- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 19, 2012

Milan Lucic sleepwalked through Games 1 and 2. The Boston Bruins star had just three shots and nothing to show for it.

He still has no points through three games of the Bruins‘ first-round series against the Washington Capitals, but Game 3 might have been exactly what he needed. Lucic took four penalties and was involved in plenty of post-whistle altercations.

“I don’t think you have to wake Looch up. Looch is always awake,” defenseman Greg Zanon said. “But if you poke the bear, eventually he’s going to get at you.”

That could be the big fear moving forward for the Caps: that they poked Lucic and woke him up from his scoring slumber.

“Obviously, you like to see Looch put the puck in the net,” Zanon said. “He’s one strong man, and he gets into these physical-type games and he can change a game like that and he can turn the tides for you.”

Lucic (26 goals) was one of six 20-goal scorers for the Bruins during the regular season; just one of those guys has a goal in this series, which has been filled with production from the third and fourth lines.

Boston would love to get the likes of David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin going, but Lucic drives the offense. Asked if he hoped Game 3’s physicality ignites Lucic’s play, center Chris Kelly quipped, “I hope so.”

“When Looch is playing at his best playing on that edge and being physical and moving his feet, he is one of those guys who you’d be surprised how fast he gets up and down that ice for a guy his size,” Kelly said.

The Caps get that. Even though Karl Alzner explained that his crybaby gesture toward Lucic was just a way of telling the Bruins to stop complaining about calls, it might be one of those moments he regrets.

“Maybe you don’t want to wake him up, but in my eyes he’s always awake,” Zanon said. “You just don’t want to aggravate him because he’s going to be aware at all times out on the ice now.”

If Lucic starts feeling it in the offensive zone, Alzner said he and his teammates need concentrate on taking away his time and space.

“You look at a lot of his goals and they come from him outbattling guys in front or him being in the slot and making a nice finish,” he said. “It’s either trying to outbattle him, big guy, but you try and get position or you make sure he doesn’t get the puck. That’s all we’ve been trying to do — try and get him off his game as much as possible. It sometimes works, sometimes it doesn’t.”

It has worked so far in this series, but Washington’s ability to tie up this series and potentially win it likely hinges on continuing to shut down Lucic and Co.

And if some physical play wakes Lucic from his hibernation, it could be a boon for the Bruins.

“I liked Looch’s game [Monday]; he was skating, he was physical, he was making things happen,” coach Claude Julien said. “And if he continues to play that way, then the production is going to follow soon.”

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