The goal is pretty simple for Max Sauve: stay healthy.
The forward is in the final year of his entry level contract with the Bruins, and has shown flashes on his climb up the organizational ladder after being selected in the second round of the 2008 draft.
He had a good career in the QMJHL and snapped off 21 goals in his first full season with the Providence Bruins. But the 22-year-old with the good skating wheels has also had a profoundly difficult time remaining healthy since joining the pro hockey ranks. He missed 17 games in his first full season in Providence, and played in only 39 games last season while totaling 11 goals and 26 points.
Then Sauve was knocked out in the opening minutes of his NHL debut with the Bruins, and was never heard from again in Boston while the team fought through injuries in the second half of the year.
Concussions, groin issues, hip pointers and other injuries can be freak occurrences, but the last thing any player wants -- especially in the game of pro hockey -- is a reputation of being injury-prone. The Bruins organization also clearly wants to see exactly what they have in Sauve, who still projects to be an NHL third line player capable of popping in double-digit goal totals if he can remain healthy.
Last years experience appears to have had a profound effect on the 6-foot-2, 184-pound Sauve as hes come into this season noticeably sturdier and bigger in build.
Sauve confirmed it was no accident.
I dont want any more injuries, so I worked really hard this summer to get in the best shape that I could. Im in way better shape, said Sauve. Its important to me to show what I can do on the ice, and obviously that wont happen if I cant play. I want to show them that I can stay on the ice.
That would help explain the two point performance (1 goal, 1 assist) in Saturdays 3-1 victory over the Springfield Falcons on Saturday night at the MassMutual Center, and the four points Sauve has already amassed in four games this season. He was instrumental in the game-winning goal while screening in front of the net for a Garnet Exelby point blast, and then he pounced on the rebound of a Zach Trotman shot for Providences insurance goal in the third period.
In both instances Sauve went to the blue painted area, and thats a testament to his new-found strength and tenacity in front of the net. Its something P-Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy wants to see more of along with the team-leading six shots on net he finished with against Springfield.
Sauve is getting rewarded for going to the blue paint, said Cassidy. He almost got a goal in Manchester on Friday night as well, and he was driving hard to the net when he got one against Bridgeport.
Hes going to the net. He just needs to clean up his board-work a little bit and in the neutral zone he needs to know when to make plays and when not to. But hes been good and that line has been consistent. Theyve scored a goal in every game.
Cassidy is referring to the line of Sauve, Ryan Spooner and Jamie Tardif as one of its best in the first two weekends of the season. Their success is clearly a byproduct of all the work put in by Sauve during a summer that could prove to be pivotal to his hockey future.