BOSTON -- Following the Boston Bruins' ugly 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton were unavailable to the media. While the rest of their teammates faced the music, admitting fault and not blaming the referees for the 72 minutes in penalties they took and the nine power plays they let the Hurricanes have, Lucic and Horton were nowhere to be found, after both took costly third-period penalties and succumbed to their frustrations moments earlier.
But following a spirited practice Wednesday -- as well as a 25-30 minute wait to meet the media, an interim when Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli was seen walking into the dressing room -- Lucic and Horton were front and center waiting and talking to each other before they proceeded to address the media.
As the media circled around Horton, a clearly frustrated Lucic took time to explain himself as well and admitted that he didn’t want to face the media Tuesday night for fear his temper and frustration would cause him to say something stupid or that he may regret.
“Yeah, that was basically it and nothing more than that,” Lucic told ESPNBoston.com.
Lucic has scored only five goals in his past 40 games (including playoffs) since March 22, when he scored his 30th goal of 2010-11 season. Lucic, who hasn't lit the lamp in six games this season, acknowledged frustration has settled in, but was still willing to accept blame for his poor start this season. Lucic knows he isn’t doing what he needs to do to be the player he can be.
“It’s not fun when you’re not helping your team and not producing and I think that’s the frustrating point from my side,” Lucic said. “I think it’s not even about goals and assists right now. You just look at shots on net and I think I only have 12 or something like that, which is an average of two per game and that’s just the first part I should look at. I need to work harder to get myself more opportunities. Get shots and scoring opportunities. It all starts with moving my feet and it kind of feels watching video of my game that there’s a bit of hesitation in my game and I just need to look at that and completely get that out, getting back to that north-south type of game that I find success with.”
While Lucic believes he was in shape to start this season, he did acknowledge that the mental focus needed for him to play his game was not there and he is still trying to find it six games in.
“I think I was physically but maybe mentally I wasn’t as ready as I maybe should’ve been,” Lucic admitted. “But that’s my own fault. I have to take that upon myself that I am ready for the start of the season. I wish there was just a switch you could turn on but I think for myself if I start thinking about too many things that’s when I can’t do anything. But if think about one thing to focus on, everything else seems to fall into place. That’s where I’m at right now. I just need to focus on one thing and everything else will come together.”
Horton also believes he isn’t where he needs to be yet. The winger didn’t point to the shoulder injury or concussion he suffered in the playoffs last season but rather to the fact that he isn’t doing what made him so successful in that playoff run when he scored two series-winning goals and three game-winners overall.
“I think having a little more confidence with the puck and wanting the puck and holding onto it,” Horton told ESPNBoston.com. “That’s how you make plays and that gets me more involved in the game.”
But like Lucic, Horton has let his frustrations take over and that cost the Bruins in a big way Tuesday night. In the third period, Horton took a 4-minute roughing call and 10-minute major only 31 seconds after Rich Peverley had pulled the Bruins to within one goal of the Hurricanes. Horton wrestled Hurricanes defenseman Tim Gleason to the ice and then proceeded to pummel Gleason, who wasn’t interested in fighting.
“I do obviously," Horton said when asked if regretted losing his cool at that point, "and I didn’t want to take a 4-minute penalty but when I got slashed from behind and I turned around, I thought he wanted to fight me.
"But again that was probably the wrong time to do it and out of frustration I did do it. If I could change it now, I would, but unfortunately I can’t and I really put my team in a hole.”
Horton's frustration was still seething after the game Tuesday night and, like Lucic, he chose not to let that cause him to say something he would regret.
“It was a frustrating night for a lot of people and I just wanted to turn page and forget about it,” Horton said. “I don’t want to be out there hurting my team like that, I just got to get back to playing the way I can and help my team.”