The Calgary Flames head coach Geoff Ward has confidence in Milan Lucic for this season’s postseason. And, he should know. Of Lucic’s 114 games of postseason playoff experience, almost 100 of them (Lucic estimates 96 or 97 in total) have been together with the Boston Bruins.
Ward spent seven years as an assistant coach with the Boston Bruins, which overlapped with Lucic’s eight-year term with Boston. Together – Lucic as a player and Ward as a coach – they won the Stanley Cup in 2011.
For Lucic, There Once Was a Day
In fact, for Lucic, that must seem like a long time ago. Few remember now the exquisite power forward Lucic once was. Specifically, 2010-11 was perhaps his best season. In 79 games, he scored 30 goals and 32 assists (for 62 points) and had a plus-minus of +28. In 25 playoff games that season, he scored five goals and seven assists for 12 points. He was a force.
In short, 2010-11 was a good season for both men. Now they have a chance to do it again. However, the situation is quite different. Ward is now the head coach, and Lucic remains a player. However, he’s a shell of his former self – not nearly the go-to guy he once was.
Still, both Lucic as a player and Ward as a coach expect some things not to change. That is, experience counts. And Lucic has almost one-third of the Flames total career playoff experience.
The Flames Are Ready to Avenge Last Season’s Early Exit
Last season, the Flames only got a sniff of the playoffs. They went quietly in five games to the Colorado Avalanche. But Lucic wasn’t part of that team.
Now that he’s with the team, is there a chance this season that the team can lean on his playoff experience? It counts for something. And, during this crazy season with its crazy playoff schedule during the heat of summer, is it too crazy to believe Lucic has one more great postseason in him?
Ward seems anxious to be going into battle with his aging warrior. He noted, “(Lucic) now has the experience that a guy like Mark Recchi gave our team in Boston when he came there. We expect him to bring that same experience to our room right now.” (from “Flames set to lean on playoff veteran Lucic, who ‘relishes this time of the year,” Kristen Anderson, Calgary Sun, 23/07/20).
Ward added, “But, at the same time, we just want him to play his game. There’s no added pressure in terms of what we need him to do on the ice. It’s just, show up, do everything with a lot of intensity, and play your game … he’s definitely a guy that gives our room some real veteran playoff experience.”
Might This Be the Perfect Storm?
Neither Ward (not as a head coach anyway) nor Lucic was around for last season’s defeat to the Avalanche. But, those Flames who were there have to remember and be motivated to bounce back from that embarrassingly quick exit.
Lucic didn’t hesitate to bring up that defeat, “First and foremost, the mindset of the group is in the right spot just because of the bitterness of last year’s playoffs. So, I think the hunger is definitely there.” Lucic notes that the team came to camp in “good shape” and “with a purpose.”
Lucic also seems to be speaking about himself when he notes that the team will have to lean on its depth if it wants to push deep into the postseason. He’s now what is “officially” called depth.
Is It Too Crazy to Imagine?
How this will all end up, who knows? But is it too crazy to think that Lucic might have one last push in his body and spirit to help his team move towards a Stanley Cup? And, he’s done it with his old side-kick Ward.
Aren’t there movies like this?
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