If it seems like the number of people losing faith in Milan Lucic’s ability to help the Bruins is increasing by the second, you can add one more name to that group: Milan Lucic.
“It’s not where it was two years ago or last year. It’s almost back to where it was at Year Three when things are just not going the way you want them to go,” Lucic said when asked about his confidence Thursday. “Enough with the excuses. You can’t just keep making excuses and saying all these things and pointing fingers and stuff like that. You’ve got to try to work yourself through it. It’s times like this that if you get through it, that kind of make you stronger as a person and as a player. That’s where I’m at right now. You want to try to get through it to try to make you stronger because you want to contribute for your team, you want to contribute for your teammates. You want to contribute for the fans and the city. For myself, I’ve taken pride in trying to be a big part of this team. Right now, it sucks because you haven’t had that same effect that you know can bring.”
Mired in a slump that’s seen him score just twice in his last 27 games and only six times all season long, Lucic was skating in a green sweater with Jay Pandolfo and Kaspars Daugavins during Bruins practice Thursday at Ristuccia Arena.
Considering his linemates’ status as healthy scratches Wednesday against Buffalo, Lucic’s chances of skating Friday night in the showdown with Pittsburgh are somewhat slim. Bruins coach Claude Julien wouldn’t declare Lucic out for the game, but wouldn’t rule out the possibility either.
At this point, Lucic is willing to take one for the team.
“Nope. I wouldn’t blame anyone but myself,” Lucic said about his reaction to a possible scratch. “If that’s what needs to be done in order to get myself going, I’m for what’s best for the team and not best for myself. Like I said, I want to be a part of the team. I want to be better. I want to contribute. I know I can be a big part of the team. Ultimately it all comes down to myself, so there’s no one to blame but myself.”
Although Lucic and his fans are down on the former 30-goal scorer, Julien is among those that believe the left wing can return to the being the player that popped in 56 goals the last two seasons and was emerging as one of the league’s best power forwards.
“I don’t know what it is. But we all know he’s struggling right now,” Julien said. “He obviously knows that. We’ve had our chats about his game for a while now. He’s really trying to turn the corner but doesn’t seem to be able to. So as a coach, you’re trying to help him through that stuff. A big portion of it’s going to have to come from him, obviously. We can support him and give him opportunities but at the end of the day you have to be able to step up there. And he knows he’s not, it’s not a secret, I don’t think to anybody. But we also know what he’s done for this team in the past and what he’s capable of doing. And you’ve just got to hope that this player finds his game because we’re going to need him.”
Lucic has been moved up and down the Boston lineup. He’s been added and removed from the power play. Now his next destination might be the press box. Whether that will help Lucic, he’s not sure.
“We’ll see. Time will tell,” Lucic said. “I hope it does help me, and I think right now it’s just getting that hunger and emotion back in the game and trying to figure out how to play with it again to where it was and where it can be at such a high level. I think if I figure that out, everything else will take care of itself.”