Bruins

Lucic helps Bruins make it tough on Vancouver

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Lucic helps Bruins make it tough on Vancouver

By DannyPicard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- @font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; a:link, span.MsoHyperlink color: blue; text-decoration: underline; a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed color: purple; text-decoration: underline; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; From the day general manager Peter Chiarelli came to Boston,he wanted the Bruins to be a team that was tough to play against.

Fortunately for Chiarelli, the Bruins have a player that fits that mold perfectly: Milan Lucic.And when the Bruins needed to be at their toughest, Lucic showed up with hisbest game of the series.

The big power forward finished Wednesday nights 4-0 winover the Vancouver Canucks with an assist on the fourth and final goal, and he wasa plus-two while recording four hits and a team-high five shots on goal.

His Game 4 performance doesnt stick out on the final scoresheet, but his explosiveness all over the ice was an indication that the real Lucic, who everyone in Boston knows and loves, showed up on Wednesday night.

Physicality is part of the game especially in theplayoffs, play physical and theres a lot of battles, said Bruins captainZdeno Chara after the win. So you got to make sure that you do whatever youcan to win more than lose some.

Lucic won many battles in Game 4, and not just the physicalones. The top-line winger showed off his one-on-one skill set in the openingminutes of the third period, which led to Bostons fourth goal of the night.

David Krejci chipped a pass out of Bostons zone to Lucic,who skated hard down the right wing. As Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksastepped up at the Canucks blue line and tried to put a hip check on Lucic, theBruins forward faked going wide and put the puck around Bieksa with one handon his stick, while jumping around him on the inside.

Lucic had enough speed to make Bieksa look like a turnstyle,and he came in towards the net down the right side with Peverley being chasedgoing hard to the left post. Lucic put a pass across the slot to Peverley, butRoberto Luongo poke-checked it up and off Ryan Keslers shoulder. The puck thencame down and hit Peverleys skate and went in.

I just tried to get to the net as fast as I could, saidPeverley. I didnt even really see the puck. It just hit off me and went inthe net. It was just one of those lucky goals. I was just trying to drive tothe net.

It was Peverleys second goal of the night, as he replacedthe injured Nathan Horton on the Bruins top line with Lucic and Krejci.

Lucic was on the ice for both of Peverley's goals. His presenceon Wednesday night was more than noticeable. Still, it wont be whats talked about on Thursday, mainly because Lucic isn't easy to find on Game4s final score sheet.

Peverley was wearing the player of the game jacket. Ryderhad a goal of his own. And Marchand continues to be a pest that produces, as he did with his eighth goal of the postseason on Wednesday night.

But with Lucic, his postseason hasnt been the same as his30-goal regular season. Hes been in the headlines, but mainly becausesome thought he was playing injured. Injured or not, it was clear Lucic's play hasn't been up to par.

Except for Wednesday night. He was finishing checks, winningbattles, and making skilled plays.

Well, when hes skating, hes a great player, saidPeverley after the win. I think hes a great player no matter what, but whenhes on his game, hes usually skating and hitting, and playing physical. Andhe did a great job of that tonight.

He made the Bruins tough to play against.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Only five games into season, Bruins already sending off bad vibes

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Only five games into season, Bruins already sending off bad vibes

LAS VEGAS -- Even though it's only five games into a new regular season, it feels like the Bruins are in danger of going off the tracks.

They finished their three-game Western road swing Sunday with an aimless 3-1 loss to the expansion Golden Knights, which came on the heels of a wretched defeat in Colorado and a victory over the winless Coyotes. Sunday was particularly disheartening, as they never tested their ex-goalie, Malcolm Subban, putting only 21 mostly harmless shots on net against a player they gave away on waivers just a few weeks ago,

They may only have three losses in five games, but it sure feels like there's trouble starting to brew in Bruins land.

“It could be a lot of different things,” said Brad Marchand about the loss to Las Vegas. "We may not have been as mentally prepared for that game as we thought we were. They wanted it more than we did. They out-battled us in a lot of areas and they were the better team. We were making it hard on ourselves. We were trying to do too much with the puck, and not directing enough of the pucks toward the net. You can’t get rebound and you can’t get bodies there if the puck isn’t going there.”

That is a lot of different things. A lot of different problems:

-- They couldn’t fight to get to the front of the net against a rugged Vegas defensive group that was going to make them battle to get there.

-- Once again they had too many passengers along for the ride, with both Ryan Spooner and Frank Vatrano failing to even be a blip on the game’s radar screen. Spooner suffered a lower body injury midway through the game, but while he was out there he was a non-factor once again. 

