Finals have extra meaning for Lucic, Recchi

BOSTON -- When Milan Lucic was asked how many times while growing up he envisioned himself entering Rogers Arena in a Vancouver Canucks jersey, he had to pause for a moment.

“More than once, more than once,” Lucic said with a laugh. “Leading up to this moment in my hockey career, a lot of good things have happened in Vancouver.”

He then rattled off all the accomplishments: winning the WHL with the Vancouver Giants in 2006; getting drafted in Vancouver in '06; winning the Memorial Cup in Vancouver in '07, forever immortalized by one famous shift known simply as, well, "The Shift."

And then he began stumbling over his words, trying to find the right rhythm for this homecoming feeling.

Forgive the Bruins forward, usually clean and vanilla with his sound bites, for stammering a bit. He is, after all, a native son, born in East Vancouver and growing up in the era of Pavel Bure, Trevor Linden, Geoff Courtnall and the like. And on Wednesday, he’ll be returning to the arena where his picture hangs next to Bruce Springsteen's.

“I mean, I don’t know what else to say,” Lucic said, finally. “It’s an exciting feeling no matter who you’re playing with. It’s special.”

Veteran Mark Recchi has hinted at hanging it up after this season at age 43. So it’s fitting, perhaps, that in what might be his last go-around, he ends it near his hometown of Kamloops, British Columbia, where he first learned the sport from watching the Canucks.

“I grew up a Vancouver Canuck fan, so obviously … Stan Smyl, Gary Lupul, [Patrik] Sundstrom, there was a number of guys I grew up really enjoying watching,” Recchi said. “Richard 'King' Brodeur, you know, it’s pretty neat. All my family’s out there, they’re from Kamloops. So, I’m excited to go out there and play a Stanley Cup finals against the Canucks.”

The Canucks are expected to be the favorite headed into the series, which starts Wednesday in Vancouver. It goes without saying how much the Bruins' work will be cut out for them -- not only in defending a handful of the league’s elite scorers in Ryan Kesler, Henrik Sedin and his Hart Trophy finalist brother Daniel, but also Roberto Luongo, a Vezina finalist like Tim Thomas and an imposing stop at 6-foot-3.

For what it’s worth, it doesn’t appear the Bruins will be seeing Tampa Bay’s suffocating trapping style in the neutral zone. Recchi compared the Canucks' style to the Bruins' own style of play and brought up Boston's 3-1 win over Vancouver in February, with the game-winner scored by – who else? – Lucic.

“We had a really good game against them this year, heck of a game against them this year,” Recchi said. “Obviously, watching them through the playoffs, they’re a deep team, they’re a good team, they play very similar to the way we do. Both teams are big, both teams can skate, both teams are very structured, and both have great goaltending. So I think it’s gonna be a heck of a series.”