BOSTON — Any momentum Milan Lucic got from scoring his first two goals of the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs in the Bruins’ Game 4 victory over Philadelphia last Friday might’ve ended with the eight-day layoff Boston has worked through before tomorrow’s start of the Eastern Conference Final.
That doesn’t mean that the Bruins power forward doesn’t have a different feeling entering the showdown with Tampa Bay than he had when he entered the Flyers series off a goal-less first round against Montreal.
“It feels better. It feels much better,” said Lucic today after the last day of practice at the TD Garden before tomorrow’s Game 1 with the Lightning. “Obviously there’s less pressure. But it was tough to get out of that slump. Now hopefully … I honestly feel, even in practice, I’m more confident when I get the puck in those areas where I know I can score. I just need to have that same mentality and get to those areas where I know can get some offense.”
With their size and toughness, the Flyers were seen as the perfect type of team for Lucic and his linemates Nathan Horton and David Krejci to get their game going after a lackluster Canadiens series. That hypothesis was proven correct, as the trio combined for 19 points.
Although they possess some measure of grit and size, the Lightning have enough Montreal-like finesse to potentially side track the Bruins top line’s productivity. Lucic thinks the key to avoiding that pitfall is for he and his linemates to worry about their own play.
“Personally, I just think we have to keep doing what we did to make what made us successful,” he said. “I think we played with a lot of speed. We were going forward with the puck, we were making plays and we were being strong on the puck. And that’s exactly what we need to do as a line to be successful. And that shouldn’t change against these guys.
“And I think it’s important that we don’t sit back and see what they’re going to do, we’ve got to continue what we did last series and I think a reason why we won that series is that we went right after the Flyers and they weren’t able to keep up.”
Fueled with his new-found confidence and the rest that comes with eight days off, Lucic should be ready to go straight at the Lightning.