Savard's head injury is familiar territory for Bergeron

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Savard's head injury is familiar territory for Bergeron

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

EL SEGUNDO, CA With Marc Savard back in Boston recovering from a head injury -- and with a question mark next to his name -- the Bruins went about the job of putting the pieces together Sunday.

Claude Julien rearranged his lines during a Sunday afternoon practice at the Toyota Sports Center practice facility home of the Los Angeles Kings, and reunited the trio of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton that so effectively churned out points in the opening weeks of the season.

Julien similarly positioned Blake Wheeler at center on a line with Michael Ryder and Tyler Seguin while leaving Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi together after a monster game on Saturday.

The Bs were uniform in their concern for Savard as he touched down in Boston on Sunday. He plans to meet with doctors and specialists for testing on Monday, according to general manager Peter Chiarelli.

Perhaps nobody empathizes with Savards plight more than center Patrice Bergeron.

The 25-year-old center suffered his own damaging concussion in the opening weeks of 2007-08, when he was jumped from behind by Flyers defenseman Randy Jones.

Bergeron missed the remainder of the season, despite noise he might have been available during Bostons playoff run that year, and then suffered a second concussion after colliding with future teammate Dennis Seidenberg in a game against the Carolina Hurricanes the following winter.

While there was plenty of fear and anxiety following Bergerons second concussion at the time, it turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened to him.

He missed a month of action while taking his time to ease back into the lineup.

But he also felt better within a matter of days and realized there wouldnt be a repeat of his first terrifying experience.

It wouldnt be months before Bergeron could read a book or simply leave his house unsupervised, and that made all the difference.

I dont know what the situation is with Savvy, but for me it was hard to take at first. But a couple of days later it was positive and I started feeling good, said Bergeron. It made me realize eventually that I was fine. It was just a bump in the road. I was okay and fine. I could look forward now. So it did help me a little bit in a way.

It also gave me the time to have the feel of getting back on the ice, and a couple of weeks to regroup and get back in shape. To think about it and realize I was okay. I think I was a better player afterward.

Like Bergeron a couple of years ago, Savard was just starting to put his game together at the time he went down again. The center had points in four of his previous five games leading into the weekend meeting with the Avalanche, but that was all put out mind after the unfortunate sequence with Matt Hunwick.

Bergerons best advice to Savard after coming out on the other side with his health intact: Take his time coming back if this latest bump in the road is a concussion.

If its two weeks, then take the two weeks to heal and recover. If it means missing a month, then so be it.

Weve seen it too much around the league. Even Sid Crosby has to do it. We all have to take time to recover from a concussion, said Bergeron. A lot of guys from the past say they didnt have concussions, but its just that the league didnt know anything about it. Its obvious that its dangerous.

You need to take the time and heal. Weve seen what can happen if guys try to play through it, with depression and all that. You need to be careful and now the doctors know more about it. Make sure you take the time.

Theres really no easy way to quantify the anxiety level of professional athletes forced to avert simple things like bright lights, reading or a brisk walk for weeks or months at a time as a result of a brain injury.

There is an unavoidable fear associated with re-occurrence of post-concussion symptoms.

Bergeron admitted his mind went to that horrible place in the first day or two after that December collision with Seidenberg in 2008, and it isnt hard to imagine Savard going through the same thing.

It was clear Savard was emotional on Saturday as he appeared dazed while trying unsuccessfully to get to his feet after slamming his head, and Bergeron remembers that awful feeling vividly.

It was more of a Here we go again kind of feeling. Kind of Am I going to be okay? But then two, three and four days after, I realized it wasnt going to be even close to the one before. That gave me some hope, said Bergeron. I was positive after that, but the first few days I was wondering if I was going through the whole thing again.

It wasnt as bad as the symptoms. The symptoms were there, but they werent quite as hard as the last time. It was more my spirit that was hurt more than anything else.

The hope is Savard hasnt been concussed, or has suffered a mild concussion that would only keep him out a matter of weeks -- or a month like Bergeron -- without any of the long-term complications that seem to be automatically included when post-concussion syndrome strikes.

Depression was one of the big symptoms that Savard grappled with as he attempted his return earlier this season, and theres always a fear that can creep back in.

That kind of altered brain chemistry could easily come into play each time Savard has a close call like last weeks collision Deryk Engelland of the Penguins, or a minor concussion as may have been the case after his head slammed off the boards.

There will be some answers immediately for Savard on Monday.

The hope is that the answers he gets will be optimistic and that any potential fog he's experiencing lifts quickly from his brain as it did for Bergeron two short years ago.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Spooner working on his draws to help become a more complete center

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Spooner working on his draws to help become a more complete center

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Ryan Spooner quickly ticked off face-offs as one big area that needed improvement headed into his second full NHL season with the Bruins and the speedy young center has most definitely put in the work thus far in camp.

