Lucic has had a season plagued with injuries, missing 14 games with a broken thumb from Oct. 17 to Nov. 19 and then missing another 18 from Nov. 27 to Jan. 7. After practicing for Wednesday's game against Anaheim — a game that will only be his 13th of the season — the rugged forward admitted his timing and body are still in early-season mode.
"I know I came back for four games after the broken finger, but it feels like I haven?t played since October," Lucic said on Monday. "It?s going to take time and I have to stay confident and not get too down on myself when I make mistakes because mistakes do happen when you come back from an injury like this. So, again, I need to stay positive, keep it simple and my game will come back to where I want it to be."
Bruins head coach Claude Julien agreed and cautioned media and fans to take into account the fact that Lucic has had very little playing time this season, and therefore it is only normal that Lucic?s timing is off at the moment. Julien compared Lucic's situation to that of newly-acquired Bruin Miroslav Satan, who will be playing in his fourth game when the Bruins face the Ducks at 10 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
"He?s hardly played this year — that?s what we tend to forget," Julien said of Lucic. "He started the season, got hurt, came back, played a few games, got hurt, so he?s almost close to what a guy like Satan would be, who hasn?t played all year. Those guys that only have 10 or 12 games under their belts, that?s a hurdle in itself to try and get back to the level that everybody else is at. So that?s why we?ll give him ice time but not put him in a position where he can hurt the team or himself, for that matter. You don?t want to give him too much to start with and you just hope that he gets better every game."
Lucic, however, is feeling much better these days, and the last week of game action has helped him get on the right track to where he needs to be.
"I feel a little better each day, but obviously, it?s going to take a bit of time because it?s almost like I haven?t played all year," Lucic said. "I played against a couple of good teams, and for the team, obviously, I wish we won, but for myself, the good thing is that my ankle held up and I?m getting comfortable again. We?ve been doing battle drills in practice and that?s a plus that I?m holding up through those."
Lucic has also been hard at work off the ice as he gets back into the daily routines of an NHL player. Retired players always say that the biggest void in their post-hockey life is not ?being around the guys? and not knowing what to do with their free time. Lucic is happy he doesn?t have much free time lately and is thrilled to be with his teammates again.
"You are so set in the routines of your team schedule, naps, sleep, meals, it all gets out of whack when you're hurt and not with the team every day," Lucic said. "So yeah, that?s been a huge plus lately, being able to travel with the guys and practice with them."
Lucic is especially looking forward to Boston's upcoming road trip, which he sees as an opportunity to help the team bond and reconnect.
"This is a good time for not only me, but for everyone to get away on a road trip, away from everything and spend some extra time together," he said. "With the way things are going, that will be good right now."