|Milan Lucic hopes he’s getting back to normal||10.21.14 at 1:48 pm ET|
Inappropriate gestures aside, it’s been a weird start to the season for Milan Lucic.
The Bruins’ top left wing has had two different centers and three different right wings over seven games. In three of the first seven games, he’s played on a line that was different from the previous game. He’s also returning from offseason wrist surgery, which looks to be limiting him less and less as the games go on.
Still, numbers don’t lie. Lucic, traditionally a fast starter, has gone without a point in all but one game this season. He has no goals, with his two-point performance last week against the Canadiens remaining the only time he’s shown up on the scoresheet.
It appears that Seth Griffith will serve as Lucic and David Krejci‘s right wing Tuesday against the Sharks. The line had some good looks for three games before Griffith was replaced with Simon Gagne Saturday. Lucic feels that he can still find his way and the back of the net despite the revolving door on the right side of his line.
“I think the guys who have come in have played well,” Lucic said. “You look at the last three games, we were able to create a bunch of chances, but it seems like they’re just not going in for us right now. I don’t think overthinking anything or getting frustrated is going to get us anywhere. I think we’ve just got to keep playing in the O zone and creating chances and eventually they’ll start going in.”
As for the wrist, Lucic says it’s become less of a mental obstacle than it was earlier in the season, when he was a borderline invisible player on a borderline invisible line with Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser.
Now, with more games under his belt, Lucic doesn’t see the wrist as being an issue. All that’s left for him is to start finding the back of the net.
“[The wrist is] definitely getting a lot better, thinking about it a lot less, as far as re-injuring it again,” he said. “From a mental standpoint, it’s definitely becoming more positive.”
When asked Tuesday morning if Lucic was close to being the player he is when he’s at the top of his game, Claude Julien hinted at the obvious by saying people have seen him play long enough to know “how good he can be.” He doesn’t seem ready to use the roster uncertainty as an excuse for Lucic’s start.
“It’s up to each individual to play to their level. I’ve always said that,” Julien said. “It doesn’t matter who you play with, we rate players on their play — their sole play – and it doesn’t matter who you’re with; we still expect certain things.
“He’s come off an injury, he’s missed a little bit of the conditioning before camp started. He wasn’t able to play for a little while. What I like right now is he’s starting to come around and that’s the most important thing. I’m not going to dwell on the past more than’I like what I see he’s getting better all the time so he’s got to continue to improve.”
|Milan Lucic apologizes for ’embarrassing’ Bruins vs. Canadiens||10.18.14 at 1:13 pm ET|
Milan Lucic apologized Saturday morning for the fine-warranting gesture he made at Canadiens fans Thursday night.
Lucic made the obscene gesture as he entered the penalty box with 1:20 to play in the Bruins’ eventual 6-4 loss to the Canadiens. He argued with a referee after the Habs added a power play empty-netter, which earned him a game misconduct. He did not speak to the media after the game and was fined $5,000 for the gesture on Friday.
“I’m not proud of what I did there. I just want to apologize to our organization for embarrassing the Bruins organization,” Lucic told reporters Saturday morning in Buffalo.
“I also want to apologize to our fans and also apologize to the Montreal Canadiens organization and the Canadiens fans,” he added. “I know they can get under your skin sometimes but they are great fans. I apologize for my actions. I regret what I did.”
Lucic had a pair of assists in Thursday’s game, which were his first two points of the season. According to ESPN Boston’s Joe McDonald, Simon Gagne skated on Lucic’s line with David Krejci in Saturday’s morning skate after finishing the last two games in that spot. Gagne scored late in Thursday’s game while playing with the duo.
Matt Fraser reportedly skated on the fourth line with Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell. Such a move is interesting, as Paille played right wing Thursday when Gagne was on the line. Perhaps that was preparation for Fraser, far more effective on the left wing than on the right, to return to the lineup in the position he plays best.
|Milan Lucic fined $5K for obscene gesture toward Canadiens fans||10.17.14 at 11:57 am ET|
Milan Lucic lost his cool Thursday night, and now he’ll pay the price: $5,000.
