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Closing the book on the Milan Lucic/Ryan Miller hit… for now 11.15.11 at 1:50 am ET
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When word came down Sunday night that Milan Lucic had been called to the proverbial principal’s office for his hit on Sabres’ goaltender Ryan Miller, there were different reactions from different places. It kept what’s been an interesting conversation going just a little bit longer, and while the conversation can stop for now, you have to imagine both teams have Nov. 23 circled.

While Bruins fans were surprised that Brendan Shanahan would consider suspending Lucic for the play, it seems non-Bruins fans were rooting for the B’s to get their comeuppance.

In the end, Shanahan opted against suspending Lucic, saying he found out all he needed to regarding intent on a play in which the two players were racing for a puck in the Sabres’ zone. The lack of suspension means the red-hot Bruins can breathe a sigh of relief, and it likely gives the Sabres all the more motivation to respond when the teams meet a week from Wednesday in Buffalo. Things figure to get more interesting than they already are.

The play itself remains a popular topic of debate. Lucic was chasing the puck after blocking a shot, but Miller came way out of his net to clear it before getting hit. One popular line of thinking among fans around the net was that Miller shouldn’t have come so far out of the net, as skating that far out makes him fair game.

The response to that, of course, is a simple, “um’€¦ no.” As Rule 42.1 (charging) states, “a goalkeeper is not ‘fair game’ just because he is outside the goal crease area.” As such, Lucic was assessed the correct penalty when the refs sent him to the box for two minutes on a charging call.

Then there’s the picture that a disciplinary hearing paints for Lucic. The left wing prides himself on being a power forward who has no shortage of grit or offensive skill, but such hearings are never a good thing. While he is not a dirty player, this wasn’t the first time he found himself being criticized for an ill-advised play. The one suspension of Lucic’s career came in Game 2 of the first round against the Habs in 2009, when Lucic cross-checked Maxim Lapierre in the head. More recently, his punch to the head of then-Thrashers defenseman Freddy Meyer last season (which did follow a high hit from Meyer and got him a match penalty and an automatic hearing) last December and a sucker-punch to Lightning blueliner Victor Hedman in Game 1 of the conference finals a season ago provide Lucic-bashers with plenty of ammunition.

Claude Julien defended Lucic Monday, saying the 23-year-old goes hard at all times, so much so that he accidentally did the same thing to coach Geoff Ward in a practice last season, knocking Ward down much like he did to Miller.

As for the Sabres, it seems they can’t catch a break. With Miller out with a concussion, Jhonas Enroth started in his place Monday night and was knocked down when Habs defenseman Erik Cole hit him in the crease. Cole was assessed an interference minor, while the entire Sabres’ bench was likely scratching their heads over the luck of their netminders.

Regardless of who’s in net on the 23rd, things figure to be interesting. Tim Thomas admitted Saturday that he was on his toes following the Lucic hit, as he thought a Sabres player might take a run at him. After the Sabres failed to respond at all Saturday, one would think they’ll try to correct that in the next meeting.

For now, the book can be closed on the matter, but next Wednesday figures to be a different story.

Read More: Milan Lucic, Ryan Miller,
Milan Lucic won’t be suspended for hit on Ryan Miller 11.14.11 at 3:48 pm ET
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Bruins forward Milan Lucic will not be suspended or fined after his hearing with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan Monday. Lucic had a phone hearing with Shanahan over his first-period hit on Sabres goalie Ryan Miller in Saturday’s game.

“I had the hearing because I did make an initial assessment of the play as I do with all plays, but I did have some questions for Milan and I wanted to hear directly from him,” Shanahan told NHL.com following the hearing. “They were regarding his intent; at what point did he know there was going to be a collision; and whether or not he felt he had the time to avoid the collision. I was satisfied with his answers.”

Lucic was given a charging minor for the play in which he and Miller were chasing a puck in Sabres’ zone. Miller got there first and cleared the puck, but Lucic followed through with his hit. Shanahan said the call made on the ice was the correct one given that Rule 42.1 states “a goalkeeper is not fair game just because he is outside the goal crease area.”

