Tag Archives: Marc Savard

Fourteen years to forever

Hockey card of Zdeno Chara

I’m fairly sure I was in my car, on the highway somewhere between Quincy and New Bedford, when I got a call from Mick Colageo and his message was simple, to-the-point and more than a little excited:

“They got Chara.”

If you’re not familiar, Mick is a hockey svengali and criminally underrated. He sees the game clearly, understands its nuances and can place it all in context, be it historical or present-day. If he was calling me and that excited, this was a tremendous moment.

I don’t know if even he could’ve seen what was to come: fourteen seasons as the captain of the Bruins, lifting the Stanley Cup and creating countless Paul Bunyan-esque folk tales along the way. Zdeno Chara has shown would-be goal scorers the door and sent anyone who dared to harass a Boston netminder into the fifth row. He’s blasted in goals from the blue line with terrifying velocity and, when given the chance, shown skill and poise with the puck. He’s logged hours and hours on the ice, extending shifts and keeping the wolves at bay when needed. He’s been the ultimate quiet leader, treating teammates young and old with respect and demonstrating exactly how much work was to be expected — and if anyone was ever able to hang in the gym longer than him, I never heard about it.

Through it all, there were moments where it felt like Chara would tower over the Boston blue line forever. If I had known even half of that was to come when he signed up, I’d have careened off the road. Continue reading

Bruins shaking things up for the better?

Mark Recchi: Back for another season in Boston.

The Boston Bruins’ 2009-10 campaign was an up-and-down affair, and in case you’ve forgotten, it ended in horrifying fashion.

Change was expected, but every season sees change. Coming off a 2008-09 where they led the East in points, the Bruins still let P.J. Axelsson, Stephane Yelle and Manny Fernandez leave, traded Aaron Ward, and brought in Derek Morris, all moves designed to strengthen weaknesses and give more space to their youngsters.

Injuries, regressions and underachieving followed, and Peter Chiarelli and company are back trying to make it all better. Honestly, they’re not that far away, but moves need to be made, and let’s see what they’ve done so far in what has been a very busy week.

We’ll look quickly at who’s expected to make the team at the outset of the 2010-11 season, meaning while all their draft picks are exciting, there’s really only one who’s likely to be in Prague for the opener.

IN:

C – Tyler Seguin: The second pick in the 2010 draft, delivered to them when the Edmonton Oilers selected RW Taylor Hall with the first pick. Hall plays a bruising, fast style on the wing and is a natural goal scorer, while Seguin is a more natural playmaker who might have to play out of position in Boston. For my money, I’ll always take a natural center over a wing. On a team loaded at center (Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci down the middle), Seguin has a chance to play on any line right away and contribute. And the Bruins won’t always be stocked; the 18-year-old might only play one season out of position (and less if they make a trade).

C – Gregory Campbell: According to the mighty Mick Colageo, Campbell is set up to replace Steve Begin, who showed flashes and was a good teammate, but never quite put it together (playing hurt for much of the season couldn’t have helped). But I’ll take my chances with a hard-working grinder on the fourth line.

RW – Nathan Horton: He was among the many who have been distraught over the thought of spending any more time with the Panthers, and he brings his goal scoring talents to Boston. His totals the past five seasons, playing without a real center? 28, 31, 27, 22, 20.

OUT:

D – Dennis Wideman: Hahahahahahahahaha.

C – Vladimir Sobotka: A tough little playmaker capable of sending someone into the 9th row at any moment, but he was streaky, and with the additions of Seguin and Campbell, was never going to get a real chance here. Good luck to him in St. Louis; I hope he enjoys terrorizing the Western Conference.

LIKELY OUT:

C – Steve Begin; RW – Miroslav Satan: Good guys all, and Satan was huge in the playoffs until his linemate Krejci went down.

RE-SIGNED FREE ANGENTS:

D – Johnny Boychuck: Tough, bruising, smart and getting better. It’s nearly thrilling to know he’ll be in the fold for two more years.

D – Dennis Seidenberg: Coming over at the trade deadline for Derek Morris, Seidenberg proved a perfect foil for Zdeno Chara on the top pair. He’s a smart, puck-moving defenseman who can be physical when he needs to be, can anchor a power play and can shut down a top forward. He’s on board for another four years.

D – Andrew Ference: Wideman is gone because he couldn’t play an even game; he was either inspiring or horrifying. Ference has had more than his share of injuries, and his three-year extension seemed strange when he signed at the end of the season. But when Ference plays, he’s solid and rarely makes mistakes. He’s either very good, or he’s not playing. Maybe that’s what Chiarelli is paying for.

