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Lucic Looks Good (despite stitches)

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Boston, MA -- It's hard to outshine an overtime win, especially over Philadelphia's Broad Street Bullies, but if anything could take the limelight off a win over the Flyers, it’s the pain tolerance and just plain guts of Boston Bruins rookie left winger, Milan Lucic.

Lucic's nose caught the shelf between the end boards and the glass in the Wachovia Center after he finished a check in Saturday's game. No matter, he still played almost 10 minutes and led the team with five hits.

"She said that I was going to give her a heart attack," said Lucic of his grandma's concerns over his tendency to throw his body around during each of his 39 NHL games -- yesterday's contest, in particular.

"I told her not to worry about it, things could be much worse."

Yah, he could have ripped his nose completely off, instead of rearranging its placement and appearance. But in all seriousness, at the moment of impact, and during the seconds following his slow slide to the ice, Boston fans (and Lucic's family watching in Vancouver) all thought Boston may have suffered yet another concussion-type incident versus the Flyers.

"(Afterward) everyone was telling me that I wasn't moving," said Lucic with a toothy grin. "That was because of the pain."

Lucic could hardly describe it, but looking at his face, with its black eye, broken nose and more than a dozen or so stitches making his beak look like a misshapen baseball, you got the idea.

"I was like, 'Oh man,'" said the rookie with a wince.

Most of New England was like, "Oh man."

But then, over the course of the rest of the game, Bruins fans watched as an amazing performance unfolded. Not only did Lucic not leave the game, he was a force to be reckoned with on the Wachovia sheet.

"I wasn't out," said Lucic. "Obviously (there was a) headache. Pressure. And that's about it."

The young man refused to dwell on the would-be seriousness of the facial injury.

"I had kind of a big nose to begin with," said Milan in a mock-serious tone. "It looked like I had broken it beforehand, so I don't know how much damage it's really done."

As he lay there on the ice in Philly, despite the intense pain, he opened his eyes to evaluate the situation.

"I was going to get up right away, but I saw the pool of blood," said Lucic. "And I said to myself that maybe I should just stay down for a little while."

Lucic took the fifteen, which are sewn in two spots on his proboscis, in stride -- even though some went through into his nostril.

"When I got (into the locker room), I asked Donny (DelNegro, Boston's long time trainer), 'Donny, is it broken?' He said, 'Yah, it's broken.' So I went, 'I don't think it's broken,' because I thought it was my cheek that (hurt)…but then I looked at the mirror and I saw that my nose was up here (pointing to his cheek). So then I said, 'Alright, it's broken, we better do something about this.' So, I just had fun and made the most of it."

But first, he knew to take care of his Mom, watching at home in Canada.

"(My familiy was) a little bit worried and I got Donny to text message my mum right away to tell her that I'm okay. So, obviously, they are just hoping there is a quick recovery."

And how is New England's famous nose feeling today?

"It's swollen…breathing is not a problem and the doctor did a great job putting it back in place. It hurt. It hurt like nothing ever hurt before that. But when it happened there was a lot of pressure on my cheek, and I thought it was my cheek more than anything."

Milan looked fine today at an open practice for season ticket holders, but says that his climb up the NHL heavyweight boxing ranks has been derailed -- not only because of the stitches, but because he will be wearing a college hockey type cage for the time being.

"I am going to have to take a break from the fighting," said Lucic. "If it happens it'll happen, but I am not going to go looking for it like I have during the first half.

"Now, I'll just go out there and focus on playing hockey

"You don't like to back down from a fight, but you have to play it safe and make sure things are all healed up so that there is no rebreakage."

Some new equipment is in order.

"I'm going to a full cage, " said Lucic. "And then I'll be wearing a visor for about two, two and a half months, just to make sure things have healed up.

"You don't want to re-injure it too quickly."

Lucic admitted that his face had already taken quite a bit of punishment already this season.

"I've been opened up in six places this year -- a personal record," he said proudly. "I had a laugh with the boys (after the game).

"It was awesome that we won, I was happy the way things ended for sure."

That was perhaps the most unbelievable thing about watching Lucic on NESN on Saturday. Not only did the young man return, but he also was a major part of the game, throwing hits and playing as if nothing had happened.

Lucic just seemed unfazed by the facial trauma.

But if you looked closely, there was a half-shield protecting his cuts at first. And when that proved to be too little protection, the young forward went to a full visor that made him look, at least according to one writer, as if he were wearing a space helmet.

Unfortunately, within a couple of shifts, instead of something out of Star Wars, that full shield bore a resemblance to a prop from Pulp Fiction.

"Afterward, when (Derrien) Hatcher hit me again, it looked like (something out of the) movies," said Lucic. "That's exactly what it looked like in the 'fishbowl' I was wearing."

But, without question, Milan looked back at Saturday with more than a little satisfaction.

"It was obviously an interesting day and I guess you could say, that when I get older, I can look at the team picture (that was taken today) and have a laugh about it."

His head coach and teammates, who marveled at the young man on Sunday afternoon, shared that satisfaction.

"He just laughed through the whole thing," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. "He came back and he'd look at us with his bloody nose and everything else. And then he got hit from the side and his mask got caught on his nose...I thought he'd be done.

"He said, "Nope, I just gotta stop the bleeding and I'll get back out there."

And Coach continued on to say, "When young guys like that have that attitude it's encouraging for your hockey club."

"During the game, I told him to call it a night, " said Marc Savard, who belied more than a little concern for the rookie. "I've seen a lot of guys have a tough night, and he had a tough night.

"But he battled through it," said Savvy.

"He is a tough kid," agreed Glen Metropolit. "He is going to be around for a long time.

"With character like that, and heart, that's why the Bruins got him.

"He's going to be a long time Bruin," he said.
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