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Happy Milan Lucic Appreciation Day 05.08.13 at 1:47 pm ET
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Milan Lucic

TORONTO — Wednesday morning was Milan Lucic Appreciation Day at Air Canada Centre, with the power forward’s resurgence a big topic among the media (for those keeping track, Tuesday was Jaromir Jagr is Still Getting It Done At His Age Day). Here’s a gem from Shawn Thornton when asked what Lucic has that he wish he did:

“Everything. He skates better than me, he’s got a better shot than me, hits better than me, he’s a lot younger than me,” Thornton said. “He’s definitely a combination you don’t see too often, but that’s why he’s getting six sheets next year. It’s not like you can find those guys everywhere. He gets paid accordingly.”

The “six sheets” line refers to the $6 million Lucic will average over the next three seasons, when the $18 million extension he inked prior to the lockout will begin. Lucic had just seven goals and 20 assists during the regular season, but he’s stepped it up in the playoffs. His six points (all assists) through three games are more points than he had over his final 12 games of the regular season.

As a former 30-goal-scorer, Lucic is there to put pucks in the net. Though he still hasn’t scored this postseason, the fact that he’s been able to contribute as much as he has (Claude Julien said Wednesday that Lucic has been arguably Boston’s best forward this postseason) speaks to what David Krejci says is an under-appreciated ability to make plays.

“Definitely I would say his passing ability is underrated,” David Krejci said. “I’ve been playing with him for a long time, a few years now, so I know what he can bring to the table. He’s not only about hitting the guys and putting the puck in the net and fighting. He can do more things and he’s shown it in the playoffs so far, with three games and six assists that he can help the team in the other part of the game, too.”

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Claude Julien has the back of Jaromir Jagr: ‘That was vintage Jagr’ 05.06.13 at 11:09 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien showed Monday night that he had the backs of his players. (AP)

Everyone knew Jaromir Jagr was due to break out.

He picked a very good time to do exactly that as Claude Julien had his patience in the 41-year-old superstar rewarded in Monday’s 5-2 win over the Leafs in Game 3 of their first-round series at Air Canada Centre.

Heading into Game 3, the line of Jagr, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly hadn’t done much. They were struggling to find a rhythm in the first two games. Jagr was weakened heading into the playoffs by flu-like symptoms, cutting down on the amount of time he could spend generating any type of chemistry with teammates.

That changed 5:57 into the second period when he stripped the puck behind the Leafs net and found Peverley all alone in front of James Reimer for the goal that made it 2-0 Bruins.

“It’s my job to make the excuses, and I made the excuses for them because I felt it was right,” Julien said. “Jags hasn’t been feeling that great and he had to turn a corner here and, at the same time, he had new line mates that hadn’t played much together so it’s just a matter of giving him some time. Sometimes, you have to be patient and I’m more of a patient guy that I am someone who’s going to panic, and tonight it paid off because I thought they were a real good line for us.

“It speaks a lot to Jags. It doesn’t matter how old he is or how long he’s been in the league. It doesn’t matter how much he’s accomplished. He’s a real proud competitor and he takes everything at heart. And the fact that he hadn’t been doing as much as he would’ve like to because of circumstances, he was determined to be a difference-maker tonight and help our team. I thought he did a great job. And the other two guys were a lot more comfortable with him tonight. And again, talking and practicing together certainly helped. He’s strong on the puck, and I know every time he has it, they need one or two guys on him to take it away and that means somebody’s open. He does a great job of that and I thought he was on top of his game tonight.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Jaromir Jagr, Milan Lucic
Big night from top line helps Bruins past Maple Leafs in Game 3 at 9:49 pm ET
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Nathan Horton

TORONTO — The Air Canada Centre crowd didn’t have as much energy as was expected Monday night — and neither did the Maple Leafs — as the B’s beat Toronto, 5-2, in Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

Adam McQuaid got the Bruins on the board at 13:42 of the first period with a slap shot from the point, giving the Bruins four goals from defensemen this series. The Bruins expanded their lead when Rich Peverley scored the third line’s first goal of the series in the second to make it 2-0 after a nice steal by Jaromir Jagr, but a Jake Gardiner power-play goal following a Tyler Seguin tripping penalty brought the Leafs to within one.