Still, it didn’t translate in Spooner’s first preseason game in Wednesday night’s lopsided loss to the Red Wings as he finished 4-for-16 on the draw, and to add insult to injury: he also served a two-minute minor penalty for a face-off violation that led to a power-play goal. 

The skilled center made up for it at the other end by setting up a score for fellow speed-demon center Austin Czarnik as Boston’s only goal, but he was again back out on the Warrior Ice Arena sheet working on his draws again Thursday.

“I wasn’t great on my face-offs [against Detroit] trying to cheat a little bit too much. I think I just need to maybe just bear down a little bit more,” said Spooner, who finished at a very lackluster 42.8 percent success rate on face-offs last season. “[I need to] not try to win them clean, maybe just tie them up a little bit more. I was just trying to cheat on those [face-offs], and it didn’t work.”

Clearly, the draws were a contributing part of the problem in the rough loss to the Red Wings and it’s something Spooner will need to iron out before he’s fully trusted by the coaching in the nitty-gritty situations late in games. That was obvious at times last season. It’s something Spooner wants to change this season when there’s so much competition at the center spot, with Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, David Backes, Dominic Moore, Noel Acciari, Riley Nash and Czarnik all considered natural centers.

“When you start with the puck then the game is so much easier,” said B’s assistant coach Bruce Cassidy. “For Spooner [face offs] are important. I don’t want to speak for Claude [Julien], but he does have the luxury now of playing Spooner with guys that can take draws in his place if he wants to go down that road.

“At some point he’s going to have to improve [on the draw]. I think he wants to [improve on the draw] and he’s working at it, but the numbers aren’t where they need to be for him obviously. That’s the challenge Claude has going forward, but I think he can still get out on the ice and help you, even if he’s deficient in the face-off circle, and if he has some wingers that can help him.”

Spooner has employed veteran center Moore to give him some pointers while the two have worked out together in training camp and, in theory, it should be a big help for the young third-line center. Moore is one of those trusted veterans that is used in key face off situations with positive results, and is a left-shot player who can show the 24-year-old the exact techniques to help him.

Spooner said that getting face-off tips from Bergeron or Krejci had a limit to its helpfulness because those are right-handed centers doing the absolute reverse technique that a left-shot center would employ. Moore downplayed his role as a bit of a face off mentor, but the statistics, and his reputation on the draw would indicate he’s got plenty of knowledge to offer a second-year player.

“There are a lot of little things in the game, face-offs being one of them, that you learn through experience, and you want to try to pass it along to help make the team better,” said Moore. “[Spooner] is eager to try and improve a little bit every day. Part of face-offs is trying to get an edge any way that you can because they’re such a hotly contested thing.

“It’s definitely not easy, but if you have the right mentality then you try and build it up. You just have to approach it on a daily basis, commit to it and try to improve as best you can.”

Like so many things in life it would seem face-off ability is about putting in the work as much as it’s about natural-born skill and Spooner is putting in the hours to be a more complete center and trusted part of the team.

 

Bruins set roster for tonight’s preseason game in Detroit

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Bruins set roster for tonight’s preseason game in Detroit

The Bruins' lineup for Friday night’s preseason game in Detroit at Joe Louis Arena against the Red Wings will include players from both practice groups filling into a more veteran-laden B’s lineup in Motown.

The Matt Grzelcyk-Adam McQuaid pairing that wasn’t great on Wednesday night will get right back into it, and the John-Michael Liles-Brandon Carlo pairing that was so good on Monday night will get another look as well. Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, Anton Khudobin, Dominic Moore, Joe Morrow, Riley Nash and Ryan Spooner will be the established NHL veterans along with McQuaid and Liles suiting up for Boston’s first road exhibition of the preseason.

Here’s the entire lineup, with Boston now serving as one of the last NHL teams that is yet to make any cuts from their camp roster: Matt Beleskey, Anton Blidh, Brandon Carlo, Colby Cave, Peter Cehlarik, Brian Ferlin, Alex Grant, Seth Griffith, Matt Grzelcyk, Jimmy Hayes, Danton Heinen, Anton Khudobin, Jeremy Lauzon, John-Michael Liles, Zane McIntyre, Adam McQuaid, Dominic Moore, Joe Morrow, Riley Nash, Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Spooner.

The Bruins will be traveling to Philadelphia for another preseason game on Saturday and that may perhaps be the first time B’s fans get to see returning World Cup veteran players David Backes, David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask after they began practicing with the camp group on Thursday morning at Warrior Ice Arena.