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

Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

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Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

BOSTON, Mass. – There’s a long way to go toward a complete resurrection from last season’s misdeeds, but Jimmy Hayes made a nice little statement that he’s learned some lessons in Boston’s preseason debut. The Bruins lost the game, 3-2, in the shootout to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but Hayes scored one of the two goals for the Black and Gold as one of the few veterans in a very youthful lineup for Boston.

The Hayes goal was a nice give-and-go with Jake DeBrusk at the end of a nice transition play in the second period, and was the highlight of a night playing on the right wing with DeBrusk and center Austin Czarnik. The score and a team-high four shots on net for Hayes represent a good start for what he hopes is a gigantic rebound season after last year’s disappointment.

Clearly Hayes heard some of the unflattering chatter about him on sports talk radio and otherwise last season, and may even understand how his difficult season in his home city of Boston -- whether he actively expressed it to him or not -- might have been a factor in his buddy Jimmy Vesey ultimately choosing New York over Boston.

It appears the former Boston College standout is looking to change the conversation in Boston. 

“Yeah, sure am. I’ve got a lot to come out here and…[there were] a lot of comments about myself, but I know I’m a good player. I got to this level for a reason,” said Hayes, who dropped from 19 goals and 35 points with the Panthers to 13 goals, 29 points and a career-worst minus-12 for the Bruins last season.

“To be able to play at the NHL level and continue to play at that level on a consistent basis is what I expect out of myself. I do it for myself and our teammates, and to help our team win. I’ll continue moving forward.

“It’s funny being the old guy on the line. It’s nice to see those young guys and see how excited they are, and how excited I am to get back out there. That’s what I said to the guys, they still have the jitters and they still have them for the first preseason game. It shows that these guys want it and it’s been a lot of fun skating with those guys. They’ve got a lot of speed and to keep pushing the pace. Trying to keep up with them has been a lot of fun.”

There is still a long way to go for the 26-year-old winger, and his willingness to stick around the danger areas on Monday night was a welcomed one for a Bruins team that needs his 6-foot-6 body in front of the net. Hayes paid the price with stitches and a fat lip after taking a Dalton Prout high-stick to the mouth in front of the Columbus net that went uncalled on a Bruins PP at the end of the second period.

That’s all part of the big man’s game on the ice, however. It’s also the kind of battle and determined fight that Hayes will need to show much more consistently in his second season with the hometown Bruins if he’s truly looking to bounce-back from last year’s mediocre performance. 

Carlo 'arguably the best' defenseman for Bruins in preseason opener

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Carlo 'arguably the best' defenseman for Bruins in preseason opener

BOSTON – On a night when many of Boston’s young players stepped up nicely, perhaps none did more so than 19-year-old defenseman Brandon Carlo. The youngster was in a top pair role with John-Michael Liles against a decent Columbus Blue Jackets lineup that included Sam Gagner, Alexander Wennberg, Seth Jones, Brandon Saad and Sonny Milano, and had almost no miscues in his 20:16 of ice time.

Better than that, Carlo notched an assist on the game-tying score in the third period when his right point shot made it through traffic for Danton Heinen to redirect it past Curtis McElhinney from the slot. That left Carlo with an assist, a plus-1 rating and three shots on net in 20:16 of ice time to go along with some heavy battling around the net whenever Blue Jackets players tried to get too close.

“Arguably our best D, if not our best D. [He showed] real good decision-making, and his gaps are good. I can really only think of one time in the third period he kind of threw a puck away in the middle of a change, and ended up on his wrong side,” said Bruins assistant coach Bruce Cassidy. “It wasn’t a bad turnover, but it was just one that he could have made a little bit of a better decision.

“He didn’t handle the puck much in the game, that’s pretty good. He jumped up the ice, got his shot through when it was there, matched up well with whoever he was put out there [against], pushed back in front of our net. [There were] a lot of good things.”

It’s a big training camp for Carlo, who is more than likely earmarked for Providence unless he can utilize a stellar training camp performance to push over one of the seven veteran Bruins D-men with NHL contracts. That means potentially displacing Joe Morrow as the seventh defensemen on the roster, or forcing the Bruins to possibly deal Adam McQuaid or Kevan Miller if the Bruins feel he is ready for the day-to-day NHL grind.

The preseason opener was a good start that the 2015 second round pick was excited about, but things will certainly get more challenging for Carlo as the Bruins get deeper into this training camp.

“I just want to keep the same mentality, same energy. Show a little bit more physicality. I felt like I did that, but definitely could close a little quicker in a few instances overall. I just want to keep building on every game,” said Carlo. “There are some very strong guys on the puck in this league and throughout this game they had those guys out there definitely. Overall, you just have to compete just as hard as them.

“You’re dealing with NHL guys out there. [The Blue Jackets] had some pretty good guys in their lineup tonight and everyone is competing for jobs on both sides…so the speed was phenomenal. I loved it.”

The Bruins loved what they saw of Carlo in a pretty big opportunity right out of the gate this preseason, and now the teenager has set the bar if he wants to keep pushing with a hockey club that needs to upgrade their defense with strong, young players.