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By Joe Haggerty
WILMINGTON Ė Marc Savard said he won't be playing Wednesday night in Philadelphia in the Bruins' long-awaited rematch against the Flyers, and with good reason given the Flyers' edgy approach. But the play-making center wouldn't rule out coming back Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden when asked about it following another positive practice on Monday morning at Ristuccia Arena.
The Matt Hunwick deal to the Colorado Avalanche certainly lends more credance to the thinking Savard will be back sooner rather than later -- and it makes plenty of sense to let the B's center play his first game at home."It's good communication between us all. It's when we're all comfortable with the situation. I think, for myself, I'm nearing that point," said Savard of that tough-to-grasp moment when he'll be ready to suit up again. "It'll just be a little bit of time here."
The power play could certainly use Savard's know-how and skill set as it sputters along without a spark, and sits at 1-for-14 over the last three games.
"[Monday] was another good day. I'm just continuing on here with good progress. Hopefully Iím ready to get in soon and Iím just around a corner here," said Savard. "I'm nearing that point. I've been skating for a long time†now. But this is my third real practice and a couple of morning skates, which don't really count. So I'm still looking for a couple of days of [practice] and maybe go from there."
Savard has actually been skating for the better part of a month, and feels like he's getting his wind back sufficiently to keep up the pace. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli believes the team has more speed than last year's plodding bunch, and it's taking Savard a bit longer to make sure he'll immediately be in the flow.
"It's going to take [Savard]†a while to get up to speed when he's back, but we've had David [Krejci] in and out with a concussion --†and with this latest flu bug," said Chiarelli. "It'd be nice to get some balance to our attack with the three centermen back. That would be nice."
Getting Savard back into a sputtering lineup would certainly be nice, but keeping him in there would be even nicer. The Bruins won't be making any earth-shattering deals following up on the Hunwick trade until the front office has determined that Savard is able to withstand the hard hits that are certainly coming his way upon his return.The Bruins returned to practice after a thud-worthy loss in Atlanta Sunday afternoon, and flu bug victims Krejci, Jordan Caron and Marco Sturm were all out on the ice with their B's teammates Monday afternoon.
The B's worked on the power play and generating more effective traffic in front of the net Ė a pair of things that scream out for improvement given Bostonís 1-for-14 funk on the power play while plummeting to 18th in the NHL. The meager eight goals in the last five games isn't anything to write home about, either.
"We're not satisfied with the way it's going. We've got to turn it around," said Patrice Bergeron. "It's about making smart plays and being hard on the forecheck."
†Colby Cohen was understandably excited at the prospect of return to Boston, where he earned an NCAA†National Championship with Boston University, but will need to work his way through the organization first. Cohen is in his first year of pro hockey, and was assigned to the Providence Bruins immediately followng the deal with Colorado.
The 21-year-old said that perhaps he didn't appreciate his Boston home enough the first go-round with the Terriers, but he'd come to appreciate it after taking a few bus rides through the AHL over the last few months.
"I'm sort of lost for words right now because thereís not a better place that it's going to happen. I loved BU. I never realized how much I loved [BU]†before I left, and I miss Boston in the worst way," said Cohen. "If there was a city to be back in, that's the city. So hopefully I'm hoping to be in Providence and play well and help the team win there and hopefully just wait for a call up to the Bruins.
"But I've seen quite a few Bruins games and I've played in the Garden quite a few times. I miss Boston in the worst way. I just got off the phone with Mike Bavis, my old coach at BU, and he was pumped."
Bergeron is getting fairly tired of watching his team fall down early in games, and nodded his head when presented with the facts that the B's have allowed the first goal in each of the last five games. Not to mention the fact that the B's have actually buried themselves in a three-goal deficit in four of those five games while taking losses in -- you guessed it -- four of the five games.
The B's center feels like it's simply a matter of worrying too much about whatever the opposition is gearing up to do rather than dictating their own pace to the game -- and simply forechecking the opponent into oblivion as the B's were doing earlier in the season.
"It's not just having a better start, but it's making sure we come out of the gate and just wait to see what [the other team] has got," said Bergeron. "Then we respond and say 'Okay, well, I'll show you what we have.' It's not about worrying about whatever they're throwing at us.
"We have such a good team that we should dictate our game. Good things are going to happen if we do that, and that's when we had success. It's good to know all of their tendencies and stuff, but at the end of the day it's up to us playing our game."
One thing Bergeron didn't think was an issue: Focus, effort or intensity from players within the dressing room.
"I don't think it's a matter of work ethic or intensity, or anything like that," said Bergeron. "Sometimes we're just looking around to see what's going to happen, and that's all. We're fine. I don't think it's time to panic."
There's no panic at this point in the Bruins, but it's stating the obvious that downward trends across the boards for the Black and Gold need to be reversed. Or they'll once again be doomed to repeat what's becoming an annoying pattern of hockey games.
Chiarelli didn't pull any punches when asked about the recent B's slide that's seen the team drop four out of five games, and play .500 hockey over a longer stretch of time.
"Iíve been disappointed. Itís hard enough winning when you donít score the first goal, but when you're spotting a team two, three goals, itís just, you play a different game," said Chiarelli. "And Atlanta was so big in [Sunday's]†game. I've been disappointed. I'll be honest with you, I've been disappointed, and we have to figure out whatís been going on whether it's from a personnel perspective or otherwise.
"Weíre going to continue to do that. When we're playing how we're capable of playing, it's a very good game and it's the type of game that we've envisioned for this team. I'll say we're faster. We're not ultra-quick, but we work for our speed and part of that is in our system. When we stray off of that, it falls apart. But from the same token, we have to get better specialty teams and we have to execute. We have to execute better. So it's†part of the process, and we will continue to try and figure it out and do better."
Tags: Boston Bruins, Marc Savard