Even though the Boston Bruins lost, 4-1, last night to Dallas, B's head coach Claude Julien was clearly enamored with the play of his young power forward, Milan Lucic
Playing his first game in the NHL, and in short minutes (6:53), the young left wing made a strong impression on the game and his coach -- and on a member of the Dallas Stars.
Speaking of his policeman Shawn Thornton
, and his rookie Lucic, and their decision to drop the gloves in the second period in an attempt to wrest the game back from the Stars, Julien let everyone know how he felt.
"They went out there and responded," said Julien who added that the pair sent a message "that 'no' you are not going to walk all over us.
"Those are things that you can put into the positive (column) of tonight and those kind of things go a long ways in terms of getting the respect of your teammates.
"And obviously the respect the coaches, as well," he said.
Milan has gone a long way towards proving that he belongs at this level, but no matter what happens over the next eight games, there is no doubt he has made an impression on Boston and the Bruins.
"We've spent some time teaching him little things," explained Julien, "but what's impressive is that he does respond well and understand.
"The next shift he's out there he's doing those little things you've been (telling) him about.
"I liked his game tonight, and he should be happy with his game"
The rookie, who did his best to hide the relief (and yes, the joy) that comes with surviving your first NHL contest, was clearly excited to begin his career.
"Obviously, you want the outcome to be a little bit better," said Lucic. "We did some good things out there, and at the end of the second we had complete control of the game.
"I think if we just cut down on a few mental errors... we are right there in the game, the WHOLE game."
Lucic might have made some strides toward earning some more playing time with his efforts last night, and that's just fine with the youngster. It is evident that this 19-year old is having the time of his life.
"I wasn't really nervous out there," said Milan when asked about his first few shifts. "I thought I was pretty confident when I was out there and in the third I think I did a good job...playing the puck down low."
Lucic also explained why he decided to fight.
"It felt like it was the right time to do it," he said.
And, to put a period on his first big league experience, Lucic clicked right into some ready made cliches.
"Again, (I) just have to take it day by day and try to get better."
See, he's learning fast!