BOSTON — This is the Milan Lucic, the two-way threat, the Bruins expected to be providing them with a punch all season now that he’s a third-year pro.
Of course, two serious injuries that keep a guy out of the lineup for 32 games have a way of sidetracking development.
But healthy and confident once again, the bulky Bruins winger is making life difficult for opponents when he has the puck and when he wants to take it. He showed both of his best attributes — his hitting and puck-protection — just before he scored the game-winning goal with 2:57 left in regulation tonight at TD Garden in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series with Philadelphia.
As you could see, Lucic turned and back up with the puck to elude the Philly blueliner. What you don’t see in the video is the hit he made on Ryan Parent to keep the puck alive in the zone. The puck never left the Flyers’ territory after the hit.
“My thought process was just to get it past that first defenseman and it was that quick turnaround shot,” he said after the Bruins went up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series. “I knew if I could get it past that first defenseman, it had a shot to go in.”
Lucic’s goal, his first of the playoffs and first at home without an empty net to shoot at, capped a four-point night for his line with center David Krejci and right-winger Miro Satan. The trio was put together before Game 6 of the Buffalo series and has been a force for the Bruins over the three games.
“Krech is a guy who when he has the puck on his stick, he makes things happen,” Lucic said. “But also, he likes to keep it simple. That’s where I think I fit on that line. They’re both very skilled guys but they also like to keep things simple and skate. They keep me moving and I’ve been using them real well so I feel like these last three games since I’ve been with them have been my best three games of the playoffs so far.”
Krejci and Satan had previously been together with the now-injured Marco Sturm. The Czech and the Slovak immediately found themselves on the same page.
“Because, I think it’s like — I think he grew up in the same environment as me and basically in the same hockey school, so I think I can understand him well, you know, anticipate what he’s going to do and he knows what I’m going to do,” said Satan.
Adding Lucic, who has had his best career success with Marc Savard at center, and enjoyed some good times next to Patrice Bergeron, was a gamble head coach Claude Julien thought was worth taking. And Julien’s won that bet.
“Looch is so easy to get used to,” Krejci said. “He just fits on the line very well and he does what he does best. He goes in the corner and wins the puck for us and he knows that we can make the play. So he just gets it to us and gets open and that’s what happened a couple times today.”
Any worries that Lucic’s injuries caused him to regress are now crushed. The 21-year-old might be on the track to even bigger accomplishments before this playoff season is over.
“I think it was a real nice goal and hopefully a confidence boost for him as well. He hadn’t scored in a while and I think just the way it was scored was typical Lucic,” Julien said. “I thought he did a great job on that whole shift.”