|Bruins make it ‘special’ night for Milan Lucic, allow most shots in 51 years||02.10.16 at 1:47 am ET|
The most goals allowed by the Bruins in a game since 2008.
The most shots allowed in a game by the Bruins since 1965.
That’s 1965, 51 years ago, the year civil rights demonstrators in Selma, Alabama, were attacked by state troopers. Lyndon Johnson was president. Johnny Bucyk was in his prime at 29 years of age.
To say that former Bruins winger Milan Lucic and L.A. did a number on Boston Tuesday night at TD Garden in a 9-2 Kings victory would be quite the understatement.
“You’re here win a game, you know?” Lucic said with a chuckle when asked if it felt awkward to beat his former mates so decisively. “You win by one, you win by seven it doesn’t matter, a win’s a win. I guess you can’t feel too bad. You come in here and try to get those bragging rights and have it over your former teammates. It was a full team effort from the net out and I was glad to get that win.”
|Milan Lucic says he knew future with Bruins depended on last season||02.09.16 at 12:42 pm ET|
This is Milan Lucic‘s first season with the Kings and he hopes it isn’t his last.
In addition to adjusting to a new team, Lucic also has to play with the added distraction of being in the final year of his contract. Different players handle contract years differently — some post tremendous money in hopes of a huge pay day; some let the uncertainty consume them and ultimately detract from their play — and Lucic is just trying to put it out of his mind.
Interestingly enough, however, Lucic indicated Tuesday that last season saw more of those pressures get to him than this season. Though last season was the second year of a three-year, $18 million deal, Lucic knew that his future with the team depended on that season. He turned out to be correct, as the Bruins dealt him in the offseason rather than taking him into the last year of his contract.
“I think I focused on it a little bit too much, especially in the first half of the the season, just the goals and the assists and the individual stuff,” Lucic said. “Sometimes when things come up like a contract, it’s hard to ignore those king of things. That’s why I think when I stopped focusing on that and just worried about the things that mattered like winning hockey games, everything else kind of just fell into place. I tried to take that same mentality into this year.”
Lucic, 27, scored 24 or more goals three times with the Bruins. His numbers took a dip last season when he posted 18 goals, and he’s currently on pace for 19 goals. Even if he fails to hit the 20-goal mark for a second straight season, he will be an attractive option for either the Kings to re-sign (far from a certainty given cap constraints) or for another team to court on the open market.
The Kings currently sit atop the Pacific Division with 65 points through 51 games. They have less than $3 million in cap space this season despite the fact that they are only paying a little more than half of Lucic’s $6 million cap hit (the Bruins retained about $2.49 million cap-wise in the trade). Los Angeles does not have a ton of money coming off the books, while next season will see star center Anze Kopitar’s cap hit rise from $6.8 million to $10 million.
Despite all the uncertainty, Lucic says that he’s doing a better job of handling the unknown than he did a season ago.
“I’m just focusing on the things that I can control, and that’s helping the team win,” Lucic said. “I haven’t really been focusing too much on goals and assists and what I need to do to sign a big deal or anything like that. I’ve just been focused on winning hockey games and things like that. I think that’s kind of helped my play so far throughout the season.”
Added Lucic: “Looking at the team, we do have a real great team here with a real great chance here to be a contender. I’m just focusing more on that than the individual stuff.”
You know you came up in a veteran organization when you’re set the play the team months after being traded and you only know “a couple” players on the team. That’s the case for Colin Miller as the Bruins prepare to take on the Kings at TD Garden.
Miller, who was drafted by the Kings in 2012, won the Calder Cup with the Manchester Monarchs last season before being traded to Boston in the Milan Lucic trade.
“I know a couple of guys on the team,” Miller said Tuesday. “Obviously I wasn’t up there at all, so I know a couple of guys on the team and have been around them in training camp and stuff like that, but there are definitely a couple of buddies that I’ll be watching tonight.”
Ah, yes. Watching. Unfortunately for Miller, he appears to be the odd man out on defense for Tuesday, as he stayed out after morning skate along with injured defenseman Adam McQuaid. If Miller is out for Tuesday, he’ll join Steven Kampfer (scratched vs. his hometown Red Wings in the 2010-11 season) as defensemen Claude Julien has sat in sentimental moments. Miller, who was scratched Saturday as well, didn’t seem especially hurt by potentially sitting against his former organization.
“It’s always fun playing against an old team that you know, but we’ll see what happens here tonight,” Miller said. “It will be a good game either way.”
Here is the anticipated lineup for Tuesday, based on morning skate:
|Matt Beleskey: ‘I’m not Milan Lucic’||at 10:59 am ET|
Bruins forward Matt Beleskey has similar numbers to Milan Lucic a season ago, but he’s trying to avoid the comparison to the former Bruin.
“He’s a great player. If anyone put me in that [class] I’d take it, but like I said [when I came here] I’m not Milan Lucic,” Beleskey said Monday. “I won’t be that player. I’m different. I’m my own player and that’s the way I’ve been playing all year.”
