Weather prevents Savard from getting back to Boston

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Weather prevents Savard from getting back to Boston

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Wednesday's bad weather prevented Marc Savard from making it back to Boston, and coach Claude Julien said he hopes the veteran center will be back by Thursday.

There reports earlier in the week that Savard, who suffered his second concussion in 10 months in January and is again suffering from post-concussion syndrome, may be shut down for the season. Julien said he hasnt been involved in those discussions, but added no decision will be made until Savard is re-examined by the medical staff.

That will happen when he returns to Boston.

If you werent quite sure whether or not defenseman Mark Stuarts absence over the last four games was health-related, Julien clarified, on Wednesday afternoon at the TD Garden, that its not. Hes been a healthy scratch.

Right now, Stuart has lost his starting job due to injury. It doesnt have to do with his poor play. It has a whole lot more to do with the way others stepped up during his six-week absence, thanks to a broken hand he suffered in early December.

The play of Steven Kampfer has given him an everyday role in the Bruins lineup, and Andrew Ference (19) and Adam McQuaid (16) have the best plus-minus ratings on the team.

Also, take into account that the Bruins have been playing some pretty good hockey as of late, and Julien has a tough decision to make every game day. But certainly, thats a good problem to have, because it means you have depth.

For the longest time, Stuart was a key piece to that depth, as he was the teams iron man up until last season.

Now, another injury opened the door for a puck-moving defenseman like Kampfer, and even after having played in the first three games that he was cleared to play in, in mid-January, Stuart has been the healthy scratch for the last four games, a stretch in which the Bs have gone 3-1.

Julien talked about Stuarts current situation on Wednesday.

You dont want to be a healthy scratch, said Julien. At the same time, I think he understands what the situation is. Weve played well with our back end, the way it has been, during his absence. And sometimes its a matter of . . . players get hurt, and its unfortunate, but sometimes they kind of have to wait for their opportunities to step in there, and then make a difference when theyre called upon.

Thats why hes got to stay ready. That doesnt mean youre not going to see him in the lineup. That doesnt mean Im not going to move guys around. Im just saying that, what hes going through right now, is not easy. But as I mentioned yesterday, Stueys one of those guys thats a team-first guy. And if theres one thing you dont want to do, its disrupt the club, for his own sake.

Theres no doubt, hes not enjoying this, and I wouldnt expect him to enjoy it. Its just the way it is.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Young Bruins 'really excited' for preseason opener tonight

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Young Bruins 'really excited' for preseason opener tonight

BRIGHTON -- The Bruins aren’t going to have anything resembling an All-Star lineup when they take the ice against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night at TD Garden for their preseason opener. But they'll take a long, lingering look at their future with a game-night roster full of prospects and young players who still get butterflies at the thought of putting on an NHL sweater for an Original Six club.

Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen, Jakub Zboril, Robbie O’Gara, Peter Cehlarik and Brandon Carlo are among the top B’s youngsters that will be in the lineup, and will be cranking up the energy prior to puck drop against the Blue Jackets.

“Everybody is really excited. I woke up this morning with a big smile on my face knowing that I get to put the B’s jersey on and get to go out [on the ice] at TD Garden,” said Brandon Carlo, who will be paired with John-Michael Liles as he has been throughout the start of training camp. “I probably won’t have much of a nap today because I’m so amped up.

“I feel like I’m moving my feet out there, and I want to show that I’ve gotten better at things I worked on over the summer like moving the puck. I definitely want to show a little bit of physicality out there as well.”

The young players are the ones who also provide the most unknown variable for the coaching staff at this point. So the first preseason game is largely about how those hopefuls respond to faster, more physical and intense competition.

“You’re looking to see effort and energy tonight. If the effort and energy is there everything else will take care of itself,” said assistant coach Joe Sacco. “You don’t really want them to think too much out there tonight. This is a game where players are trying to showcase their talent, and we want them to do that.”

Sacco said Anton Khudobin will play the first two periods and Zane McIntyre will wrap things up. Here are the line combos and D-pairings expected to take the ice against the Blue Jackets:
 
DeBrusk-Czarnik-Hayes
Cehlarik-Kuraly-Mueller
Heinen-Nash-Griffith
Hargrove-Cave-Randell
 
Zboril-Miller
Liles-Carlo
Morrow-O’Gara
 
Khudobin
McIntyre

Backes doesn't back down from criticism of those who ripped Team USA

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Backes doesn't back down from criticism of those who ripped Team USA

BRIGHTON -- He may not get the chance, since he's now 32 and has thrown (and taken) plenty of hits during his 11-year NHL career, but new Bruin David Backes said he hopes to play for Team USA again to “have a nice taste in my mouth”.

Clearly, his last experience left a bad taste: The Americans finished dead last in the World Cup of Hockey, which is winding down now with Team Europe and Team Canada playing for the championship.

What also left a bad taste for Backes were the passive-aggressive Tweets sent out by U.S.-born players like Phil Kessel and Bobby Ryan after the Americans lost all three games they played in the World Cup. And he isn't about to back down from the pointed criticism he directed at them.

“I was one of the guys called upon to go to the rink on a day off after we were eliminated . . . . one of four to stand up and answer the questions,” said Backes, who certainly showed his personal accountability by showing up to answer questions after Team USA had flopped on the world stage. “Rather than defer and plead the Fifth, I thought it was something we needed to address. I think it’s easy to sit back and sling mud . . . when you’re not a part of it.

“[You can] kind of make yourself feel good about it (by criticizing Team USA) for a second, but if I wasn’t selected for the team, or if I’m not selected to the Olympic team in two years, I’m still American, I’ve still worn that jersey, and I’m going to root for those guys and hope everything goes well. If it doesn’t, I’m going to be crushed like I was on the team. That’s how I think as a team guy and as a guy that’s worn that jersey proudly and how much it means to me.

"I just hope and wish the other guys had those same feelings. If you’ve got some vindication not being on the team, and the team failing or not accomplishing the goal, then you should internalize that and use it as motivation going forward. You don’t need to join in with the chatter that’s negative and keeps piling on. Those are my visceral thoughts on the subject.”

Backes was a healthy scratch for Team USA’s final game against the Czech Republic, a listless defeat that dropped the U.S. to the bottom of the World Cup standings. That’s a bitter pill to swallow for a competitor who clearly understands the importance of representing one’s country.

So it’s no surprise the Bruins center hopes he gets a chance to redeem himself by making the 2018 Winter Olympics team. Backes has skated for the U.S. in each of the last two Olympics.

“I hope (the World Cup isn't the last time I play for my country), but that’s out of my control,” said Backes. “If my services seem like I can help a team be successful, I’d love to put that jersey on and have a nice taste in my mouth for the last time I use it, or the next time I use it. But there are a lot of great players that are Americans, and the next GM, or whoever it is constructing the team, will have decisions to make. Whoever they pick, I hope [the team] goes and puts us back on top of the pedestal for whatever competition it is.”

Clearly the Bruins hope that as well, since it would be a clear indicator Backes is performing at an elite level a couple of seasons into his five-year, big-money contract with Boston.