Lucic Key to “Committee” Productivity
Only Tuukka Rask and backup Niklas Svedberg are excluded.
When the Bruins did not resign – or replace — Jarome Iginla and his 2013-14 roster-leading 30 goals (tied with Patrice Bergeron), Bruins’ management went with replacing that production “by committee.”
Every defenseman and forward on the revamped 2014-15 roster needed to step up — and add more offense.
Four games into the new season, the Black and Gold are seeing red – and not behind the opposing goaltender.
A 1-3-0 start, punctuated with a paltry four-goal total output, is crying for added offense.
With little salary-cap space — in a long-shot move — the Bruins signed forward Simon Gagne to a one-year, $600,000 contract Tuesday. Gagne was with the Bruins in training camp on a professional tryout contract. He appeared in five preseason games with a goal and an assist. Looking for an offensive spark and a hopeful repeat of Mark Recchi’s contribution when the Bruins won the Cup in 2011, Gagne brings a career 288 goals and 597 points in 799 career games. But he has not played since the 2012-13 season.
“I just want to prove to myself that I’m still capable of playing in this league,” Gagne said after a spirited 90-minute practice that started 30 minutes late Tuesday morning that likely had some spirited conversations therein.
“We’re hoping he can recapture what he had,” Claude Julien said after practice. “There’s opportunities there.”
In the meantime?
“I think it’s early in the season and we’ve got to find, I guess, our game,” said a dejected Julien after his squad’s third loss – a 2-1 last-second backbreaker to Iginla’s Avs Monday afternoon.
Even the return of David Krejci for his first game of the season added little on the score sheet to jumpstart the B’s “no”ffense.
Krejci, the team’s leading scorer last season with 69 points, recently inked a lucrative, long-term contract extension, joining Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic as the big-buck forwards with long-term deals.
All were expected to be the core of Chiarelli’s “committee,” along with Loui Eriksson’s four-mill-plus salary.
For now, however, replacing Iginla’s red lights is on the back burner.
The Bruins need a basic scoring committee. Period. And a likely chairman is Lucic.
His energy is contagious. His key career stats underscore the nomination.
The eight-year veteran winger is in the middle year of three-year deal for $18 million. Last year he potted 24 goals and 59 points with a plus-30 to complement his career plus-80; a plus-40 in career playoff games.
Over his career, Lucic is on the ice much more often when the Bruins score than when the B’s are scored upon. And very often with Krejci.
With Lucic a media no-show postgame Monday, and again after practice Tuesday, Krejci offered comment about his talented winger.
“If Looch (Milan Lucic) scores we might win, Krejci said about Lucic’s near game-winner Monday. “It would help our line and our game to get the pressure off his back. We’ll be better next game and help him put some pucks in the net. We kind of know each other, what to expect from each other. Most of what we talk about is keep positive, have a good shift. We communicate, but we’ve been playing together for so long, we know where to go.”
Julien knows exactly where Lucic and his committee need to go.
“We need to get a better nose for the net,” he said with reference to the focus of Tuesday’s practice drills. “Too much perimeter plays right now. Our decision-making is one that is pressing and we’re forcing a lot of plays versus just making plays. It’s not easy to score goals with teams playing such good defense. You got to be willing to be part of those dirty goals; not always the highlight ones. Instead of looking to the outside, let’s look for the inside and get pucks to the net.”
“We have to find a way to keep up the play, and make plays and score goals,” Brad Marchand said emphatically. “And right now one goal a game is definitely not going to cut it.”
Wednesday night, the Bruins begin a three-game road trip in Detroit, attempting to find a committee path to more offense — with maybe chairman Milan Lucic providing the ignition.