Slow going for Lucic
Winger trying to recover his speed
BUFFALO - He still has a taut, rubbery sleeve wrapped on his left ankle, Milan Lucic’s reminder of the awkward twist he took just before Thanksgiving, sending the hulking left winger to the sideline for more than a month.
“It’s getting there,’’ Lucic said before he scored the Bruins’ lone goal last night in a 2-1 loss to the Sabres. “Feeling better each day, I guess.’’
Lucic, now in his third NHL season, is among the many Bruins who are in need of a jolt in light of the club’s 1-8-1 freefall. Since his Jan. 7 return, Lucic has one goal and two assists in 10 games. Lucic took one shot and landed five hits, one short of Mark Stuart’s team-high half-dozen.
But obviously lacking in his game: the familiar strong skating, reasonable and intimidating foot speed that often had him battling for pucks around the net or leading a daunting forecheck that routinely left his prey stapled to the boards.
“I am definitely not where I want to be or should be,’’ said Lucic, the left wing on a line with center Marc Savard, just returning from the disabled list, and ex-Sabre Miroslav Satan. “I would expect a lot more from myself, and I’m hoping maybe Savvy gives me a boost.’’
Count Lucic among those who believe he must do a better job generating speed to carry out heavy hits and be a force around the net.
“I know I’m not moving my feet like I can, like I have, and I’ve got to get over that,’’ he said. “I have to move my feet like I used to. I mean, that’s how I’ve been successful before, outracing guys to puck and pounding the boards. I have to be harder on myself.’’
Lucic broke a finger earlier this season, requiring surgery. The combination of fractured finger and testy ankle has hindered his effectiveness. His game has needed time.
“Hey, not everybody can be like Cam,’’ said Lucic, noting iconic Boston winger Cam Neely, who typically came back from injury with his game in full growl.
“You know, come back and just flip the switch.’’
“I feel good enough to play,’’ said Savard, who has 23 points in 29 games after he assisted on Lucic’s goal. “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be back, because I would be hurting the team.’’
Savard was encouraged after his first game back.
“It felt pretty good,’’ he said. “A couple of shifts there I ran out of a little gas. But it held up pretty good. No pain at all after, and that’s a little surprising.’’
Savard was on the ice for 21 shifts and logged 18:26, almost two minutes of which came on the penalty-killing unit. None of his three shots made it to the net.
“Honestly, I don’t know,’’ said Sturm, asked when he figured he could return. “I feel like I could come back pretty soon. But it’s still sore, and that’s why I’m not playing.’’ Asked if he might play tonight against the Kings at the Garden, he said, “Probably not.’’
Steve Begin (injury undisclosed) also skated in the morning but was not in the lineup. He sounded a little more optimistic about playing tonight.