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Immobile Lucic

April 17, 2011

Lucic, in a rare moment of really laying the body. 

Horton’s anger issues. Seidenberg, McQuaid and Ference’s sloppy turnovers and miscues. Chara’s absence and its destabilizing effects on the locker-room and the blue-line. PK Subban’s agitating David Krejci to the nth degree. Tim Thomas looking like a shadow of his former self, allowing rebounds and early goals that he formerly never would. There are a multitude of reasons for why the Bruins fell last night. None of them are clear, none of them are easy to accept and none of them, really, are easy to solve.

But let’s start with a straightforward example, an instance in which the Bruins had an honest-to-goodness scoring opportunity. It was the third period. The Bruins won an offensive zone face-off. Krejci dished the puck to Lucic, who was standing high-slot. Lucic knew he had wide open net and Price off-guard. He banged it home, it did a quick and funny bounce and Price settled it. But what did Lucic do in the seeming eternity while this happened? He stood there. He just stood there, immobile, so certain of himself and the moment that the puck just had to have gone in. Instead of diving forward, so as to perhaps get a rebound, shake up Price or drive the puck home again, he stood, totally still. That has perhaps been one of the most noticeable things of this series thus far–how completely still Lucic has been. His hitting game has been satisfactory, but that’s it, really. The 30-goal scorer has left him. The hard-nosed, hard-driving guy is gone and where to nobody knows. I do think he’s the only forward with the size and panache to really frighten Price (with the exception perhaps of Bergeron, who possesses more raw skill and intelligence). And Lucic has allowed his talents to go untapped. It’s not that he’s been unlucky or that he’s been stifled by the opposition that much. It’s that he isn’t trying.

As the Bruins head to Montreal many question marks loom. The Bruins have never in their history recovered from a 0-2 deficit, a nugget of fact that has been repeated perhaps a thousand times. But there are always times when these records are broken, and now is as good a time as any, really. The Bell Centre will be intimidating, the fans rabid. Seeing a robust Bruins squad, one with a chip on their shoulder, one with something to really play for, can only be a good thing. How about that swing through Western Canada in February? Can they play like that? I think so.

Will there be personnel changes? It seems likely. Julien plays it conservatively with his team, often failing to make in-game changes where necessary and opting for a gradual approach to lines. The luxury of time is no longer with the team. But Rask and Seguin, where do they fit? Whether Tuukka is the man is Julien’s sole decision, and I think maybe it’s a good one. Tuukka should a certain resilience during last year’s playoffs that was admirable. Thomas will prefer to stay in net, that much is clear. He’s had the season of his career and he’s a show-stopping goaltender. But he can’t make the important early saves. It’s time to take Tuukka over the all but certain Vezina winner. As for Tyler Seguin, I think there’s a great chance he plays Monday night. Michael Ryder held onto the puck far too long on a number of occasions and tried to accomplish too much. Seguin has always returned in robust form after being a healthy scratch. He adds energy and pizzazz and I think the Bruins would do well to counter the Habs’ speed and dynamism with a little of their own. He’s a defensive liability, yes. But with well-timed opportunities I think, and I swore I’d never say this, but I think the rookie can be a game-changer in this series.

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