With Playoffs in Mind, Savard Steps Up
Monday, 02.11.2008 / 4:31 PM / Bish's Blog
By John Bishop - BostonBruins.com
A merry prankster at even the worst of times last season, he was lauded for keeping that club loose as the campaign fell down around their ears. This season, the Bruins own Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes fame) look-alike just wants to make the playoffs and with the Bruins in serious contention, his facial expressions are certainly looking the part.
Why? The all-star center knows that he is one of Boston's most important catalysts and he is taking that leadership role very seriously, on and off the ice.
"I have to produce offensively," said Savard, who has notched 17 points since January 10th. "Especially on the power play -- kind of my forte -- so I would like to see myself do more there.
"But we just have to work."
Always an intense competitor, hard work seems to characterize Savard's game even more so this year.
Tied for second in the league in assists with 48, the speedy forward has been just as impressive on the defensive side of the puck and carries a +8 into tomorrow's game with the Hurricanes.
"(There's) a bearing down aspect of the game and we've been talking about it," he said after practice this morning at Ristuccia. "We've been emphasizing it and it has to come to the fore now."
Savard speaks as a veteran who has never seen playoff ice in the NHL and is desperate at a shot at hockey's Holy Grail -- the Stanley Cup. Since arriving in the National Hockey League with the Rangers during the 1997-98 season, the Bruins leading scorer has yet to taste that postseason glory chase.
But after seeing his exploits in the All-Star Game, heretofore the biggest stage of his professional career, one wonders what #91 might do with a playoff game on the line.
Savard just wants that chance and he knows what needs to be done to get there.
"We have to score on those chances," he said, speaking of some of the missed opportunities the Bruins have had in the past week. "We've talked about it…and hopefully they start going in."
A personal playoff push…
In the meantime, Boston's best playmaker seems to have started his own personal playoffs and at this point of the season, he would be forgiven for welcoming a night off.
"This is a fun stretch," said Savard. "But it kind of stinks when you have these two day layoffs in between games -- you'd rather be going at it every other night at this time of year.
"So we have to look forward, stay with it, stay focused and do our jobs."
Lots of players say things like that, but Savard (obviously) knows in his heart, what doing his job entails -- and he thinks that the rest of the club has a pretty good idea of their own jobs, as well.
"You know, I don't know if [anything particular] needs to be emphasized," he said. "We all know what's at hand here and we all know what we have to do.
"If you don't know what to do [by now], you better figure it out.
"I think, as a whole [squad], every guy knows what we have to do," Savard said.
Can you verbalize that for us, Savvy?
"We have to play the way we did in Buffalo and continue to play [hard] game after game. We can't have one good game and then come out and think it's just going to happen. And we are playing teams that are behind us points-wise, so if you want to be an elite team you have to beat the teams that are behind you.
"And we have a stretch here where we have to put wins together."
Notes: Peter Schaefer skated during the non-contact portion of practice but hit the showers as soon as the shoulders started flying. Schaefer is still "day-to-day" nursing a cut on his shin…Zdeno Chara was a no-go, and was given what was called a "maintenance day" by the coaching staff…one funny moment at practice was Dennis Wideman shoveling a stick full of snow from the ice into an unsuspecting Tim Thomas' face…Savard was very kind to a pair of youngsters who waited patiently for him by the rink door -- they got his stick as he headed to the locker room…Andrew Alberts was on hand this morning, but did not skate…there was no update on Patrice Bergeron or Manny Fernandez.