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Julien on Lucic: ‘He’s been arguably our best forward’

May 8, 2013, 3:39 PM EDT

luciccelebratesap AP

Milan Lucic is making up for a disappointing regular season.

Just as his head coach.

On Wednesday, Claude Julien praised the power forward, saying he’s been one of Boston’s most effective players in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal against Toronto.

“[Lucic's] been arguably our best forward,” Julien told CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty. “It’s obvious he’s feeling better about himself now than he did all year.”

The 24-year-old forward had a tough campaign, recording just seven goals in 46 games. Over an 82-game season, that works out to around 12 goals — Lucic scored 26 last season, and 30 the year before.

His struggles culminated with a mid-April stretch when he openly criticized his own play, then was made a healthy scratch for the first time since his rookie season of 2007-08.

“There are no excuses and there’s nobody to blame but myself,” he said at the time. “I know I can still be a big part of this team and it all comes down to me.”

In the playoffs, though, Lucic has been a totally different player.

He’s tied with Jarome Iginla and Evgeni Malkin for the NHL’s assist lead, with six, and is a plus-5 while averaging 16:28 TOI per game.

Lucic has also rediscovered his physical game, leading all Bruins forwards with 11 hits.

For Julien, it’s a relief to see the old Lucic back.

“It has been a frustrating year for him and frustrating for us as well, not seeing Milan be Milan,” Julien told NHL.com. “Once he found his game and his groove, I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone how big a factor he is for our hockey club.”

  1. joshuakorr - May 8, 2013 at 3:45 PM

    Great to see it!

  2. mgp1219 - May 8, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    Um, is someone forgetting about Krejci??

  3. houseof666 - May 8, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    Krejci has been great but lucic has been most improved since the regular season

    • hockeyflow33 - May 8, 2013 at 5:47 PM

      If only because it would have been difficult to play worse

  4. atteckus - May 8, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    Has anyone seen Lucic pot a goal? Anyone seen him park in front of Reimer and stay there? Anyone seen him actively fighting for pucks along the backwall? Nope, none of that has occurred. The Julien statement is nothing short of delusional. Yes, Milan has improved by actually skating around and hitting — two things he wasn’t doing for the last 3+ months. But is that milquetoast improvement grounds for declaring him “good”? Hardly. He’s not even playing very well, much less “best.” He is merely adequate, for the moment. And he is the buyout candidate for the offseason.

    • bigkniht37 - May 8, 2013 at 5:17 PM

      milquetoast is an awful big word for a basement of your moms house troll. Looch has been exponentially better in this series than at any point this season.

    • hockeyflow33 - May 8, 2013 at 5:49 PM

      You’re dead on in your assessment but for some reason Julien and Chiarelli see this guy as a hall of famer so I don’t think they’ll ever buy him out

    • drewsylvania - May 8, 2013 at 6:09 PM

      No. He was lousy in the regular season, going through the motions and sulking. He’s been great in the playoffs–indeed, one of Krejci’s goals was the direct result of Lucic abusing the Leafs D and throwing Krejci a perfect pass afterward.

      Who knows what we’ll get out of him, really? But he has definitely been much better.

  5. crusty14 - May 8, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    No he hasn’t potted a goal…. But he has 6 assists! You think that’s not an improvement? I guess you haven’t really watched any of the series

  6. hockeyflow33 - May 8, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    Count me among those who would argue this

    • tdrusher225 - May 8, 2013 at 11:03 PM

      Why? You don’t have to like him to admit he’s been one of the best players on his own team and in the series. It’s okay we all have teams and players we don’t like. That doesn’t mean you have to vehemently deny any of their success.

  7. thegronk87 - May 8, 2013 at 5:54 PM

    Luuuuuuuucic….

  8. drewsylvania - May 8, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    Buy out Lucic? No. I’m calling it here: They’re buying out Chara. His play has dipped a HUGE amount, he makes ridiculous money, Hamilton is here, and they’d account for the entire salary cap reduction in one move.

    • drewsylvania - May 8, 2013 at 6:13 PM

      Also, they’re going to have to pay Rask. Big sacrifices are going to have to be made to keep him.

    • hockeyflow33 - May 9, 2013 at 12:03 AM

      They aren’t playing Hamilton in the playoffs so why would they trade Chara’s play for a guy who can’t crack the postseason lineup?

  9. istallion - May 8, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    Lol
    Overrated punk.

  10. crusty14 - May 9, 2013 at 12:28 AM

    What kind of moron would buy out Chara ? He is still the best shutdown dman around! He has the wingspan of two condors, and he plays close to 30 minutes a night. Never mind the fact he got 4 assists in tonight’s pivotal game 4.

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