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

Heinen looking to show his offense in his shot on Krejci line

Heinen looking to show his offense in his shot on Krejci line

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins mixed things up with their roster a bit on Saturday after dropping a couple of games in a row to Washington and Colorado. 

Fourth-line energy winger Noel Acciari and playmaking forward Danton Heinen were called up from Providence and will be in the lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden on Saturday night. 
Acciari went to Providence the past couple of days to get some game action in after missing the past month with a lower body injury, but clearly showed he’s ready to go. 

So, Acciari is back to provide the same hard-hitting and energy he showed before he was hurt and Heinen is looking to show off a little more offense than in his first stint with the Black and Gold this season. He’ll be featured in a top role as left wing with David Krejci and David Backes and with marching orders to shoot the puck like he never shot it in his previous stint in Boston. 

For the Bruins, it’s about getting another look at a candidate to play left wing beside Krejci with both Ryan Spooner and Tim Schaller, with limitations to their respective games, unable to fully grasp that same opportunity. 

“My hope is that Heinen can come in and give us some good hockey. He’s a skill player and he’s been down there for a while, and he’s back up again because he’s been playing well,” said Claude Julien of the Bruins rookie, who had four goals and seven points in his past five games with Providence. “Hopefully he can play well here also. It’s about getting some confidence. When he went down to [the AHL] the pace of his game had to get a little bit better, and in the battles coming up with the puck along the walls. Those are the kinds of things we thought he could work on down in Providence.”

Heinen knows he needs to shoot the puck a bit more to show off his offense after a seven-game stint with the Bruins where he went scoreless, was a minus-2 and had just six shots on net.

“Being hard on the walls, playing fast and shooting the puck, those were all things I was working on [in Providence],” said Heinen, who has seven goals and 13 points in 13 games for the P-Bruins after being assigned to Providence. “I was doing what they told me to do [in Providence] and that’s shoot the puck. They were going in, and I was getting some good opportunities on the power play. It’s seriously tough to get chances [at the NHL level], so you can’t pass them up when you have chances. That was kind of my focus down there.”

Fellow fourth-line energy winger Anton Blidh has been shipped to Providence after three solid games with the Black and Gold. 

Julien said Blidh goes back to Providence having adequately shown that he can play in the NHL. He clearly showed the Bruins that he understands his role as a player that stirs things up a bit and gets his nose dirty on a regular basis.

“[Blidh] was fine. No issues there. He does his job. He plays with lots of energy and obviously he’s getting more experience. He’s a lot better at understanding his positioning within the game and what he has to do,” said Julien. “I thought he helped us out for the time that he was here.”

With Heinen and Acciari both in the lineup and Blidh back in Providence, that means Jimmy Hayes will be scratched after dressing for three of the past four games for Boston.

Saturday, Dec. 10: Vegas, scoring on NHL governors' minds

Saturday, Dec. 10: Vegas, scoring on NHL governors' minds

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while doing some early Christmas shopping ahead of the late rush. 

*Mike Zeisberger sits down with a quartet of NHL governors and discusses a number of hot topics including the Vegas franchise and scoring around the league. 

*Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos has been removed from the NHL Board of Governor’s Executive Committee amid rumors that the Canes might be a prime candidate for relocation. 

*Pierre McGuire weighs in on Connor McDavid’s war of words on the ice and Carey Price losing his mind in the crease against the New Jersey Devils. To that end, Wayne Gretzky liked seeing McDavid get a little combative at such a young age. 

*The New York Islanders signed Cal Clutterbuck to a five year contract extension, and some are skeptical it will turn out well for the Isles.

*David Pastrnak is a premier scoring threat in the league, and Scott Cullen has some details behind that. I will say this: his stock falling in the draft had less to do with his size or heaviness, and more to do with him being concussed for a long stretch of time during the year leading up to the draft. 

*The Florida Panthers are really struggling to stay positive with a 1-5-0 record since the ownership group and management decided to fire Gerard Gallant. 

*For something completely different: Baywatch stars then and now.