There was a time last year, if you can believe it, when it seemed like Milan Lucic was never going to be the same. The rookie sensation who had captured the hearts of Bruins fans was a long forgotten memory. Having been injured, he had lost his familiar hard hitting game. The fights were gone. The timidity was up. And the scoring had vanished.
Today? Well, he's still not quite the same. His outlandish fight total from that rookie year is but a footnote now. That doesn't matter, though, when you look at the stat line: 26-16-42, +18
Lucic, in some respects, is getting lost in the hype over Kaberle, the emergence of Marchand, the dominance of Thomas, and the struggles of Horton. While all this is going on around him, he's been, as quietly as he can, putting up impressive numbers and turning into the true power forward that everyone hoped he would be. He's 14th in goals in the NHL, a position above Iginla, Morrow, Richards, Ovechkin, and Kessel, among others. The grit is still there, too - his 83 PIM are higher than anyone above him save for Corey Perry. And, he's 3rd in the NHL in shooting percentage.
Perhaps more importantly, Lucic has quieted the complaints that surfaced when he was in his slump. He's trying too hard to be fancy. Finesse is not his game, physicality is. Hit more! Fight more! All of which, of course, ignores the fact that he is actually rather talented, and may actually be the most underrated player on the Bruins. We hear a lot about Krejci's hands, Seguin's speed, Bergeron's persistance...but nothing about Lucic's skills beyond being a banger. It's time that changes.
No one should be making comparisons to that 8 guy yet; it's far too early and a lot can happen over a career. But, it is still time to give Lucic the due he deserves as the player he was projected to be. He could be a big reason the Bruins keep playing hockey into this June.