Savard feels no ill effects in his return

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Savard feels no ill effects in his return

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- It was his first shift since last May, and Marc Savard had water in his eyes.

He wasn't crying, of course. It was his own sweat that had dripped down from his helmet, clouding his vision and causing him to jump the gun early on his very first faceoff of the season, prompting the referee to boot him from the draw.

The TD Garden crowd didn't like it one bit and they made sure they were heard from, with boos ringing down from the bleachers.

But nobody was truly upset on Thursday night. The Bruins trounced the Tampa Bay Lightning 8-1, and Savard, who is arguably the team's top-line centerman when completely healthy, was back on the ice.

Savard, who has recovered from post-concussion syndrome, saw 15:45 of ice time in the win. To put that into perspective, center David Krejci had 16:40 and Patrice Bergeron 15:58.

Savard and Bergeron were the only two Bruins to finish the win with both an even plusminus rating and zero points, but Thursday night wasn't about what Savard would finish with on the score sheet. It was about taking the next big step in his recovery from a concussion that he suffered last March.

"I mean, it's been six months, so it's been a long time," said Savard after the game. "I was shaking off a bit of rust, but I felt like I made some good plays. I felt like there's stuff I can build off of, some things I can work on still, obviously. On battles, I had a little trouble as the shift wore on in our own zone a couple times. But I felt good, I felt strong. I got in there a couple times, tried to bang around, didn't really move anybody, but it was a lot of fun tonight.

"It's been a long road, that's for sure, and I owe a lot of thanks to a lot of people, and I've said that before," added Savard. "Everybody who's helped me out along the way, they don't understand how much they've helped me. The fans, too. Just tonight, to top it all off, they were wonderful, and that was one of the reasons I chose to stay here, and hopefully we can reward the fans back with a long playoff run."

Savard first found out he was playing in a meeting with Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien after Thursday's morning skate.

"I was told that everybody seemed positive about him, and OK with him playing," said Julien. "I think it was important to have everybody on board."

"I felt no effects tonight," said Savard, who believes everything was handled "perfectly" during his recovery. "Everything was great. Obviously, like I said, the longer shifts I got a little tired, but I really enjoyed myself tonight. I had a smile on the bench, had a lot of fun.

"I obviously didn't sleep much today," he added. "I tried not to walk around the room when I got here, but I felt like I was just flying around the room, kind of burning energy that I didn't want to burn, but I was just so excited. I felt like a little kid again. It was great."

He also felt like he was playing with a former linemate, and he wasn't talking about Michael Ryder. Ryder was on Savard's wing, but so was rookie Tyler Seguin, and Savard felt an immediate connection with the top draft pick.

Savard compared Seguin to former Bruin Phil Kessel . . . the same Kessel whose trade to Toronto opened the door for Seguin's arrival in Boston.

Needless to say, he liked what he saw.

"I can use his speed," said Savard. "He kind of reminds me of Phil over there, with his speed, so once I get used to it a bit, playing together . . .

"Like I said, I was a little rusty, a couple passes I got in the middle that I wish I would have got over there, but same sense, I feel like I made some good plays. My hands felt fine. My head felt fine. Obviously, just stamina, being out there for 45 seconds, I just have to work on that a bit."

Julien said Savard didn't look like he missed a beat on Thursday. He saw a player whose hands were still there, and whose skating was strong. And there was also one more thing that returned to the Bruins' bench: his mouth.

"He usually leads the way, when it comes to chirping," said Julien. "So he's good on the bench. He really is. He talks a lot, and I know, that when he comes to the bench, and anybody who's played on his line will tell you, he's always talking about different plays . . . that's what makes him such a good playmaker. He does talk a lot on the bench, and that's what you want. You want guys that are in the game, whether they're on the ice, or on the bench."

Savard got his first game out of the way. He still has some things to work on, nobody's denying that. But everyone's happy he's working on those things while helping them win, even if it doesn't show up on the score sheet.

