Bruins Notebook

Savard happy 2010 is behind him

Tuukka Rask watched a lot of pucks in the first period, then watched the rest of the game from the bench. Tuukka Rask watched a lot of pucks in the first period, then watched the rest of the game from the bench. (Don Heupel/Associated Press)
By Kevin Paul Dupont
Globe Staff / January 2, 2011

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BUFFALO — His legs feel good. His head is clear. His confidence is growing. All systems are go for Marc Savard, who couldn’t help but bid 2010 a wistful goodbye Friday night.

“A tough year for me, 2010, that’s for sure,’’ said the 33-year-old Savard, who was eager to start the new year last night with the Bruins taking on the Sabres at HSBC Arena. “No doubt, I’m glad that year is over with. Goodbye.’’

Savard’s year took a turn for the worse March 7 in Pittsburgh when Matt Cooke nailed him with a blind-side hit to the head that sidelined him with a concussion for the remainder of the regular season.

Savard made it back for the start of Round 2 of the playoffs, played all seven games against the Flyers, then experienced troublesome post-concussion symptoms over the summer that ultimately kept him sidelined for the first two months of this season.

All in all, a seven-month chunk that won’t take up much space in his scrapbook of good memories.

“Feeling much better now,’’ said Savard, who took the ice against the Sabres for only his 14th game this season. “I thought I played a good game [Thursday night]. It didn’t bring the results I wanted, so that’s a disappointment, but as a line I thought things were really coming around for us in Atlanta.’’

The biggest difference for the Milan Lucic-Savard-Nathan Horton line? “Getting in on the forecheck,’’ said Savard. “It’s us out there being hungry on the puck, getting after it. Getting two guys on the puck instead of one.’’

As simple as that sounds, the forecheck turned a complex, oft-maddening mess for much of the Black-and-Gold lineup for a sizable chunk of December. When it’s going right, said Savard, one of the three forwards is responsible for going after the puck — be it by way of a pass, dump-in, or turnover — at which point one of the other two forwards must join the action.

“That’s the guy who has to make the read, you know, ‘Do I go or not?’ ’’ explained Savard. “That’s an important read, obviously, because that guy doesn’t want to get caught going the wrong way.

“But when your line’s not producing, it’s usually because someone on the line isn’t making the right read and that means you’ve got two guys standing around. Not good.’’

Savard’s line cobbled together nine shots on net in the 3-2 loss to Atlanta Thursday, but none of those produced a point. Better, said Savard, but not good enough, in terms of where he wants his game to be right now.

Savard, who entered last night’s game with only a goal and three assists to his credit, assisted on Andrew Ference’s goal 1:29 after the initial drop of the puck.

Still, it was not a very productive night, as he took but one shot and finished minus-2.

“I think I am getting there, I feel good,’’ he said. “I wouldn’t rate myself that high right now because the results aren’t there yet. By results, I mean in contributing the way I can most help the team, and that’s by putting up points.

“I’ve got to produce offense, that’s my job, and that’s got to come around before I really feel good.’’

Campbell still out Greg Campbell, fighting a flu-like bug, remained at the team’s hotel in Amherst, N.Y. He was too sick to play Thursday in Atlanta, remained off skates Friday, and still was too much under the weather to make the Bruins’ 7-6 shootout loss at HSBC.

“He should be OK,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “But he’s still feeling it, and we want to keep him away from the team right now.’’

Campbell’s absence again made room for ex-Sabre Danny Paille to get into the lineup. Paille slipped into his familiar left wing role on a trio that had Tyler Seguin in the middle and strongman Shawn Thornton on right side.

“It gives Seguin the chance to move into center, his natural position,’’ said Julien. “He’s been playing pretty good there, too, and this gives him some more ice time to utilize.’’

Julien rolled out the other three lines that also looked very good in Thursday’s shootout loss at Atlanta: Lucic-Savard-Horton; Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi; and Blake Wheeler-David Krejci-Michael Ryder.

Ryder moved up to Horton’s right wing spot on the first line in the third period. Julien, though, sounded pleased with Horton’s work.

“He had a few shots [five],’’ said Julien. “If a couple of those go in, we’re talking about a turnaround for him.’’

Quick night’s work Tuukka Rask, without a start since the Bruins played here Dec. 15, got the call in net but only lasted through the first period after allowing three goals. Rask sat and watched the last seven games as Tim Thomas carried the load.

Thomas is 18-4-5, among the league’s best, and as of yesterday he led in save percentage (.947) and goals-against average (1.74).

Leave driving to us The Bruins were scheduled to climb aboard a bus after the game for the 100-mile drive to Toronto, where they will practice late this morning in preparation for tomorrow night’s match with the Maple Leafs . . . Seguin, with only 11:16 of ice time, landed six shots. Could be time to give the kid a little more rope? . . . The Bruins took 66 shots, 40 of which landed on net. The Sabres landed 35 of 57 attempts . . . Ex-Bruin backliner Shaone Morrisonn led both sides with a plus-3 rating . . . It was only the fifth time this season the Bruins scored more than four goals. They are 4-0-1 in those games . . . Rask was spared the loss, his record remaining 2-7-1.

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