BUFFALO - Milan Lucic, fresh from a one-game refresher course high above Causeway Street (ninth-floor press box), returned to the Bruins' lineup last night against the Sabres.
"It gave me a chance to sit and watch the game," said the hard-nosed rookie winger, whose respite came Sunday night when the high-flying Ottawa Senators were in Boston. "I had a talk with [coach Claude Julien], and a lot of it was about trying to do a better job in the defensive zone . . . you know, what to be aware of with the other team's wingers, always be aware of the point man. I think it helped. I thought I learned a few things."
Lucic, 19, is truly a raw rookie by NHL standards, earning a living in the Original 30 at a time when most bright-eyed wonders his age are in college or junior hockey. Lucic was supposed to wear the captain's "C" this season in Vancouver had he returned to the Giants, but that changed when he came out banging from the start of Boston's training camp.
Typical of most rookies, however, Lucic most nights has not been able to get his name on the scoresheet, partly because his game is a work in progress and his ice time limited. In fact, in his 12 games leading up to Sunday's remedial assignment, he could only boast his 1-1 -2 night in Los Angeles Oct. 12. Otherwise, he was 0-0 -0 in the 11 other games, and Julien trimmed his ice time to a meager 4:49 last Saturday in Ottawa. Last night, Lucic logged 7:45, with two shots on goal.
In hindsight, said Lucic, fatigue might have crept into his game, too. He had a busy summer, which included a week in Boston's development camp in July, followed by an extended Canada-Russia tournament, a prelude to his reporting to Wilmington, Mass., for training camp.
"Yeah, we talked about it maybe being a good thing to get a rest," he said. "You know, recharge the batteries a bit."
Will it be Rask?Tuukka Rask, called up Monday from Providence, could make his NHL debut tonight when the Canadiens come to Causeway Street. He also could find himself sitting at the end of the bench as Tim Thomas's backup.
Such is the tightlipped approach of Julien, among the ever-growing number of NHL coaches who believe any information is way too much information. Julien said prior to the start of the season that he rarely, if ever, would make public his choice of goaltender on a given night, and for the two days leading up to last night's faceoff, he maintained his near silence on the issue.
However, general manager Peter Chiarelli said Tuesday there had been discussions about Rask, 20, getting a start soon, and that a logical spot to use him would be one of the back-to-back games.
Meanwhile, the Canadiens, ranked fourth in the Eastern Conference as of yesterday morning, plan to use their 20-year-old rookie, Carey Price, against the Bruins. For the past couple of years, Rask and Price have been considered perhaps the two best goaltending prospects in the world, which would add some drama tonight if the 6-foot-3-inch phenoms were to square off at the Garden.
Rask was 6-1 with a 2.00 goals-against mark in seven starts with Providence. Price, who shares the Habs job with Cristobal Huet, is 2-1-1 with a 2.65 GAA and .906 save percentage.
Bergeron to appearPatrice Bergeron, his season placed in suspended animation when he sustained a Grade 3 concussion Oct. 27, today will speak publicly for the first time since being KO'd by Flyers defenseman Randy Jones.
Bergeron, still experiencing pain and dizziness, will meet with the French- and English-speaking media in the Garden press room at 2 p.m., some 5 1/2 hours prior to the Bruins-Canadiens faceoff.
Chiarelli said Monday Bergeron had not yet had his broken nose reset, because the club's medical staff first wanted his other injuries and symptoms to stabilize.
According to a member of the club's public relations staff, Bergeron will limit his media availability to 10 minutes, ostensibly because of his post-concussion symptoms.