-- It felt like there was no flow at all to Boston’s game, with breakouts dogged by sloppy passing and players who weren’t hard enough on the puck.

-- When they did get a chance to create something they either missed the net with their shot, or opted not to even take the shot in the first place. 

-- They lost 67 percent of the 57 draws taken during the game, and saw Spooner, Riley Nash and David Krejci and Ryan Spooner go a combined 8-for-29 in the face-off circle.

-- They chased the puck for long stretches and certainly didn’t ever put together anything approaching a consistent, driving pressure in the offensive zone.

Missing stalwart veterans like Patrice Bergeron and David Backes certainly isn’t helping. It makes the Bruins a much smaller group up front that can be pushed around by bigger, stronger defensive units.

But even so, there’s a sense the Bruins can’t consistently bring their 'A' game to the rink with them and don’t seem to have much fight when they fall down by a couple of goals. Trailing by just two goals going into the third period, the Bruins had four shots on net for most of the final period until a late flurry produced a score by David Pastrnak.

Perhaps of more concern, though, is the growing feeling that the Bruins aren’t all on the same page.

Marchand vaguely referenced that the Bruins weren’t prepared to play Sunday, and Tuukka Rask said he’ll no longer comment on anything except his own goaltending. Rask has always been candid and willing to be frank about any shortcomings after Bruins losses, but it appears that’s not something that is any longer welcome inside the B’s dressing room.

“I just try to go out there and give us a chance to win every night. That’s what I’m focused on,” said Rask. “I’m not going to comment anymore on team play that much. We can just talk about goaltending. That’s just the way it is. Sorry.”

Meanwhile, Krejci was similarly short in his postgame thoughts and started talking about avoiding pointing fingers after a frustrating loss.

“There’s no reason to point fingers," he said. "Yeah, we lost a game and it was a frustrating loss. But it’s just the fifth game of the season, so we don’t need to make a big deal out of it. We’re going to back to Boston, we’re going to work hard in practices and we’re going to get ready for the next game.”

Clearly, the fact this stuff is coming to the surface just five games into the season is a cause for concern. But it makes sense, given the way the Bruins are letting an easy portion of the season slip through their fingers.

In their first 10 games of the year, they're facing only one team that made the playoffs last season and they've got plenty of spaced-out stretches in the schedule to get off to a strong, healthy start. Instead they’re losing to subpar teams and highly unproven goalies, and doing so with a real lack of energy or purpose on the ice.

Certainly management would be smart to think about shipping underperforming players like Vatrano back to the AHL in place of Peter Cehlarik or Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson. And a few more games like Sunday’s snooze-fest could advance trade talks for a player like Matt Duchene.

But there aren’t going to be any easy answers. It comes down to hard work and hunkering down together as a team, and Sunday’s pitifully inept loss in a very winnable situation was yet another sign the Bruins aren't even close to being there yet.

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Spooner, McQuaid injured in Bruins' loss to Golden Knights

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Spooner, McQuaid injured in Bruins' loss to Golden Knights

LAS VEGAS -- The Bruins are already missing a handful of players to injuries, and they may have lost a couple more in Sunday’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Ryan Spooner was knocked out in the second period with a lower body injury, and Adam McQuaid was lost in the closing seconds of the third period when he was hit by a Colin Miller rocket from the point in his leg. McQuaid had to be helped to the dressing room after staying down on the ice for a few long moments, and the hope is that it’s the same kind of mostly harmless “dead leg” hit that allowed Kevan Miller to bounce back immediately from his Friday incident in practice.

McQuaid was spotted up and walking around in the visiting dressing room area postgame, so hopefully it’s nothing serious with one of the few Bruins giving everything he has on the ice each and every night.

Spooner finished with just eight shifts and 6:42 of ice time while failing to generate much offense, and went 1-for-4 in the face-off circle before getting shelved for the rest of the game. He just has a single point and is a minus-3 in four games this season and is once again has been pretty hard to notice on the ice during 5-on-5 play. It perhaps wasn’t a huge loss for the Bruins, given how much Spooner has been struggling to find baseline consistency, but the Bruins can’t continue to sustain injuries to their center men without those missing bodies beginning to take a toll.

The Bruins already have Paul Postma on hand if they take any injuries on the back end, but any more losses up front could mean the B’s dip into Providence where Peter Cehlarik, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Kenny Agostino are all off to hot offensive starts.