Bruins

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 get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

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Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

Here’s what we learned from the Bruins' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center on Saturday night, which gave Boston four of a possible six points in its California road swing.
 
1) The kids stepped up at a great time for the Bruins. Boston needed some young players to step up and fill in for the injured veterans up front, and they got it on Saturday night. Jake DeBrusk was the main playmaker on both goals in the first period, and the Bruins got goals from rookies DeBrusk, Peter Cehlarik and Danton Heinen. It was Cehlarik’s first NHL goal and the 10th point of the season for Heinen, who continues to show signs that he is going to be a productive, reliable winger  even though he didn’t start the season at the NHL level. DeBrusk finished with a goal and an assist and twice used his speed and aggressiveness taking the puck to the net to create scoring chances: On the first goal it was Cehlarik who finished the loose puck after DeBrusk’s net drive created a rebound, and on the second it was DeBrusk simply beating reigning Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns to a race for the puck and then snapping it up and over San Jose backup goalie Aaron Dell. Cehlarik became the sixth Bruins rookie to score the first goal of his NHL career with Boston this season, and it all shows tangible results of the youth movement they were fully embracing this season. There will be peaks and valleys with so many young players in the lineup, but Saturday night turned out to be one of those high-water marks.

2)  At their healthiest, the Bruins can be a fast-skating, skilled team that will be equal parts offense and defense in a hard-working style that features pace and creativity in the offensive zone. The Bruins aren't healthy right now, obviously, and aren’t going to find success that way as attested by the fact that they hadn’t won two games in a row this season until Saturday night in San Jose. With a number of players already out of the lineup, Torey Krug now injured as well and Tuukka Rask taking an extended rest in favor of a red-hot Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are actually playing a very different brand of hockey right now. With Rask not playing -- and not allowing the types of bad or soft goals he's given up so far this year -- they can play a little more conservatively and try to make a two- or three-goal output in a game actually stick as the game-winning margin. Just check the box score,  as the Bruins blocked a whopping 30 shots and conversely the Sharks blocked just 12. Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Robbie O’Gara all had blocked shots in the final few minutes, and Brandon Carlo stepped in front of a wide-open chance for Burns in the third period off a clean offensive zone faceoff win for the Sharks. Those are all gritty, tough plays in the D-zone that you don’t always see, and it perhaps comes a little more naturally when the Bruins are making the clear choice to feature their defense and goaltending right now. It may not be sustainable once Anton Khudobin inevitably cools off a little bit, but for now it’s pretty darn effective.


 
3)  After watching him stop 36 of 37 shots for the win on Saturday night, the Bruins need to see this thing through with Khudobin until he loses a game. Khudobin is 5-0-2 with this season, with a .949 save percentage in three appearances in November. He's playing the best he's played in the last couple of years. Right now Khudobin is actually leading the NHL with a .935 save percentage for the season, and that really contrasts to Rask's .897 save percentage. Certainly part of it is about the Bruins selling out defensively in front of him and blocking 30 shots in the win while knowing they didn’t have to play again until Wednesday night. But it’s also about the Bruins backup goaltender playing himself into a position where the B’s should ride him until he cools down a little bit, and give Rask some more time to figure out what is slowing him down between the pipes right now.
 
PLUS
-- DeBrusk made a couple of big plays in the first period that led to goals for the Bruins, and he finished with a goal, two points, a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net in 15:49 of ice time. He has a goal and three points in three games since being a healthy scratch last weekend against Toronto.
 
--Khudobin made 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were outshot 17-5 and it certainly seemed like they were going to get run out of the building. Instead Khudobin stood tall.
 
-- Heinen finished with two goals and three points on the three-game trip and iced the game for the Bruins with a backdoor strike in the third period after Kevan Miller had dashed up the right side of the ice to create the chance. Heinen is pushing up near the Bruins team leaders in some offensive categories and looks like he belongs in the NHL this season.
 
MINUS
-- Burns was burnt on each of the Bruins' two first-period goals, he actually missed the net with 12 of his 16 shot attempts, and he had seven giveaways in a pretty sloppy game managing the puck. Burns hasn’t had a great season to date, and Saturday night was a good example of things not going well for him this year.
 
-- Paul Postma finished with just eight minutes of ice time in the win, and was part of the poor defensive coverage on the Sharks goal by Joonas Donskoi in the first period that ended up getting overturned on video review. Postma didn’t show much else after that only playing a handful of minutes over the remainder of the game, and based on his early performance looks like he’s only going to be a seventh defensemen in Boston.
 
-- Here’s a hearty boo to the 10:30 pm West Coast starts on Saturday night that only the diehards, or those getting paid, are going to closely watch on the weekend leading up to Thanksgiving. Congrats to you if you were one of the lucky ones that decided to stay up and watch a game that didn’t end until after 1 a.m. in the East.  

Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

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Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while battening down the hatches for Thanksgiving week.
 
-- When longtime Bruins follower Clark Booth opines about the Black and Gold, I tend to listen. And he's not happy with the Bruins' salary cap situation at this point in time. It should be noted that this was written before they won the last two games. But some of those truths still remain self-evident when it comes to the B’s.

-- Kevin Bieksa will never stop talking about former teammate Rick Rypien, or about the factors that ultimately led to his tragic passing.
 
-- Alex Ovechkin is truly living up to the “Russian Machine Never Breaks” mantra these days, which led to the creation of an entire blog about the Capitals.
 
-- This Saturday Night Live skit with Chance the Rapper playing a clueless hockey reporter was funny, even to people that have been covering the league for 20 years and still struggle to pronounce a name like Brady Skjei.
 
-- The good, the bad and the ugly courtesy of FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mitch Melnick from last night’s Montreal blowout loss to the Maple Leafs that probably could have just been called the ugly, the ugly and the ugly.
 
-- It’s 20 games into the season, and the Buffalo Sabres media are wondering what’s wrong with their team, and star Jack Eichel.
 
-- For something completely different: It sounds like some of the NFL rank-and-file players want to know why Roger Goodell deserves $50 million and a lifetime private plane.