|Milan Lucic: Fans think ‘this is the biggest game in 40 years’||10.06.11 at 9:51 am ET|
Milan Lucic is a hockey player of the people.
He has met plenty of ecstatic Bruins fans this summer and he has listened to them.
What’s been the overriding theme from them about opening night against the Flyers tonight?
I’ve heard from a lot of fans, just walking around the street and getting some feedback from them. They’re all saying this might be the biggest game in 40 years and people haven’t looked forward to a game more than this.
After getting their diamond-studded rings on Tuesday night as their personal reward for giving Boston its sixth Stanley Cup title on June 15 in Vancouver, the Bruins tonight will share their joy with 17,565 of their closest friends inside TD Garden as the 2011 Stanley Cup banner is raised to the rafters at TD Garden, their first in 39 years.
“Obviously, I’ve thought about it and it’s something you think about, that first game and getting to see that banner go up and just take it all in and enjoy the stuff that happening before the game,” Lucic said. “It’s great that people are so appreciative of what we accomplished last year and looking forward to what we can accomplish this year.”
Every player knows what’s next: The challenge of putting the emotions of the banner-raising behind them for 2 1/2 good hours and trying to beat one of the teams they dispatched on their way to the Cup.
They start the 2011-12 season with the new-look Philadelphia Flyers, who will be in their dressing room while the banner is raised, hearing the roars of the crowd in the same building their season ended in last May. That’ll be followed up on Saturday night with the next team they beat, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“Yeah, it’s going to be a good test, getting two great teams right off the bat, and obviously, they’re teams we beat last year in the playoffs and that’s something that always sticks with you,” Lucic said.
It certainly did for the Bruins last November, when they beat the Flyers, 3-0, in Philadelphia and they had to listen to all the jokes about actually holding on to a three-goal lead, five months after letting it get away in Game 7 of the 2010 Eastern semifinals.
Said Lucic, “I remember the team that knocks you out, you always want to get back to them and beat them in that first game when you play them first in the season. It’ll be a good test playing two elite teams early in the season and there’s probably no better way to get the season off than that.”
|Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder return to get rings||10.04.11 at 9:59 pm ET|
The Stanley Cup champion Bruins got their rings Tuesday night at the Boston Harbor hotel, and all the players with the exception of Tomas Kaberle and Marc Savard were able to make it to the event. Owner Jeremy Jacobs gave the team a speech, after which the rings, which were delivered earlier in the day, were given to the players.
For Mark Recchi, it is ring No. 3. He also won with the Penguins in 1991 and the Hurricanes in 2006.
“They’re all special in their own way, the Carolina one’s beautiful, Pittsburgh was ’91, it was a long time ago,” Recchi said. “They were beautiful rings, but what they did with this, the Jacobs family, hats off to them. They did an incredible job, and the way they treated the staff and all the people in the building, what they’ve done is an amazing thing.”
Said Milan Lucic: “It’s the last bit before it all starts again. You really want to take it all in as much as you can. It was great that everyone was able to get here together again. It was great that Recchi was able to come in and [Shane] Hnidy and Michael Ryder. It’s awesome. It definitely gives you a good feeling going into next year.”
|Milan Lucic has mobility back in his bad toe||09.19.11 at 5:37 pm ET|
Milan Lucic was asked Monday how he felt physically after three days of camp, and the Bruins’ top goal-scorer of a season ago talked about trying to get his timing and speed back. Lucic played the Bruins’ final 13 games with a broken toe that has yet to yield a pretty x-ray, so was Lucic referring to rust or injury?
“It’s just coming in [after the offseason],” Lucic said in clarifying his statement. “It’s like that for me every camp. It’s been like that for me every year. It’s just getting back into the flow of things, and that’s just the way it’s always been for me.”
As for the toe, the big toe in his right foot, things are looking better than they were. The winger had said late in the offseason that x-rays revealed the toe to be “pretty funny” and “pretty destroyed,” and was still giving him trouble over the offseason. He recently gained the ability to move the toe again, as ugly as it looks.
“The x-ray’s really messy, actually,” Lucic said. “I know the doctors, when they looked at it, were laughing about it. It actually started about two, three weeks ago, where I started to get full mobility back into my toe. There’s no more pain when I get up on my toes and get going and all that type of stuff. That’s obviously, a positive, and hopefully it stays that way.”
