Last Saturday in an important tilt against the Eastern Conference leading Pittsburgh Penguins, Milan Lucic was nowhere to be found, literally. Lucic was a healthy scratch for the first time this season, something that usually doesn’t happen to players who are set to become the teams highest paid forward at $6 million per season, starting next year.
The move was head coach Claude Julien’s way of telling the 220 pound, 6-foot-4 inch forward that he needs to be better.
Despite not finding the score sheet since returning to the lineup after being a healthy scratch, Lucic has been much better, especially last night where Lucic had arguably his best game of the season and showed signs of the old Lucic, the Lucic that the Bruins so desperately need.
“You know, I thought again tonight he did exactly what ignites our team and what ignites our fans,” said Julien after the Bruins’ 2-0 shutout against the Tampa Bay Lightning. “And you know, when he’s like that he’s at his best.”
Lucic saw 12:43 of ice time, but certainly made the most of it. Lucic registered a team-high four hits and dropped the gloves with Tampa Bay’s Keith Aulie, a move that sparked the Bruins and their fans.
Coming off a season where he scored 26 times, Lucic has found the back of the net six times this season, and just twice in his last thirty games.
It’s no secret that with just two games left in the regular season and the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs set to begin next week, the Bruins need Lucic to get going, and need him to get going now.
“I certainly like the direction he’s taking, and if he keeps going that way we can’t ask for better timing I guess,” said Julien.
Obviously Lucic’s physicality and goal-scoring ability is what makes him such a special player. Both of those aspects of his game have gone missing this season, but the physicality was there for sure last night and that familiar feeling felt good for Lucic.
“It’s an important part of my game, and it’s a big part of what I bring to this hockey club, and I think from day one when I first got here that was the first thing that I established, and it kind of got away from me this year and that’s what I’m kind of hoping to bring back and if we can get some energy off that, that’s great, and that’s all I’m trying to do is do my best to help contribute to this hockey club any way I can,” added Lucic.
Some of the best hockey we’ve seen in the past from Lucic has come from an angry, motivated Lucic, No.17 realizes he needs to bring that fiery passion each night.
“Playing with emotion has always worked for me, so it’s up to myself to get myself going, and I kind of piss myself off before the game starts,” said a smiling Lucic.
There hasn’t been many smiles on the face of Lucic this season, the Bruins hope Lucic is smiling all the way through the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Check out Lucic’s post game video: