- James Murphy, Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
- 0 Shares
WILMINGTON, Mass -- Bruins winger Milan Lucic was not present at Bruins practice Thursday for what head coach Claude Julien termed "personal reasons.” It should be noted that Lucic and his wife are expecting their first child later in January, but no word on whether the Bruins had a new dad on their roster. Unfortunately for Lucic though, the talk surrounding him hasn't been so joyous so far in camp. Ever since a local news reporter tweeted a picture of Lucic catching his breath at an informal players skate last week, media and fans alike have criticized Lucic for supposedly not coming to camp in shape. When asked about the performance of Lucic thus far though, Julien joked a bit and then came to defense of Lucic.
"He was great today," Julien quipped before coming to the defense of the suddenly maligned winger. "I don't know why we bring 'Luch' up because he's no different than anyone else. He's a big body that is working hard to get himself into game shape and as I mentioned before, it's a lot tougher for bigger bodies than it is for smaller ones. But he's like a lot of guys are right now in trying to find their way and their game. All I've asked of those guys is to work hard and work through it and that's what they're doing."
As Julien pointed out, not only is Lucic in the same boat with some of his teammates, but also plenty of players in the NHL as they all prepare for their season openers Saturday and Sunday.
"It's normal and I think if we were to watch every other team, they're all going through the same thing," Julien said. "It's a process of going through a quick six-day raining camp and we're all stuck between a rock and a hard place. As far as if you don't do it, then you can't find your game. Maybe they're tired, but then they gotta find ways to rest themselves a bit. They're not overly tired -- I've talked to a lot of guys -- but you can feel it because they're not used to this kind of pace. But we'll get through it and like every other team, we just have to show some character, battle through it and stay positive."
-- Julien said that there was a chance some cuts could be made as early as Thursday afternoon but a final roster for the season opener wouldn't be finalized most likely until Saturday.
-- Jordan Caron -- who has been out of the Providence lineup with an upper body injury -- was in Wilmington and skated with Bruins conditioning guru Johnny Whitesides before practice.
Jay Pandolfo -- David Krejci -- Nathan Horton