Twenty goals? Are you kidding me?
Next time, Milan Lucic shouldn’t set his expectations for the upcoming season so low.
Prior to the 2010-11 season, Lucic wanted to stay healthy and surpass 20 goals for the first time in his NHL career. After all, he was starting the three-year contract extension worth a little more than $4 million per season he signed the previous fall.
Well, talk about shattering your preseason milestones. Despite a late-season slump, Lucic reached 30 goals and established himself as a legit No. 1 left winger. His regular-season slump carried over into the postseason, and he wasn’t quite the constant playoff point-producing beast he’d been for the Bruins in previous years, but he came through in the clutch plenty during Boston’s run to the Stanley Cup championship.
It’s going to be difficult for Lucic to come up with a goal for next season that he can reach but doesn’t look like he’s underestimating himself. That’s the type of problem and player would want to have.
Regular season: 79 GP, 30-32-62, plus-28
Playoffs: 25 GP, 5-7-12, plus-11
Contract status: Signed through 2012-13 at a cap hit of $4,083,333
Best regular-season moment: Lucic recorded a hat trick and a number of other productive games during his breakout year, but no performance was as dramatic as the one in Vancouver Feb. 26. The Bruins sent a message to the league-leading Canucks, just in case the two teams would meet in the postseason, and Lucic ruined his hometown team’s night with the game-winning goal with 4:38 left in regulation plus two assists.
Best playoff moment: After going goal-less through the seven-game Montreal series and the first three games of the Philadelphia series, Lucic broke out with two scores in the sweep-completing victory over the Flyers. One of his goals came on the power play to end a team-wide drought in that department.
Worst moment: Although the goal-less Canadiens series was pretty bad, Lucic’s giveaway that led to Tampa Bay’s game-winning goal in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final was a low point for the winger. The Bruins had blown a 3-0 lead and suddenly the Lightning were about to even up the series at 2-2.
Regular-season grade: A-minus
Playoff grade: B-plus. Considering he played most of the conference finals and Cup Final with a broken toe, Lucic held his own when the stakes were highest in the last two rounds.
Carcac predicts … with his linemates Nathan Horton and David Krejci slated to return to the fold as well next season, Lucic can continue to blossom as one of the league’s best power forwards.