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Lucic's return to form key to Bruins' success

by Mike Brophy

TORONTO -- While the Toronto Maple Leafs desperately search for the balanced scoring that was the team's trademark during the regular season, the Boston Bruins are quite comfortable with what they are getting from all four of their lines.

After all, there aren't many teams that have a likely Hall of Fame member like Jaromir Jagr on its third line. And when someone like Milan Lucic, who struggled through the regular season, suddenly starts contributing to the tune of six assists in three games, well, offense it not an issue for the Bruins.

Center David Krejci, who led the Bruins to a 5-2 victory in Game 2 with a goal and two assists, said depth in scoring is a key element in Stanley Cup Playoff success.

"If you want to go deep in the playoffs you need all four lines to be going," he said. "I think we have seen that from our team so far."

Right wing Tyler Seguin said, "I think we're at our best when we have all four lines going."

It is Seguin's line, with center Patrice Bergeron and left wing Brad Marchand, which has yet to get going offensively. Marchand has the line's only point, an assist.

"The Bergeron line has had some chances, but they haven't capitalized," Boston coach Claude Julien said ahead of Game 4 of the team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, RDS). "There's no doubt they can be better and we're counting on that."

If that is the bad news, the good news is that Lucic has awakened after a long, frustrating, non-productive season. Lucic, one of the NHL's best combinations of goals and grit the past few seasons, even found himself a healthy scratch down the stretch of the regular season. He had seven goals and 27 points in 46 regular-season games, but in the playoffs has six assists in three games, including three in Game 3.

"He's obviously feeling much better about himself," Julien said. "It has been a frustrating year for him and frustrating for us as well, not seeing Milan be Milan. Once he found his game and his groove, I think it's pretty obvious to everyone how big a factor he is for our hockey club. He's physical and he's turning pucks over because of his physical play and at the same time he is making some big-time plays so he has arguably been our best forward so far."

Julien said the decision to sit Lucic was not an easy one and was, in fact, a last resort to get the player going.

"Before you do something like that with a player of his stature you try a lot of different things," Julien said. "People always see being a healthy scratch as a real negative thing or a slap in the face. For certain players it is a wake-up call, but at the same time, when you watch from up top and you see what you are missing, it can motivate you. We were trying to find a way to motivate him to find his game again."

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