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Milan Lucic turns again the clock in first sport with Bruins in 8 years


“It was plenty of enjoyable to listen to the ‘Loooooch’ chants in Boston once more.”

Milan Lucic and the Bruins opened the 2023-24 season with a 3-1 win over Chicago. AP Photograph/Charles Krupa

On an evening when the Boston Bruins paid tribute to the legends woven by way of a century of hockey, it ought to come as little shock that Milan Lucic additionally managed to defy Father Time.

For the primary time in over 3,000 days, Lucic skated again on the TD Backyard ice in a black-and-gold sweater.

And even throughout a ceremony the place franchise fixtures like Bobby Orr, Patrice Bergeron, Tim Thomas, and Ray Bourque arrived on Causeway Avenue, it’s a testomony to the status Lucic cultivated right here that he acquired one of many loudest ovations in Boston’s season opener.

“Simply being again right here on the TD Backyard and the circulate of issues and again on the house aspect with this crowd and all that, it was good to be again all and all … “It was plenty of enjoyable to listen to the “Loooooch” chants in Boston once more,” Lucic mentioned.

He might not be the identical top-six stalwart he was throughout his first stint in Boston, nor did he re-introduce himself to a packed Backyard crowd by means of some proper hooks.

But when Boston’s season-opening victory over the Blackhawks is any indication, it looks as if Lucic may need a bit extra left within the tank than many initially thought.

“I assumed Milan, he’s had a extremely good camp and he’s carrying it over,” Jim Montgomery mentioned after Boston’s 3-1 victory over Chicago. “He got here right here in great form. And never solely what you guys see on the ice, however the best way he’s speaking on the bench.

“He’s taken over an actual essential management function of speaking about the best way to construct our group sport, concerning the essential particulars. … It’s simply good reminders and it means extra to teammates when it comes from a participant.”

On a Bruins roster nonetheless present process some seismic modifications up entrance, the 35-year-old Lucic was oftentimes an immovable drive on Boston’s checking unit. He logged 13:39 of ice time on Wednesday, organising David Pastrnak’s first of two objectives by the use of a crisp backhand dish — his first level as a Bruin since March 31, 2015.

It was a sight drawn straight out of the 2014-15 marketing campaign, when Lucic first began to log reps alongside a fresh-faced rookie out of the Czech Republic.

“Having a man like that are available in, you see how a lot respect he has immediately within the league, not solely on this room,” Brandon Carlo mentioned of Lucic’s affect. “And it’s humorous to see at occasions when he’s on the ice with the puck, the seas simply half at occasions. … However off the ice, it’s been wonderful.

“His function can undoubtedly be just a little bit extra of getting on you at occasions in case your effort isn’t there, or one thing like that. And vice versa, we’re gonna respect the heck out of that if he’s telling you to try this.”

His days as a 30-goal menace on the netfront is perhaps a factor of the previous. However Lucic’s 6-foot-3, 236-pound body and his propensity to dole out punishment hasn’t withered over time.

Slotted subsequent to 2 children in Johnny Beecher and Jakub Lauko, Lucic and Boston’s fourth line routinely made life depressing for the Blackhawks.

“I can inform you — going again on pucks with that man coming down your again just isn’t enjoyable in any respect,” Carlo acknowledged. “So we’ll try to chip them in and let the opposite defenseman take care of it.”

Within the 5:43 of 5v5 ice time that the Lucic-Beecher-Lauko line logged in opposition to Chicago, the Bruins held a 9-2 edge in shot makes an attempt and a 2-0 benefit in high-danger scoring probabilities. Although Lucic isn’t precisely the kind of participant adept at successful footraces, two fleet-footed skaters in Lauko and Beecher recurrently put Chicago on its heels as the primary males on the puck.

And with Lucic capable of sluggish the tempo of play to the identical velocity as a Inexperienced Line trolley automotive whereas shielding the puck alongside the boards, that fourth line is usually a potent combine if given extra O-zone reps.

“It opens up the ice a lot,” Carlo defined of that line’s diversified skillset. “If we will get the puck as much as them, they’re gonna skate as quick as they’ll to get it over the pink line and type of create plenty of stuff within the offensive zone with the best way that they’re capable of cycle the puck, maintain on to it, in addition to use their velocity and get in on the forecheck and win some battles.

“That’s going to end in plenty of offensive-zone time, in addition to simply extra alternatives on the internet entrance as a result of they’re not going to be afraid or shy to get in entrance of the online and bang some pucks residence.”

Lucic’s play finally led to Montgomery bumping the ability ahead as much as the top-six unit for a strong stretch of Wednesday’s win, together with extra reps subsequent to Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha.

You is perhaps setting your self up for disappointment in the event you count on Lucic to rekindle his scoring contact and resemble the participant who potted David Krejci saucer feeds night time in and night time out.

However for one night time in October, Lucic appeared no totally different from the imposing drive who made Bruins followers cheer with each examine delivered in opposition to the Backyard glass.

“Clearly, it’s a particular time in your life,” Lucic mentioned of soaking in Wednesday’s centennial-season ceremonies. “So to have the ability to come again to a spot that’s so particular to me, it’s good to have emotion and present emotion.”