Milan Lucic: The Reason the Boston Bruins Will Win the East

Jeremy GrittenContributor IMarch 8, 2011

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 03:  Milan Lucic #17 of the Boston Bruins is congratulated by teammates on the bench after he scored the game winning goal in the third period against the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 3, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Bruins defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The Boston Bruins are emerging as a favourite in the NHL's Eastern Conference and are now only two points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for top spot in the East.  

One of the main reasons for the Bruins' stellar year can be attributed to leading goal-scorer Milan Lucic.

The heavy-hitting forward has experienced a bounce back year after injuries and inconsistency held him to just nine goals last year. At this point, he’s got 28 and is looking to build on that during the last month of the season.

If the Bruins are to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals this spring, they will rely heavily on the 22 year old Vancouver native.

Lucic can change a game with a goal, big hit or fight. 

Back in juniors, he led the Vancouver Giants to the 2007 Memorial Cup. The Giants had lost the WHL championship to the Medicine Hat Tigers in a series that came down to double overtime in Game 7. 

As the host, the Giants still qualified and were looking to exact revenge.

The finals came down to the two WHL teams, Medicine Hat and Vancouver. What transpired in the opening minutes of that hockey game would come to be known by Giants fans as just "the shift."

Lucic sent three Tigers flying in quick succession with heavy hits before dropping the mitts with Tigers defenseman Jordan Bendfeld. 

Not only did the shift blow the top off the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, it ignited the Giants as they went on to win 3-1. 

Lucic tallied an assist on the cup-winning goal and was named tournament MVP.

Lucic has also proven that he can step up when it counts at the NHL level, putting up 18 points in 23 games over the Bruins' last two playoff runs. His style is perfectly suited for playoff hockey.

Down 2-1 against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 in 2009, the Bruins relied on Lucic to pot the game-tying goal, sending it to overtime.

At every level in his career, Lucic has stepped up when his team needs it most.

Rough, tough and with great hands, he is the kind of player who can battle through and find goals in tight games, as well as single-handedly wear teams down with his physicality in a best-of-seven series.

The Bruins are an extraordinarily deep squad and have added key pieces at the trade deadline. They have one of the best goaltending tandems in the league and a strong blue line with perennial Norris candidate Zdeno Chara.  

They are becoming a popular pick to represent the East in the Stanley Cup Finals and if they do, look for No. 17 to be the reason.