WILMINGTON (CBS) — A game spent sitting in the press box and a game skating back on left wing next to David Krejci seems to have lifted Milan Lucic’s spirits.
When the Bruins forward spoke after practice last Thursday, he knew odds were he was going to be a healthy scratch against Pittsburgh in the Bruins’ next game. His forlorn appearance that day in the Ristuccia Arena dressing room was reminiscent of Eeyore, minus the dark cloud following him.
Lucic’s return to the lineup Sunday, skating a regular shift with Krejci and Nathan Horton’s right-wing fill-in Rich Peverley, didn’t snap Lucic’s scoring slump that’s now at two goals in his last 28 games. But just four days after he looked like the unluckiest guy on Earth, Lucic revealed a much sunnier disposition after practice Monday.
The playoffs are just a week and a day away, and Lucic has hope that the second season will be one to remember.
“You want to be a contributor for this hockey club. I’ve shown that I can be a big part of this hockey club, so as of right now you’re just trying to find something to build off, to kind of get you going,” he said. “Sometimes it’s just a bounce and everything just kind of moves in the right direction. I remember three years ago in 2010, I wasn’t playing my best hockey either. And it was Game 6 against Buffalo where I made two plays and it ended in two goals [that he assisted on]. And everything kind of turned around for myself. I ended up getting five goals in the next series against Philadelphia, even though we lost. But it kind of moved things in the right direction, and when I came back the next season, in my head I was feeling pretty good about myself.
“So you hope that something, it could be a bounce or even a hit or something like that that kind of sparks it, because I know it’s there and you have to do whatever you can to kind of bring it.”
Beating himself up as though he’s Mike Komisarek didn’t work for Lucic. So now he’s trying some positive thinking in order to escape the doldrums.
We’ll know soon enough whether the new approach works or if there’s something more involved in Lucic’s struggles than just mind-set.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.