at a far higher pace to be successful.”

Asked if Zdeno Chara needs to set the tone for the team, Milbury said he’d first like to see players such as Milan Lucic provide more of a physical presence.

“I think Lucic has to be more involved physically,” he said. “And I’m not talking about fighting from him. The 10 goals are well and good. But harken back to a couple of years ago when this kid made a mark on this city and this franchise. It was with his purposeful forechecking. It was like nonstop, Terry O’Reilly-type forechecking. I haven’t seen that. I know he’s going to mature and settle in and use his energy more efficiently and conservatively. But you can’t lose that edge. And right now, I don’t think he’s got it.

“Chara can take care of it in his own zone, and I think he needs to do a little bit better job of being on the edge and nasty in order to make sure people on his team see that, feel it, feel the intensity,” Milbury added. “That’s what’s missing. Those are two key players in the scheme of things. But you need it from [Brad] Marchand. You need it from [Gregory] Campbell. You need it from guys that can get there and pressure defensemen, and that’s their role. They’re not expected to be huge offensive contributors, but they set the tone. They set the passion level for this team.”

Milbury noted the Bruins’ lack of speed is an issue as well.

“I think they need quickness. I think they need some speed,” he said. “I don’t want to go back to the [Phil] Kessel deal in a big way, but they miss his speed, they miss his penetrating speed off the wing. ‘€¦ It’s the kind of speed that gets defensemen second-guessing themselves, thinking about, ‘Jeez, where is this guy? Where’s he going to go?’ ”

Commenting on the Bruins’ trade of Matt Hunwick, Milbury said: “Make no mistake, this was a trade to clear the space to allow [Marc] Savard to get back into the lineup.”

Milbury said Hunwick was not getting the most out of his talent on the Boston blue line.

“I was disappointed they didn’t get more offense from Matt Hunwick,” Milbury said. “And honestly, I thought he turned the puck over far too often for my liking. He was OK in the 6 hole, I guess, the 5-6 hole. But he never really fell into a rhythm in terms of being an asset on the power play, and I think a guy like that needs to do that. So, I don’t think they’re going to miss him. I like [Adam] McQuaid‘s grit and I like his toughness. He brings a little edge to the game, and I think the Bruins need that right now.”

Looking at the goaltending situation, Milbury said he still thinks Tuukka Rask will eventually become the team’s No. 1.

Said Milbury: “I came into the year thinking this guy was going to be No. 1. It took him one game to lose it. And talk about an uneven schedule. He wasn’t great against Atlanta, but he’s been pretty good, with not much support. I’m a huge supporter of Tuukka Rask.”

Added Milbury: “By the end of the year, I’d be surprised if he was certainly not co-No. 1 with [Tim] Thomas, if not No. 1 himself. He’s the goaltender for the future of the Boston Bruins. There’s no doubt, Tim Thomas is on the back nine, or maybe on the 15th hole, as opposed to Rask, who is early on on the golf course.”

The wife of the late Pat Burns was the victim of a robbery during his wake, when thieves broke into her car and stole autographed NHL jerseys and other memorabilia that was destined for auction to raise money for an arena named after Burns.

“At all times in her life, to have that happen,” Milbury said. “I’d like to have them apprehended and put in a room with a bunch of Pat’s toughest players for about an hour. ‘€¦ It’s despicable behavior, and unfortunately there are despicable people out there.”

Read More: Matt Hunwick, Mike Milbury, Milan Lucic, Pat Burns
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