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Milan Lucic latest to sign extension before lockout 09.15.12 at 10:19 am ET
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The Bruins announced Saturday morning that they have agreed to a three-year contract extension with left wing Milan Lucic. The deal carries a $6 million cap hit annually, which will make him the team’s highest-paid forward.

The deal comes days after the team locked up fellow forwards Brad Marchand (four years at a $4.5 million average annual value) and Tyler Seguin ($5.75 million AAV). Once the lockout begins at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, teams will not be able to sign players.

Lucic is entering the final season of a three-year deal worth $4.083 million annually and was set to become a restricted free agent after the season. The 24-year-old was third on the team in goals last season with 26. He had his first 30-goal season in the 2010-11 season.

Read More: Milan Lucic,
Bruins players discuss plans for potential NHL lockout 08.22.12 at 8:39 pm ET
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LOWELL — Several Bruins players weighed in on the NHL’s situation regarding the collective bargaining agreement prior to Milan Lucic‘s Rock & Jock softball game Wednesday night. Among the things discussed were their potential plans for the coming season in the event that there is a lockout. The current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire on Sept. 15.

Lucic hasn’t been able to attend any meetings thus far, but he said he has paid close attention to the negotiations between the league and the players’ association. Executives from the league and NHLPA, including league commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, met in Toronto Wednesday, but got nowhere. The negotiations were cancelled before they began, and the two sides will meet again Thursday.

“Obviously there’s a lot of stuff that needs to be resolved,” Lucic said. “There’s a lot of issues that are being talked about and there’s a lot of things that from a player and a union standpoint, that we want and obviously from an owner’s standpoint, what they want. You’ve heard Don and Gary talk about it, that there’s still a wide gap between the two sides coming together. Like I said, hopefully it can get resolved sooner than later, but from a union standpoint and a player standpoint, we’re just trying to make sure we get a fair deal and have whatever’s right.”

Dennis Seidenberg played in the AHL during the 2004-05 lockout, but he hinted at playing in his native Germany next season if the NHL isn’t an option. One draw of playing in Germany would be the opportunity to play with his younger brother, Yannic, who is a forward for Adler Mannheim of the German Hockey League.

“Well, my brother plays in Germany, so it would be nice to play with him if it gets to that point,” Seidenberg said, “but for now I haven’t put enough thought into it to say what I’m going to do.”

Added Seidenberg: “It would be nice to play with him again, but I hope it’s not going to happen.”

Finland native Tuukka Rask said he also isn’t sure where he’d play, but did say it’s unlikely that he would play in Finland. Tim Thomas played in Finland during the 2004-05 lockout.

“I’m sure a lot of guys are thinking Russia and stuff like that, but I don’t think I’d go to Finland,” Rask said. “Maybe I’d try something new, because I played in Finland and I know what it is. Nothing against the league or anything, but maybe I’d try something else.”

Lucic said he knows he might have to consider alternative plans for next season, but he isn’t doing so yet.

“I’m still hopeful that there will be a season,” Lucic said. “‘€¦ I’m still hopeful that hockey will be played [in the NHL] this season, but that’s something that I’m going to have to think about and make a decision on at a later date.”

Another noteworthy bit of information from the players is that they still plan on having informal practices in early September, as they do each season.

“I’ve talked to a lot of guys on the team, and it seems like a lot of guys are coming back — especially the ones with kids going to school — as if everything’s going to plan,” Lucic said. “The CBA only lasts until September 15, so we don’t have much time even if we do start in Wilmington, but definitely for us guys that are on the Bruins and are here in Boston, we’ll definitely be skating together and doing whatever until whatever needs to be resolved.”

Read More: Dennis Seidenberg, Milan Lucic, Tuukka Rask,
Looking back and ahead: David Krejci 05.01.12 at 1:43 pm ET
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With the Bruins’ season in the books, WEEI.com will take a look at each player on the roster one-by-one to provide some perspective on what went wrong this season and what the future holds for the 2011 champions.

David Krejci

2011-12 stats: 79 games played, 23 goals (career-high), 39, 61 points, minus-5

Contract status: Signed through 2014-15 ($5.25 million cap hit)

Looking back: Krejci has centered the Bruins’ top line for the majority of the last two season, spending most of his time skating with Milan Lucic and either Nathan Horton or Rich Peverley. Claude Julien played Tyler Seguin with Krejci and Lucic late in the regular season and for a portion of the playoffs. That made for a more offensively potent line, but defensively it was a risky line to have on the ice against other teams’ top-six forwards.

Production-wise, Krejci ran hot and cold, which wasn’t exactly a new development. He had an 11-game point-streak from Dec. 17-Jan 14 (five goals, 11 assists), but he also had long lulls in which he didn’t produce. Krejci managed just one point and a minus-6 rating in 11 games from Feb. 2-Feb. 24. He finished the regular season with a minus-5 rating. Only Shawn Thornton (minus-7) fared worse from a plus-minus standpoint.

