March 24, 2011

Lucic, B's expect jolt from home crowd with Habs in town

Bruins winger Milan Lucic battles for the puck Canadiens forward Mike Cammalleri. (Getty)

WILMINGTON -- With just one last chance to send a message to the Canadiens, the Bruins are hoping that the 17,565 fans that will pack TD Garden later on tonight will provide a big boost.

While playing in Montreal has always been a hellish experience for the Black and Gold, Boston has historically performed considerably better when in their own barn against the Habs.

"Well you definitely want to use it to your advantage," said winger Milan Lucic. "There's nothing better than feeding off your home crowd. There's nothing Boston likes to see more than us beating (the Canadiens).

"That's our main focus is to try to get that, and we've got to do whatever we can to feed off that crowd. There's going to be a lot of energy in the building and I'm sure it's going to be a lot of fun."

After imposing their physical prowess on the Canadiens in a raucous 8-6 victory at the Garden back on Feb. 9, the Bruins suffered a 4-1 setback the next time the two historic rivals clashed, a game in which that physical element was sorely lacking.

Lucic knows Boston's game must resemble the former much more than the latter if they're going to be victorious on Thursday night.

"I think, as a team, we're at our best when we're playing with that physical edge," he said. "That last game (in Montreal), we didn't have that right from the start and they took that two-goal lead. Then they made that two-goal lead into a four-goal lead. We weren't nearly as physical.

"I think we have to play a lot like we did (on Tuesday against the Devils), establish a forecheck and be physical. If we play with that edge, we give ourselves a good chance to win."

 For what seems like ages, quick, undersized teams like the Canadiens and the Sabres have given the Bruins fits. Lucic believes that a strong defensive effort will go a long way towards a win.

"Buffalo and Montreal have been tough opponents," he said. "They're both smaller teams. They're real quick and know how to use their speed. We just have to focus on our defensive play and not give them too many chances."

Should Boston fall on Thursday night, it will be their 10th loss to the Habs over the last 12 games, leaving them with just one win in each of the last two season series. With a potential playoff matchup looming, the Bruins know a win would be a huge boost of confidence.

"This year, it seems like Montreal has  kind of had their way with us and won four out of the five games," Lucic said. "We're going to do whatever we can to end this series the way we want to end it."

With plenty of buzz surrounding this matchup, thanks mostly to the never-ending Max Pacioretty saga, plenty of talk revolving around a revenge game for the Habs has been made.

However, Lucic knows -- with Montreal just three points behind Boston for first place in the Northeast Division -- that a win is paramount for both club.

"I think our focus right now is to get those two points and to create more of that separation between us and the Canadiens," he said. "A big thing for us is to win the division and get that home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. We want to win the last game of this series. I know they're thinking the same thing, that the main thing here is to get this win."