PHILADELPHIA — Nathan Horton came through key goals at the biggest moments in the Bruins’ first-round win over Montreal, and David Krejci broke out in a huge way during the Bruins’ Game 1 win over Philadelphia yesterday.
Their third linemate, Milan Lucic, is still waiting for that elusive first goal of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
But he feels like he’s on the cusp of his own offensive roll after he showed signs of improvement in the first game of Boston’s Eastern Conference semifinal series with Philadelphia Saturday. Lucic didn’t record a point but posted a plus-3 rating, as his linemates combined for three goals, three assists in the 7-3 win.
“I felt like last game was good. I felt like I was skating real well last game,” said Lucic after a brief practice at the Wells Fargo Center, where Game 2 will be played tomorrow night. “Even though I didn’t get a point, I don’t feel like it really mattered because I was still getting in there and made some plays and also started some plays that turned into goals. It’d be nice to obviously pop one here, hopefully soon, and kind of gain some momentum with that.”
Head coach Claude Julien, who prior to the start of this series was certain he’d get the right amount of first-line production in this round after a sluggish first round, said he saw signs of Lucic emerging from his doldrums.
“I think he was better. There’s no doubt, he was skating better,” said the coach, who’s waiting for Lucic’s first goal since March 22. “Although he didn’t get on the score sheet, at the end of the night you look at what he did and what his line did and they were good for us.
“So at one point you can’t keep hammering down on a player just because he’s not on the score sheet. He did some good things. He threw some body checks. He skated much better and no doubt he was a good player for us [Saturday].”
After reaching 30 goals, which led the team, things started to go awry for Lucic. He said he felt confused during the worst parts of his current slump, which has even included four games without a shot on net. Now his frame of mind is better, and his entire line’s approach has improved.
“I think a big reason why our line was able to create space was because we were moving our feet. We were coming at them with a lot more speed and we weren’t trying to make moves,” he said. “We were just going straight and coming at them with a lot of speed. For myself, I felt like it was my best game of the playoffs just because I was moving my feet. And as a line, it definitely was our best game because we were playing with a lot of speed and we beared down on them when we got them.”