Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lucic Should Sit Another Game.

If there's one thing I've learned from ESPN: manufactured controversy is as good as the real thing. So I bring an unconventional idea to the table in advance of tomorrow's coup de grace.

Claude Julien should scratch Lucic for Game 4.

This isn't about teaching Looch a lesson, though that might be a nice side effect. If he's really as contrite as his sound bites suggest, he won't have a huge problem with the decision.

No, it's more about preparing this team for a long playoff run -- giving them the best chance to win, both immediately and in the future.

We saw last night that Montreal is simply no match for the Bruins, with or without Lucic. This series is being won by goaltending and blueline depth and scoring from the 4th line. The physical confrontations are nothing but a sideshow, and that was never more obvious than halfway through the game when all the scrums ceased as the Habs started to play with true desperation.

So why throw Montreal a bone? Keeping Lucic out of the lineup would put a damper on any attempts to rally around a fight or bodycheck, and by all indications the Bruins don't need him from a strategic point of view. If anything, Lucic's presence greatly increases the chance of something disasterous -- suspension, injury, perhaps an emotional rally by the home team.

A Cup contender can't afford to remain on an emotional roller coaster for weeks on end. Counting from 4/9, the regular-season game in which the first shots were really fired in this matchup, tomorrow will mark the 12th consecutive day in which the Lucic/Komisarek feud has been the subject of nonstop media coverage. Julien needs to control and channel his team's emotions, not stoke them just as things have started to cool down.

Last season, Julien raised eyebrows with his decision to bench Phil Kessel in the playoffs. As we would discover in the second half of the series, it was an eye-opening moment for a dynamic young player who had probably never heard the word "no" from a coach. Kessel exploded when he returned to the lineup, and has been a better player ever since.

Maybe it's time for Lucic to have a similar experience. His presence in Game 4 would likely be a detriment to the team, and that's not acceptable for a professional player. He needs to sit, watch his team win without him in a cool and collected manner, and come back with laser-focus against the next opponent.

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Anonymous said...

or play him and let him fuck shit up

The Bastahd said...

Oddly enough, I was thining the same thing this morning after having seen Bitz play so well. Losing Milan really doesn't hurt our team that drastically, especially if only for the one game. However, playing him could lead to an escalation in the 'war' with Komisarek and give Montreal a rallying point with much needed emotion. Just seems best for the team all-around to bench Lucic for Game 4 in Montreal and play him at home if needed.

Anonymous said...

But what if the Bruins lose? Do you bring him back then - and wouldn't that make his ego worse?

What if that loss leads to a series reversal (close to zero probability, but think about it), or more likely, is blamed for the Bruins' later round difficulties?

Anonymous said...

Spoken like a Canadiens fan! Sit the most physical presence on the team..this is Boston not flopsberg.

Anonymous said...

What crap. He plays, hands down.

Dan said...

Only 8 or 9 players practiced today with the Habs when the coach said it was voluntary. Lucic or no Lucic, they've cashed in.

Tom said...

But what if the Bruins lose? Do you bring him back then - and wouldn't that make his ego worse? I think Julien would have to make it clear that, no matter what, Lucic would come back after sitting one more game.

But honestly I don't think he has an ego problem, just a lot of difficulty putting aside his personal issues with several Montreal players.

Spec7ral said...

Blasphemy! I have him in my pool! GET HIM BACK IN THERE!!!

Anonymous said...

Won't matter if he plays or not. The Habs are done. If the coach thinks it will benefit him and send him an appropriate message by having him sit an extra game, then that's what will happen. Otherwise, he dresses and plays. (And if I was sure he'd play, I'd put him in my pool - we get points for penalty minutes, too!)