|First line focused on burying chances||01.22.13 at 5:44 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — There were few questions surrounding the Bruins (less than other teams, anyway) entering the season, but one of them surrounded the first line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. So far the answers have been pretty convincing.
The trio hadn’t played together since Horton went down with a concussion last season on a hit from Flyers forward Tom Sestito on Jan. 22, exactly a year ago. With Horton coming off two straight season-ending concussions and Lucic not playing during the lockout, it was easy to question how the Krejci trio would fare.
Nobody would have been surprised if the two power forwards came out sluggish as they got their legs back, but it’s been the opposite. The whole line has been flying, while Horton and Lucic have been their usual physical selves. Claude Julien sang their praises after Monday’s win over the Jets, but Krejci and Lucic said Tuesday that though they’re happy with their start, they haven’t buried their chances.
“It’s been basically a year going back to when Nathan got hurt in Philadelphia, since we played together in a threesome, and it’s obviously great that we’ve been able to click as well as we have, but in saying that, we’ve only been able to produce one goal,” Lucic said. “A big thing in the NHL is you’ve got to push yourself to get results. Right now it’s coming, but I think we definitely need to keep going until we get those results.”
Lucic was a wrecking ball on Monday (10 hits), while Horton and Krejci sniffed around several scoring opportunities, one of which came on their first shift when Krejci’s backhand bid was denied by Ondrej Pavelec.
“We had one right away the first shift,” Krejci said. “Those are the worst, on the first shift and you don’t score when you have a great chance. It’s not really a good feeling, but I think our game’s getting back to where we’d like it to be. The main thing for us is to keep our feet moving, with the puck or without the puck.”
Though Krejci has probably been the line’s best player through three games, the first line has undoubtedly been boosted by the return of Horton. The 27-year-old was cleared for contact over the summer and would have been ready for the start of the season had it began in October, and despite choosing not to play anywhere during the lockout, he clearly spent the time well. He looks bigger and stronger, while showing the skill that made him the third overall pick back in 2003.
His absence was felt when he went down last season. With Horton in the lineup, Lucic scored 17 goals in 45 games, while Krejci had 27 assists in 43 games. Without Horton, Lucic had just nine goals and Krejci had 14 assists in 43 games (including the playoffs).
With Horton back, the duo of he and Lucic has skated hard and used their big bodies (they stand at 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-3, respectively, and both weigh over 225 pounds) to wear down opposing top lines and create scoring opportunity.
“That’s how they get in the game, those two, with their physical play,” Krejci said. “I think they’ve done a pretty good job at it, and as a line I think we’ve created so many chances.
Said Lucic: “I think if you look at when I’ve been most successful in my career, it’s been when it’s been straight-line hockey. I’ve been able to do that the last two games, and I need to continue doing that. It’s no secret it makes me more successful than any other way of playing.
“If I’m trying to stick-handle and make moves and all that type of stuff, it doesn’t work as well. Keeping it simple works the best for my game and it has since my junior days, so why change now?”
The line has not been on the ice for a goal against this season. That’s a positive, but at the end of the day, its members know they should be on the ice for quite a few Bruins’ goals.
“I think the chemistry’s getting back there,” Krejci said of the line’s work. “Too bad we didn’t score [Monday]. We had so many chances, but the good thing is that we’re getting chances, we keep our feet moving and that’s a good sign. We’re the top line, so everyone expects for us to produce. We’re going to have to do that.”
|Bruins open season with win over Rangers||01.19.13 at 9:42 pm ET|
The Bruins started things off right Saturday, opening the 48-game season with a 3-1 win over the Rangers at TD Garden.
Milan Lucic got the Bruins on the board in the first period thanks to a nice play that was started by Andrew Ference. The veteran blueliner hit David Krejci with a pass at the Rangers’ blue line, and Krejci fired a snapshot that yielded a kick save from Henrik Lundqvist that bounced right to Lucic. The 24-year-old buried the rebound to give the B’s a 1-0 lead.
Daniel Paille made it 2-0 in the second period, sending a pass to Gregory Campbell in the neutral zone and hustling to the net to deflect Campbell’s shot past Lundqvist. That goal woke the Rangers up, however, as New York picked up its play and cashed in on a Brad Richards wristshot from outside the right circle that went through a crowd and beat Tuukka Rask top shelf stick-side.
As usual, the Bruins sent the fourth line out following the goal, and both Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell tried to help the Bruins regain momentum by dropping the gloves with Mike Rupp and Stu Bickel, respectively. The fights occurred three seconds apart from one another.
The B’s managed to add to the lead in the third period thanks to Johnny Boychuk, who was celebrating his 29th birthday Saturday. Boychuk threw a wristshot toward the net that went off a Rangers player and the seemingly the stick of Patrice Bergeron before finding its way past Lundqvist. The goal was credited to Boychuk, though to the naked eye it appeared Bergeron may have gotten a piece of it.
The B’s will return to action Monday when they host Blake Wheeler and the Jets in a matinee at TD Garden. They’ll face the Rangers again Wednesday in New York.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– It was good to see Lucic get off to a good start, as the power forward entered the season surrounded by questions of what kind of shape he kept himself in during the lockout. Lucic went without a goal in the first six games last season and hadn’t scored in a season opener in the first four years of his career.