Like Lucic, Krejci was one of the biggest goats of the postseason. He went without a point in the first four games, and though the managed three points (two goals, one assist) the rest of the way, he once again showed an inability to truly have an impact in the first round (in 14 quarterfinal games over the last two season, Krejci has just four points).

Looking ahead: The Bruins made sure to lock Krejci up during the regular season, giving him a three-year, $15.75 million deal. That makes him the Bruins’ highest-paid forward, so the team should be looking for more consistent regular-season production and better play early on in the playoffs.

Krejci has still yet to repeat his production from his career-best season in 2008-09 (22 goals, 51 assists for 73 points and a plus-37 rating). For $5.25 million a year, he should get back to producing at that level.

On breakup day, Krejci subtly hinted at frustration about being moved around in the lineup at points during the regular season. For a player making the kind of money he’s getting, that’s the wrong attitude. The right attitude would be to respond to demotions by performing his way out of it.

Read More: David Krejci, Milan Lucic,
Looking back and ahead: Milan Lucic 04.30.12 at 6:14 pm ET
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With the Bruins’ season in the books, WEEI.com will take a look at each player on the roster one-by-one to provide some perspective on what went wrong this season and what the future holds for the 2011 champions.

Milan Lucic

Age: 23

2011-12 stats: 81 games played, 26 goals, 35 assists (career-high), 61 points, plus-7

Contract status: $4.083 million cap hit in 2012-13, restricted free agent next summer

Looking back: In the regular season, Lucic was more or less the same regular-season player as he was in the 2010-11 season. His 61 points fell just short of his career-best 62 two seasons ago, and he once again stayed healthy for a full season (Lucic’s only game missed was due to suspension). Lucic was one of the Bruins’ six 20-goal scorers, and he did nothing during the regular season to suggest he isn’t one of the game’s best power forwards.

Then the playoffs happened. For the second straight postseason, Lucic was a ghost, and he finished the first round with three assists. Unlike last postseason, one in which he was dealing with a sinus infection and a broken toe, injury wasn’t an excuse this time.

Looking ahead: The last reputation a player wants to develop is that of a guy who disappears when it matters the most, especially when Lucic once showed he could do it (18 points in 23 postseason games from 2009-10). He’s entering the last year of his contract, and with David Krejci signed for big bucks ($5.25 million a year for the next three seasons), and guys like Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin also coming up at the end of the next year, the team will need to assess whether he’ll be worth committing significant dollars to going forward.

One thing to watch with Lucic is that he’s certainly on the list of Bruins being watched by Brendan Shanahan. By the time Lucic received his first regular-season suspension, it seemed pretty clear that the act — a hit on Flyers’ forward Zac Rinaldo — wasn’t as bad as past indiscretions, but that his reputation had finally caught up to him.

A lot of what Lucic can do also depends on whether Nathan Horton is healthy. When Lucic and Horton are playing together, it makes for a very powerful line that wears defenders down. Without Horton, Lucic needs to make his presence felt even more from a physical standpoint in order to make the line as tough as it used to be.

Lucic has established himself as one of the best power forwards in the game, and the Bruins should be able to count on him for no less than 60 points a season as long as he remains healthy. What has haunted him of late has been the postseason, and with the team expected to make deep playoff runs each year, that’s something that needs to change.

Read More: Milan Lucic,
Experience proves irrelevant for Bruins in first round of playoffs 04.26.12 at 2:14 am ET
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In the days leading up to the decisive Game 7 between the Bruins and Capitals, there was a plethora of talk about experience — mainly that the Bruins had it and were thus the favorites while the Capitals did not.

A quick look at the history books reflects that attitude. The Capitals were 1-3 in Game 7s since 2008 while the Bruins were 3-3, and the Bruins won all three of those Game 7s last season en route to their Stanley Cup championship. According to the history books, the Bruins had a better idea of how to win Game 7 than the Capitals did.

But even a cursory glance at the Bruins’€™ supposed experience revealed how much the Bruins were lacking in that area. In 2011, Nathan Horton had two of the Game 7 game-winning goals, and Patrice Bergeron had one. In 2012, Horton was not in the lineup, as he missed the playoffs with a concussion. Bergeron was limited in Game 7 by an undisclosed injury that prevented him from taking faceoffs and slowed him somewhat from the relatively healthy player he was in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.

In the end, long-term experience did not benefit the Bruins, as they bowed out of the playoffs with a 2-1 overtime loss to the Capitals. Instead, it was more short-term experience, the experience gained from the other six games of the series and the games leading up to the playoffs, that provided a more accurate view of how Game 7 would go.

Throughout the series, the Capitals consistently beat the Bruins in blocked shots and faceoffs, small details that often reflect the strength of a team’€™s focus and desire. The Bruins outshot the Capitals, but the quality of each team’€™s scoring chances remained similar. Boston’€™s key players like David Krejci and Milan Lucic continued to be quiet while the load fell to players like Andrew Ference, who was 12th on the team in scoring during the regular season and the second-leading scorer in the postseason.

