Confidence is an important part of a professional hockey player’s game. You have to possess the confidence to take a shot in the waning moments of the third period with your team trailing by one. You have to be confident in your pugilistic skills if you’re going to drop the gloves. Most importantly, you have to have confidence in your overall game in case you hit a wall and start to slump. Unfortunately, for Boston Bruins left winger Milan Lucic, his confidence has been absent for the majority of this shortened season.
Lucic, who was a healthy scratch for yesterday’s matinee game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, has only registered 6 goals this season, a far cry from the 28 goals he has averaged over the past two seasons. Lucic has shown signs of his old self, especially in mid March when he recorded a 3-assist night against the Washington Capitals. The Bruins, who are 15-2-3 when he records a point, need Lucic to step up his physicality and contribute in the scoring department, especially since he signed a three-year, $18 million extension earlier this season.
“I think that’s pretty obvious. I’m not happy with his play,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said before the game, when asked if scratching Lucic was to rest him or give him a wake-up call. When asked asked how Lucic will respond to being a healthy scratch against Pittsburgh, he replied, “We’ll see today.”
In Sunday’s game against the Florida Panthers, Lucic was on a line with Rich Peverley and David Krejci, a line that saw a lot of play together in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, due to Nathan Horton being knocked out of the playoffs with a concussion.
For the first two periods Lucic seemed very slow footed and was practically invisible. In fact, he only had 2:21 of total on ice time in the second period. In the third period, the Bruins faithful started to see glimpses of the Lucic of old. He started being a little more physical, which led to a turnover and a scoring chance for Boston.
“He was a little bit more involved. You can’t go from 0 to 60 in one game. It’s just a matter of him doing some things a little bit better which he did today,” Julien stated in regards to Lucic’s contribution in Boston’s 3 to 0 win against Florida. “Hopefully he continues to take some positive strides.”
Boston only has four regular season games remaining and it’s important for Lucic to get back to physical offensive threat that Bruins fans have become accustomed to over the past few seasons, in order for this team to go far in the playoffs.