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

Heinen coming up big with Bruins' roster openings on the wing

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Heinen coming up big with Bruins' roster openings on the wing

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Danton Heinen has to know he’s got a fair shot to win an NHL job out of B’s training camp if he plays with confidence and assertiveness. 

So far, that little Black and Gold carrot has served him well in the preseason. The 21-year-old winger has scored a goal in each of his first two preseason appearances for the Bruins. He will be pushed back into the lineup again vs. the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night.

The difference this time around is Claude Julien will be behind the bench once again for the Bruins after his time with the World Cup of Hockey and the B’s lineup will start to take on more of a real NHL feel with David Pastrnak and David Backes entering the mix.

Julien has liked what he’s seen thus far out of the University of Denver product, and clearly he’ll keep getting looks as long as the production and good work ethic are there.

“I think he’s been a real good player. He’s a smart player that seems to be heady and sees the play well. He seems to be in the right place and understands the game,” said Julien. “The hockey sense is something that you either have or you don’t, and I think he has great hockey sense. It certainly makes a great hockey player. I’ve liked him so far and I’m looking forward to seeing more of him.”

One other thing is certain: wing positions are open on the roster with Frankie Vatrano out for three months and Jimmy Vesey sharpening his skates at Madison Square Garden as a New York Ranger.

“We have to keep an open mind.  Frank Vatrano is hurt, and we kind of felt that he was going to have a really good start to this year. His confidence seemed to be at its highest, and the World Championships were good for him,” said Julien. “We have to look at what we have for a replacement. We went after Jimmy Vesey and we didn’t get him. So there are some spots that are open, and there’s no doubt about it.

“I’m going to be looking at compete level and I’ll be watching for the next three games to see who can fit in those spots. There are open spots, so it’s not cut-and-dried like a lot of years when it has been.”

Clearly, the high-end offensive skill is there after posting 36 goals and 93 points in his first two years at the University of Denver prior to going pro, and Heinen has a dollop of pro experience after getting into three AHL games with Providence at the end of last season. 

The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder showed off the playmaking ability setting up his teammates for chances in Friday night’s win over the Red Wings, and then finally scoring at crunch time in the third period when the coaching staff moved Zach Senyshyn to his opposite wing.

Both of his goals in this preseason have been tying scores in the third that factored prominently in the game’s outcome. That’s been impressive for a young prospect in his very first NHL camp.

But Heinen claims there is still more to come in his game, and that’s encouraging. He’s just starting to get comfortable as a player that uses his vision, hockey IQ and passing to generate loads of scoring chances when he’s on the ice.

“I feel pretty good. I’ve felt better as things have gone on, and I felt better [on Friday against Detroit] than I did in the first game,” said Heinen, who finished just behind a couple of guys named Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin for the NCAA scoring title as a freshman a couple of years ago. “I just need to keep getting better. I think I have a lot more to give. I’m just trying to put my best foot forward, and we’ll see what happens.

“I think I’ve rushed a few plays where I feel like I could hang onto [the puck] and make a smarter play. So it’s little things like that. As I play a little more then I get more comfortable hanging onto it, so I hope to do a little more than that.”

It will also be interesting to see how Heinen responds to again being in the B’s lineup on Saturday for back-to-back, physical preseason games when the NCAA schedule can be a bit more spaced with weekend games. 

There are other candidates like Jake DeBrusk and Zachary Senyshyn that have enjoyed solid training camps to date for the Bruins, but it feels like Heinen is starting to push ahead for one of those winger roster spots Julien has in mind as he watches these final four exhibition games leading into the regular season. 
 

Saturday, Oct. 1: Vesey's New York state of mind

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Saturday, Oct. 1: Vesey's New York state of mind

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while gearing up for Big Papi weekend.

 
*A “behind-the-scenes” look as Jimmy Vesey was sold on the New York Rangers, but there’s not too much detail about the pitches from the other teams. Feels pretty apparent at this point that Vesey wanted to live, and work, in New York City.

*Damien Cox says that the World Cup of Hockey better get it right the next time, or else…or else what, Damien? You’re going to block them on Twitter?

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri has Patrick Kane, Erik Karlsson and P.K. Subban making their preseason debuts on Saturday. David Backes and David Pastrnak will play their first preseason games for the Bruins as well.  

*It’s a complicated, strange story with Vladimir Sobotka, the KHL and the contract he seemingly can’t get out of to again play for the St. Louis Blues.

*Oliver Ekman-Larsson is ready to get back to work with the Arizona Coyotes after his World Cup experience.

*San Jose Sharks prospect Timo Meier is out for the next month with mono, which is definitely worse timing than Zach Senyshyn getting hit with the mononucleosis bomb over the summer.

*A quick look at the Philadelphia Flyers in advance of their preseason meeting with the Black and Gold tonight, which won’t be televised.

*For something completely different: there will be some pretty funky stuff happening on The Walking Dead this season.