Bruins

No. 1 Star is a nice thing for Rask, but it's a little early for "I told you so"

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No. 1 Star is a nice thing for Rask, but it's a little early for "I told you so"

First off let’s congratulate Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask for nabbing the NHL’s No. 1 Star for the month of December. 

He’s turned things around after struggling over most of the first two months of the season, and both Rask and the Bruins have been consistently good since he was benched for four consecutive games in the middle of November. It would be a stretch to say that Rask has stolen games for the Bruins since coming back, or that he’s gone to some superhuman level of play between the pipes not seen around here since Tim Thomas on his way to a Stanley Cup in 2011. 

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But Rask posted a 9-0-1 record in the month of December, posted a .955 save percentage and led all goalies with a 1.22 goals against average during the last month of 2017. That is mistake-free goaltending behind a Bruins team that is finally playing at a high level in front of him, blocking shots and keeping everything to the outside like they do when things are going well for the Black and Gold. 

“We just always felt Tuukka was our guy,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, who had benched Rask for four straight games to spark his goalie and his hockey club. “It was just something we decided to do at the time, and I think it’s worked out well for both goaltenders. Tuukka has clearly benefited from being pushed because he’s dead-on [right now].”

That’s exactly what they need out of Rask with a young hockey club that’s still going to have some rookie breakdowns along the way. It’s exactly what they’ll need consistently out of Rask in the playoffs if they’re going to make any noise at all. 

But let’s just put a caution flag on the gloating and “I told you so’s” from the Tuukka Rask apologist crew out there. They were out in full force on twitter on Tuesday as Rask was crowned as the No. 1 Star of the month in a nice little midseason acknowledgement of his recent efforts. 

Let’s not forget that Rask been dominant for a month here or two months there before, and that the Bruins as a team have been extremely good in front of him with one of the best top lines in the NHL (that hasn’t been scored on yet in even strength), an emerging rookie of the year candidate on the back end in Charlie McAvoy and a team overall that’s seeing their lines and pairings real gel together over the last six weeks. 

If Rask is the NHL’s No. 1 Star in April, May and June like Thomas was in 2011 then the pro-Rask mob will have something to annoyingly crow about. It will be a Tuukkapalooza love-fest at that point, and rightfully so.  

That is his proving ground at this point having not won a playoff series since 2014, and having faltered at points late in the season over the last couple of years once the workload caught up to him, and once the stakes became truly pressurized. 

This humble hockey writer still believes that the Bruins aren’t going to win a Cup with Rask as their main guy between the pipes, and winning the NHL’s Player of the Month in December really shouldn’t change many opinions. It looks like the Bruins are for real this season and Rask is going to get his chance to see what he can do to carry the B’s once things gnarly in the postseason. 

That’s when Rask will get his chance to truly change perceptions and reclaim his standing as one of the top elite NHL goalies worthy of a $7 million annual salary. The NHL’s No. Star is merely confirmation that Rask has resoundingly reclaimed his game for this season, and that the Bruins are getting the goaltending they’re relying on him to provide on a nightly basis. 

That’s a good thing, but it’s also exactly what he’s chewing up a big chunk of the B’s salary cap to go out and do. 

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Marc Savard officially retires from NHL seven years after last game

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Marc Savard officially retires from NHL seven years after last game

It was a foregone conclusion because he hadn’t played an NHL game in seven years since suffering a final concussion whole playing for the Bruins, but Marc Savard called it a career on Monday by officially retiring from the NHL.

Savard played 13 NHL seasons for four different teams and was one of two heralded free agents to sign with the Bruins in 2006 along with defenseman Zdeno Chara.

Savard effectively had his career ended by a nasty head shot delivered by Penguins cheap shot artist Matt Cooke in the spring of 2010, but came back to play 25 games in 2010-11 for Boston the following season.

A Matt Hunwick hit delivered afterwards in Colorado was the final blow.

It was the Cooke hit on Savard that spurred the NHL on the very next season to finally begin outlawing blindside hits and any kind of illegal hits targeting the head.

