Bruins

Sauve bulks up to try to stay healthy for Bruins

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Sauve bulks up to try to stay healthy for Bruins

The goal is pretty simple for Max Sauve: stay healthy.

The forward is in the final year of his entry level contract with the Bruins, and has shown flashes on his climb up the organizational ladder after being selected in the second round of the 2008 draft.

He had a good career in the QMJHL and snapped off 21 goals in his first full season with the Providence Bruins. But the 22-year-old with the good skating wheels has also had a profoundly difficult time remaining healthy since joining the pro hockey ranks. He missed 17 games in his first full season in Providence, and played in only 39 games last season while totaling 11 goals and 26 points.

Then Sauve was knocked out in the opening minutes of his NHL debut with the Bruins, and was never heard from again in Boston while the team fought through injuries in the second half of the year.

Concussions, groin issues, hip pointers and other injuries can be freak occurrences, but the last thing any player wants -- especially in the game of pro hockey -- is a reputation of being injury-prone. The Bruins organization also clearly wants to see exactly what they have in Sauve, who still projects to be an NHL third line player capable of popping in double-digit goal totals if he can remain healthy.

Last years experience appears to have had a profound effect on the 6-foot-2, 184-pound Sauve as hes come into this season noticeably sturdier and bigger in build.

Sauve confirmed it was no accident.

I dont want any more injuries, so I worked really hard this summer to get in the best shape that I could. Im in way better shape, said Sauve. Its important to me to show what I can do on the ice, and obviously that wont happen if I cant play. I want to show them that I can stay on the ice.

That would help explain the two point performance (1 goal, 1 assist) in Saturdays 3-1 victory over the Springfield Falcons on Saturday night at the MassMutual Center, and the four points Sauve has already amassed in four games this season. He was instrumental in the game-winning goal while screening in front of the net for a Garnet Exelby point blast, and then he pounced on the rebound of a Zach Trotman shot for Providences insurance goal in the third period.

In both instances Sauve went to the blue painted area, and thats a testament to his new-found strength and tenacity in front of the net. Its something P-Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy wants to see more of along with the team-leading six shots on net he finished with against Springfield.

Sauve is getting rewarded for going to the blue paint, said Cassidy. He almost got a goal in Manchester on Friday night as well, and he was driving hard to the net when he got one against Bridgeport.

Hes going to the net. He just needs to clean up his board-work a little bit and in the neutral zone he needs to know when to make plays and when not to. But hes been good and that line has been consistent. Theyve scored a goal in every game.

Cassidy is referring to the line of Sauve, Ryan Spooner and Jamie Tardif as one of its best in the first two weekends of the season. Their success is clearly a byproduct of all the work put in by Sauve during a summer that could prove to be pivotal to his hockey future.

Rask recovering from concussion, may be ready to play on Saturday

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Rask recovering from concussion, may be ready to play on Saturday

BRIGHTON -- Tuukka Rask is quickly making his way through the concussion protocol and may return to action this weekend.

The Bruins netminder skated with the other injured players ahead of Monday’s main team practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and is on track to rejoin the team at regular practice on Tuesday barring any setbacks in his concussion recovery. That would leave Rask with just a couple of games missed after getting trucked by Anders Bjork at practice last week, and it would give the Bruins back their No. 1 goaltender after Anton Khudobin let in five goals vs. the Sabres on Thursday night.

“He’s in the protocol and progressing well,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “He’ll probably join us [on Tuesday] for the next step if there are no ill effects from today. That’s a positive. If there are no setbacks, I think Saturday is a more realistic [timetable for a return].”

The hope would be that Rask could start elevating his game when he does return, and play better than the goalie that’s posted the 1-3-0 record, 3.30 goals against average and .882 save percentage thus far this season. But first things first with the recovery to his first career concussion as an NHL goalie, and the set of hurdles that must be passed before Rask is again allowed to jump back into game action as early as this weekend.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Bruins practice with Rask, David Krejci and Noel Acciari all skating prior to practice, Patrice Bergeron staying off ice with a maintenance day and Kevan Miller skating in main practice with a maroon, no-contact jersey:

Marchand-Schaller-Bjork
DeBrusk-Backes-Pastrnak
Agostino-Nash-White
Beleskey-Kuraly-Vatrano

Chara-McAvoy
Krug-Carlo
Miller-Postma

Khudobin

Schaller's sterling play helping to ease Bruins' pain

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Schaller's sterling play helping to ease Bruins' pain

BRIGHTON -- Injuries, and some really tough losses, have put a bit of a damper on the start to the Bruins season. But there've also been a couple of unquestioned bright spots.

And one of them is Tim Schaller, who's been a strong, consistent performer in the first couple of weeks of the season. The New Hampshire native -- and lifelong Bruins fan -- was penciled in as a fourth-line winger throughout most of training camp, but he’s played everywhere as injuries have ravaged the B's roster.

The high point was probably centering Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak (and notching an assist) in Saturday’s overtime loss to the Sabres, and filling in for a late-scratched David Krejci with a very different set of skills. Certainly he’s been a standout for the Bruins with his physicality, including stepping up and fighting man mountain Erik Gudbranson after Gudbranson's nasty boarding hit on Frank Vatrano last week, and he’s also kicked in a couple of goals and three points in seven games thus far this season.

“It’s a reactionary thing, and that’s just in a person,” said Bruce Cassidy of fighting Gudbranson. “It’s a character thing because you don’t have a lot of time to think about it. Good for Timmy. That earns a lot of street cred not only in your own locker room, but the other teams notice it. too.

"We know with the goals that he can obviously chip in [offensively] and he’s doing a great job for what we’re asking him to do. He’s probably going to take ownership if he’s out there with some young guys on a line, and if he can be a leader and get that line playing the right way every night that is very valuable to us.”

Schaller’s game to this point is a continuation of what he showed in his first season with the Bruins last year, when the 26-year-old posted 7 goals and 14 points in 59 games while becoming a staple in Boston’s bottom-6 group. He’s once again shown pretty good straight-ahead speed for a big man, and a willingness to take his 6-foot-2, 219-pound frame straight to the net.

“I’ve been moving well and I’ve got the two goals, so personally I’m happy [with my game],” said Schaller. “Hopefully others can feed off what I’m trying to do out there, and we get a more well-balanced game [as a team]. I had a good season last year, and what was really good was that I knew that I had more to give. That’s what I’m trying to do this season.

“I can obviously produce more. I had a good start to last season and then I kind of fell off a little bit. So hopefully I can be a little more consistent for this entire year.”

That would be a very good thing for a Bruins team that can use him in a bottom-6 energy role when its roster is healthy, and will fully utilize his versatility in times of injuries and adversity.