November 30, 2011
Lucic enjoying beating up on Leafs
By LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Milan Lucic is from Western Canada where he says “you love ’em or hate ’em” when it comes to the Maple Leafs.
The Boston Bruins’ net nuisance admits blue and white were not his favourite colours growing up, which could explain why he keeps getting higher than the CN Tower for these match-ups and now has three multi-point nights in as many Boston wins this season.
On Wednesday, after an eight-game slide against other clubs, he had two goals in a 6-3 win.
“It’s funny because I didn’t score a goal against Toronto (in 21 games) until this season,” Lucic said. “I have to say it’s certainly fun to come here to play.
“If you notice all the goals I’ve scored (three others against Toronto), they’ve all been from the slot in and around the net. This year, especially, I’ve done a better job getting myself in those positions for some dirty goals.”
Lucic didn’t need to give Jonas Gustavsson the willies by crowding him on Wednesday. The Leafs were scraping back in a 4-3 game when Lucic out-battled defenceman Luke Schenn for the killer goal.
“You look at all three games and they’ve all been big for us,” Lucic added. “We’re a team that looks forward to big games and tries to rise to the occasion. We need to do that against the Leafs because they’ve been such a great team this year. A rivalry is being created and they’ve all been great games.”
Well, from the Bruins’ standpoint anyway. Every lopsided victory over the Leafs — the scoreboard damage is now a combined 19-5 this year — has come when Toronto was on a significant points’ streak. All credit to the Leafs for holding first place in the division with so many injuries, but the Bruins took the measuring stick and beat the Leafs soundly with it on Wednesday.
Lucic’s whole line, with centre David Krejci and Nathan Horton was not pulling its weight during the club’s impressive November in which it did not lose in regulation (12-0-1). Krejci hadn’t scored in nine games and fixed that with a go-ahead strike in the first period. Right winger Nathan Horton put two helpers on the board after just three in the previous seven games. On Oct. 30, exactly a month earlier, the Bruins had fallen to last in the East.
“Everyone is doing a better job and stepping up the way we did last year (winning the Cup),” Lucic said. “You need different people to step up over a long season and our line did tonight after a rough couple of games. We want to be the line we know we can be.
“It’s definitely a weight off of our shoulders. We wanted to end this month off right and get some momentum heading into December.”
Though the Bruins no doubt wished November had 31 days and they played one more game, it was still the best month by any NHL team in terms of avoiding regulaton losses since the San Jose Sharks roared through March of 2008 with a mark of 13-0-2. For Boston, it was the best month since January of 1969.
“Gerry Cheevers, right?,” goalie Tim Thomas said, testing the media on Bruins goaltending trivia. “And it wasn’t the year they won the Cup (right again)?”
Richard Nixon had just entered the White House and Led Zeppelin had recorded its first studio album.
“It’s certainly a rare accomplishment and for some guys, might only happen once in their career,” Thomas said. “But unfortunately, the way the world works and the way the league works, November is gone. It’s December and Saturday night we have (a visiting Leaf) team that really gave us a tough battle. It could have gone either way tonight.”
There have been almost 200 combined shots in the series so far and the fireworks should continue at TD Garden this weekend.
“We basically grind it out, win battles, screen, back check hard and commit to better defensive play in our own end,” coach Claude Julien said. “Because we did that and did it quicker, we were able to take advantage for our offence.”
The Leafs had better follow the same script.