Nathan Horton scored his third goal in as many games, and Daniel Paille scored a shorthanded breakaway goal to make it 4-1. Phil Kessel scored his second goal of the postseason to make it a two-goal game, but Tuukka Rask kept the door closed from there, with David Krejci tallying an empty-netter to finish it off.

The B’s and Leafs will play Game 4 on Wednesday night, with the series returning to Boston on Friday for Game 5.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

• For a line that rightfully was surrounded by questions heading into the postseason, the Bruins’ top line has been very good for the B’s thus far. Krejci’s goal was the seventh goal this series the Krejci line has been on the ice for, and how about this for a stat: Milan Lucic has more points (six) in three postseason games this year than he had over his final 12 games of the regular season.

• Speaking of that line, Horton now has a goal in each game this postseason. In 24 career playoff games, Horton has 11 goals and nine assists for 20 points. It’s safe to say he’s a playoff performer, and safer to say that he’s helping his cause as he nears free agency.

• If the NHL kept track of shorthanded scoring opportunities, you’d probably see Paille’s name near the top of the list. Paille’s smarts and speed make him a huge asset on the penalty kill, and it showed again when he picked off Kessel’s pass and turned it into a breakaway. The issue with Paille has always been finishing, but he finished beautifully with a backhander to beat James Reimer.

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Read More: Adam McQuaid, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Tuukka Rask
Dougie Hamilton wins Bruins’ Seventh Player Award 04.25.13 at 7:45 pm ET
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Dougie Hamilton (27) celebrates a goal against the Capitals earlier this season.

In what could be the first of many individual honors, Dougie Hamilton received his first Thursday night.

The Bruins announced that the 19-year-old defenseman is the winner of the NESN Seventh Player Award. Voted on by Bruins fans, the Seventh Player Award is an annual award presented to the Bruin who went above and beyond the call of duty and exceeded the expectations of Bruins fans during the season.

Ironically, Hamilton was a healthy scratch Thursday night against the Lightning as the team gives him a rest before the start of the playoffs next week.

In his first season with the Bruins, Hamilton has notched five goals and 11 assists in 42 games with a plus-6 rating. The rookie ranks second among Bruins defensemen in points (16) and goals (5).

Hamilton is tied for third in the NHL among rookie blueliners in points (16), third in assists (11) and tied for third in goals (5).

Hamilton started the season with the Niagra IceDogs (Ontario Hockey League), skating in 32 games, notching eight goals and 33 assists for 41 points. Last year, he was named the Canadian Major Junior Defenseman of the Year.

The 6-foot-5, 199-pound native of Toronto was drafted by the Bruins in the first round (9th overall) of the 2011 NHL draft.

In addition to the Seventh Player Award trophy, Hamilton will receive $5,000 to donate to the charity of his choice.

Recent recipients include Tyler Seguin (2012), Brad Marchand (2011), Tuukka Rask (2010), David Krejci (2009) and Milan Lucic (2008).

The Seventh Player Award sweepstakes winner was Scott Martioski of Orange, Mass. Martioski wins a three-year lease on a 2014 Kia Sorento courtesy of Central Auto Team of Norwood and Raynham.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Dougie Hamilton
Andy Brickley on M&M: ‘Bruins appear to be very vulnerable right now’ 04.24.13 at 12:18 pm ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN commentator Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ turnover issues, how their defensive pairings might look in the playoffs and how Milan Lucic has responded to being benched on Saturday.

Brickley said he saw a number of recurring issues in the Bruins’ 5-2 loss to the Flyers on Tuesday.

“[I was] surprised by the lack of complete-game effort by Boston,” Brickley. “It’s almost an indifference to their game. Not enough meaningful contact, the turnovers were just way too many. And not just by one player or a handful of players — it’s everybody. When they get good penalty-killing, their power play can’t score. When they get a power-play goal, their penalty kill seems to fall by the wayside.

“When they need a save in a close game, they haven’t gotten it lately. And if you’re looking for that Bruin team that we got so used to liking because they had that cockiness and swagger to them and they had tremendous confidence as a team, it’s just not there, plain and simple. This is a team that no matter where they finish, whether it’s second or fourth in the conference, [potential playoff opponents] will have no reservations because the Bruins appear to be very vulnerable right now.”

Turnovers have plagued the Bruins all over the ice as they’ve continued to struggle recently, and Brickley said he thinks that’s their No. 1 issue at the moment.

