One of the biggest stories of the Bruins’ regular season was the struggle of Milan Lucic, but one of the biggest stories of the postseason has been his incredible production.
In just three games, Lucic has six assists, which is most in the NHL this postseason. That comes after he finished the season with seven goals and 20 assists in 46 games. Coach Claude Julien ran out of options and had to make Lucic a healthy scratch toward the end of the year to try to get his game turned around, and it looks to have worked in time for the playoffs.
While the change in Lucic’s game has been drastic, Bruins president Cam Neely told Felger and Mazz that there was no “magic moment” for Lucic.
“No I don’t think there’s really any story behind the story,” Neely said Tuesday. “He struggled, along with some of the other guys this year. I think you can look across the 30 teams when you have a shortened season, when some guys are playing and some guys aren’t [during the lockout].
“He’s got a lot of character. He’s a veteran player. He understands what he needs to do, and maybe he was trying to do too much that took him out of his element. But with the regular season ending and the playoffs starting, that gave him an opportunity to say, ‘I can kind of turn the page and just settle down and play my game,’ which he’s done.”
Neely also spoke about the atmosphere in Toronto. Though the crowds are loud and rowdy, Neely said that type of environment can help the visiting team wake up early on.
“As you can imagine, it’s been pretty crazy, especially leading into last night’s game,” Neely said. “A long time for fans up here to wait for playoff hockey, and they’re very excited about it. Obviously with the team winning one game in Boston, it gave them some more excitement and emotion. And quite frankly, it’s great to see an Original Six team like this, after being out of the playoffs for so long. The fan base here is very deep-rooted, and they love their team, and they show it.
“It’s no different than going into Montreal with all of the excitement and atmosphere there. You certainly know you’re in the playoffs. The crowd is into it, which you know is going to get the other team into it, so you better get yourself into it pretty quick as well.”
Neely also discussed what went into the decision to break up Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg in Game 2, what else went wrong in Game 2, the play of Tuukka Rask and his thoughts on the rough-and-tumble Senators-Canadiens series.
Neely said he’s not sure Eric Gryba deserved a two-game suspension for his hit on Lars Eller.
“I don’t know. I’ve watched it a bunch of times just like everybody else, and quite frankly, it certainly wasn’t interference,” Neely said. “I don’t think that the head was targeted. That’s a play that I think every defenseman growing up knows that if there’s someone coming through the middle like that looking back for a pass, then you can step into them.
“I know there’s so much concern with head injuries and how the league needs to try and take care of it and try to manage it, but it’s such a quick game out there, it’s very difficult to look at everything and say that was a suspendable hit. I think a lot of people that I’ve talked to in the hockey industry didn’t really necessarily think that was a suspendable hit.”