March 19, 2012
Leafs look to get the better of Lucic and the Bruins
By Terry Koshan, QMI Agency
BOSTON - Milan Lucic noted he had not scored a goal against the Maple Leafs until this season.
That, to put it mildly, has changed.
Lucic leads all Boston Bruins against the Leafs in 2011-12, recording 11 points (five goals and six assists) in five games.
“For myself, it’s pretty funny ... it’s just one of those things,” the Bruins forward said after the morning skate at TD Garden on Monday. “I look forward to playing them. It hasn’t been easy. The games against them, it has been my night, and hopefully I will have another one of those tonight.”
There’s a chance it could be a little more difficult for Lucic and his teammates. They’ve owned the Leafs in five games, winning each and outscoring Toronto 28-10. But four of those victories were against the Leafs when Ron Wilson was coaching, and Randy Carlyle has implemented a system that has a greater emphasis on defence.
“Let me put it this way,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said, “Ron was a very aggressive coach and Randy, not that he is not aggressive, but he also spends a lot of time making sure the defensive approach is there as well.”
The Leafs won’t make any lineup changes from Saturday night, when they won their second in a row with a 3-1 triumph in Ottawa against the Senators. James Reimer will make his fourth consecutive start in goal, and defenceman Cody Franson will be a healthy scratch as Toronto clings to its faint playoff hopes.
The Leafs are six points behind the idle Washington Capitals, who have the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s the chance to play against the Stanley Cup champions,” Carlyle said. “I don’t look at it any other way. What we have tried to do is focus on each game.
"The reality is, you are not going to be judged on one game. We are not in a position to use this game as a measuring stick. We have a template we are trying to create that we have to play to, and I will let other people do the judging of that.”
How the Leafs contend with Lucic could go a long way in determining whether they finally beat the Bruins.
“He’s definitely one of the bigger, stronger forwards in the league,” Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn said. “Handling him on the fore-check and down low, he is pretty tough to knock him off the puck.
“He has his way with a lot of defencemen in the league. He has that huge size and strength. It’s easier said than done, but it’s a good challenge for us.”