The Gino Factor

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Milan Lucic knows how to win.

As if there weren’t enough things to admire about this kid; his work ethic, his toughness and hitting ability, his amazing leadership qualities at such a young age.

Let’s not forget. He is only 20.

But he’s already shown what a competitor he is. Look back at what folks call “The Shift”. I wasn’t there but people tell me it’s part of what won the Memorial Cup for the Vancouver Giants in 2007 and what earned young Lucic the MVP honors of that tournament.

Take a look at it, 60 legendary seconds that will resound forever in Western Canadian hockey lore.

Afterward, after Vancouver had won the game 3-1 and hoisted the Memoral Cup on their home ice, people still spoke about it with awe in their voice. Giants Captain Brett Festerling said of it, “After watching that shift, [winning] was almost a certainty. I remember looking at the guys on the bench and you could just see in their eyes nothing was going to hold us back after that.”

So that was Milan Lucic at age 18. Impressive, to say the least.

These days he’s bringing that exact same poise and hunger for winning into the locker room and on the ice for the Boston Bruins. He helped them power their way through longtime rival Montreal Canadiens, an undeniable factor in what became a dominant sweep of that series. Lucic had the Habs so concerned about him that they gave hapless Georges Laraque an absurdly exaggerated role in the series to try to counter his impact on the game. It didn’t work even slightly and, in fact, might be a key reason the Bleu Blanc et Rougettes lost as they altered their game plan so much to account for Lucic’s play.

Just ask Mike Komisarek what he thinks about it.

He’s also been a key factor in the Bruins comeback in the series against Carolina, making an extremely heady play in the second period of Game 6 to set up Marc Savard for the 3rd goal of the game. In the previous contest, when the B’s needed it most, he set the tone early with a monsterous hit on Dennis Seidenberg (pictured atop this post) that was gloriously reminiscent of his work in Vancouver.

His impact on the team’s resurgence is undeniable. In these playoffs alone, the 20 year old left wing has 8 points in 9 games and leads the entire NHL in Plus/Minus at a +11. Those stats don’t tell the whole story as the intangible factors he brings to the game are immeasurable.

Except in the Win/Loss column, that is.

If the Bruins can win Game 7 this evening and advance to play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the conference semi-finals, it will be a fantastic team effort, with credit to be given to all, especially guys like Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara, Mark Savard and others.

Chances are, though, that the man they call Gino will have something to say about it, too.

Which bodes well for the Bruins.

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