Replacing Savard is an inside job for the Bruins

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Replacing Savard is an inside job for the Bruins

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

Nothing definitive has been decided with Marc Savard this season.

The 32-year-old center has been convalescing in his hometown of Peterborough, Ontario, over the last 10 days as he continues to battle headaches and irritability brought on by his fourth concussion in the NHL, suffered at the hands of Matt Hunwick in Colorado.

Sources within the Bruins have confirmed to CSNNE.com that shutting Savard down for the remainder of the year has been a topic of discussion in the front office.

But nothing can be determined about Savards fate until he again sits down with doctors for another round of testing which could happen as quickly as Thursday.

Even so, the Bruins have to carry on with the rest of the season. They've got 31 games remaining and are sitting comfortably among the top three teams in the Eastern Conference headed down the stretch run to the playoffs.

Essentially, the Bs have to play as if Savard isnt going to return this year.

If thats the case, the Bruins are inclined to look within the organization to fill the void created by Savards absence and that starts with centers David Krejci and Tyler Seguin raising their games.

Patrice Bergeron is already doing his fair share. He appears to be everything he was before his own concussion, and then some, as he now has NHL experience on his side.

But the Bruins can certainly receive more from Krejci and Seguin.

Krejci actually refined his playmaking skills in the weeks leading up to the All-Star break, and has nine assists in his last 10 games with a plus-4. That elevated play, along with the reformed Krejci-Milan Lucic-Nathan Horton line riding together again, is exactly what he needed to get his game going.

He also hit his stride right around this time last season, and that trend needs to continue if Krejci is expected to be the teams top playmaker and power-play architect from the half-wall.

Its more exciting now. Before the All-Star break youre just kind of playing games and thats all, said Krejci. But now youre playing teams and youre starting to look at the standings, and everybody is playing for something.

Everybody wants home-ice advantage for the playoffs so everything starts to get more exciting. Its fun.

Then there's Seguin.

The rookie hasnt scored a goal in the last eight games, and is finding himself on the bench in the third periods of tight games in a crossroads portion of the season. Now that the pace has quickened and the pressure has heightened, Seguin needs to rise to the level.

The 19-year-old seems to have curbed some of his offensive instincts after being given a reduced role, with little to no power-play time, over the last month, and more than anything else needs to play with the confidence that allows his speed and skills to emerge.

While the public is clamoring for a stop-gap veteran solution should the Bruins need another forward to replace Savards missing offensive punch, the answers wont be coming from a trade at the forward spot.

The answers will be coming from within the organization, whether its someone on the current roster or from the P-Bruins.

I think weve got a lot of guys playing wing that we would feel pretty comfortable with playing center, said coach Claude Julien. Blake Wheeler is one of those guys, and Brad Marchand has played center before. Were not stuck in that area. We also have some prospects down in Providence that we feel will play in the NHL someday down the middle. We dont feel like depth is an issue at that position.

To wit about the P-Bruins: Joe Colborne remains a first-round talent, and the Bruins are expecting him to continue to improve in his first full year as a pro. Jordan Caron has already proven he can be a reliable player in the NHL, with a high ceiling. Zach Hamill -- who was beginning to get written off in some corners as afirst-round bust after having an unimpressive training camp with a jobpotentially available last fall -- is back on the Bs radar after really finding his game at the AHL level in his third season.

The Bruins will search for a mobile defenseman in the next few weeks. But life without Savard begins with an examination of the options within Bostons own organization.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

The Coyotes have hired former player Craig Cunningham as a pro scout, keeping the 26-year-old in hockey after a cardiac episode ended his playing career this season. 

Drafted by the Bruins in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Cunningham played 34 games for Boston over parts of two seasons before he was waived and claimed by Arizona. He totaled 19 games for the Coyotes, but served as captain of the Tucson Roadrunners, the team’s AHL affiliate. 

Cunningham was hospitalized after he collapsed during pregame warmups on Nov. 19. He was kept alive by continual CPR, but had his lower left leg amputated the next months due to an infection from the episode. 

Known as a high-character player who was popular with his teammates, Cunningham’s transition to scouting lets him further his career after a scary break. 

"I'm very excited to begin the next chapter of my life with the Coyotes," Cunningham said in a statement released by the team. "I'm very grateful to John Chayka, Dave Tippett, the Coyotes and Roadrunners organizations, and all of the great fans across Arizona for the incredible support I've received over the past year. I'm looking forward to helping the Coyotes and I can't wait to get started in my new role."

Said Chayka, the team’s general manager: ”We're thrilled to have Craig join our hockey operations department as a pro scout. Craig was a smart, hard-working player with an incredible passion for the game. We're confident that he will bring those same qualities to the Coyotes in his new role and that he will be an invaluable asset to our organization. We look forward to Craig helping us in several areas and are excited that he is staying with the club."
 

Morning Skate: Overreacting to the Oilers' window

Morning Skate: Overreacting to the Oilers' window

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while really enjoying what the CW does season in and season out with the Flash.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Don Brennan says that the Senators fans not showing up for Game 6 is their way of sticking it to Sens owner Eugene Melnyk.

*The talk is turning to the next captain of the Buffalo Sabres, and what they can do to help open up communication up and down the roster.  

*A guy that wore a Habs toque on his twitter avatar writes a glowing, praise-filled article about the performance of PK Subban during these Stanley Cup playoffs. He’s undoubtedly been good, but he just might have been wearing his Montreal Canadiens footie pajamas when he wrote this one, and rattling his fist at Habs management all the while.

*Interesting piece by Jason Gregor about the “window to win” for the Edmonton Oilers, and an odd notion that the window will close when Connor McDavid has moved out of his entry level contract. I’d say that’s kind of ludicrous.

*The Colorado Avalanche coaching staff has been let go after last year’s dreadful season, and that’s too bad for a really good guy in former Providence College head coach Tim Army. I’m sure he won’t be out of work long.

*Colin White made his Stanley Cup playoff and NHL debut for the Ottawa Senators in Game 6, and helped push Ottawa to a Game 7. It will be interesting to watch the Massachusetts native and former Boston College standout develop with the Senators as White was one of the players that the Bruins skipped over to instead draft Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft. The others, Mathew Barzal, Travis Konecny and Kyle Connor, are all either in the NHL or knocking on the door as well, and it’s going to be a challenging road for both of Boston’s forward prospects to live up the justification of the B’s drafting them first. Granted DeBrusk and Senyshyn are also both doing their thing for the P-Bruins as they push into the conference finals of the Calder Cup playoffs, and they’re both bright prospects in their own right. It’s going to take years to determine the rights and wrongs of that first round, but White getting into the lineup for the Senators is proof of just how high that organization is on him.

*Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan says that Sidney Crosby handled the targeted abuse well from the Senators in a Game 6 loss that will push to a Game 7 between the Penguins and the Senators.

*For something completely different: A great message from Brookline homey and former Sox GM wonder boy Theo Epstein in his commencement address to Yale University.