– Milan Lucic
openly admitted he wasn’t exactly satisfied with his performance in last year’s playoffs, but he was far from frustrated, either.
“It wasn’t disappointing, I mean we won,” Lucic said, holding back his smile. “I probably wasn’t that great, but I was good enough to help the team win. It just goes to show the only thing that matters is winning and losing, so whatever you can do to help out.
“Definitely, for myself, I feel I’ve become a big part of the team so you take it upon yourself just from personal pride to try and step up your game and bring what you bring best to the table.
"On a personal note, I feel [I have] something to prove this year after what happened last year in the playoffs, but still not disappointed.”
For Lucic, his confidence going into the first round of this season’s playoffs stems from the seven points he had in the last 10 games of the regular season.
Last season, Lucic struggled in the late stages of the campaign and it carried over into the playoffs, as he picked up just three points in the first 10 games against the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers.
“I think I definitely finished the season off a lot better this year than I did last year,” Lucic said. “I thought my skating’s been a lot better this year and I think I played a little bit more of a physical aspect to the game this year than last year.
“I remember going into last year, I struggled the last 10 games of the season then ended up struggling the first 10 games of the playoffs, so there were some confidence going into last year’s playoffs, and this year I feel a lot better about myself and my game – I think just confident that I can help my team be successful.”
The confidence isn’t only internal for Lucic, who also earned praise from Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien.
According to Julien, Lucic was on point with his self-assessment.
“Well I think growth and obviously experience, maturity – all that stuff goes hand in hand,” Julien said. “I think he’s right in the way where I find that the last couple of months he’s skated as well as we see him skate and that’s been part of his game he’s been able to carry the puck, instead of always looking to give it to a centermen or his other linemate.
“He’s been able to carry it up the ice with his outside speed and cutting to the net. I think he’s been able to create a lot. That’s what’s Looch is all about – his forecheck, his physical presence, his strength, and when he’s skating he’s certainly one of the guys that’s hard to stop when he decides to go to net.”
So when Lucic laces up the skates Thursday for the team’s opening contest with the Washington Capitals, the lessons he learned from last season’s Cup run will be buzzing through his head.
Those lessons aren’t limited to Lucic, either, as the Bruins forward said he feels the entire team will have a new outlook this time around.
“Well, I think you definitely learn a lot,” Lucic said. “You can take what you’ve done from the past and use that experience, hopefully, to your advantage. One thing that we did, we never took anyone or any opponent for granted.
“Just because we’re [seeded] second and their seventh, doesn’t mean a thing right now. What happened last year happened last year, this is a new year, a new playoffs and everyone starts off at zero-zero. So, for us it’s important to have a good start and hopefully come out strong and have a big game in Game 1.”