May 29, 2011

Playing hometown Canucks in Finals surreal for Lucic

by Jesse Connolly

Bruins winger Milan Lucic and Canucks forward Alex Burrows battle for position. (Getty)

BOSTON -- No matter how much Milan Lucic tries to convince himself that the looming Stanley Cup Finals matchup with the Canucks is just any other series, his excitement is simply too hard to hide.

The Bruins winger will be heading to Vancouver to take on his hometown team in Game 1 on Wednesday night. The British Columbia native's friends and family are simply stoked.

"Yeah, I mean, obviously everyone’s excited back home," said Lucic. "They’re excited for us and for myself that we get the chance to play in the Stanley Cup Finals here and like I said, it was funny, they told me all my friends went out that Friday night cheering “Let’s Go Bruins” in downtown Vancouver. That was pretty cool to hear from them. 

"It’s a special feeling to be able to have this opportunity but going into it feels the same as going into any other series, so we’re treating it the same way we’re going about things like we have all season long and we’re looking forward to it."

Lucic, a star with the WHL's Vancouver Giants before being drafted by Boston in 2006, has made two trips out west to take on the Canucks in his home province during his days in the NHL. In his most recent game there, Lucic led the Bruins to a 3-1 win with the game-winning goal and two assists.

"Yeah for sure, there’s always that adrenaline," he said of having success against the Canucks. "Last game and the first time I played in Vancouver against the Canucks you kind of get that nervous little butterfly feeling in your stomach playing there and I’m sure it’s going to start that way too, but I just have fun I guess when I’m playing at home.

"You know it’s always special to be able to play in front of your parents and your family, you know, and I just try to make them proud."

While playing the Canucks in the regular season is one thing, meeting them in the Stanley Cup Finals is simply surreal for the 22-year-old forward.

"Never imagined it but its great," Lucic said. "It really is a great feeling to be in this position no matter who were playing against or what team I’m on."

Expectations are high in both cities, but perhaps slightly more so in Vancouver, as the Canucks ran away with the President's Trophy as the top team in the regular season.

"Obviously I know what it’s like there," said Lucic. "In Vancouver there’s a buzz in that city like never before. Everyone’s excited and the city is real confident in the team that they have and I think that’s what’s going to make this series an even better series.

"We feel it around here even in Boston, how the fans are into it and how much the fans have enjoyed our success so far through the playoffs. To be able to go from Vancouver to Boston and have this as the Stanley Cup Final just will make it that much more of a special series and it will create a rivalry between the two teams a lot quicker when the cities are buzzing like that."

With such tremendous anticipation for what should be a scintillating showdown, the Stanley Cup Finals will be the toughest ticket in both towns. No matter how much pull he has in either city, however, don't bank on Lucic doing anyone favors.

"I just tell everyone, ‘Stubhub.com,'" he quipped. "That’s your best option, don’t come to me."

Given the magnitude of what lies ahead for Lucic, ticket hunters who hope to see No. 17 return the Stanley Cup to Boston will surely understand.