"He is a big playmaker," said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara after the win. "He can make things happen on the rushes. He can find people and give the puck to them. Obviously, on the power play, he sees the puck very well. He brings a lot of patience and is an offensive threat to the other team. You always have to be aware of him. You never know what you are going to get. Sometimes it is a beautiful pass, and sometimes it is a great play. It sure is nice to have him back."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comdannypicard

Julien: Pastrnak 'coming into his own,' has been Bruins' 'best forward'

Julien: Pastrnak 'coming into his own,' has been Bruins' 'best forward'

BOSTON – The Bruins are running out of superlatives for 20-year-old David Pastrnak at this point. 

The right winger continued his torrid goal-scoring pace in a breakout season with the B’s by scoring a couple of goals, including a dazzling overtime game-winner, in a 4-3 OT win over the Florida Panthers at TD Garden. 

Pastrnak now has 15 goals scored in 21 games this season for the Bruins, and has matched career-high for goals scored in a single season already with nearly three quarters of the season still left to be played. Only Sidney Crosby and Patrik Laine have scored more goals than Pastrnak in the NHL this season, and it’s a scary thought to imagine where the 25th ranked Bruins offense would be without their ascending superstar from the Czech Republic. 

Certainly the Bruins wouldn’t have taken two points from the Panthers without him: Pastrnak ended the overtime session quickly when he wheeled up and out of the offensive zone after getting the puck to David Krejci, and then gathered speed before taking the puck from Krejci, blowing the doors off Florida D-man Mike Matheson with a couple of moves and then easily beating Roberto Luongo with a game-winning goal. It was a highlight reel, electric overtime game-winner by any measure, but it’s also the kind of thing that’s started to become routine for an offensive player with as much speed, skill and creativity as anybody currently playing in the NHL. 

“He’s coming into his own, I think. There’s no doubt about that confidence wise, it’s at its highest right now and rightfully so. I think when you look at him skate – and not only in the goal, but even before the goal – he went after that puck to get control of it before that goal even happened,” said Julien. “So once you’ve got control and he moved it around and then got it into Krech’s [David Krejci] hands, at that point when he came back from circling just in the neutral zone a little bit, he had caught their defenseman flat-footed. 

“With that speed I guess there’s not much that D could have done, but what a great move. Obviously taking the time to lift the puck up was pretty impressive – especially that last move. So a nice goal and a great way for us to finish with that win. I think he’s been our best forward since the beginning of the year. So, no doubt it’s nice to see him growing the way he is right now.”

The second period goal was just as impressive for Pastrnak for all kinds of different reasons. The young right wing started a puck possession in the corner when he battled to hold onto the puck from his knees, and eventually worked possession up to Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron fired and missed wide on his chance at the net, but Brad Marchand grabbed the loose puck and uncorked a no-look, spinning pass to Pastrnak waiting in front of the net. 

The natural born scorer fired a laser blast past Luongo and temporarily gave the Bruins the lead in a seesaw game between Boston and Florida. All three of the forwards on the Bergeron line touched the puck on that scoring possession leading right up to the score, and it’s been part of the learning process for a player hitting his offensive peak in his third NHL season. 

“All the games I play beside Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] and Marchy [Brad Marchand] and [with] those two guys it’s such a pleasure to play [with them] and learn a bunch of stuff, learning every single shift,” said Pastrnak. “They talk to me, tell me what to do, and then I guess [I’m] trying to listen. We have a lot of guys here who have been around the league for a long time, so they [are] helping us young guys. It’s really helpful.”

Now it’s Pastrnak tearing up the league in just his third pro season, and playing like he’s going to be “around the league for a long time” just like some of the players on the Boston roster that have jumped from a talented young player to the pathway to NHL stardom. The sky is truly the limit for a player in Pastrnak that can win battles, score goals and skate around in overtime just waiting to embarrass any defenseman that dares try and stop him.