Savard still had his name included among the Bruins immortalized on the Stanley Cup when the B’s won it in 2011, and was forced to prolong his retirement announcement due to the seven year, $28.15 million contract extension he signed with Boston back in 2009. His contract was included in trades with the Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils over the last few seasons, but it officially expired at the end of last season.

So the 40-year-old Savard officially announced his retirement on his twitter account: “While I, unfortunately, haven’t been able to play since January 2011 after suffering a career-ending concussion, and with my NHL contract recently expiring, I’d like to officially announce my retirement from the National Hockey League. I wish to thank the New York Rangers, the Calgary Flames, the Atlanta Thrashers and the Boston Bruins organizations for giving me the opportunity to play in the NHL for 13 incredible seasons. I owe everything that my family and I enjoy today to the great game of hockey. It has been a wild and wonderful journey, and one I’ll remember forever. It is impossible for me to give credit to all of the people who have contributed in so many ways to my career, but to those that believed in me, and helped me believe in myself, I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I believe I can make a positive impact in the world. I love hockey, and I will forever have a passion for this game. I look forward to the chances I may have to give back to the game that has given me so much. I’ve learned a thing or two from some great people throughout my career and life, and I look forward to a chance to pass that along to others. This is not an easy thing for me to put down into words, but I feel as though I’m ready now for the next chapter in my life to begin. Also, last but not least my health is the best it’s been in a very long time and I’m grateful for that.”

The best news for Bruins fans and any fans of Savard is that many of the post-concussion symptoms appear to have lessened, or disappeared, over the years away from the ice. Savard coached his sons at the junior level in Canada once he stepped away from playing, and it sounds like he’s feeling good enough now to purse the coaching thing with a little more fervor.

“I think the biggest thing is that I’m happy where I am in my life,” said Savard to NHLPA.com. “I’m the healthiest I’ve been in a long time. I didn’t want it to linger on any more. My contract is up and I wanted to get it out there and head off in a different direction to pursue a coaching career.”

Savard finished with 207 goals and 706 points in 807 games during his NHL career, but there’s no telling what those final numbers could have been given his offensive skills, his creativity and his place on a Bruins team just beginning to get rolling offensively. Those high-flying days were a long time ago for Savard, however, and it’s good to hear that he’s simply healthy and very much looking forward to the next steps in his life.  

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McAvoy undergoes procedure for 'abnormal heart rhythm'

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McAvoy undergoes procedure for 'abnormal heart rhythm'

BRIGHTON, Mass – As a workhorse 20-year-old hockey player, it wasn’t much of a warning signal when Charlie McAvoy missed Monday’s Bruins practice with what the team initially called “a doctor’s appointment.” But it turned out to be a fairly serious absence as the Bruins announced later in the afternoon that their prized rookie is going to miss roughly two weeks after undergoing a procedure at Mass General Hospital to address an abnormal heart rhythm. 

According to the Bruins statement: “After the Nov. 26 game, Charlie told team physicians that he experienced heart palpitations during the game. Subsequently he underwent an evaluation, which diagnosed him with a supraventricular tachycardia (SVT). The type of SVT Charlie has is not considered to be dangerous to his health but can recur at any time and causes significant symptoms.”

After consulting with a multitude of doctors, McAvoy and the Bruins opted for the procedure because of the high likelihood of the condition’s recurrence. McAvoy will spend the night at Mass General, and is expected to return to the lineup in a couple of weeks. 

The timing of McAvoy’s procedure around the NHL All-Star break means he’ll miss fewer games than he might have otherwise, but it also means the 20-year-old is obviously out of the running to be a replacement for the injured Victor Hedman on the Atlantic Division squad. At this point it’s just good news that the B’s prized young rookie is going to be okay by all accounts, and that the team was able to catch the condition early on with McAvoy’s entire career in front of him. 

The 20-year-old McAvoy has been one of the best rookies in the entire NHL this season with five goals and 25 points in 45 games along with a plus-18 rating, and the B’s D-man also leads all NHL rookies by a wide margin with 22:49 of ice time per game. 

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