Oilers’ Milan Lucic needs to adapt to new NHL


Milan Lucic looks in the mirror these days, and there is Brent Seabroook, staring back a him. Or Dion Phaneuf.

Or Jason Spezza.

Outdated? Or just having a bad season? Lucic hasn’t scored a goal since Dec. 23, and though he has dealt with slumps like this before, this one feels different.

The game is getting faster every day, and he turns 30 in June.

“It’s been 19 games now, since the Christmas break,” Lucic said to a small group of writers on Tuesday. “I’ve had chances to tie games, to put our team up by a goal. More than enough chances to score a big goal. It’s deflating, looking back.”

When he’s not failing to convert, Lucic has been late to pucks, missing passes by a foot. His inability to re-direct a hard pass or shot from the doorstep has cost him a dozen goals this season, and the frustration he visibly brings back to the bench after another fruitless shift has to be bleeding into his teammates’ games.

“As games go on the frustration starts to build and the confidence starts to go away,” he admits. “There is a sense of doubt. But, it’s not the first time I’ve been through this either.”

Then there is his general manager, Peter Chiarelli, who signed Lucic as an unrestricted free agent two summers ago to a seven-year, $42 million contract. Lucic was brought here to play left wing for Connor McDavid, a plan that was quickly dispelled when it became clear that a man of Lucic’s size and pace just can’t get to the right place fast enough for McDavid’s requirements.

“Over the course of a season (size) helps,” Chiarelli said that day, on July 1, 2016. “And we’re in a heavy division. You look at …read more

Source:: Sportsnet.ca – Sport

      

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