Bruins feel varying impacts of consussions

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Bruins feel varying impacts of consussions

Taylor Twellman, whose own career ended because of multiple concussions, says Marc Savard "could wake up tomorrow and feel 100 percent." And, in fact, the Bruins have a player on their roster -- Patrice Bergeron -- who has been able to get past concussion issues . . .

By MaryPaoletti
CSNNE.com

Cam Neely has two players on the roster who sit at opposite ends of the post-concussion spectrum: Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron.

Bergeron was thrown headfirst into the boards and suffered a Grade 3 concussion in October of 2007-08. He wasnt cleared for full participation until the following preseason. But after showing positive signs for improvement, he collided with a member of the Carolina Hurricanes on December 20, 2007.

Another concussion. There was no timetable for return.

MORE ON THIS STORY
THE PROBLEM: Isthere a concussion 'epidemic' in hockey? Notnecessarily
THE REACTION: Manyplayers choose not to worry about concussions
THE FACE OF THE PROBLEM:TaylorTwellman: One man's concussion story
Bergeron returned to play after little more than a month. His career since has been on an upswing.

How does a guy go from being physically unable to participate in hockey to leading the Bruins in points (20 goals, 29 assists through Feb. 24) in his third year back?

With time, with life, the brain will remodel itself, Harvard University athletic trainer Chad Krawiec states. Will it get to the point where you can play sports? Some people, no. But for living and functioning, your brain typically will. 100 of the time, no one can really say that. But for the majority of our athletes we deal with, as far as we know with the information we have now in 2011, the brain will react, recover, and get to a normal functioning level and be safe to play sports again.

Acknowledgment of symptoms, proper diagnosis, time to heal.

Its about the players themselves trying to be as honest as they can with the trainers, the doctors, Neely says. Its not like any other injury; the brain is a different animal. The players have to take the responsibility.

But the Bruins president a Hall of Fame NHLer understands that players want to play.

Athletes often draw their identities from their sport. Life beyond the game exists, but 10-15 years in the future may as well be 10-15,000; retirement is a reality to face only when theres nowhere else to look. Fear of disappointing coaches and teammates or losing their roster spots? The immediacy makes it real. Thats when the fear is worn like blinders.

Thats why the primary goal for an athlete after a concussion isnt always getting healthy; its getting back onto the ice.

A primary component of concussion recognition the identification of patient symptoms is in fact subjective, Krawiec admits.If the patient decides he does not want to report fully and honestly then he can, and we would have to go on that. Thats his own conscious risk hes taking, but he can obviously lie or just not report the severity.

The cognitive tests like the neuropsychological tests we administer are a little more difficult to cheat on. Some guys will intentionally do poorly on the healthy baseline test instituted in the NHL in 1997, thinking that when concussed a poor test will then look good sort of set the bar low to start. The problem is, even these mild concussive states place the brain in a susceptible position. The players may not think its a problem, but it can be dangerous.

Its difficult for spectators to understand why someone would knowingly put his brain in danger. For some athletes, surrendering to an invisible assailant, being patient as they watch their world pass by, is even harder.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Boston goalie Tuuka Rask has been hard to beat this season and was at his best against Buffalo again.

"You start thinking, `how are we going to get one by this guy,'" Sabres coach Dan Bylsma wondered aloud Saturday.

Rask nearly shut out the Sabres for the second time in a month, keeping them off the scoresheet for 2 1/2 periods and making 17 of his career-high 35 saves in the third to help the Bruins hold on for a 2-1 win.

"Every team likes to have these kind of goaltenders and a lot of teams do," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We're just fortunate enough that he's been one of those guys that, whenever you slip a little bit, or lose a little bit of momentum, or you're having a slow start, or a tough night, those guys step up and help you win some hockey games."

Over his last 11 starts, beginning with his 4-0 shutout over Buffalo on Nov. 7, Rask is 7-3-1 with a 1.36 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage.

"I feel good," Rask said. "I'm seeing the puck well. Guys are doing a great job keeping them on the outside and clearing the rebounds for the most part, so that helps out."

David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron scored to give Boston a 2-0 lead and the Bruins improved to 3-0-1 in their last four.

"We're getting better as a team, we're getting points and climbing up the standings," said Krejci, who has 10 points in his last 12 games. "Hopefully we can keep it up."

Evander Kane scored his first goal of the season for Buffalo. Robin Lehner returned after missing one game with a hip injury and made 32 saves.

The Sabres combined for nine goals in their previous two wins but the NHL's lowest-scoring team reverted to form from the first 21 games, when star center Jack Eichel was out of the lineup with a high-ankle sprain.

"First two periods, we had a tough time generating some offensive chances," Sabres defenseman Cody Franson said. "They kind of just stayed on top."

Krejci got the Bruins on the scoreboard with 5:50 left in the first when he deflected Brandon Carlo's slap shot from the point off the right post and into the net.

The Sabres appeared to tie the game late in the second period but replays determined Brian Gionta kicked the puck into the net.

Bergeron made it 2-0 at 7:44 of the third when he knocked in the rebound of David Pastrnak's missed shot. Bergeron initially hit the puck with his forearm on the left edge of the crease and skated around the net to chase down the puck and flip a backhand past Lehner.

The Sabres answered two minutes later, scoring on Rask for the first time in 109:12 this season. Sam Reinhart's feed off the rear wall set up Kane for a wrist shot from the slot that bounced in off Krejci. Reinhart has five points in his last four games.

NOTES: Bruins F Matt Beleskey was escorted to the dressing room in the final minute of the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return. Julien said Beleskey will be evaluated when the team returns to Boston. ... Sabres D Josh Gorges did not play after injuring his foot blocking a shot in Thursday's win over the New York Rangers. With Dmitry Kulikov (lower back) and Zach Bogosian (MCL sprain) also out, the Sabres were down three of their top four defenseman and recalled 19-year-old Brendan Guhle from the minors to make his NHL debut. Guhle hustled back to thwart a breakaway by Krejci late in the third period. ... F Anton Blidh became the seventh Bruin to make his NHL debut this season after being recalled from the minors on Friday. ... The Bruins scratched F Jimmy Hayes. D Zdeno Chara, the Bruins' captain, missed his sixth straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Buffalo had just three shots on goal in the first period.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Florida on Monday.

Sabres: At Washington on Monday.