By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider
That’s a gargantuan step up for a big lug of a forward that had previously popped in a career high of 17 goals, and was coming off an injury plagued season of finger and foot problems.
But will this be a case of “Be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it”?
Because, after all, everyone will expect Lucic to at least match the 30 goals, 60 points and plus-28 he posted last year.
Lucic knows that the expectations are there for him to match it moving forward. No matter what he does offensively over the rest of his NHL career, Lucic will always be looked at as a “potential 30-goal scorer” and expected to be a key offensive contributor for the Bruins. It’s something he’s acknowledged heading into the new season, but it’s also a thought that could get him into trouble if he dwells on it a little too much.
“I’ll tell you one thing: it was hard to get to that level last year, but I think it’s going to be even harder to match it again this season,” said Lucic. “Clearly I set the bar for myself and it’s going to be a challenge to get back to that mark. But if you start thinking about scoring goals – and that’s all that you’re worried about – that’s when you start getting frustrated, forcing things and making uncharacteristic plays that you don’t usually make.
Lucic can get into trouble when he strays too far away from the punishing forechecking, immovable puck possession and high effort formula that he’s become renowned for around the NHL,
“I know I’ve got to remember those little things and those simple things like being strong up and down the walls that make me so successful,” said Lucic. “My focus is between the ears and getting my feet moving, and everything else usually tends to take care of itself.”
What will be fascinating is if the goal-scoring and 16:35 of ice time per game expected out of Lucic mean that his gloves will be fastened to his hands in a decidedly non-fighting fashion. Lucic has become valuable enough to the Bruins that it’s counter-productive to have him loitering in the penalty box or banged up from battling the Colton Orr-types of the NHL world, but a good hockey brawl also helps fire up the forward’s competitive embers when things get a little too quiet.
One thing is for certain: the career path and expectations of a player with such a unique combination of punishing brute strength and hockey skills won’t necessarily go in a straight line.
The effort and will are always going to be there for No. 17, and the results – along with some league accolades – should start to follow.
Joe Haggerty can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HackswithHaggs