Lucic: ‘It’s not like I hate the people of Montreal’

34 Comments

On Thursday night, Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic will enter Montreal’s Bell Centre for his 37th career regular season game against the Canadiens.

But following his last meeting with the storied rival, Lucic knows he needs to keep his cool.

In the final minutes of Boston’s 6-4 loss on Oct. 16, Lucic was assessed a boarding penalty and on his way to the box, made a lewd gesture and a cup raising motion. Upon exiting, he proceeded to argue the penalty and was assessed a misconduct and shown the gate.

He was subsequently fined $5,000 for his antics in Montreal – the maximum allowed under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Lucic said following last month’s incident, Bruins’ President and Alternate Governor, Cam Neely, had a conversation with him.

“He understands there comes times when you can lose your cool and stuff like that,” Lucic said of the conversation, “but you have to suck it up and not react in a way like that where you’re doing something like that.

“That was kind of the main message that he had.”

For the 26-year-old, the incident at the Bell Centre was the epitome of his season to that point. Lucic said he’s struggled with his confidence in the early going following offseason surgery to his left wrist.

“It’s not like I was worried too much about that before,” said Lucic of worrying about his play between the whistles. “But coming off the injury and it being a wrist injury, (I was) questioning whether it was 100 percent and a little hesitant to go into the corners and all that type of stuff.”

Through 17 games, Lucic, a left-handed shot, says he’s still feeling the effects of the surgery especially when it comes to shooting the puck. However, a meeting with Chris Stewart and the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 30 has helped steer things in the right direction.

Lucic finished the night with two shots on goal, four hits, the fight and a minus-1 rating while logging 18:03 in ice time during Boston’s 3-2 win over the Sabres.

“That was a good test,” Lucic said of his first fight of the season. “Had a couple hits and got hit a couple times and everything was fine and I was able to just kind of relax and start playing my game again.”

Since his last trip to Montreal, Lucic has three goals and four assists in 11 games. He was pointless and a minus-1 prior to the visit to Montreal.

In 36 career games against the Habs, Lucic has seven goals and 10 assists to along with 92 penalty minutes.

Lucic knows the building will be electric tonight.

“It’s just the nature of the rivalry and there’s a lot of hatred between the two teams. Obviously being in the same division and the way that the playoff standings work now, you’re fighting for every point and every divisional game means that much more,” he said. “Since I’ve been in the league, I’ve played them four times in the playoffs and I think that adds to it as well.”

Lucic infamously got into a verbal altercation with Canadiens players in the handshake line following Boston’s seven game second-round loss to Montreal last spring.

“I do enjoy going there, it’s fun, it’s part of being a competitor,” Lucic said. “It’s great to be a part of rivalries like that. It’s not like I hate the city and it’s not like I hate the people of Montreal. Its just when you’re on the ice, it’s a different animal than when you’re off the ice.”

With a young family to consider, the Vancouver native admits he’s begun thinking of pending contract negotiations.

Lucic has one more season after this on his three-year, $18 million contract. Afterward, he’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. Lucic’s agent and the Bruins aren’t allowed to begin negotiations until next summer under the new rules in the CBA.

“I’d be lying if I told you that I hadn’t thought about it, but I’m just… I think the best way to think about it, is not to think about it and just focus on taking care of things on the ice,” said Lucic. “If you play well and do your thing on the ice, the contract stuff will take care of itself.

“I’m just focused on having a good season this season this year and good season next year and we’ll see what happens. My plans are to remain a Bruin and I hope it goes that way.”

Could Lucic see himself in another jersey?

“It would be tough… I think it would be tough,” he said.

What about the Red, White and Blue of the Canadiens?

“Never… I don’t think so… I don’t think so about that,” said Lucic chuckling. “Crazier things have happened. Who knows what the future holds.”

Lights went out during brief – but funny – moment in Bruins game

Leave a comment

The Florida Panthers were on the power play – and dangerous sniper Mike Hoffman had a chance to shoot from the slot – when the lights went out, briefly, at TD Garden on Tuesday night.

Now, this wasn’t like the blackout at Boston Garden during the 1988 Stanley Cup Final, when a Game 4 against the mighty Edmonton Oilers had to be replayed in its entirety in Edmonton because of such an outage. In that case, it went wrong for the Bruins, as they had managed a 3-3 tie during the second period of that nullified contest against that dynastic team.

In Tuesday’s case, you could imagine someone, somewhere – probably in Florida – claiming it was all a big conspiracy. For just a moment or two, the lights went out when the Bruins were killing a penalty. This screen grab of Sportsnet’s video (which you can watch fully above this post’s headline) gives you an idea of Hoffman’s location … if you squint a little. Actually, allow some help, as I fight the urge to go full John Madden in telestrator mode:

Apologies to conspiracy theorists, but these things happen. The brightest side is that it wasn’t a situation where a check was about to be delivered, as that could have made for a dangerous moment.

MORE:
• Pro Hockey Talk’s Stanley Cup picks.
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Rangers’ Lemieux sets up Kakko for beauty vs. Penguins

Leave a comment

The New York Rangers ended the first period up 2-0 against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday (watch live on NBCSN; stream here) thanks, in part, to some tremendous passing.

