Savard's crucial mistake gets him benched

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Savard's crucial mistake gets him benched

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- The middle of the bench is nowhere you want to be for more than one shift change. Not in the NHL, not in college or high school. Not ever.

But that's where Marc Savard found himself for the final 10 minutes of Thursday's 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild at the TD Garden.

Savard, for the second time this season -- in his second month of play since returning from post-concussion syndrome -- turned the puck over late in a game, leading to the opposing team's game-winning goal.

The first came on Dec. 11, at the Garden against the Philadelphia Flyers, when his no-look pass to the point resulted in a Mike Richards-led 2-on-1 in the final seconds of overtime, which Richards finished off for the Flyers' 2-1 win.

Less than a month later Savard found himself with a similar pit in his stomach, after his attempted flip out of the zone had no juice on it, and ended up on the tape of Minnesota forward Cal Clutterbuck in the opening minutes of the third period.

Clutterbuck took the turnover in the high slot and sniped top-right on Tuukka Rask, who called Savard's turnover "an awful mistake." It gave Minnesota a 2-1 lead and the Wild went on to the 3-1 victory.

"I tried to flip it out, because we had a tired group out there, and I just fanned on it," said Savard. "It was a mistake. It happens. and I just have to try and bounce back.

"I just wanted to get a high flipper out of the zone, and then get a good line change. But the puck never left the ice."

Savard returned on his regular shift, but then wasn't seen anywhere other than the middle of Boston's bench for a six-minute stretch late in the third period. He returned to the ice as the extra attacker in the final minute of regulation, when Rask was pulled, and was also seen on the power play.

Coach Claude Julien's comments after the game indicated that, on this night, he had stopped trusting Savard in 5-on-5 situations.

"We put him in positions where he could help us, and took him out of positions where he made mistakes and probably wasn't at his best," said Julien.

Benching Savard late in a one-goal game at home was the first question Julien had to answer to during his postgame press conference. Mainly because this is the second player in just as many weeks with whom Julien has had to address that "c" word: Confidence.

Last weekend it was Rask, who Julien yanked from Saturday's game after the first period, having had already sat him on the pine for the seven previous games, in favor of Tim Thomas.

The "confidence" debate had reached its peak with the young goaltender. Now, it seems to be hitting the veteran playmaker, even if Julien says he hasn't lost confidence in Savard.

"I think when you make a mistake like that, everybody's got to be accountable," said Julien. "It's one of those things that happens. It's part of the game, and I think, from the first player to the last player, you want to make sure that everybody understands.

"It was a mistake that you don't expect a guy like that to make. It doesn't mean that you lose confidence in him, because you're going to go right back with him next game, and you hope that they bounce back."

But after Julien cut the team's lines down to just three, Savard didn't seem like a guy who was too happy sitting in the middle of the Bruins' bench along with Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell.

"Julien put me right back out there, and I felt like that was good to give me a chance, and then, I don't know, he sat me down for a while," said Savard. "That's part of the game. You'll have to ask him.

"It's frustrating. You know, I feel like I get better and then something like that happens, and then I get sat down. So it's just, my confidence is swaying up and down like a boat. So it's tough, but I've been through a lot worse."

He just hopes he doesn't have to go through this again.

Danny Picard is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radioshow I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Fridayfrom 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Bruins go for a defensive project late with Daniel Bukac

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Bruins go for a defensive project late with Daniel Bukac

CHICAGO – The Bruins finished up their 2017 NHL Draft class with a bit of a project, but a 6-foot-5 defenseman with some great skating wheels is a pretty good way to go with a seventh round pick. The B’s nabbed Brandon Wheat Kings defenseman Daniel Bukac with the 204th pick in the draft, and admitted afterward that he’s an ultra-big bodied player that could take some time in the development process.

Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley said Boston is more than happy to be patient with Bukac given the tools that he’s working with as an 18-year-old prospect. Bukac had two goals and 17 points to go along with 38 penalty minutes in his first season in North America after coming over from the Czech Republic, and Bradley said that B’s scouts noted that he continued to improve and get comfortable as the season wore on.

"He's raw. He's a project. [He’s a] kid from the Czech Republic that played in the Western Hockey League,” said Bradley. “At the start of the year - he's come leaps and bounds with his development. Talking to the people - the coaches, the management, and the GM in Brandon, they're very excited about him coming back to Brandon. They're expecting big things from him. We look forward to seeing him in camp."

Bukac is starting to garner some good international experience after playing for the Czechs in the Under-18’s and the Ivan Hinkla Tournament, but this weekend it was all about his addition to the talented group of Bruins prospects in the hockey world.

"I'm so excited to be drafted by the Boston Bruins," said Bukac, who described himself as a solid two-way defenseman with a good first pass. "It's an awesome feeling. I'm so glad that I was drafted by Boston."

Bruins take a flier on skilled Victor Berglund in 7th round

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Bruins take a flier on skilled Victor Berglund in 7th round

CHICAGO – While the Bruins went strong two-way defenseman early in the 2017 NHL Draft, they took a shot at a more offensive-minded Swedish defenseman late with seventh-round pick of Victor Berglund.

The six-foot, 165-pound Berglund clearly has a way to go in physical development and will need to get much bigger and stronger before he’s potentially ready for the North American pro ranks, but B’s assistant GM Scott Bradley raved about the Swedish defenseman’s skill set and potential. He also noted that Boston’s entire European scouting contingent, including former B’s forward PJ Axelsson, were fully on board with taking a flier on a talented player that simply needs to develop in the Swedish hockey system.

“Our Swedish guys were on top of Berglund. They think he’s a mobile D, he’s ultra-skilled and he skates well. He’s a six-footer, but [PJ Axelsson, Svenake Svensson and Victor Nybladh] were all pounding the table for him,” said Bradley. “We went along with it and I think we might have something there. Talking to his strength coach after the fact he’s working on putting some muscle and weight on, so we look forward to seeing him at development camp.”

In 62 games at three different levels, Berglund posted five goals and 18 points last season and displayed the kind of speed, creativity and play-making that one needs from their defensemen in today’s NHL.

"I'm an offensive defenseman, who likes to play with the puck, with a great short pass," said Berglund. "I like to follow the rush up ice and want the puck."

It will be a matter of building size and strength and for Berglund to continue developing his game in Sweden for the time being, but the Bruins are certainly happy with him at the 195th pick in Saturday’s second day of the draft.