Ornery Lucic at his best, and worst, against Canadiens

 

 
 
 
 
Boston Bruins Milan Lucic yells at a referee after coming out of the penalty box following a penalty during  third period of National Hockey League game against the Canadiens in Montreal Thursday October 16, 2014.  Lucic was given a ten minute misconduct for his actions.
 
 

Boston Bruins Milan Lucic yells at a referee after coming out of the penalty box following a penalty during third period of National Hockey League game against the Canadiens in Montreal Thursday October 16, 2014. Lucic was given a ten minute misconduct for his actions.

Photograph by: John Mahoney, Montreal Gazette

More on This Story

 

If you stand in front of a mirror and say the words “Milan Lucic” three times, he’ll appear out of nowhere and spear you in the groin.

I swear it happened to my cousin Walt’s friend and he never lies, ever.

Kidding aside, Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic is the purest incarnation of evil to Canadiens fans. You couldn’t craft a more perfect villain for Habs faithful to focus their collective hatred on. He is massive and fleet of foot, he plays an ultraviolent brand of hockey, he can break men with his fists and, above all, Lucic is a Boston Bruin.

Before Thursday’s home opener at the Bell Centre, which saw the Habs pick up a 6-4 win, the last interaction between Lucic and the Canadiens was a particularly nasty one. After his team lost the deciding game of the Eastern Conference semi-final, Lucic threatened death upon Dale Weise and Canadiens defenceman Alexei Emelin during the post-series handshake.

Hostilities resumed almost immediately on Thursday, when Emelin thrust his shoulder into Lucic’s chest as he streaked into the Canadiens’ zone. The hit sent Lucic off his skates and into the ice on his rear end.

Surviving a hit at that speed — from a man who makes millions to deliver bodychecks — must be like walking away from a car wreck. You get the feeling it would make an ordinary man weep, vomit and hyperventilate into a paper bag, stopping only to cry out for his mother.

A quick sidenote about the relationship between Lucic and Emelin: it’s turbulent. Emelin has hit the Boston forward with a few questionable hip checks over the years and who could forget the time (or times) Lucic used his hockey stick to harpoon Emelin’s testicles? What fun!

Back to Thursday’s hit. Instead of deterring him, it seemed to awaken some sort of insanity in Lucic.

Immediately after being crushed by Emelin, he got up and took a run at Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau. The attempted bodycheck missed by a foot or so.

While Lucic regained his footing, the Canadiens created a scoring chance at the other end of the rink.

Later in the period, during a Bruins power play, Lucic showed off the other, far less violent, facet of his game.

After nearly deflecting a slapshot past Carey Price, Lucic controlled the puck on the far right side of the rink, passed it to an open David Kreijci, who scored on a hard point shot.

It was Lucic’s first point of the season.

The menacing forward picked up a second assist in the third period on a play that put his team within one goal of the Habs. It was a nice little piece of hockey. Lucic sneaked between Emelin and Subban, caught a pass and put a hard wrist shot on Price. The puck trickled between Price’s pads and Bruins winger Simon Gagné deflected it past the goalie.

Moments later, however, Lucic’s eagerness for blood appeared to get the better of him. In trying to smash Emelin, he hit the Canadiens’ defenceman from behind and into the glass on what was a clearcut case of boarding.

The ensuing penalty came with less than two minutes remaining and effectively killed the Bruins’ chance at a comeback.

It would be unfair to fault Lucic for his team’s loss. After all, he was the one who brought the Bruins within striking distance late in the third.

But the physical aspect of his game — the net-side scrums, the taunting, the hits — seem to be missing from his game. Lucic is at his best, the rivalry between the Habs and Bruins is at its best, when he plays mean, punishing hockey.

Save for the two very nice scoring plays and a few blocked shots, Lucic was just another player out there. He wasn’t the anchor of the unholy Chara, Marchand, Lucic trinity that fans boo whenever he comes near the puck.

It is only after the boarding penalty that we see traces of vintage Lucic. As he steps into the penalty box, Lucic raises his arms at the crowd, smiling and probably letting loose a few cuss words.

Later, as he exits the box, Lucic makes a crude gesture at the referees, he shoves Canadiens defenceman Andrei Markov and berates anyone not wearing a white and gold sweater.

For this miniature tirade, Lucic is sent to the dressing room early.

We tend to believe there is nothing redeeming about Lucic, that he is a bastard for the sake of being a bastard. I don’t necessarily see it that way.

To play the brand of hockey that makes Boston such a menace, it takes a certain degree of meanness.

Lucic plays bruising hockey because it’s what his team and Boston’s legions of bloodthirsty fans expect of him. It’s at the very core of his identity as a hockey player and if — as seemed to be the case in Montreal Thursday — he can’t tap into the dark recesses of his soul at will, then he’s just another 25-goal scorer.