Beleskey, who signed a five-year contract worth $3.8 million annually this offseason to replace Lucic, has nearly identical goals per 60 (.68) to what Lucic had in his final season in Boston (.70). He currently finds himself in a scoring slump that’s seen him score just one goal in his last 16 games, a slump that Lucic himself had last season.
Claude Julien said he’s happy with Beleskey, whom he feels the Bruins signed for his physicality rather than raw numbers.
“It’s his production that’s maybe thrown things off a little bit,” Julien said Monday. “Do people have the right view of what he is as a player vs. looking at last year’s stats and thinking that’s what it should be or even better. We knew what we were getting. We were getting a guy that, [after] losing Lucic, would give us some grit, would be able to contribute offensively here and there as well. So far he’s given us that. To me, he’s a player that, when you look at our group up front, he’s a player that we really need.”
To read more on Beleskey’s season and how it compares to Lucic’s final season in Boston, click here for Monday’s story.
|A look at how former Bruins have started with new teams||10.16.15 at 1:09 pm ET|
The Bruins’ changes this summer meant familiar faces are gone and new ones have arrived. Though the B’s can’t be happy with their start, it’s also been a mixed bag for those to whom they bid adieu.
Jimmy Hayes’ four-point performance on Wednesday aside, Boston’s newcomers have been slow to get adjusted. Here’s a look at how the former Bruins have started with their new teams:
Milan Lucic, Kings: It’s been a very quiet start for both the Kings (0-3-0) and Lucic. Through three games, Lucic has landed just two shots on goal. The bad news there is that he has zero points, but the good news is that he’s one point away from tying for the team lead. He played the first two games on a line with Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik, but the Kings have since pulled the plug on that experiment. Lucic is now skating with Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli.
Dougie Hamilton, Flames: Playing on what should be a stellar top pairing with T.J. Brodie out, Hamilton and Mark Giordano haven’t had the hottest start together. Though Hamilton scored a power-play goal in Calgary‘s second game of the season, he’s been on the ice for just one even-strength goal for and four goals against. All four of those goals came on shifts played with Giordano.
Martin Jones, Sharks: Though only Bruins property for less than five days, it’s worth including Jones here for the sake of justifying what looked like a rather odd trade at the time. After getting Jones in the Lucic trade, the Bruins got the Sharks to surrender a first-round pick and a prospect (Sean Kuraly) for the former Kings backup goaltender. So far, the deal hasn’t looked like as much of a steal for the Bruins as it did back in June. Jones has been absolutely lights-out with two shutouts and a .987 save percentage in three starts for San Jose.
Carl Soderberg, Avalanche: Wednesday night saw Soderberg’s former teammates make his new contract look not-so-good. Soderberg was on the ice for goals by Boston’s second, third and fourth lines. The 30-year-old center had assists in each of Colorado’s first two games.
Reilly Smith, Panthers: Smith’s doing a little bit of everything for the Panthers, including killing penalties after never being used in that role as a Bruin. Smith has a pair of goals (both of which he scored in his Panthers debut) and an assist through four games on a line with Nick Bjugstad and Brandon Pirri.
Gregory Campbell, Blue Jackets: The former Merlot-Liner is averaging a little under 11 minutes a night through four games with Columbus and so far the results haven’t been great. His line is getting outscored (three goals against, none for) and Campbell has managed just one shot on net.
Matt Bartkowski, Canucks: Bartkowski has suited up in all four of the Canucks’ games after being in and out of Boston’s lineup over the years. He’s been used on Vancouver’s second pairing with Dan Hamhuis, which has held up well despite its poor possession numbers. He has an assist on the season, but he’s still looking for his first regular-season goal 135 games into his career.
Daniel Paille, Rockford IceHogs (AHL): After spending training camp with the Blackhawks on a professional tryout, the 31-year-old left wing went to Chicago’s AHL camp before signing with the IceHogs. He’s played one game for them, recording no points.
Niklas Svedberg, Ufa Salavat Yulayev (KHL): Svedberg went to the KHL after a statistically decent showing with the Bruins, but one that saw the B’s lose confidence in him and stop playing him. So far, Claude Julien appears to have been in the right. Svedberg has an .887 save percentage in 19 games in Russia.
Peter Chiarelli, Oilers: It’s going to be a while before the Oilers are competitive. That they had to play the Blues twice in their first four games makes their 0-4-0 start less than surprising.
|Dale Weise knows Bruins-Canadiens rivalry will be different without Milan Lucic||10.10.15 at 12:55 pm ET|
Bruins-Canadiens games won’t be the same without Milan Lucic, but then again this rivalry has always found a way to stay heated regardless of who comes and goes.
When the Bruins host the Habs Saturday at TD Garden, things will look vastly different from the way they did when Montreal won all four meetings by multiple goals a season ago.
(Actually, there’s a very good chance the result will be the same; it will just look different.)