RW – Mark Recchi: He and Bergeron were my favorite Bruins last year. His point production at age 42 was incredible, and now he gets one more year to teach the finer points to Seguin and the rest.

RW – Shawn Thornton: Thornton is a fantastic teammate, offers up 8-10 high-energy minutes a night, knocks people out, and says funny things. Welcome back!

OFFERED CONTRACT TENDERS (meaning they’ll be back):

D – Mark Stuart; D – Adam McQuaid; LW – Blake Wheeler; LW – Daniel Paille (or will be soon, reportedly): Stuart is solid and potentially captain material when healthy, McQuaid was decent in the pinch, Wheeler is talented but maddening, and Paille was fantastic on the penalty kill, but had trouble finishing off his scoring chances, which he seemed to pull out of the air. I’m fine with all of them getting another look.

So, what could the Bruins look like in five months?

Forward lines:

17 Milan Lucic  –  91 Marc Savard  –  18 Nathan Horton

19 Tyler Seguin  –  37 Patrice Bergeron  –  28 Mark Recchi

26 Blake Wheeler  –  46 David Krejci  –  73 Michael Ryder

20 Daniel Paille   –  11 Gregory Campbell  –  22 Shawn Thornton

Defense:

33 Zdeno Chara  –  44 Dennis Seidenberg

21 Andrew Ference  –  55 Johnny Boychuck

48 Matt Hunwick  –  45 Mark Stuart

Goaltenders:

40 Tuukka Rask

30 Tim Thomas

In the system:

16 Marco Sturm (knee injury)  –  63 Brad Marchand, 52 Zach Hamill, 54 Adam McQuaid, XX Joe Colbourne, 62 Jeffrey Penner, XX Jordan Caron (Providence)

*This list edited with new jersey numbers on 6/30

Thoughts? Not a bad looking group. I’m not crazy about Hunwick, and with $5 million, give or take, in cap room, I have to think another move is coming up front, whether that means Savard leaves (which makes no sense in a hockey sense; a pure money move), Thomas goes for more goal-scoring punch, or Ryder is finally sent packing.

We’ll see. It’s a long time between now and October, and just because it’s hot outside doesn’t mean I don’t have ice on the brain.

Marc Savard returns: Like a big middle finger to Matt Cooke

Marc Savard

No snow this time, but Savard was as classic as can be today.

After weeks of uncertainty and watching your mates struggle on the power play, how does Marc Savard make his grand return?

At first, modestly. Three minutes here, three minutes there, and a little more time in the third period (including ice time in the last minute of regulation). And then, of course, comes the obligatory bad-angle overtime blaster past the flailing shoulder of Flyers goalie Brian Boucher.

Just like they drew it up, I’m sure.

To say I was excited won’t do the situation any justice, of course. I was beyond excited. I had actively rooted for Boston to draw Philadelphia and not Pittsburgh in the second round, exclusively because I was sure a series with these two teams could become classic. They seem to genuinely dislike each other, and whenever that exists, there’s no telling how incredible the games could be. And oh, they’re a hateable bunch. Scott Hartnell is a thug, Chris Pronger might just be a horrible human being, and is there anyone you’d rather see punched in the face than Daniel Carcillo?

So to start this soon-to-be-legendary series, Game 1 featured the Flyers scoring two goals in the second half of the third period to send it to overtime, and the Bruins answering at the beginning of overtime with, as Jack Edwards would say, bees in their bonnets.

They came out and peppered Boucher. They were relentless. Mark Recchi singlehandedly generated three scoring chances on one drive, Miroslav Satan thought he had another game winner, and Patrice Bergeron, who hasn’t lost a battle in the corners in a year and a half, it seems, was feeding the puck to waiting snipers left and right.

The Bruins had played well all night, but this overtime was something else. It might’ve been their best 10 minutes or so of hockey all season. And it was punctuated by the golden goal of a returning hero, back just in time to breathe new life into the Bruins’ Stanley Cup chances.

Did you read that? It’s no longer completely ridiculous to say “Stanley Cup” in the same sentence as “Bruins.”

The most recent image of Savard, motionless on the ice after a gutless hit from the gutless Matt Cooke, has been replaced by that of Savard screaming and smacking his stick against the ice in exhaulted joy, streaking towards the fans behind the glass, only to be mobbed by his equally enthralled teammates.

God Save Marc Savard.