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

Bruins hope OT win was sign of things to come offensively

Bruins hope OT win was sign of things to come offensively

BOSTON -- For a team where offense has been a major problem area this season, lighting the lamp four times against the Florida Panthers on Monday night was a welcomed sight for the Bruins indeed.

The Bruins won it in dazzling fashion with a 4-3 overtime win on a David Pastrnak rush to the net after he totally undressed D-man Mike Matheson on his way to the painted area, and then skill took over for him easily beating Roberto Luongo with a skate-off goal.

That was the game-breaker doing his thing and finishing with a pair of goals in victory, and continuing to push a pace that has the 20-year-old right wing on track for more than 40 goals this season.

That would give the Bruins just their fourth 40-goal scorer in the last 25 years of franchise history (Glen Murray in 2002-03, Bill Guerin in 2001-02 and Cam Neely in 1993-94), and mark one of the bigger reasons behind an expected offensive surge that may just be coming for a Black and Gold group currently ranked 23rd in the league in offense.

They just hope that the four strikes vs. Florida is indeed a harbinger of things to come for the rest of the season after serving as just the eighth time in just 26 games this season that they scored more than two goals.

“[There have been] a lot of tight games and low-scoring games, you’re right. It’s good, but as a goalie, I’m not happy when I let in three goals, ever. But it’s great to see that scoring support,” said Tuukka Rask. “When you get four goals, you expect to win, and a lot of times when we get three, I expect to win. It’s great to see [an uptick in scoring].”

So what is there to be optimistic about from a B’s offensive perspective aside from Pastrnak blowing up for a couple more goals to keep pace among the NHL league leaders with Sidney Crosby and Patrick Laine?

Well, the Bruins are starting to see results from crashing to the front of the net, attacking in the offensive zone and finally finishing off plays after serving as one of the best puck possession teams in the league over the first few months.

Just look at how the goals were scored, and how the Bruins are working in closer to the net rather than settling for perimeter plays.

The first goal on Monday night was a result of Tim Schaller crashing down the slot area for a perfectly executed one-timer feed from David Krejci. Similarly David Pastrnak was hanging around in front of the net in the second period when a no-look, spinning Brad Marchand dish from behind the net came his way, and he wasn’t going to miss from that range against Roberto Luongo. Then David Backes parked his big body in front of the Florida net in the third period, and redirected a Ryan Spooner shot up and over Luongo for the score that got the Bruins into overtime.

It’s one of a couple of goals scored by Backes down low recently, and his third goal in the last five games as he heats up with his playmaking center in Krejci. The 32-year-old Backes now has seven goals on the season and is on pace for 26 goals after a bit of a slow start, and the offense is coming for that line as they still search for balance in their two-way hockey play.

“A few more guys are feeling [better] about their games, and know that we’re capable of putting a crooked number up like that. It bodes well moving forward,” said Backes. “But you can’t think that we’re going to relax after the effort that we put in. We’ve got to skill to those dirty areas and still get those second and third chances, and not take anything off during those opportunities. It’s got to go to the back of the net.

“With the way Tuukka has played, and our defense has been stingy and our penalty kill has been on, four goals should be a win for our team. It hasn’t always been easy for us this year. It’s been a process, but I think you’re starting to see the things that you need to see in order for us to score goals. We’re going to the front of the net and getting extended offensive zone time, and then you find a few guys like Pasta in the slot. That’s a good recipe for us.”

Then there’s Ryan Spooner, who enjoyed his best game of the season on Monday night and set up the B’s third goal of the game with his speed and creativity. It was noticeable watching Spooner play with his unbridled skating speed and creative playmaking, and it made a discernible difference in Boston’s overall offensive attack against Florida. It’s something that Claude Julien is hoping to see more of moving forward from Spooner after recent trade rumors really seemed to spark the 23-year-old center, and also knocked some of the inconsistency from a player that’s extremely dangerous offensively when he’s “on.”

“It’s obvious that if Ryan wants to give us those kinds of games, then we have lots of time for him. When he doesn’t we just can’t afford to give him that kind of ice time,” said Julien. “There are games where he hasn’t been as involved, and it’s obvious and apparent to everybody that when he’s not getting involved then he’s not helping our team. When he is playing the way he did yesterday, we can certainly use that player more than not. We’d love to see him get consistent with those kinds of games.”

So while it’s clear the Bruins aren’t completely out of the woods offensively and there are still players like Patrice Bergeron sitting below their usual offensive numbers, it’s also been a little mystifying to watch Boston struggle so much offensively given their talent level.

The Black and Gold fully realized that potential in taking a tough divisional game from Florida on Monday night, and they hope it’s something to build on as the schedule doesn’t let up at all in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, Dec. 6: The Bruins-Panthers connection

Tuesday, Dec. 6: The Bruins-Panthers connection

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while Dave Dombrowski is collecting stars and talent over at Fenway Park. I dig it.

*Interesting piece about switching teams in the NHL and leaving behind old allegiances when the job calls for it.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Harvey Fialkov looks at the connections between the Bruins and the Florida Panthers, and more specifically with the Panthers and the Boston-area.

*A rumor round-up across the NHL including the humorous nugget that the Bruins are looking to move Jimmy Hayes. Yes, they are looking to move Hayes. They are begging some other NHL team to take on the player and the contract for somebody that has one point since last February. It’s not happening.

*Escrow is at the heart of the next negotiation between the NHL and the NHLPA, and I really thought it was going to be years before I’d have to even think about the CBA again.

*Tough break for the Florida Panthers losing Keith Yandle for a long period of time after he was injured last night vs. the Bruins. FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Halford has the story at Pro Hockey Talk.

*Wild coach Bruce Boudreau talks his “bucket list”, which includes a lot of movies and even a stint as a movie reviewer for the Manchester Union Leader back in the day.

*Sounds like Pat Maroon might want to sit out the next few plays after calling hockey a “man’s game” among other things.

*For something completely different: Yup, I’m pretty okay with the Red Sox blowing up the prospect cupboard for Chris Sale.