Bruins left wing Milan Lucic has kept a player diary for ESPNBoston.com all season. As he can now look to the playoffs, he discusses the record-setting game that clinched Boston's spot in the postseason, gives a scouting report of his first-round opponent and gets into the goalie discussion. (as told to Louise K. Cornetta)
It feels great to know we're in the playoffs. It's been a tough battle for our team, and me personally, all year long. To have a strong finish at home to end out the season in these last couple of games is definitely good. We're definitely excited for the playoffs. I was also excited to get that empty-netter at the end of the Hurricanes game. I hadn't scored a goal at home all year until that game. It's tough to miss those. I'm happy to get one here at home for the fans before the season ended.
This Hurricanes game was something. Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] played the part of goalie and made a save as the puck was about to cross the goal line. We all had a big sigh of relief when that happened because we were only up by a goal at the time. He had to hustle back to get that one. It was early in the period, so it was fresh ice and the thing kept going and going, and we were like, 'Oh my God.' We were happy he got back in time to prevent the goal because at 3-3, it could have been a whole new game.
Also in this game was three short-handed goals on one penalty in 64 seconds, which I've been told is a record. I was on the bench and thinking I've never seen that before. I was kind of in awe they were going in like that. I think it was just a good job of making them turn over the puck and then we just capitalized when we had the chance.
It's been an interesting year. My teammate [Dennis] Wideman had a tough go for a while with the fans getting on him. Then he scored a big goal against the Sabres. There is no better feeling than to score a goal like that when the fans are on you. He's been playing great for us the past couple of games and he's a great player. For him to step up and score a big goal like that was huge. I think it was safe to say that he won everyone over pretty much.
And then the fans also really got vocal about who should be our goalie. As a team, we have confidence in both Tuukka [Rask] and Timmy [Thomas]. Obviously it's a team effort not to give too many scoring chances to the other team to make it easier on the goaltender. That's our job, to make it easy on him. Like I said before, we have confidence in whoever's playing in net. Tuukka's obviously been playing really good this year and hopefully he can keep it up.
I think it's time to take a look back at the season before the playoffs start. I'll go month by month. October, I remember where I went from radio station to radio station giving out Halloween candy. With November, I remember handing out turkeys to those in need. I was hurt in November and only played four games. So giving out turkeys and Thanksgiving, that's November. December, I didn't play once. I went to VH1 to do a countdown. Definitely going to New York for that is December's biggest memory.
January is the Winter Classic. Even though I didn't get to play, it was definitely cool to watch. February I went home to Vancouver and got to visit and see the Olympics. It was definitely cool to see that in your hometown. I was happy to be a part of that.
March is a tough one. For the fans, they'd say the build-up to the Penguins game. But for me, not really, it was a weird month. Savy [Marc Savard] getting hurt is what stands out for me in March, for sure. April is clinching the playoffs and getting my first goal at home of the season. That was a sigh of relief for me.
If I sum up the season for myself, I'd say it was a little disappointing with the injuries. It could have been a great season and I think I would have had a good chance to be a part of that Olympic team. You know, it wasn't meant to be. A couple injuries here and there, but it seems like things are coming around here at the end.
Everyone always remembers how you end, not how you start and we're about to start the playoffs. There's such a huge margin when you're in them between winning or losing, even if it's in overtime. In the season, you get a point and you can get over an overtime loss a lot quicker than you do in the playoffs. The season is a long period of time. You have to pace yourself. Whereas in the playoffs, you have to give it your all and break everything down to one game at a time. Definitely, you have to bring your ultimate best. You can't expect anything less than the best if you want to win.
I love the energy, the atmosphere, everything. You can feel it when you come to the rink every day. Even the buzz with all the media here, it all goes up a notch. Everyone is more excited and that's what I like. Oh, and yes, I will grow a playoff beard, that's pretty standard around the League.
With Buffalo, they're a great puck possession team that’s great on the rush. Obviously, [goaltender Ryan] Miller has been hot all year long from the start of the season to the Olympics to now. They have a lot of firepower. Their top six forwards all are around the 20-goal mark. They're a puck-possession team and a good skating team that is great off the rush. I'm quite OK with not having to face the Capitals in the first round, for sure.
If I were going to write a happy ending for this strange season, I'd say first, you've got to set your goals high. Play hard to win that Cup, that's everyone's ultimate goal here. I think that will put a lot of smiles on everyone's faces and forget about the season that we had.