Lucic injured the two between Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, when Tyler Seguin hit him in the skate with a slap shot during practice. The first-line left winger had five goals and seven assists in the playoffs for 12 points to follow a 30-goal, 32-assist regular season.
|Milan Lucic fully healed after battling injuries in playoffs||08.19.11 at 8:23 pm ET|
LOWELL — Milan Lucic was sporting a borderline foreign look as he threw out the first pitch at the Lowell Spinners’ game Friday night at LeLacheur Park. After last being spotted celebrating the Bruins’ Stanley Cup championship at the team’s parade, the barbaric beard worn by Lucic and his teammates was nowhere to be seen. Instead, Lucic had a light beard no longer than his buzz cut.
“It’s actually too long now. It needs to be shaven,” Lucic said. “There’s times when you look back and you kind of miss [the playoff beard], but it’s definitely nice to have a clean face after that run.”
Not only does Lucic have a clean face, but he has a clean bill of health, something he did not have during the playoffs. Lucic, who had developed a reputation as a big playoff performer (he has six goals in the last eight games in which the B’s could eliminate an opponent), was forced to deal with injuries throughout the team’s playoff run. Though he did not miss a game in the postseason, he dealt with a sinus infection and broken nose over the course of the playoffs, and suffered a broken toe when rookie Tyler Seguin hit him with a slapshot in practice during the Eastern Conference finals.
While Lucic’s toe injury did not require surgery, he was operated on for his broken nose, an injury that dates way back to March 4 of 2010 (the biggest break, Lucic says, came during a fight with Colton Orr). Now walking without the limp that he sported over the last two rounds of the postseason and breathing better than ever, Lucic is ready to enter his fifth NHL season without hindrance.
“It’s nice to finally be breathing out of both nostrils again, I will say that,” Lucic said. “I felt the most effects from it in the first series against Montreal this year. I had a sinus infection, and I was feeling under the weather, and that kind of sucks. It really did suck, but it’s great now, everything’s fixed now, so it’s all good.”
Things are also good for Seguin, a man whom Lucic says he harbors no hard feelings. Though Lucic didn’t enjoy the pain at the time, he said the 19-year-old redeemed himself by playing a huge role in the series in which he injured his teammate. The highlight of the playoffs for Seguin, who was playing in place of the then-concussed Patrice Bergeron, came when he had a four-point (two goals, two assits) period in the B’s 6-5 victory over the Lightning in Game 2 of the conference finals.
“I’ve got to get him back,” Lucic said with a laugh before adding, “I told him after he had that big game in Game 2 where he had two goals and two assists that I’ve forgiven him for that.”
The 23-year-old Lucic, who led the Bruins with 30 goals in the regular season, said the excitement over winning the team’s first Cup in 39 years has not subsided, and that he is still in the process of realizing what the B’s accomplished.
“I think it sinks in more as time goes on, but it’s still pretty fresh in our minds,” Lucic said. “I don’t think it will truly sink in until next season actually begins, maybe even halfway through, because then you start to realize once you get into the grind and get into things, you realize how hard it was and how hard you worked to actually win it last year and get yourself in that position. Even though it’s been two months and a bit, it’s still definitely fresh in my mind and I’m definitely enjoying it.”
There were reports prior to Lucic’s day with the trophy that he would have to celebrate in seclusion due to angry Canucks fans, but after holding a public celebration, Lucic said his day was nowhere near what some had made it out to be. Lucic, his girlfriend and his family brought the Cup to the Serbian Orthodox Church in East Vancouver before embarking on a harbor cruise with the trophy. Lucic said the day was far more happy than hostile.
“To be honest, I don’t know who wrote that article that blew that whole thing way out of proportion,” Lucic said. “I still had a public event where five or six hundred people came by and had their picture taken with the Cup, so it was a lot of fun.”
Lucic is back in Massachusetts for good and will be in attendance when captains’ practices (optional skates put on by captains) commence in early September. He said he has kept in contact with Nathan Horton and that the right wing’s “head is all good” after suffering a playoff-ending concussion in Game 3 of the finals.
|Shawn Thornton says he doesn’t need an ‘A’||08.08.11 at 3:13 pm ET|
MIDDLETON — On Friday, we kicked around the discussion of which Bruin should receive the second “A” now that alternate captain Mark Recchi has retired. While the opinion here is that it should go to defenseman Andrew Ference, the Stanley Cup champions are deep with candidates.
The two other most deserving candidates in this scribe’s opinion are forwards Shawn Thornton and Milan Lucic. We asked Thornton about the idea of potentially wearing an “A” for the first time in his career prior to Monday’s “Putts and Punches for Parkinson’s” golf tournament at the Ferncroft Country Club, and his response seemingly echoed everything his reputation would suggest: that he doesn’t need anything extra on his jersey to be one of the most respected guys in the Bruins’ dressing room.