Most impressively, Brendan Lemieux sent a tremendous long bomb of a pass, beating multiple Penguins defenders, to Kaapo Kakko, who scored what might have been his best goal in the NHL so far by finishing the play with great moves.

This marks the first multi-game point streak for Kakko, 18, who also scored a goal against the Florida Panthers on Sunday. The second pick of the 2019 NHL Draft now has five goals and seven points so far in his rookie season, and still has two periods to add more during his 16th game.

The Penguins failed on two power plays in the first period, pushing them to 0-for-28. They haven’t scored a PPG since mid-October.

[More on the Penguins’ struggling power play]

To make matters worse for the Penguins, Artemi Panarin sent a tremendous pass to defenseman Adam Fox for the 2-0 goal with less than 10 seconds left.

Pittsburgh’s been a slow-starting team quite often in 2019-20, and in some cases have been able to rally for comeback wins. We’ll see if they can pull off another one on Tuesday, as it’s been a very weak start, and it’s possible it could have been more than a 2-0 lead for the Rangers after 20 minutes.

MORE:
• Pro Hockey Talk’s Stanley Cup picks.
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH LIVE: Penguins meet Rangers on NBCSN

Getty Images
Leave a comment

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Tuesday’s matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Penguins are coming off a 3-2 (SO) win on Saturday – a game they trailed 2-0 midway through the second period. It was their third straight game rallying from a multi-goal deficit. Despite earning the win against Chicago, Sidney Crosby left in the third period with a lower-body injury. He has been ruled out for this game, and his status beyond that is unknown.

Pittsburgh enters this game on a massive power play drought. They have not scored a power play goal in their previous 11 games, going 0-for-25 in that span. The total drought actually extends to the game prior to that, when they failed on their final attempt, so the Pens are 0-for-their-last-26 overall.

Rangers No. 1 center Mika Zibanejad has missed the last six games with an upper-body injury, suffered on Oct. 27 on a hit from Patrice Bergeron. Zibanejad will reportedly not travel with the team to Florida, meaning he is out for at least the next three games. He was leading the team with 11 points in nine games prior to his departure from the lineup.

After alternating starts at the beginning of the season, the Rangers have spent the past few weeks giving chunks of consecutive starts to each of their netminders. Alex Georgiev will get the start in this game – his seventh of the season – after Henrik Lundqvist started the previous three.

[COVERAGE OF PENGUINS-RANGERS BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

WHAT: Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers
WHERE: Madison Square Garden
WHEN: Tuesday, Nov. 12, 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Penguins-Rangers stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

PENGUINS
Alex GalchenyukJared McCannJake Guentzel
Dominik SimonEvgeni MalkinBryan Rust
Dominik KahunNick BjugstadSam Lafferty
Zach Aston-ReeseTeddy BluegerBrandon Tanev

Brian DumoulinJohn Marino
Marcus PetterssonJustin Schultz
Jack JohnsonJuuso Riikola

Starting goalie: Matt Murray

RANGERS
Artemi PanarinRyan StromeJesper Fast
Chris Kreider – Filip Chytil – Pavel Buchnevich
Brendan LemieuxBrett HowdenKaapo Kakko
Greg McKeggLias AnderssonBrendan Smith

Libor HajekJacob Trouba
Brady SkjeiTony DeAngelo
Ryan Lindgren – Adam Fox

Starting goalie: Alexandar Georgiev

MORE: Crosby out vs. Rangers, injury still being evaluated

Brendan Burke and Joe Micheletti will call the Penguins-Rangers showdown from Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y. Paul Burmeister will anchor studio coverage with analysts Keith Jones and Patrick Sharp.

Stars coach apologizes to Seguin, Benn for post-game comments

Getty
3 Comments

After the Dallas Stars were on the losing end of a 3-2 overtime decision against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday, coach Jim Montgomery expressed some frustration with the current lack of production of his top players, and even though he never mentioned Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn by name it was pretty obvious which players he was talking about.

It was the second year in a row (around the same point in the season) the Stars’ top-two forwards were the focal points of internal criticism, facing even more scathing criticism from team CEO Jim Lites this past December.

On Tuesday, Montgomery said he apologized to the team and the individual players for what he described as an emotional mistake, while also adding, “We win as a team and we lose as a team.”

That comes via Mike Heika of the Stars’ website.

Following the game on Sunday Montgomery said he was “disappointed” in the production of the team’s top players, and was dismissive when asked if he had seen any signs of progress.

He later added, “They’ve got to decide that they want to be a difference maker.”

Seguin and Benn did not seem bothered by the criticism and acknowledged on Tuesday that they need to produce more. They have combined for just four goals so far this season, though Seguin is still producing some assists and is tied for the team lead in scoring.

Even so, it is always noteworthy when a coach singles out individual players following a loss, especially when it is the team’s best players. Even with the lack of goal-scoring from the Stars’ big-two, they have still won seven of their past nine games and collected 15 out of a possible 18 points in those games to start building some momentum following a disappointing start. A lot of the improvement has been due to their goaltending and some depth players stepping up and producing.

Related: Seguin, Benn facing more internal criticism

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.