The Bruins forward made an obscene gesture toward Montreal fans after being sent to the penalty box for boarding with 80 seconds to play and the B’s trailing by a goal.
After the Canadiens scored an empty-net goal for a 6-4 lead that would stand as the final score, Lucic proceeded to get thrown out of the game for confronting an official on his way to the bench from the box.
The league announced its decision Friday morning. The money will go to the Players’ Emergency Fund.
|Video: Milan Lucic makes obscene gesture at Canadiens fans||at 12:27 am ET|
MONTREAL — Milan Lucic did nothing to improve his relationship with the Canadiens and their fans Thursday night.
Lucic, who surpassed Zdeno Chara as Boston Enemy No. 1 last season with a spearing incident with Alexei Emelin (after which he called Emelin a “chicken”) and some choice words in the post-Game 7 handshake line (after which he called Dale Weise a “baby”), took a late boarding penalty Thursday due to a hit he put on Emelin with less than a minute and a half to play.
As he entered the penalty box to massive boos from the crowd, Lucic made an obscene gesture with his glove near his pants (there’s really no way to word it) before doing what looked like a mock Stanley Cup raise. After P.A. Parenteau sealed the game with an empty netter for Montreal, Lucic was given a game misconduct for yelling at an official as he exited the penalty box.
Lucic had reason to be angry with the situation as he was penalized. The Bruins were down a goal in the final minutes and Emelin was crazy to turn in the boards the way that he did when Lucic was coming in to hit him, but the gestures should earn him supplemental discipline. Such gestures, including a similar one from James Wisniewski in 2010, have been suspendable in the past.
Lucic was not available to the media after the game. The Bruins would not specify whether Lucic had declined to talk or whether it was the team’s decision.
|Dale Weise says he didn’t lose respect for Milan Lucic, but would have if he shook his hand||10.16.14 at 12:04 pm ET|
BROSSARD, Quebec – The handshake line plot thickens.
On Thursday morning, the Canadiens downplayed the significance of their upcoming grudge match with the Bruins, which will serve as the teams’ first regular-season meeting since the second round of last season ended with a Canadiens win and plenty of unused hatred.
Dale Weise was a big part of that. He scored the first goal of Game 7 as the Habs took a 3-1 win to advance to play the Rangers. After that game, he told reporters that Lucic “had a few things to say to a couple of guys” in the handshake line, essentially directing folks to the tape, where one could see that Lucic told Weise he was going to “[expletive] kill” him the next time they played. He noted that Shawn Thornton took the loss with class and called Lucic’s actions “a poor way to lose.” Lucic responded by calling Weise a baby.
On Thursday, Weise had nothing bad to say about Lucic, calling him “a hard guy to play against.” Asked if he had lost any respect for Lucic the season before, Weise gave an interesting answer.
“No, no. He’s an emotional guy,” Weise said. “If he were to have shook my hand and been happy about losing, I would have lost respect for him.”
Weise has been a healthy scratch in one of the Habs’ four games thus far, and neither he nor coach Michel Therrien would say whether he was in the lineup for Montreal’s home opener against Boston.
If he does play, such a setting could be familiar for Weise. Though he was not a member of the 2010-11 Canucks (he spent that season in the Rangers organization), Weise was on the Canucks the next season and was a big part of the Bruins-Canucks grudge match in January 2012. Weise says that though there is “similar hatred” between the B’s and Habs after last postseason, he doesn’t expect as crazy a game as that 2012 contest.
“I think both teams are trying to get wins here. It’s early in the season. Last year’s kind of forgotten about,” Weise said. “Both teams are focusing on this year. They’re probably not happy with the start they got off to. They got a big win last night so they’re going to try to keep that going tonight.”
|Jarome Iginla ‘understands’ why Bruins couldn’t bring him back: ‘There are cap issues’||10.13.14 at 7:39 pm ET|
Jarome Iginla holds no grudges against the Bruins. As a matter of fact, he said after Monday’s 2-1 win over his former employer that he’s grateful for the one year he spent in Boston.
