Milan Lucic's season was a disppointment to himself and to the Bruins. The rugged forward finished with just seven goals and 13 assists, and as the season wound down openly acknowledged that he needs to be better.
Lucic accepted coach Claude Julien making him a healthy scratch on April 20 against the Penguins and since then has started to put his words into action, finishing the season with two fights, a goal and two assists in his last four games. His trademark snarl seems to be coming back, leaving general manager Peter Chiarelli optimistic that Lucic -- who can be one of the most intimidating players in the NHL when he’s at his best -- is rounding into form at the right time.
“I feel really good about that. His last two games have been very, very good,” Chiarelli said in a conference call with the media. “[Lucic is] moving his feet, strong on the puck, good shooting, physical. He’s really picked up his game, and that’s the type of game we need to have success in the playoffs.”
While Chiarelli wasn’t making excuses for the player he signed last summer to a three-year extension that will pay Lucic $6 million per season, he did acknowledge that any time a player gets a hefty raise, it can weigh on him as expectations increase.
“Generally, I would say when someone signs a big extension there is pressure, whether they admit it or not,” Chiarelli said. “It puts you in a different stratosphere. And you know what, you can say that about all these guys that got extensions. [Brad] Marchand and [Tyler] Seguin got extensions and both have had levels of performance that have been good at times, and like the rest of the team, just OK at times. There is pressure when you sign those extensions, and Milan is no different than the rest of them.”