Lucic is gone. Dougie Hamilton, whose biggest contribution to the rivalry was forgetting that penalties expire, has also departed. Zdeno Chara is likely to remain out with an upper-body injury, while the likes of Matt Beleskey, Zac Rinaldo, Colin Miller (making his NHL debut), Jimmy Hayes and Matt Irwin will all play against the Habs for the first time as Bruins.
Despite Boston’s injuries and new faces, Bruins killer Dale Weise (seven points in his last 10 games against Boston, including the playoffs) doesn’t see Saturday as an automatic two points.
“I don’t think Boston’s any slouch by any means,” Weise said. “I think this is a good hockey team. They’ve added some good players; Beleskey’s a good guy that’s going to score for them, Jimmy Hayes we saw a lot in Florida. He scored a couple goals against us, so he’s a big body. With a goaltender like [Tuukka] Rask, similar to us, you always have a chance.”
Perhaps Weise’s most notable moment in Boston came after Game 7 of the 2014 second round. Following Montreal’s series-clinching victory over the Bruins (a game in which Weise scored), word got out that Lucic had threatened Weise in the handshake line.
Weise has always praised Lucic’s game since the incident, so it wasn’t a surprise to hear him do the same after Saturday’s morning skate.
“It makes our job a little bit easier without having him out there,” Weise said. “He’s a horse to handle out there. You’ve got to be aware when he’s out there.
“Picking up Beleskey, I know him from the West a little bit. He’s another big body. He plays hard. They’ve still got some players that can play hard over there.”
Boston’s biggest issue against the Habs will be holding up better defensively than they did Thursday night against the Jets. Though Montreal was hard-pressed for goals last season, they still managed to rack them up against Boston. The Habs have given Chara fits in recent years, but they’ll likely have an easier time with him out of the lineup.
“Having him in the lineup is a big difference,” Weise said of Chara. “He’s a big body. He’s hard to play against. Going in front of the net, you’re going to get a couple of whacks from him. It’s not a pretty place to be. He adds so much to their lineup.”
Though the Canadiens didn’t make any sizable upgrades in the offseason, they should certainly be considered the better of the two teams at this point. Even if they won’t say it, they should feel pretty good about their chances Saturday.
|David Krejci looks forward to new linemates, fixing Bruins’ scoring woes and (hopefully) health||09.14.15 at 2:41 pm ET|
BOLTON — After a season of terrible moments, David Krejci had one of the best moments of his life when he and his wife recently welcomed their first child to their family. As far as hockey goes, he should hope he doesn’t have to go to another hospital for a while.
Krejci, who had previously never missed more than seven games in a regular season in his entire professional career, had a highly frustrating go of it last season. After fighting nagging lower-body injuries through the first few months of the season, Krejci suffered a partially torn MCL in late February. All in all, Krejci missed 35 games in a season that saw Boston’s offense suffer without him.
Now, after an extra-long offseason that saw him lose his running buddy of his five-year tenure as a first-line center in Milan Lucic, Krejci hopes to return to both the health and performance of seasons past. He said prior to Monday’s Bruins golf tournament that his workouts were not encumbered this offseason, so he sees no reason why things wouldn’t get back on track.
“Last year was the first year in my career that I had [ongoing] injury troubles,” Krejci said. “I’ve been working out since pretty much the season ended and have had no setbacks. I’m shooting for 82 games, so we’ll see what happens.”
With whom Krejci plays those games is wide open. It’s safe to assume the Bruins will plan on free agent signing Matt Beleskey filling Lucic’s spot, but there’s no telling whether it will be David Pastrnak, Brett Connolly, Jimmy Hayes or somebody else on the right side. Loui Eriksson could potentially be an option, though he’ll likely be moved to left wing this season given Boston’s number of right-shot wings.
Krejci’s had some different right wings since 2010-11, from Nathan Horton to Rich Peverley to Jarome Iginla to a revolving door of players (Seth Griffith, Simon Gagne and Pastrnak among them) last season. He’s used to change on the right side, but losing his longtime left wing in Lucic, now with the Kings, will present new challenges.
“It’s going to be weird,” he said. “We’ve been together for a long time, and now he’s gone, so obviously that was a really sad day. We have to understand that it’s a business as well and there were some upper-management changes. They’re just trying to make our team better than last year, and they did some changes. I really like the we have right now, so we’ll see how that goes.”
The good news for Krejci is that he signed a contract extension prior to the start of last season. Last season was the final year of his contract, so rather than hitting free agency after injuries, he at least has the security of a new six-year deal. With that comes pressure to live up to the $43.5 million he’ll be making.
Last season was bad for pretty much everyone on the Bruins, injured or healthy. The teamwide dropoff in shooting percentage suggests the B’s will get back to scoring as long as they don’t have two consecutive seasons of wretched luck. Having Krejci back will undoubtedly help as well.
“It’s definitely something that you can’t replace,” Patrice Bergeron said. “He’s a player that is so important to our club. To have him fresh and healthy is something we’re going to a lot from. I’m really happy to have him and happy he feels good.”