“It’s tough to talk about because I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t get talked to about that stuff, so if it happened to be me, the recognition or even the consideration for that is an honor in itself. I haven’t had one in the NHL ever, so it doesn’t stop you from doing your job.
“It’s tough to talk about,” he continued. “Would I like to have it? I guess everybody would, it’s an honor. Do I need it? No, probably not. Whatever the decision is, it will be for the best of the team. There’s a lot of leaders on the team. There’s a lot, a lot of leaders on the team and a lot of guys deserving of it.”
One thing that might prevent Thornton from getting the distinction is the fact that healthy scratches could keep him out of the lineup, as they did once Patrice Bergeron returned in the Eastern Conference finals. Still, Thornton’s selflessness and leadership should definitely have him in the discussion.
|Do Bruins have most productive fighters?||07.13.11 at 5:51 pm ET|
In case you need a refresher of what the Bruins’ roster looks like, TSN ranked which fighters in the NHL are the most productive.
The list is littered with Bruins, as Milan Lucic is ranked No. 1, and all five Bruins on the 85-man list rank in the top 15.
In order to come up with the list, players with at least five fightning majors last season were sorted by their TSN player rating, which is a weighted formula consisting of goals per game, assists per game, plus-minus, power play goals, shorthanded goals, game winning goals, shots on goal, blocked shots, hits, giveaways, takeaways and faceoffs.
In addition to Lucic topping the list, Nathan Horton was ranked No. 3, with fellow B’s Adam McQuaid (No. 6), Gregory Campbell (No. 8 ) and Shawn Thornton (No. 15) also making the list.
Here’s how the top 15 shook out:
Lucic and Horton each had seven fights for the Bruins last season. Lucic, who led the Bruins with 30 goals in the regular season, had the most goals among players with at least five fighting majors. Horton’s 26 tallies put him second among that group.
While Thornton’s value has been his ability to fight throughout his time in the NHL, he had a career year last season, totaling 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points. McQuaid’s plus-30 rating put him in a tie with Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin, among others, for fifth-best in the NHL last season.
Scott Cullen, who put the piece together, writes that the fact that the Bruins, who finished second in fighting majors last season with 71, won the Stanley Cup, their physical style may be viewed as a winning formula. Cullen believes this could lead to other teams trying to load up on power forwards and enforcers.
The idea of ranking fighters based on their value of players is interesting, as TSN’s list comes far from ranking how the players are as fighters, though that of course is not their intention.
When it comes to dropping the gloves, McQuaid or Thornton certainly have more to offer than the B’s first-line wingers, but the fact that both the Bruins’ first and fourth lines are represented by two players each in the top 15 shows that the Bruins certainly look for grit throughout their lineup.
Though Lucic is the modern-day version of a power forward, one who wanted to suggest he picks his spots would probably have an argument. His seven fights were a far cry from the 10 and 13 he had in his first two years. Yet that’s what comes as a player develops into more of a goal-scorer, as last year was not only his first 30-goal season, but his first 20-goal season as well.
As for Horton, his first season in Boston represented a career-high in fights. He more than doubled his previous best, as he totaled three during the 2007-08 season. Over his last three seasons with the Panthers, he had just four fighting majors.
Now the number the Bruins would probably like to see up is his goal total. Horton’s 26 goals last season were the most he’s had in three seasons, but he had 28 in 2005-06, 31 in 2006-07 and 27 in 2007-08.
|Report: Tuukka Rask, Milan Lucic set for surgery||06.23.11 at 4:52 pm ET|
According to a pair of tweets from the Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask and forward Milan Lucic are set to have offseason surgery. Rask is expected to have minor knee surgery to clean up an cartilage issue that had plagued the second-year player throughout the team’s championship season, while Dupont tweets that Lucic will have nose surgery.
Lucic played late in the season and into the playoffs dealing with a sinus infection. He then broke his toe when a Tyler Seguin slapshot went off his foot in practice during the Eastern Conference finals. After leading the B’s with 30 goals in the regular season, Lucic finished tied for fifth on the team with five playoff goals.
Rask, who led the NHL with a 1.97 goals against average and a .931 save percentage in the 2009-10 season (his rookie campaign), lost the starting job to Tim Thomas this past season. In 29 games (27 starts), he went 11-14-2 with a 2.67 GAA and .918 save percentage.
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