Oilers forward determined to return to his past form in 2018-19
Ahead of the 2018-19 season, EdmontonOilers.com is taking a look back at the '17-18 individual performances of the Oilers in our series 'Roster Redux'
EDMONTON, AB -Milan Lucic would be the first to admit it.
"I really don't know what to say or make of my personal play after the Christmas break. Obviously, it's unacceptable," the Oilers forward, who tallied 10 goals and 34 points in 82 games last season, said in his exit interview in April.
It was a deviation from Lucic's norm, causing the winger to self-reflect following the Oilers disappointing 36-40-6 season.
"I felt like I let my teammates down in a lot of situations," Lucic said. "You look at the season as a whole and I understand it's a team game and all that stuff but from a personal standpoint, I'm not happy or proud of the way that I played."
The 30-year-old contributed early in the campaign, notching nine goals and 30 points in 49 matches before the NHL All-Star Game. However, the Vancouver, BC, product posted one goal and three assists in his final 33 outings - owning a minus-15 rating and 1.8 shooting percentage.
Lucic admitted he had chances to score but when his confidence was at an all-time low, even simple plays became difficult to finish.
"It just seemed like before, the mentality was when you're in those scoring areas, that your confidence was at a level that it was almost automatic," Lucic said. "This year, it was like you were almost second-guessing yourself… I think back to more than a few chances where I've even had open nets and I hit the post or miss the net, shot gets blocked, all that type of stuff.
"Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong."
Prior to '17-18, Lucic compiled 40 or more points in four consecutive seasons. In his 811-game NHL career, the Oilers alternate has 192 goals and 481 points. Lucic - who hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2010-11 as a Boston Bruin and was brought to Edmonton for his ability to lead and protect the younger Oilers - has also been known to be a postseason producer, recording 28 goals and 70 points in 114 playoff games.
"I just hope that the lesson that we learned from this season and the lesson that I learned from this season, that we turn that into a positive," Lucic added. "Come back ready to play next year because it almost felt like a year before with no expectation and all that type of stuff, we felt that we had something to prove."
The 6-foot-3, 236-pound forward told of his determination to bounce back next season, naming a few former Los Angeles Kings teammates who have done so in the past.
"You look at (Anze) Kopitar and Dustin Brown, who had tough seasons a year ago and they come back," he said. "Kopitar had arguably an MVP-type of season. Brownie had a 60-point season. There are definitely ways to bounce back but it's all on me to do that.
"I'm not giving up on myself or giving up on this team. Just got to find a way to find my confidence again and be the player I was in the past. Try to be the player I can be for this team in order for this team to have success."
Although Lucic said he had never experienced such a drop in performance, he's determined to right the ship in 2018-19.
"I have definitely never been in a rough patch like I had been since Christmas time," he said. "I've always found a way to come back stronger. That's basically where my heads at heading into the off-season."