The other day my colleague Bruce McCurdy was joking with me about the number of posts I’ve written on the troubles and turmoil around Milan Lucic. McCurdy joked it was something like 27, Lucic’s number.
In fact, the number is 11 posts with Lucic in the headline, which is indeed a lot.
That said, I make no apologies. I’ve been fascinated by a number of major mysteries around Lucic, first whether or not he’ll be traded and for what, second, just what went wrong with Lucic in the second half of the 2017-18 seasons when he scored just one goal in 46 games.
That’s an awful slump for any player, but especially for one making $6 million per and taking regular shifts with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
For readers tired of this line of inquiry, I can assure you I’m almost done (and also suggest no one is forcing you to read these posts). In fact, I think I’m close to having a final theory on why Lucic slumped so badly, and I’m going to write about that tomorrow after I dig into some video a bit more deeply.
Today, I’m going to address one more bit of scuttlebutt about Lucic, that his levels of compete and effort dropped off in the second half of the season, that he didn’t work as hard, and certainly didn’t fight as much, and that’s why he slumped. This notion places the blame squarely on Lucic and in somewhat unflattering terms, as the least you could expect from a 28-year-old veteran is too hustle.
I’ve heard this notion bubbling up from both Oilers insiders and from fans, but it’s not something I believe to be true. Outside of displaying the hockey sin of Bad Body Language a few times, especially after he failed to score on near open nets, I saw no drop off in Lucic’s hustle, and I’m going to argue this is borne out in the numbers.
What is one clear way we can tell if a power forward is powering, if a physical forward is physical-ing?
We could indeed look at how much he fights, but Lucic is a player who fights so little that that’s misleading. Yes, he only got into one fight in his final 46 games, but he only got into four fights all year. Those four fights aren’t out of line with what we’d expect from Lucic, an aging brawler.
Brawlers tend to drop …read more
Source:: Edmonton Journal – Sports