Bruins-Habs: Key Men in Lucic and Pacioretty
Tomorrow night, the NHL’s most intense, history-rich rivalry will take place at the TD Garden, where the Boston Bruins encounter their ultimate nemisis, the Montreal Canadiens. And not only does the rivalry competitiveness set this game a part. This Eastern Conference semifinals’ matchup really features two teams with two different philosophies.
The Bruins display a more rough-and-tumble type of play, muscling for pucks along the boards and ferociously crashing the net in hopes of scoring. At the same time, discipline and versatility is key for Boston.
A great example of this so-called versatility can be noticed in forward Milan Lucic.
Milan Lucic led the B’s with 240 hits, tied for 12th in the league, at the end of the 2013-14 NHL regular season. The epitome of the Bruins, though, revolves around maintaining such players who, although labeled “bruisers,” can produce on the offensive end, too.
“[The Bruins] can beat you in a few different ways,” said Bruins play-by-play announcer Dave Goucher. “They can wear you down, they usually do. They also have guys who can beat you with your speed as well.”
Lucic has three goals in the playoffs thus far, and was fourth on the Bruins in total points (59) and goals (24) during the 82-game season. Known largely for his physical presence, some teams may look the other way when it comes to his goal-scoring ability.
Jarome Iginla, though, sees Lucic as a complete forward, especially in recent contests.
“He’s a very big guy and he’s strong and we all know that, but he has great hands and has good vision and he’s a quick player, too,” Iginla said. “So he’s a lot to contain. He turned it up. It was fun to watch and play alongside of him, and the last couple of games he took it to a new level.”
The Canadiens don’t necessarily have this sort of duality on the ice. Their intentions lie towards speed on the wings and moving up ice. Even so, the Habs can still punch their adversaries in the mouth.
Max Pacioretty is the epitome of the Candadiens’ style. Put him in front of the net, and he will overpower many at 6’2”, 219 lbs. However, the core of his game doesn’t veer from finesse. Pacioretty relies on his speed, excellent wrist shot and above-average hands to wreak havoc on opposing defenses.
And after returning from a injury-prone year in 2012-13, Pacioretty became a major offensive asset to the Habs this season, ending up one score shy of a 40-goal season. He also topped Montreal in overall points (60) in 73 appearances. In 2012, he started only 44 competitions, but showed promise of dominance if he could stay healthy.
“People keep talking about 40, but I’m just worried about winning games,” Pacioretty said in the beginning of April, remaining keen on his success. “I contribute to this team most by scoring. If 40 happens, it happens. If not, we’re in a good position right now. We’re in a good spot in the standings and we feel good about ourselves.”
In the postseason, the 25-year-old has notched a goal and an assist, as the Canadiens swept the Tampa Bay Lightning in four games. While one may think that these numbers don’t accurately reflect Pacioretty’s deftness, you cannot rule out an explosion of offensive action from him.
On the other end, Lucic doesn’t appear poised to slow down his great run of hockey.
A great Bruins-Habs matchup, particularly with these two men on the rink, should give viewers quite the entertaining battle.