‘€œAt the end of the day when you look at your team, your team wasn’€™t playing its best hockey in this series,’€ Bruins coach Claude Julien said. ‘€œBefore this day started, you just hoped that you would get through this Game 7 and pick some momentum up as you moved forward in the playoffs.’€

The Capitals already had their momentum before the playoffs. Washington did not clinch a playoff spot until the penultimate game of the season, and it had to fight hard for every victory. The Capitals went 13-9 in their last 22 games of the regular season, and eight of those 22 games were decided in overtime or by a shootout while 16 of the 22 games were decided by two goals or less.

In contrast, the Bruins went 12-10 in their last 22 games. Four of those games were decided in overtime or by a shootout, equaling the total of overtime games in the first round series of the playoffs.

‘€œWe’€™ve felt like it was playoff hockey for the last 30 games to make sure we get in the playoffs,’€ Capitals forward Mike Knuble said. ‘€œIt wasn’€™t like we had to throw on a switch and start playing again in the playoffs, start playing a different way.’€

The Bruins did have to start playing differently in the playoffs. Like many teams, the Bruins rested key and injured players after clinching a berth in order to be fresh for the postseason.

The epitome of inexperience in the series was Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, and he also proved that a lengthier resume does not always lead to success. With seven postseason starts, Holtby equaled the amount of starts he made during the season for the Capitals. Although the Bruins did not necessarily test him thoroughly, he still earned a .940 save percentage in the postseason, which was better than the very experienced Tim Thomas‘€™s .923 save percentage.

‘€œI was saying before we even came into the playoffs that it was good for this team to have a race to get into the playoffs,’€ Holtby said. ‘€œIt really made us buckle down and not take things for granted, and that was a big thing.’€

Now, perhaps because of that experience gained in the race to make the playoffs, it is the Capitals, not the Bruins, who have kept alive their hopes of winning the Stanley Cup.

Read More: Braden Holtby, David Krejci, Mike Knuble, Milan Lucic
A closer look at Bruins’ recent Game 7 history 04.24.12 at 9:14 pm ET
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Since the 2007-08 season, the Bruins have played six Game 7s, and until last season, they had lost all of them. In the 2011 playoffs, however, the Bruins won three Game 7s en route to winning the Stanley Cup. Two of those wins were by one goal, one of which was an overtime winner.

Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand lead the Bruins in scoring in those Game 7s with four points each. Lucic has scored three goals and recorded an assist in six Game 7s since 2008 while Marchand, in just three career Game 7s, has two goals and two assists. Both goals and one assist came in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals against Vancouver, which the Bruins won, 4-0. Nathan Horton has two Game 7 goals, both of which were game-winners. He leads the Bruins in game-winning Game 7 goals since 2008, but is not playing in the playoffs this year because of a concussion.

Tim Thomas played in five of the six Game 7s, and he owns a 3-2 record with a .935 save percentage in Game 7. Thomas engineered the Bruins to two of their three Game 7 wins last season, pitching a shutout in the Eastern Conference finals and the Stanley Cup finals.

Here’s a further breakdown of how the Bruins have fared in Game 7 since 2008:

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic, Tim Thomas
Capitals lineup changes bring familiar faces vs. Bruins 04.19.12 at 1:38 pm ET
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WASHINGTON — Nicklas Backstrom will be out of the lineup for Game 4 after being suspended by the league for cross-checking Rich Peverley in the face. The Bruins know that, and they also know the guy jumping into the lineup in his place.

Former Bruin Mike Knuble, who had the first of his two career 30-goal seasons while playing for Boston in 2002-03, will enter the Capitals’ lineup Thursday skating on the Washington’s fourth line.

Knuble, 39, finally saw his production and playing time fall off this past season with the Caps. After totaling at least 40 points in eight straight seasons (with at least 53 in five of them), Knuble had just 18 points and a minus-15 rating in 72 games this season. He’d also scored 20 goals or more in his past eight seasons before scoring just six during this past regular season.

Based on Washington’s morning skate Thursday, Knuble will play on a line with Keith Aucoin and Joel Ward.

Knuble’s presence in place of Backstrom isn’t the only lineup change anticipated for the Capitals. Defenseman John Erskine has skated on Washington’s third pairing with Dennis Wideman in place of Jeff Schultz for the last two days, suggesting the 6-foot-4, 224-pounder should be in the lineup for the first time since Feb. 12.

The Bruins — and Milan Lucic in particular –also know Erskine well, as Lucic has fought Erskine twice in his career. Erskine pummeled Lucic on Jan. 3, 2008, which was Lucic’s ninth NHL fight. The two had a much more evenly matched bout last season.

‘€œIt brings some toughness,” Capitals defenseman Mike Green said of having Erskine in the lineup. “You’€™ve seen him play. What you see is what you get. He brings a sense of humbleness to the other team. And that’€™s what we need.’€

All in the all, the changes to Washington’s lineup means the Capitals will ice a grittier team Thursday night at the Verizon Center. Knuble obviously brings the wisdom of years, while Erskine brings a little more sandpaper. The Caps could use that vs. a very physical Bruins team, and if the series is to see its first fight Thursday, Erskine could be a likely participant.

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, John Erskine, Mike Knuble, Milan Lucic
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