Read More: Milan Lucic, Ryan Miller,
Milan Lucic watched replay ’100 times’ surprised Ryan Miller has concussion at 12:38 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Count Bruins forward Milan Lucic among those surprised to hear that Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller suffered a concussion on Lucic’s hit on the goaltender Saturday night. Lucic said after Monday’s practice that his confusion comes from the fact that though his helmet came off, contact was not made with his head.

“I’ve looked at the hit 100 times because he said he got a concussion. I looked at it, and his shoulder hit my chest, so there was no hit to his head. His helmet came flying off, but his head didn’t hit the ice and later on in that period, one of their guys lifted [Tyler Seguin]‘s stick and threw him into the net as well, so who knows what it was? It was obviously unfortunate to hear that he got hurt on the play.”

Lucic also pointed to the fact that Miller stayed in the game after the first-period play and played the entire second period before leaving the game. Players are required to leave the ice and go to a designated quiet room if they suspect they may have suffered a head injury.

“Was I surprised? Yeah, because with the new protocol and the concussion stuff, I know the last there NHLPA meetings that I’ve been a part of, they’re clarifying about concussions and head injuries,” Lucic said. “The main thing that they talked about is that there’s no such thing as getting your bell rung or seeing stars anymore. That’s considered a concussion, and if you’re in that position, you have to do whatever you can to take yourself out of play.”

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Milan Lucic, Ryan Miller,
Ryan Miller (concussion) out indefinitely, Milan Lucic has hearing with Brendan Shanahan 11.13.11 at 9:08 pm ET
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Bruins forward Milan Lucic has a hearing scheduled with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan for Monday at 1 pm, according to a tweet from TSN’s Bob McKenzie. The hearing will determine whether Lucic is suspended for Saturday’s first-period play in which he hit Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller.

While Lucic may miss time due to the play, Miller definitely will. The Sabres announced Sunday that the goaltender, who called Lucic “gutless” after the game, suffered a concussion from the hit and will be out indefinitely.

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Ryan Miller thinks Milan Lucic is a ‘piece of [expletive]‘ and Tim Thomas can see why he was surprised by hit 11.12.11 at 11:14 pm ET
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Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller was asked following Saturday night’s 6-2 loss to the Bruins whether he was injured when B’s left wing Milan Lucic charged him in the first period, but he wasn’t interested in talking about himself. He was interested in expressing his thoughts on Lucic and the dirty hit.

“I’€™m not going to really get into that,” Miller said of his physical condition. “I just stuck around because I just want to say what a piece of [expletive] I think Lucic is. Fifty pounds on me, and he runs me like that. It’€™s unbelievable. Everyone in this city sees him as a big, tough, solid player. I respected him for how hard he played. That was gutless. Gutless, piece of [expletive].”

Lucic blocked a shot and was chasing a puck into the Sabres’ zone when Miller darted out of his net to clear the puck. Upon Miller getting there first and sending the puck aside, Lucic didn’t stop in time, barreling over the netminder and sending his helmet off. Lucic was given a charging minor for the play.

“Well I blocked a shot, and it’€™s a race for a puck, and I mean I just put my head down and tried to get to it first,” Lucic said. “And next thing I looked up he was out of his net and it was a collision. So I mean obviously going into a situation like that I’€™m going to brace myself. And I was going full speed so it was pretty hard for me to put on the brakes. So that’€™s basically it.”

While he didn’t seem nearly as upset with the play as Miller, Tim Thomas did seem to understand Miller’s unhappiness with the play.

“I will say that as a goalie, you’re not really prepared for people to hit you in a situation like that,” Thomas said. “You’ve been trained over the course of your whole career [to believe] you’re not going to get hit in situations like that. It must have taken him by surprise.”

There was no retaliation on Lucic, so Thomas was prepared for the possibility of the Sabres going after him.