“The ones that jump out at you are the ones where the defensemen turn the puck over in their own zone, and a scoring chance or a goal happens,” Brickley said. “But turnovers at the offensive blue line, turnovers deep in the offensive zone, bad passes through center ice — usually when you make mistakes like that, it’s your decision-making.

“Is that a result of mental or physical fatigue? If you told me that in the middle of the third week of March, when they were playing 17 games in that month, I’d say, OK, I get that. But not now. This is where fatigue cannot be part of the equation. You have to compartmentalize, totally focus on the job at hand. And what the Bruins really need is for their leaders to lead and their star players to do more. [Zdeno] Chara can be a better player. [Patrice] Bergeron has been awesome all year long, but I’m going to ask him to do even more. I want [Andrew] Ference to stand up, [Dennis] Seidenberg, those are the guys that really play tons of minutes. Those are the guys that have to lead the way.”

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Read More: Carl Soderberg, Milan Lucic, Zdeno Chara,
Milan Lucic a healthy scratch as Carl Soderberg makes NHL debut 04.20.13 at 12:18 pm ET
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Milan Lucic was made a healthy scratch for Saturday’s game against the Penguins and did not take warmups. The scratch comes two days after Lucic skated with the Bruins’ extra forwards in Thursday’s practice.

After scoring 30 goals two seasons ago and scoring 26 last season, Lucic has just six goals in 41 games this season. He has two goals over his last 27 games.

Prior to the lockout, the 24-year-old Lucic signed a three-year contract worth $18 million that will make him the Bruins’ highest-paid forward beginning next season.

With Lucic out, Carl Soderberg was in the lineup for his NHL debut. Dougie Hamilton was also absent from warmups, making he, Aaron Johnson and Wade Redden the healthy scratches on defense. The lines and pairings appeared as follows in warmups:

Daniel Paille – David Krejci – Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Tyler Seguin
Carl Soderberg – Chris Kelly – Jaromir Jagr
Gregory Campbell – Rich Peverley – Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara – Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference – Johnny Boychuk
Matt Bartkowski – Adam McQuaid

Tuukka Rask

The Bruins took the ice for warmups wearing hats for the police departments of Massachusetts, Watertown and Boston.

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

Read More: Carl Soderberg, Dougie Hamilton, Milan Lucic,
Milan Lucic wouldn’t blame Claude Julien for making him a healthy scratch 04.18.13 at 1:21 pm ET
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Milan Lucic

WILMINGTON — After skating with the healthy scratches in Thursday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena, Bruins forward Milan Lucic said he wouldn’t blame Claude Julien for making him a healthy scratch.

“Nope. Nope. I wouldn’t blame anyone but myself. If that’s what needs to be done in order to get myself going, I’m for what’s best for the team and not best for myself,” Lucic said. “Like I said, I want to be a part of the team. I want to be better. I want to contribute. I know I can be a big part of the team. Ultimately it all comes down to myself, so there’s no one to blame but myself.”

Lucic has only six goals this season and is about to begin a three-year, $18 million deal next season that will make him the highest-paid forward on the Bruins. For whatever reason, he hasn’t looked like the 30-goal scorer he was two seasons ago or the premier power forward that warranted the big payday, as he’s scored just twice over his last 27 games. Julien admitted Thursday that he might indeed scratch the star forward.

“You saw where he was this morning and it indicates that he may not play tomorrow,” Julien said. “But I haven’t decided that yet.”

Lucic said Thursday his confidence is the lowest it’s been since his the 2009-10 season, when he had nine goals and 11 assists for 20 points and a minus-7 in 50 games of an injury-plagued season.

“It’s not where it was two years ago or last year,” Lucic, who has just two goals over the last 27 games, said. “It’s almost back to where it was at year three when things are just not gong the way you want them to go. Enough with the excuses. You can’t just keep making excuses and saying all these things and pointing fingers and stuff like that. You’ve got to work yourself through it.”

Said Julien: “I don’t know what it is. But we all know he’s struggling right now. He obviously knows that. We’ve had our chats about his game for a while now. He’s really trying to turn the corner but doesn’t seem to be able to. So as a coach, you’re trying to help him through that stuff. A big portion of it’s going to have to come from him, obviously. We can support him and give him opportunities but at the end of the day you have to be able to step up there. And he knows he’s not, it’s not a secret, I don’t think to anybody. But we also know what he’s done for this team in the past and what he’s capable of doing. And you’ve just got to hope that this player finds his game because we’re going to need him.”

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

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