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Adversaries Alzner, Lucic once Pee Wee teammates

By Ben Raby - NHL.com Correspondent

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Adversaries Alzner, Lucic once Pee Wee teammates
Karl Alzner was most recently seen mocking Milan Lucic as a crybaby during a heated playoff game between the Capitals and Bruins, but the two adversaries were once Pee Wee teammates.

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Karl Alzner typically goes about his business quietly. The Washington Capitals' stay-at-home defenseman shows up for work every day (he's played all 82 games each of the last two seasons), but won't wow you with any offensive prowess (three goals combined over that span) or brute strength (one career fight).

Milan Lucic tends to go about his business differently. The Boston Bruins' power forward has made a living playing a hard-nosed game, scoring goals (56 the past two seasons) and intimidating opponents (40 career fights).

Despite the differences in their games, Alzner and Lucic have seen plenty of each other -- both in-between and after whistles -- throughout their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series. Alzner's crybaby gesture towards Lucic during a post-whistle scrum late in Game 3 could become one of the most replayed images of the first round.

Karl Alzner
Karl Alzner
Defense - WSH
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 1
SOG: 7 | +/-: 0
"I don't even know what to say on my side to show I'm not a crybaby," Lucic said after Boston took a 2-1 series lead. "That's coming a lot from a guy who I think has two roughing penalties in three years."

Lucic is still without a point through three games against the Capitals, but he led the Bruins with eight hits in Game 3 and had a game-high eight penalty minutes.

"Obviously you like to see [Lucic] put the puck in the net," Bruins defenseman Greg Zanon said. "But [Lucic] brings other elements to the game. Like [Monday], obviously he's one strong man, and he gets into these physical-type games and he can change a game like that and he can turn the tides for you. … He brings elements that some guys can't bring that help in playoff rounds."

There may be a growing animosity developing between Alzner and Lucic, but the Vancouver natives are far from strangers. In fact, they were teammates as 12-year-olds with the Vancouver Venom and Junior Nationals, two of the premiere Pee Wee travelling teams in British Columbia.

Prior to this first-round series starting, Alzner and Lucic each talked about their past experience as teammates.

"Even then," Alzner said, "you instantly just noticed that he's one of those guys that had the skill but was still pretty raw. 'Looch' was a big body and a guy that you needed to have on your team to create space and who could go out there and do the job. … He was unbelievably skilled, and physically nobody could really match."

According to Lucic, Alzner was also the same type of player in his pre-teen years as he is today.

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"To be honest, I think he was the same way," Lucic said. "I don't really remember him scoring a ton or taking too many penalties. He was always defensively sound and you could see even at that age that he had the hockey sense and the smartness that he continues to show today."

While the one-time teammates now battle in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, their roads to the NHL took different paths.

Alzner was selected in the second round of the Western Hockey League's 2003 Bantam Draft by the Calgary Hitmen while Lucic went undrafted and settled for a roster spot with the Tier-II Coquitlam Express of the British Columbia Hockey League.

Lucic would eventually make the WHL's Vancouver Giants after receiving a tryout invite in the mail, and the two were teammates again on the 2007 WHL All-Star team and at the 2007 Super Series between Canada and Russia.

"He had a great skill set and was always able to shoot the puck like crazy," Alzner said. "He's not an arrogant person, but he goes out there and plays that role really well. You just love to hate that guy."

While the Capitals are developing that dislike towards Lucic and his tactics, the same can be said of their attitude towards Bruins forward Brad Marchand, who Alzner also played with at the 2007 and 2008 World Junior Hockey Championships.

"He's also one of those guys that you love to have on your team, but hate to play against," Alzner said of Marchand.

"He's actually turned himself into a super-pest, which is kind of funny. Both of them are like that, but [Marchand] has that little extra something. [Lucic] can go around and do that, but if he gets challenged he'll answer the bell, whereas Brad sometimes isn't going to fight because he's a smaller guy himself."

Quote of the Day

The old saying in hockey is 'weather the storm.' I put the notion in their heads that we don't want to weather the storm, we want to push just as hard and matched their work ethic. I thought our guys exceeded that in the first period.

— Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins after their loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday
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