November 28, 2011

Milan Lucic: The Big Bad Bruin!

Milan Lucic might not be the flashiest player on the ice, he will never lead the league in scoring, and he will never challenge for any of the major awards in the NHL. However, that does not change the fact that he can completely take over a game as good as anybody, and that he is one of the most dominant players in the NHL in his own right. That statement will be a very tough pill to swallow for many NHL fans, as Lucic is far from one of the most popular players in the league. In fact, he is probably one of the most hated. The reason for that is simple, he is a player that any team would love to have, but hate to play against because of how dominant he could be.

If you aren’t sold on him yet, and don’t want to take my word for it then let’s look at the stats. Last year Milan Lucic was the leading goal scorer on the Bruins netting 30 goals on the season, and was tied for the team lead with 62 points as well. Leading a team might not be all that impressive as some teams aren’t that great, however, he happened to be the leading scorer of the Stanley Cup Champions! What makes his 30 goals even more impressive is the fact that 25 out of his 30 goals came at even strength, while only 5 came on the powerplay, showing his ability to dominate the game while 5 on 5. More importantly 7 of his 30 goals happened to be game winning goals, showing his ability to score at the right times. With his 8 goals and 16 points thus far this season, he is on pace to match last season’s goal and point totals, so consistency isn’t a problem.

As impressive as Lucic’s goal scoring and point production isn’t what makes him one of the most dominant players in the league, what does that is the physical aspect he brings to the game. Last season, he had 121 PIM’s ranking him 30th in the league in that category. However, only 1 player on the list above him in penalty minutes had more than 15 goals (S. Hartnell). Most of the league’s top “pests” aren’t able to produce at that high of a level offensively. Of those PIM’s Lucic served, not many of them were dumb penalties, in fact many of them happened to be fighting majors or misconducts. These might sound like bad penalties, but almost every single time Lucic is involved in a fight or an altercation, it translates into a gigantic momentum shift in the Bruins favor. We all remember when he fought Mike Komisarek and essentially ended his run of dominance on Montreal’s blueline, or his countless other fights that have been on the highlight reels. But even in a moment like the “collision” with Ryan Miller a few weeks ago, which result in opponents coming after him, he still finds a way to turn it into the Bruins favor. Gaustad attempted to drop the gloves with Lucic to teach him a lesson, but what ended up happening was him getting a beatdown himself. That’s the kind of player Lucic is, he does what he wants, and doesn’t really care if the opponents like it or not, because he knows that he is tough enough to take on their biggest and toughest. Milan Lucic has had 38 career NHL fights in the regular season and playoffs, and according to fan voting on his record in those fights is 26-8-4. That means he has convincingly won almost 70% of his fights. If you watch hockey then you know, that the more convincingly you win a fight the more momentum your team is given. Lucic manages to change the momentum of a game not only by dropping the gloves, but also by laying the body on people. One of the most important aspects of his game is his hitting. Lucic ranked 50th in the league last year in hits with 167. Now although that number might not seem all impressive, it isn’t the number of hits he has that stands out, it is the power of each and every one that matters. Lucic uses all of his 6’4, 223 pound frame when he lays his body into an opponent, and when he does they go to the bench feeling it every time, trust me…just ask Mike Van Ryn about the time he put him through the glass.

The bottom line is every time Lucic laces up his skates and goes out onto the ice, he makes the Bruins a better team. It’s not a coincidence that he has found success at every level of his career. There is a reason that he won the Memorial Cup in 2007, and won the tournament MVP. There is a reason that he was named Captain of the Team Canada Juniors in the Super Series. There’s a reason he made the Bruins at the age of 19 despite being a 2nd round pick, and there is a reason why he has won a Stanley Cup as well. The reason is simple, Lucic does all of the things that you can’t teach or practice. He has that x-factor, and it comes naturally to him, he has done it at every single level and is showing no signs of slowing down. Milan Lucic might not be the most talented NHL player, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is one of the most dominant. Every time he drops the gloves, crashes the net, hits someone, or even gets under the skin of an opponent… his teammates and the Bruins fans in attendance rally around him and are given an instant boost of energy. Lucic might not show up on any awards, or at the top of the stat sheet every single night, like most other superstars, but every single opponent that the Bruins face take notice of him you could count on that.You could hate him all you want or call him a Gutless piece of **** like Ryan Miller did, but as the Sabres learnt it’s not that easy to teach Lucic a lesson. As long as the Bruins continue to win with that style of play or until somebody is able to physically stop them, Lucic and the Bruins will continue to play the physical in your face brand of hockey that they have become famous for. So like him or not, Milan Lucic is a name we should all get used to, because neither him nor the Bruins are slowing down any time soon!

Grant Robinson
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