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Lucic, B's Set to Face Adversity

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins – The Black & Gold are playing without two of their top forwards in Nathan Horton (concussion) and Rich Peverley (MCL) as they try to find their game, but it’s not the first time the Bruins have been forced to endure this predicament – just ask Milan Lucic.

“Those are two key guys in our forward core and they play a lot of minutes and they play a big role on this team,” Lucic said after today’s practice in St. Louis.

“Except last year, we were lucky everyone was healthy, but it seems like every year since I’ve been here, a key member of our group has come down and guys have been able to step up.”

Since Lucic joined the Bruins for the 2007 season, he has seen the team play without Marc Savard (concussion), Patrice Bergeron (concussion), Marco Sturm (ACL), and even himself when he injured his ankle in 2009.

Bergeron played with the B's for just 10 games of the 2007-08 season after suffering a concussion, and he also missed the first two games of last year's Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning for another concussion.

Marc Savard was injured at the start of the 2009-10 season when he broke his foot blocking a shot in camp, then after playing 41 games he missed the rest of the season when he suffered a concussion. He also played in 25 games last season before suffering another concussion.

Marco Sturm missed 12 games with a concussion in the 2009-10 season, and after he returned he had knee surgery to repair his ACL, ending his season with just 19 games played.

But Lucic, who only played 50 games in the 2009-10 season because of a broken finger and a sprained ankle, vividly remembers other guys stepping up and filling in when needed.

One player that stood out was David Krejci, who scored nine points in the last seven games of the 2007-08 season as the Bruins geared up for the playoffs.

“We had guys being able to step up and fill the void of those roles,” Lucic said. “Right now, this is an opportunity for more players to do that and we’re going to need that here if we want to move forward in the right direction.”

Also a requirement for moving in the right direction is scoring the first goal and jumping out to a lead. Since the game in Montreal Feb. 15, the Bruins haven’t been able to do so.

But regardless, Lucic said that shouldn’t deter the team from playing a strong game.

“Lately, we haven’t been able to get that one,” Lucic said. “But even though we down one goal or two goals, we shouldn’t let that deflate us. We have to find a way to get us back in the game and not get frustrated.

“You got to remain positive, start believing in each other again like we used to and that’s what’s going to make things turn around.”

However, when the Bruins battle the St. Louis Blues (36-16-7) tomorrow, that won’t be any easy task.

The Blues All-Star goaltender Brian Elliott leads the league with a 1.56 goals-against-average (GAA), and is tied for first with Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist with a .940 save percentage.

If the Blues were to sit Elliott in tomorrow’s game, it appears as if the Bruins would be in luck – except for the fact that Elliott’s teammate Jaroslav Halak is fourth in the league with a 1.97 GAA. Not to mention that the former Canadien backstop is 6-3-0, 1.98 GAA and a .941 save percentage in nine career games versus Boston.

But for Lucic, that’s a test that the Bruins need to conquer, rather than shy away from.

“That position [has] brought a new life to [the Blues] and they’ve been really good as of late, especially at home,” Lucic said. “We’ve been having trouble scoring – it doesn’t make it any easier when you’re playing the St. Louis Blues.

"But that’s the challenges you have to take upon yourself and look forward to and we’re just going to have to work that little bit of extra to get those goals.”

--- Anthony Gulizia
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