“It was definitely a little bit different,” said Iginla, who had no shots or assists in 17 minutes and 20 shifts. “I had one of the best [years] of my career, one of the most exciting years last year, one of favorite years, the whole experience coming to this. I made some good friends that are on their side playing with the team, and we had a very good team. So it was a little different, for sure. It hasn’t been too long, it feels almost like you’ve just been gone for a long vacation, but it’s part of the game.
“Coming from the other side, once the game starts, it’s business. We were looking for our first win, and we knew they were trying to get things going for themselves. But it’s a bit different on the ice. You wouldn’t want to play all the time against that team, but it’s a great place and it’s fun to come back.”
After 30 goals and 31 assists in 78 games on Boston’s top line, Iginla left Boston for Denver and signed a three-year, $16 million deal with the Avalanche. On Monday, he acknowledged the real economics the Bruins were facing.
“Well, I understand it,” Iginla said. “I was hoping at the time, before free agency opened, that it could work out, but you know there are cap issues. With my family, we wanted to be able to make sure, I’m going to play more than one year, and I didn’t want to just play one year then next year [the Bruins] have even less [cap] room. With all the good, young guys they have coming up, they’ve got to keep room for them and keep signing them.
“It’s a good problem to have, though, if you’re the Bruins. But I understood why and figured if I was going to move my family, it would be the time now, before they keep getting more entrenched in school and liking it even more, and then trying to move the following year. I’ve got a great opportunity in Colorado. I’m excited to be here, and it’s a good, young, fun team. But like I said, before that with the Bruins, it was one of the best experiences of my career. I understand why, and like I said, their young guys played, [Torey] Krug, Dougie Hamilton, [Reilly] Smith, they played great. You’ve got to have room for them, Looch, the list goes on. So I understand.”
|Bruins leaders question work ethic, Claude Julien says he’ll reevaluate lineup amidst early skid||10.11.14 at 11:10 pm ET|
Complain about Chris Kelly‘s cap hit all you want, but he’s the guy who’s going to hold the Bruins accountable when they play as poorly as they have the last two games.
“It’s tough to put into words,” Kelly said after the Bruins were shut out by the Capitals for their second straight loss. “I think we were outworked, outbattled, and obviously outplayed over the course of 120 minutes, not just 60. I think the only positive I can think of is, it’s game three. Other than that, it’s two poor, poor efforts.”
The Bruins barely had the puck in their 2-1 loss to the Red Wings Thursday, with Kelly saying after Saturday’s blanking that guys haven’t been working hard enough. Zdeno Chara said the B’s were “embarrassed” Saturday and that their play is ‘not acceptable.’
The Bruins’ roster is obviously not at full strength. David Krejci is eligible to come off injured reserve and potentially return to the lineup Monday, but it’s no sure thing that he does. Milan Lucic is coming off wrist surgery and is clearly not functioning at full capacity.
The fourth line has been more detrimental than it’s been a source of energy. That’s been made worse by the fact that the line playing above it (Lucic with Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser) have done nothing. Bobby Robins and Ryan Spooner have put themselves in tough positions if they want to stay in the lineup. Fraser has also been a non-factor, but deserves to get a look on a line without Spooner, as he has the best shot among Bruins forwards and has shown promise when playing away from his former Providence linemate.
Asked if the weakened roster has to do with the team’s struggles so far, Kelly said he didn’t care who was playing where or with whom.
“It’s a team-wide thing, it’s not just a few guys. You guys can see it just as much as we can,” Kelly said. “It’s not a passing thing or a positioning thing, it’s a working thing. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing with. You could play with two total strangers, and all you have to do is go out and work hard.”
If Krejci is able to return for Monday, the Bruins might be wise to keep Lucic and Fraser together and have Krejci replace Spooner, who could either move to the fourth line as a center or wing or serve as an extra forward. They could also consider playing Jordan Caron on the fourth line right wing, a job currently held by Robins.
Asked after the game whether he feels he needs to make lineup changes, Julien hinted at the possibility.
“You certainly have to reevaluate,” Julien said. “There’s no doubt there, and guys are given chances, and so on and so forth. When you play two games like that, you have to reevaluate, and that’s what we’re going to do.”