“Basically, from my perspective, after that happened, [I was] just trying to make sure I was on my toes,” Thomas said. “I didn’t know if there would be kind of a retribution hit. That’s kind of the old school way.”

If there were to be a hit on Thomas, Lucic said he and the Bruins would have reacted much more than the Sabres did.

“Definitely. You know, we wouldn’€™t accept anything like that,” Lucic said. “We would have [taken] care of business. But we’€™re a different team than they are.”

Read More: Milan Lucic, Ryan Miller, Tim Thomas,
Re-examining Nov. 1 and the uphill climb the Bruins face 10.31.11 at 5:21 pm ET
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Last week, we noted the Bruins should want to be either in or very close to the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference by the time the first of November rolls around. Now, the day isn’t over yet, but chances are there will be no Halloween miracle that takes the Bruins out of dead last before the second month of the season, and based on history, that means they’re in deep trouble.

Without totally recycling last week’s story, each of the last two seasons has seen only one Eastern Conference team not in the top eight on Nov. 1 go on to make the playoffs. That means, for the most part at least, that the playoff picture is largely made up after a month, and it barely changes.

So, with the Bruins 3-7-0 and in last place at the end of October, they are going to have a heck of a climb back into the playoff picture if they don’t want the season that follows June’s Stanley Cup victory to be a colossal failure. It means they’re going to need to turn things around quickly to avoid suffering the fate so many teams who start slow, finish strong and still miss the playoffs, see every season. Last year, it was the Devils and the Hurricanes whose stellar play late couldn’t save them, but those teams didn’t have nearly the expectations of the depending champs.

“You look back at things like this [later in the season],” Milan Lucic said Monday. “Obviously, there’s adversity that you have to face throughout the season. For us, it’s right now. We’ve got to figure it out quick, because I know it’s only 10 games, but you know how many teams that have had starts like this that haven’t been able to recover.

“You look at New Jersey last year, who finished as probably the best team since January, and they weren’t able to recover. You can reflect on this. Obviously we’ll see what happens down the road, but we’ve got to do everything we can to get out of this as quick as possible. We’re going to have to do it as a team and as a group effort. The only way we’re going todo this is if we help each other.”

There seems to be an understanding throughout the Bruins’ dressing room that as far as time for struggles go, this is it. They won’t be able to slump at later points in the season, because with overtime losses in place, it will be hard enough as it is for them to gain ground.

“Basically, every team in the league is going to go through a rough patch at some point this year. Our’s is right now, unfortunately. We understand that this is our rough patch, and we won’t be able to have another one, or we’re going to sink ourselves,” Claude Julien said. “There’s a lot of things that you just keep trying to figure our they those things happen, and there are no answers. ‘€¦ Right now if we had the answer, it would have been fixed. That’s why you try to find those answers.”

Whatever the answers are, the Bruins need to find them quick. The last defending champion to miss the playoffs was the 2006-07 Hurricanes.

Read More: Claude Julien, Milan Lucic,
Milan Lucic says Bruins need to change their play, not their roster at 1:26 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — When a team is in dead last one month into the season, it’s generally obvious that change is needed, but what about when that team is just a few months removed from winning the Stanley Cup?

With the Bruins currently sitting in last place in all of the Eastern Conference and coming off three straight losses, there has been speculation regarding what moves can be made to improve the club. General manager Peter Chiarelli has reportedly been working the phones, and the possibility exists that the team could call up a player from Providence.

Bruins forward Milan Lucic, who led the team with 30 goals last season, said after Monday’s practice that he doesn’t feel change to the roster is needed.

“I think we’ve proven that this group works. If you look into it too much, you can almost go [crazy] if you read into it or look into it too much,” he said. “This group works, and the only way we’re going to start working again is if we start playing like a group again. I think that’s our biggest challenge right now.

“We need everyone going at the same time and everyone being on the same page and trusting the system, because when we’re going as a group and playing that system that we know how to play, we’ve obviously shown that we can be one of, if not the best, team in the league.”

The 3-7-0 Bruins will host the Senators Tuesday at TD Garden.

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