– The B’s came through with a huge five-on-three penalty kill in a one-goal game in the third period. Thirty seconds after Lucic went off for boarding Carl Hagelin, Patrice Bergeron was caught in the Rangers’ zone and Rick Nash sped through the Bruins’ zone and split Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg. Chara hooked Nash, giving the Rangers 1:30 of five-on-three play without the Bruins’ best defenseman on the ice. Seidenberg, Bergeron, Chris Kelly, Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid and Andrew Ference did a masterful job limiting the Rangers, and Ference eventually drew a hooking call on Nash with 20 seconds remaining in the Chara penalty.
– Dougie Hamilton did what the Bruins wanted him to do: Play smart hockey and limit mistakes. The 19-year-old played the first shift of his NHL career on the power play thanks to a Carl Hagelin interference penalty 19 seconds into the game.
Hamilton was paired with Dennis Seidenberg and was credited with two shots on goal and three hits on the night.
– The Rangers took a too-many-men penalty with 58 seconds remaining and Lundqvist pulled, effectively ending any shot at a two-goal comeback in the final minute.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Henrik Lundvist turned in an easy candidate for save of the year when he snagged a David Krejci who into a wide open net just before it crossed the line with the B’s on the power play in the third. The goal appeared to be such a sure thing that the spotlight actually came on for a second to celebrate the goal, but the reigning Vezina winner was quick to turn it off. The play was reviewed and upheld.
– Speaking of interference penalties, there were three such calls between the two teams, and there were four in the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia game. Looks like the calls will be a bit tighter, at least early on in the season.
– Ference had a bit of bad luck, as he made the long pass to Krejci that led to Lucic’s goal, but he got off the ice for a change before Lucic put the puck in the net. He was then on the ice for Richards’ goal, so he had a minus-1 rating despite having played a major hand in Boston’s first goal.
– In the what-else-is-new department, the Bruins’ power play struggled and went 0-for-7 on the night. It was particularly sloppy in the first period and got better looks as the game went on, but the good news is that the B’s also kept the Rangers without a goal on their five power plays.
|Bruins hold off-ice workouts||01.18.13 at 12:00 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins stayed off the ice Friday at Ristuccia Arena, taking a day for off-ice workouts after skating for the previous five days. Only Jordan Caron (out with an upper-body injury) and Milan Lucic (who missed Thursday’s practice due to the birth of his daughter) took the ice, which had to be disappointing for those in the packed stands.
The Bruins will kick off the season Saturday at TD Garden against the Rangers, marking the first game of their 48-game schedule. Two of the Bruins’ first three games will come against the Rangers, who finished first in the Eastern Conference last regular season and added power forward Rick Nash in a trade with the Blue Jackets.
“I think it’s a good want to start for us,” Claude Julien said. “It’s a team that I think a lot of people are predicting has a real good chance of winning a Stanley Cup, so we might as well get at it right away and play against a good team. If anything, it will certainly make us better quicker, and to me, it’s a great way to start.”
|Jordan Caron skates, Milan Lucic absent from Bruins practice||01.17.13 at 11:04 am ET|
WILMINGTON — A familiar face made an appearance as injured forward Jordan Caron skated with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides prior to Thursday’s Bruins practice at Ristuccia Arena.
Caron, who had been playing at Providence this season but is out with an upper-body injury, did not stay on the ice for practice.
Absent from Thursday’s session was Milan Lucic (personal reasons), with Jay Pandolfo filling in for him on the first line in practice and Gregory Campbell replacing him on the first power-play unit during special teams work. The power play units were as follows:
Practice was delayed for a number of minutes due to a fan in the stands needing medical attention. The fan was placed on a stretcher and taken to the hospital.
|Milan Lucic: ‘I’ve never had a problem with my conditioning’||01.07.13 at 3:03 pm ET|
There were enough questions throughout the NHL lockout, but now that it’s been resolved, puck-heads are asking another: Are these guys in shape?
Players have had the last three months to spend however they wanted. Some played in Europe or the AHL, while many who couldn’t find work elsewhere stayed local. Milan Lucic, who got married over the summer, didn’t play anywhere during the lockout but did make appearances at practices organized by teammates, including Monday at Agganis Arena. There have been some murmurs about the power forward’s conditioning during the lockout, and Lucic does appear to have a little more to him these days.
Asked about his “aerobic health,” Lucic said that he won’t know exactly how prepared he is for games until he actually has to play in them. He noted the first day of training camp is always difficult for players, even if they’ve been skating every day.
“We’ll see,” Lucic said. “You’re never really in game shape until you’re playing games. For myself, I try to keep myself in shape, but we still have two weeks here of skating. I’ve never had a problem with my conditioning at any level, so I’ll be ready.”
Lucic said that he has stayed the same weight-wise. He was listed last season as being 228 pounds. With games less than two weeks away, he’s confident that he’ll be ready to go once the puck is dropped for the season.
“That cardio aspect of being in game-shape ‘¦ I think I heard [Steven] Stamkos on TSN yesterday say that you’re never really in game-shape unless you’re playing in games,” Lucic said. “We all feel the same way when it comes to that.”
|Milan Lucic latest to sign extension before lockout||09.15.12 at 10:19 am ET|
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.
|Bruins players discuss plans for potential NHL lockout||08.22.12 at 8:39 pm ET|
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.”
“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.”
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