Just like his team around him, it’s been a strange 2014-15 regular season for Bruins left wing Milan Lucic. So far, he’s only missed one game, his plus/minus (plus-11) is tied for second-best on the B’s and he is tied for third with 34 points and third in goals (13). Center David Krejci’s absence since Feb. 20 with an MCL injury (he’s not expected back until April) has certainly hurt Lucic’s performance but head coach Claude Julien has pointed out how he has acclimated quickly to a new temporary line with youngsters David Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner.
“Those three guys are finding each other and getting better all the time,” noted Julien after their last game - a 4-1 win over hapless Arizona on Saturday at TD Garden. “Lucic is making sure that they are comfortable in their new roles.”
Other than the lockout-shortened 2012-13 regular season, when he had seven goals in 46 games, the 26-year-old Lucic has put up 24 goals or more in three of the past four campaigns with a career-high of 30 coming in 2010-11. For a big guy (6-foot-3, 235 pounds) that plays such a physical style, many have noted that it is simply not sustainable to go “all-out” the way that he does for 82 games every year. Despite that sentiment, Lucic usually takes his game to a higher level in the postseason: he had four goals and three assists in 12 games last year with seven goals and 12 assists in 22 games the previous season when Boston lost in the Stanley Cup Final to Chicago.
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As for this season, Lucic remains upbeat as he looked ahead to the rest of this season, which hopefully will continue far past mid-April.
“We are playing with the puck and supporting each other,” he said. “We need to stay positive and keep having fun. With Krejci going down, it is a big job to step up and contribute to the team.”
Lucic scored a goal against the Coyotes and added an assist last weekend. The Bruins have to hope that he heats up with only 20 games left in the regular season and a possible first-round showdown vs. Montreal looming. Boston only leads Florida by two points (with two games in hand) for eighth-place in the Eastern Conference, so they need their best players like Lucic to get them into the postseason. As GM Peter Chiarelli said after the trade deadline had passed on Monday, getting to the playoffs is the important part because once you are there, anything can happen. Lucic and the B’s host the Flames on Thursday (7 p.m., NESN) then the Flyers on Saturday (1p.m., NESN).