|Is three games too soon to panic over Bruins’ first line woes? Yes||10.11.11 at 5:35 pm ET|
While information is awaited on the status of David Krejci (who did not get on the plane to Carolina but could possibly join the team Wednesday), it’s hard to tell what the Bruins’ first line will look like Wednesday against the Hurricanes. At this point, the Bruins feel that injury is the only thing that will cause them to break up the trip if Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton at this point.
Krejci, Lucic and Horton went onto the ice early Tuesday, beginning their day 20 minutes before their teammates as a way to “get the frustration out and get back to playing how we know we can play,” according to Lucic. They stayed out in their first-line white sweaters for Tuesday’s skate until Krejci left with an undisclosed injury, the severity of which is unknown.
Through three games, the line has only one goal, a Krejci tally, and all three members of the line have a team-worst minus-2 rating. It hasn’t been smooth sailing, but the left wing feels that shaking things up three games into the season would be premature.
“Obviously, it keeps dragging on, changes have to be made,” Lucic said, “but right now, I think we just have [bring the right mindset] to the game and things will take care of themselves.”
The worst of the three has been Nathan Horton, who aside from penalties in each of the first two games and a 2-on-1 with Lucic in Monday’s loss to the Avalanche has been invisible thus far. He has just one shot on goal and has yet to register a hit.
“Personally, I feel like we haven’t found him enough and passed him the puck in areas where he’s most dangerous,” Lucic said of Horton. “As a linemate, that’s what I and our centerman need to do for him and give him more opportunities where he can be more dangerous.”
What doesn’t help from a pressure standpoint is the fact that this is the same line that, aside from struggles from an injured Lucic, had big success in the playoffs. Horton was arguably the team’s most clutch player, with three game-winning goals, two of which came in Game 7s. Krejci led all players in postseason goals and points.
“Sometimes when you’re just thinking about producing and scoring, that’s when it becomes the hardest. Maybe we just need to focus on something else and the rest will take care of itself.”
With the top trio struggling, the team’s second line of Patrice Bergeron centering Brad Marchand and Rich Peverley has been the team’s best line. Marchand is tied with Tyler Seguin for the team lead with three points, while Peverley’s two goals lead the defending champs. The success of the second line and the struggles of the first line have led to some speculation that switching up the lines could be an option, but Marchand has no interest in hearing any of that.
“I think people are overreacting right now,” Marchand said frankly on Tuesday. “It’s three games into the season. It was a short but long summer, very busy and very busy times right now. I think people have to settle down and realize that it’s only three games into the year. It’s not that big of a deal. Guys are still getting back into things. They’re three of the top guys into league. They’re going to bounce back. We’re not worrying about it, so they’ll be fine.”
|Milan Lucic agrees with Claude Julien: B’s took the game ‘way too lightly’||10.10.11 at 4:57 pm ET|
It was pretty apparent, even before Claude Julien called out his team before reporters in a post-game press conference, that the Bruins were fairly disgusted with their performance in a 1-0 loss to the Avalanche that wasted a brilliant performance by Tuukka Rask.
The Bruins managed 30 shots on Semyon Varlamov, but not enough sustained pressure. When they got great chances, including Lucic with just under six minutes to go in the game, they couldn’t finish.
“Well, they played well, you have to give them credit,” Lucic said. “But on our part, we took today’s game way too lightly. We lost most of the battles, they were first on pucks. Regardless of if we were the champs last year or not, the major areas on the ice, they wanted the puck more than us. And that’s why we weren’t able to generate enough to get that goal.
“We created some pretty good chances, just have to find a way to bear down on them.”
In their losses to the Flyers and Avalanche, the Bruins could not do two basic things essential to winning hockey and their Cup run of last spring: Control the puck and win physical battles.
“Yeah, it seemed like we were chasing a lot and they were just chipping past us and going,” Lucic said. “And we were a step late, a second late here a step late, a second late over there. And that’s basically what happens. I talked about being first to the puck and winning battles and we didn’t have enough of that. Good for four periods and need to work on the rest.”
|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.
“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.