By Nick Lovett
Milan Lucic has been a pillar of the Boston Bruins organization since he was drafted in the second round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He was drafted to be the next Cam Neely – a big guy who could score with some of the best in the league, but also just be a brute when he needed to be. Lucic has flashes of that top-level scoring ability; hell, in the Bruins’ last game against the San Jose Sharks, Looch tallied three assists. That’s the player that Boston fans fell in love with back when he was drafted. The other Milan Lucic, though, that guy we have come to hate.
The other Looch is the guy we usually see against Montreal. The guy who doesn’t play his game and tries to pick a fight with everyone. The guy who has a personal vendetta against certain players (see: Emelin, Alexei). This guy is the player that doesn’t produce offensively. This is the guy that takes dumb penalties because the other team is under his skin.
And this is the guy that cannot show up anymore. We’ve seen it during the regular season, and worse, during the playoffs.
Personally, I go through periods of wanting to trade Milan Lucic. Other teams value him as much as we do and we could probably get a really good return for him. Obviously Peter Chiarelli would never do that and I hope he wouldn’t because Looch, at times, is the personification of what being a Bruin is all about.
But the point remains: For the Bruins to be successful, this year more than any before, the good Lucic has to be here and be here to stay.
I’m not asking him to be a point per game player. I’m just asking him to be the force of nature he can be when his game is on. When his game is on, there are few teams in the league that can deal with him. He can cause headaches all over the three zones. But he can’t do that if he’s being reckless.
Looch has to be able to reign it in. He has to be able to know when he can be a brute and when he has to be the three-zone player we know he can be. Games in Montreal are his kryptonite. Him, and even Tuukka Rask, cannot focus there. They cannot deal with the pressure or the jeering fans. I don’t know what it is exactly, but as long as the Bruins have to go through the Canadiens to reach the Finals, (which is seemingly going to be every year because of the new playoff format), this could be an issue.
Claude Julien knows his players and he knows Looch. He has to find some way to get Lucic to stop being a mindless meat-head sometimes. You know, the one that thinks it’s a good idea to do an obscene gesture at a crowd while he’s entering the penalty box. He needs to get Looch to be his best self, all the time.
Because when Lucic is on full gear, the Bruins are not a team to mess with.
This was originally posted at Beantown Bears.