PHILADELPHIA — One second Milan Lucic saw his center David Krejci get leveled by Mike Richards at the Boston blue line, and the next the Bruins left winger saw the puck heading toward the Philadelphia blue line for a scoring opportunity.
A multi-faceted threat like Lucic, who’s expected to provide both scoring and toughness, obviously faced a dilemma at a critical juncture of the first period of Wednesday night’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Flyers.
Lucic opted to go for the puck, rather than try to make Richards pay physically. One won race and a perfect feed to a streaking Miroslav Satan later, Satan had a goal and the Bruins had a 2-1 lead they never relinquished.
“There was kind of two scenarios that you can do. Obviously, you can go and fight the guy. I noticed it was an opportunity where we had a 2-on-1 and looking back it was probably it was probably the better decision to go and get that goal to be up 2-1,” said Lucic today at Wachovia Center, where the Bruins mostly took the day off in preparation for Friday’s Game 4. “So it was just something that I just went with my instincts and saw the opportunity that we could capitalize on and we did.
“It was a good way to swing back the momentum after a big play like that.”
Considering Lucic’s rough reputation, and all the ridicule the team endured just two months ago about not retaliating for Matt Cooke’s hit on Marc Savard, Lucic’s decision was probably more difficult than under different circumstances. But in his mind, he was thinking with a playoff frame of mind, as opposed to how he would’ve responded in the regular season.
“Obviously, you never want to see a key guy on your team go down like that. It was a clean hit, so you can’t say too much bad about it. The shoulder was down. It was a clean hit, obviously. Worse scenario came out for Krech,” said Lucic about his teammate who is done for the season after surgery for a dislocated wrist. “But it is different [than in the regular season], obviously, because it is playoff hockey where you don’t want to put your team down with a five-minute penalty or an instigator that you can get yourself out of the game for 17 minutes.”
The Bruins can’t afford to lose any player for any amount of non-injury-related time, so Lucic’s response was right. He made the Flyers pay the best way possible.