Last night, as he walked around wearing a construction worker's helmet, a spoked-B emblazoned proudly on the white plastic, Boston left winger Milan Lucic
was even harder to miss than usual.
The big rookie, who fought twice in Boston's shootout victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, played well on both sides of the puck as the B's came within seconds of shutting out their Eastern Conference rivals.
He was rewarded with some new, temporary, headgear.
"We're starting a new trend," said Lucic -- as wide-grinned as ever. "A lot of teams do what's called 'the hardhat.'
"It doesn't necessarily go to the guy who scores the most goals, but to the guy who plays hard and [gets] dirty.
"I know we had it the last two years in juniors…and it was always the guy who contributed, played hard and stuck up for his team," he said.
Lucic certainly fit that bill on Tuesday, and has for the entire season.
Can you sense a new fashion statement at the TD Banknorth Garden? And is there any doubt that Milan will wear the B's hardhat more than once in the coming weeks?
His teammates, even the veterans, certainly wouldn't argue -- they know that Looch leaves everything out on the ice.
"He steps up," said Glen Metropolit, Lucic's linemate for much of the season. "He's a young kid, with a lot of character, and the team comes first.
"Looch goes out there, finishes his hits and has a couple of big fights.
"He exemplifies what the Bruins are all about," he said.
|Boston Bruins' Milan Lucic is helped off the ice after he was injured sliding into the boards against the Philadelphia Flyers in the first period of their hockey game Saturday, Jan. 12, 2008 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy) |
Surely to the chagrin of his mom and grandmother in Vancouver, with whom he stays in close contact, Lucic tested his now famous proboscis in a couple of tough battles.
Why is Milan's nose so famous?
You see, in January, that same schnoz landed squarely on top
of the boards in Philadelphia and ended up pushed beneath his eye for a few minutes.
No matter, the doc put it back right away.
"The most pain I have ever felt," said Lucic at the time.
The B's big kid gave his nose a little time to reset before he let anyone try and break it again. Against the Hurricanes, former Bruin Wade Brookbank tried, and he got three solid punches to the head in the process.
Carolina's Tim Gleason looked to have tweaked the beak during Lucic's second bout of the game, but it remained intact and looked none-the-worse-for-wear after the contest.
"I feel good," said Lucic from underneath the hardhat. "I hadn't fought since January 2nd against Washington, so it felt good to get back into it.
"It was fun," he said.
Ok, so Lucic admitted to "being a little cautious."
"Obviously, I broke my nose, what, five weeks ago, so it's still not that long ago," he said. "You don't want to take a good solid shot.
|Carolina Hurricanes Tim Gleason (42) tangles with Boston Bruins Milan Lucic (17). Bruins won 3-2 in a shoot out. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker) |
"Even with a healthy nose, if you take a good solid shot in the nose, you are going to feel it.
"So, yah, I was being a little bit more cautious to protect it a bit more," he said.
The strategy didn't end there.
"I knew [Gleason] was a lefty," said Lucic. "And as soon as he switched he pulled on me and turned it into a wrestling match."
No doubt speaking for other Bruins, Metropolit said that you couldn't teach what Lucic brings to the table.
"I think it's in the blood," said Metro. "He's 19, and he's done it at this level.
"It's great for him and it's great for the team."
And should the positive Nuevo-Lunch Pail AC thing catch on, the run on Bruins hardhats at the Pro Shop will be great for the team, too.