Boston Bruins' Milan Lucic: Tough To Play Against and Tougher To Stop

Mickey McGuireCorrespondent INovember 19, 2010

BOSTON - NOVEMBER 18:  Milan Lucic #17 of the Boston Bruins is congratulated by teammates on the bench after he scored his second goal of the game against the Florida Panther on November 18, 2010 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeated the Panthers 4-0.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Milan Lucic is currently the leading scorer for the Boston Bruins. That's right. Milan Lucic. The player who has become a cult hero in Boston and has, in the past, been compared to Bruins Hall of Famer Cam Neely for his rugged play and strong puck play.

Despite the comparisons to Neely, many of those expectations have come down to earth, and the fans are finally letting Milan Lucic be Milan Lucic.

Looch has been lighting up the lamp, and is coming off his second career hat trick last night against the Florida Panthers. He now is the black and gold's leading goal scorer with ten goals, and it doesn't look like he's going to stop either. As Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley, the voices of NESN, have stated on numerous occasions: Lucic is skating as good as Bruins fans have ever seen right now.

In their first seventeen games, Lucic has tallied a point in fifteen of those games. He is second on the team as far as points are concerned with seventeen, only trailing line-mate Nathan Horton. The big fella has certainly been a big reason for Horton's early success in Boston. He's very good with the puck, finding the passing lanes and creating space with his play away from the puck.

His effort on the forecheck can't go without mentioning either. How many times have scoring chances been created because of Lucic's forecheck pressure?

Currently at a point per game, Lucic is starting to live up to the expectations placed on him by the fans and the front office with the three-year, $12.25 million contract extension that he was given last fall.

As many die-hard Bruins fans can attest, when Milan Lucic is playing at his best, this team is playing at their best. For the past two playoff runs, Lucic has been the biggest difference in wins and losses. His ability to hit and play tough is contagious, and his teammates look to him when they need somebody to make a big play.

With the loss of David Krejci, a lot of fans were concerned about the offense taking a hit. Sure, that may happen, but if Lucic keeps playing like he does, he could have Jack Edwards centering his line, and he would still be tough to stop.

Lucic's development is going to be critical if this team wants to compete for a Stanley Cup right now. He's no longer a third line player that can drop the mitts, score an occasional goal and get an occasional assist. He's going to be depended on as a first line player that will be able to rack up a lot of points, and make big plays when the team needs them.

In essence, this year is going to be critical to the way this team performs now, and in the future. He's going to need to make the jump from budding star to star. He's healthy now, unlike last year, and he has a big set of shoulders, so he should be able to carry the load.

This guy has future captain written all over him, and he's finally showing everybody why.