What's the price for a high-scoring, Stanley Cup-winning power forward in the NHL?
Bryan Bickell fans might want to know.
The Boston Bruins dished Milan Lucic a three-year deal worth $18 million, which he gladly pounced on like a mattress pass in his wheelhouse. The contract, which kicks in starting next season, must make unrestricted free agent-to-be Bickell of the Blackhawks curious.
Not that the 6-foot-4, 233-pound Bickell -- who has 8 goals in the playoffs -- has ever had 30- and 26-goal campaigns, as Lucic has the previous two seasons.
Still, Boston might have been second-guessing itself about the contract it gave Lucic after the big left winger scored a season-low 7 goals during the abbreviated regular season.
The 6-4, 220-pound Lucic, 25, a sixth-year pro who had a 62-point season when Boston won the Cup in 2011, struggled enough that he twice was a healthy scratch late in the season.
Since the playoffs started, however, Lucic has been playing like a "Milan-dollar" man.
Take Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday night at the United Center, which headed into a second overtime deadlocked at 3-3. Lucic figured on all 3 Boston goals in their 4-3 loss in triple overtime to the Blackhawks, giving him 16 points in 17 playoff games.
Lucic (pronounced LOO-cheech) silenced the raucous home crowd early and, in fact, scored Boston's first two goals, which gave him 5 in the playoffs.
Lucic then assisted on Patrice Bergeron's third-period power play goal. The assist was Lucic's 11th of the playoffs.
That's the kind of impact Boston is accustomed to seeing.
Lucic opened the scoring with 6:49 gone in the opening period, one-timing a shot in the slot past Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford. A pair of deft one-touch passes from linemates Nathan Horton and David Krejci, after an aggressive forecheck, created the quality scoring chance.
Lucic rifled in another one-timer just 51 seconds into the second period, burying a chance after a drop pass from Krejci. That came just moments after Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask kept the Blackhawks from tying the game by robbing Marian Hossa from point-blank range.
"It was nice to get on the board," Lucic said. "It was just being at the right place at the right time. The first goal, 'Krech' did a great job on the forecheck, and 'Horty' found me. Then the second time, 'Z' (Zdeno Chara) did a great job (of forcing the Blackhawks) to turn the puck over at the red line. We were able to get a quick break, and once again 'Krech' made a good pass."
With Boston on a power play in the final minute of the second period, after a deflected Chara shot from te point, Lucic had the puck jump over his stick with Crawford down.
"You look at the winning goal, they were able to get a tip-in (by Andrew Shaw) and it goes in," Lucic said. "It just goes to show how small the inches are in order to win."Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.