For every Bruin, Friday's 1-0 win over Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final was a special accomplishment.
The dramatic victory punched the franchise's ticket to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 21 years. It's an achievement every player in black and gold will always cherish.
But for one Bruin, it meant a little bit more. That's because the opponent in the Cup Final just happens to be the Vancouver Canucks. And for Vancouver native Milan Lucic, the only thing that could be better than playing for the Cup is the chance to play for the Cup in Vancouver.
"It's a dream to be able to play in the Stanley Cup Finals," Lucic said after Friday's victory. "It's something you dream about as a kid, but to be able to play in your hometown against the team you grew up loving makes it extra special."
Lucic has a knack for making sure his biggest moments take place in his hometown.
"Leading up to this moment in my hockey career, a lot of good things have happened in Vancouver," Lucic said. "Playing for the Vancouver Giants in WHL, winning a WHL title in Vancouver, being drafted in Vancouver, winning a Memorial Cup in Vancouver and now playing a Stanley Cup Finals in Vancouver. … It's an exciting feeling no matter who you're playing, but this definitely makes it extra special."
Usually, Lucic returns home to a hero's welcome whenever he goes back to Vancouver. When the Bruins played the Canucks in February, he was honored the day before with a ceremony retiring his number with the Giants. But Lucic doesn't expect such a warm reception this time around.
"They're not going to welcome me with open arms like they do in the [regular] season," Lucic said.
Of course, what he did to the Canucks in that regular-season meeting might have a little to do with it. Lucic figured into all three Boston goals when he scored the winner and assisted on the other two scores in a 3-1 win on Feb. 26.
"If I can play every game like I did this year in Vancouver, that would be great," Lucic said. "I think what helps is I played my junior career in Vancouver, so I'm not nervous playing in Vancouver. I've played big games in Vancouver with the Memorial Cup there. It's exciting."
But that excitement will fade quickly if the Bruins can't complete their quest for the Cup with four more wins against Lucic's hometown team.
"You dream about this day as a kid, about playing in the Stanley Cup Final," Lucic said. "But when it's Vancouver, it just makes it extra special. You want to make the most of this opportunity. It won't be fulfilling unless we get the job done."
Lucic's experiences in Vancouver are rarely unfulfilling, so don't bet against him enjoying his greatest moment yet in his hometown in the coming weeks. After all, he's already put a new twist on one old playoff maxim.
"It's going to be a great experience going back home," Lucic said. "Usually it's win or go home, but in this case it's win and go home."