BostonBruins.com - The Bruins brass knows it, the fans know it, and Milan Lucic knows it: As he goes, so does his team. When the big, bruising forward has his way on the ice, the results are generally positive for the B’s.
So it came as no surprise Monday night that, in the midst of the Bruins third period comeback in a series-deciding Game 7, Lucic was at the forefront leading the charge for Boston.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a game that was anything like that,” Lucic said in the locker room during the postgame. “When you’re looking at the clock wind down with half a period left at 4-1 you start thinking to yourself, ‘Is this the end of this group here?’
“Because it probably would have been if we didn’t win this game, but you’ve got to have bounces.”
Instead, the imposing 6-foot-4 forward kept banging bodies and doing the things that General Manager Peter Chiarelli said make Lucic a “prototypical Bruin.” In the final 20 minutes of regulation, the rugged forward landed seven hits, including one on Toronto defenseman Carl Gunnarson that sent him careening into the boards, and had the TD Garden fans on their feet.
“He’s a big, aggressive guy and he works hard and he got physical,” said Maple Leafs Head Coach Randy Carlyle. “You can tell that they’re a veteran team that found a way to get it done and they probably can say they didn’t play their best games in the series, they still found a way to get it done so you got to take your hat off to them.”
When it mattered most, down two goals in the waning moments with the season at stake, Lucic upped the ante even further. Going to the front of the net and getting his nose dirty, Lucic planted himself on the top of the crease, in perfect position to hammer home a rebound off a Zdeno Chara one-timer and cut the B’s deficit to a goal.
While Lucic did not find himself on the stat sheet for Patrice Bergeron’s game-tying goal that came a mere 31 seconds after his own tally, he won a crucial puck battle below the goal line to keep the play in Toronto’s end with the Boston net empty.
“It was a great play by Looch [Milan Lucic] to get that rebound and then great screen by Zee [Zdeno Chara] for the fourth one,” said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. “I thought the guys showed a lot of character coming back in it.
“We definitely made it interesting for us and for the fans, also.”
In short, Lucic simply did what the Bruins front office, coaches, and fans have grown accustomed to watching: making an impact.
“There’s lots to look forward to and what could have been disastrous here tonight ends up going in our favor and we’ve got to build some momentum off of that, so lots to look forward to and just happy to get past this round,” Lucic said.
“I think we need to keep stepping it up and hopefully push for another good run here because the Rangers are going to be just as hard or even better.”
Then again, for Lucic, who knows as well as anyone, postseason success isn’t measured in first round victories - push is the name of the game.