Boston, MA -- Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic has had a rocky start to the season. He has had two injuries, a hand ailment and a high ankle sprain, that have left him out of the lineup for the majority of the B's games thus far.
But as teams near the midway point in their season, Lucic is more than hoping to be back in the lineup soon, that's especially so because he wants to be ready in time for the Winter Classic on January 1st.
Although his power forward wants to come back ASAP, Coach Julien isn’t rushing the healing process.
“You can be hopeful [that Lucic will play in the Winter Classic], but those high ankle injuries are injuries that are very unpredictable and I’ve seen a lot of them throughout my career as a player and even as a coach,” said Head Coach Claude Julien on Tuesday.
“Just when you think you turn a corner you can have a setback with those types of injuries so we’re being cautious I guess in assessing that,” he explained.
“[The Winter Classic] is ten days from now, which a lot of people are hoping that [Lucic will be able to play].
“It is a possibility, but that’s assuming there are no setbacks and everything goes well, but we don’t know that.”
Lucic is being cautious as well. Will he be ready for the Classic?
“It is in question for sure,” said the forward. “But obviously, like I said, it’s just something we need to take day-by-day and see where it goes. Hopefully it progresses better everyday.
“I think right around that time [January first] I should be scheduled to be back in the lineup, but again, until I’m 100 percent and pain-free, that’s when it’s my time to get back in the lineup.
Lucic couldn’t go on the B's most recent road trip, so instead he went to Fenway Park on December 18th for the First Skate with all the Bruins legends.
At that point, he wasn’t ready to skate, and said, “It would have been nice to get out with all these guys, but [the ice] looks great so far, it looks like they did a real good job.
“You know for myself personally it’s just, it sets up the excitement for us players, we can’t wait to play in this game.”
For once in Boston, the weather was cooperating on that day.
“You look at the weather today [Friday, December 18] and it’s a great day,” said Lucic of the clear blue skies, crisp clean air and ice-crackling cold. “Hopefully it holds up for January the first and it looks something like this.”
Even though he couldn’t skate at the First Skate, he’s been back for the last few days and after practice in Wilmington on Tuesday he said, “It was obviously nice to get back on the ice.”
“[I’m] feeling better everyday. It’s on schedule. This is an injury that you have to take day-by-day and see how it feels from here on in. I think right now it’s just reestablishing that strength in your ankle and I think that’s the biggest thing that we’re trying to get in there right now.”
As of yet, Lucic hasn't been able to do everything he would like to do on the ice.
“It’s not that bad skating in a straight line and weaving in and out,” explained the young forward. “But it’s that stopping and starting and those types of things."
Obviously, being out for the majority of the season hasn’t been easy on him.
“You have to try your best to stay positive and you have to realize that you are injured and you have to take the time to let it heal and I think that’s what I’ve come through with this injury.
“I’ve been trying to stay positive. Obviously it’s not fun sitting out and watching every game. You want to be out there helping your teammates but it’s just the way life goes sometimes and it’s not been the most fun season for me right now.