Milan Lucic doesn’t want to make excuses, but knows that his confidence level just isn’t where it should be coming off the two best years of his career.

“It’s been a frustrating year. I want to be better. I’ve got to be better. I just need to find a way to work through this, but it hasn’t gone the way you want it to go,” said Lucic. “It’s definitely not going to be easy. I just need to get over the mental hump right now. That’s where it’s at."

“[My confidence] is not where it was two years ago or last year. It’s almost back to where I was in year three where things just weren’t going the way you want them to. But enough with the excuses…you can’t just keep making excuses. You can’t say all these things and point fingers and stuff like that. You just need to get through it, and if you can get through it will make you stronger as a person and as a player. That’s where I’m at right now.”

He averaged 28 goals per season and upwards of 60 points in the last two years, and became one of the NHL’s preeminent power forwards with his mix of brute strength, ferocity and goal-scoring ability around the net.

But things just haven’t happened for him this season as they have in the past. The lockout took a bite out of his game, and he certainly didn’t help matters when he opted not to skate for long stretches of November and December prior to the shortened season beginning in January.

He started out with a bang while proving people wrong that said he was out of shape to start the season, but his year has been one massive dud since then. He’s scored 4 goals in his last 34 games, and he’s rarely shown the kind of raging fire and physical intimidation that is normally a fearsome factor in his game. With that in mind, Claude Julien dropped him to a fifth line role on Thursday’s practice skating on the “scratch line” with Jay Pandolfo and Kaspars Daugavins.