Perhaps the reason so many Montrealers loathe Lucic is that he seems to enjoy the violence. Why should we begrudge a man who takes pleasure in his work?

ccurtis@montrealgazette.com

Twitter: titocurtis

 
 
 
Font:
 
 
 
 
Boston Bruins Milan Lucic yells at a referee after coming out of the penalty box following a penalty during  third period of National Hockey League game against the Canadiens in Montreal Thursday October 16, 2014.  Lucic was given a ten minute misconduct for his actions.
 

Boston Bruins Milan Lucic yells at a referee after coming out of the penalty box following a penalty during third period of National Hockey League game against the Canadiens in Montreal Thursday October 16, 2014. Lucic was given a ten minute misconduct for his actions.

Photograph by: John Mahoney, Montreal Gazette

 
Boston Bruins Milan Lucic yells at a referee after coming out of the penalty box following a penalty during  third period of National Hockey League game against the Canadiens in Montreal Thursday October 16, 2014.  Lucic was given a ten minute misconduct for his actions.
The Montreal Canadiens' Brendan Gallagher celebrates his game-winning goal against the Boston Bruins during the third period of the Habs' home opener Thursday at Bell Centre.
The Montreal Canadiens' Brendan Gallagher, left, is congratulated by teammates following a goal past Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask during third period of hockey action at Bell Centre on Thursday. The Canadiens beat the Bruins 6-4.
The Boston Bruins' Milan Lucic reacts as he is escorted off the ice by linesman Michel Cormier after receiving a minor penalty in the final seconds of their game against the Montreal Canadiens Thursday. The Canadiens beat the Bruins 6-4.
Boston Bruins Milan Lucic yells at a referee after coming out of the penalty box following a penalty during third period of the Habs-Bruins game. Lucic was given a 10-minute misconduct penalty for his actions.
Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price makes a save as Boston Bruins Zdeno Chara looks for a rebound during the Habs’ home opener Thursday at Bell Centre. The Habs’ Andrei Markov is at the bottom of the frame.
The Montreal Canadiens' David Desharnais has the puck knocked off his stick by Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara, 33, in front of goalie Tuuka Rask Thursday at Bell Centre.
The Montreal Canadiens' Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, centre, celebrates his second-period goal against the Boston Bruins with team-mates Alexei Emelin, left, Alex Galchenyuk, right, and P.K. Subban during the Habs' home opener Thursday in Montreal.
Montreal Canadiens Andrei Markov blocks a shot in front of goalie Carey Price as Boston Bruins Zdeno Chara, 33, and Torey Krug try to dig it out during the Habs’ home opener on Thursday.
The Montreal Canadiens’ Tom Gilbert, left, clears Boston Bruin Carl Soderberg from in front of goalie Carey Price during the Habs’ home opener at Bell Centre on Thursday.
Montreal Canadiens Brendan Gallagher, left, David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty celebrate Pacioretty’s first-period goal against the Boston Bruins during the Habs’ home opener Thursday at Bell Centre.
The puck slides to the Montreal Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty from a rebound on David Desharnais’ shot in front of Boston Bruins goalie Tuuka Rask. Pacioretty put the puck in the net for a goal. Bruins defencemen Zdeno Chara and Adam McQuaid found themselves out of position.
The Montreal Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty scores a goal against Boston Bruins goalie Tuuka Rask with help from team mate David Desharnais. Bruins defencemen Zdeno Chara and Adam McQuaid found themselves out of position.
Sisters Darlene Steves, left, and Suzanne Pearson are at odds outside Bell Centre prior to the Habs’ home opener in Montreal on Thursday. Pearson now lives in Saskatchewan.
Montreal Canadiens fan Susie Sorrelle, who is from Montreal but currently living in Dallas, gets in the face of Boston Bruins fan Phil Anderson outside Bell Centre prior to the Habs’ home opener in Montreal on Thursday. The two had not met previously.
Former Montreal Canadiens goaltender Ken Dryden passes the torch to current Hab Carey Price during a ceremony prior to the home opener against the Boston Bruins in Montreal on Thursday.
Former Montreal Canadiens goaltender Ken Dryden raises the torch during a ceremony prior to the home opener against the Boston Bruins in Montreal on Thursday.
Former Montreal Canadiens goaltender Ken Dryden raises the torch during a ceremony prior to the home opener against the Boston Bruins in Montreal on Thursday.
Montreal Canadiens legend Guy Lafleur greets Habs fans Michael Palmer and his son Logan outside Bell Centre prior to the start of the Habs’ home opener in Montreal Thursday. The Palmers are from Toronto.
 
 
 
 
 
 
We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, and please keep your comments relevant and respectful. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report spam or abuse. We are using Facebook commenting. Visit our FAQ page for more information.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Your voice