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Time to Shut Savard Down

Posted By Matt Preston On Feb 1 2011 @ 11:51 pm In Boston Bruins | 6 Comments

Following the NHL’s All-Star weekend which saw the Bruins Tim Thomas became the first goaltender to win three All-Star games and defenseman Zdeno Chara best his own mark in the hardest shot competition with a new record of 105.9 mph, the Bruins’ All-Stars were joined by their teammates in the game’s host city of Raleigh, NC, for the a showdown with the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night. Despite a flurry by the ‘Canes, the Bruins held on to for a 3-2 win.

After the teams played to a scoreless first, Daniel Paille got the scoring going for the Bruins in the second, tipping in a shot from Chara for his first goal of the season and a 1-0 lead. Jamie McBain tied things 1-1, however, at 11:25 of the second, leaving the game tied through 40 minutes.

The Bruins then took over in the third, first with Nathan Horton snapping his 10-game scoreless drought, tipping in a feed that came from behind the net from David Krejci and then Patrice Bergeron extending the lead to 3-1 as he put a slap shot off his back foot past Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward. Joe Corvo cut the deficit to one for the ‘Canes less than three minutes after the Bergeron goal, but Thomas and the Bruins were able to withstand a fierce Carolina attack in the closing minutes for their third straight win over the Hurricanes.

Even if the Bruins had managed to dominate the Hurricanes on Tuesday as they did back on January 17, the story still would not have been about what happened on the ice, but rather the same story it has been for the Bruins since they played in Colorado 10 days ago: What to do about Marc Savard?

Savard found himself back in the news today after it was announced he would be returning to Boston tomorrow for further evaluation after leaving the game with the Avalanche on January 22 with a concussion. Following the announcement, general manager Peter Chiarelli was noted as saying it was a possibility the Bruins place their star center on long-term injured reserve for the remainder of the season as he recovers from the fourth concussion of his career.

Should there really be any other option than shutting Savard down?

Yes, the 2011 Bruins are a very good team, on the cusp of being a serious threat to contend for the Stanley Cup, and rolling out a player of Savard’s caliber would only benefit the Bruins. That, however, would be a player at the caliber Savard was at two and three seasons ago, while the injury plagued Savard of the past season and a half needs the time to recover and get himself right.

Need we recap the cautionary tail of Eric Lindros and how concussions derailed his career?

In spite of his considerable talent, the hampered Savard has been no great benefit to the Bruins since he returned to the line-up in early December after dealing with the effects from the concussion sustained after being hit by Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke last March. In 25 games this season, Savard has recorded just two goals and eight assists, none of which came on the power play, a place Savard has always thrived and the place the Bruins need him most. His 0.4 points per game this year are less than half of his 0.87 career average. Even before this most recent concussion, Savard was still hurting and the Bruins would be best served by shutting him down. They have been no better or worse with our without their star this season. Following the win in Carolina, the Bruins have 15 wins in the 26 games they have played without Savard in the lineup, compared to 14 wins in the 25 games with him.

Not only will shutting Savard down benefit his personal wellbeing, but shutting him down also gives Chiarelli and the cap-strapped Bruins some breathing room. Currently sitting at first in the Northeast division, the Bruins might be on the inside track to make the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, but any decent hockey mind should say they are still a few pieces shy of being a legit Cup contender when stacked up against the likes of Vancouver, Detroit and even Philadelphia. They are good, not great, so the Bruins should take any help they can get to make themselves better.

Given Chiarelli’s ability to acquire talent, coupled with the picks they have stocked up and some decent, young talent in the system, if they get cap relief by putting Savard on long-term IR, the Bruins certainly have the ammunition to improve their roster in the coming weeks. While many are clambering for the Bruins to take this opportunity to finally land the elusive puck-moving defenseman so many have been yearning for the past several season, like Tomas Kaberle, Chiarelli should take this opportunity to either strengthen, deepen or just toughen up his forwards. The Bruins already have the best defense in the league, yielding a league low 114 goals, with the league’s third best goal differential at +40, why mess with a good thing?

Even if Bergeron was just been named the NHL’s Player of the Month for January and Milan Lucic’s team leading 20 goals is just two below Marco Sturm’s team leading 22 from last season, the Bruins offense is going to need to be more consistent and more reliable if Boston is going to be a threat. Calgary’s Jarome Iginla is looking like he will be the prize of this season’s trade deadline and is a nice thought, but is probably out of reach for the Bruins with an annual salary of $7-million. If they can not land that elite, top end talent – possibly the centerman to finally mesh in between Lucic and Horton – they should look to add two or more pieces to their balanced (Boston is just one of five teams in the NHL with at least 10 players with 20 or more points), but physically weak offense to toughen them up and deepen their bench.

Shutting Marc Savard down for the season should not just be a possibility as Chiarelli stated earlier today, but the only possibility. Not only will it benefit Marc Savard the man, but it will also only benefit the Bruins in regards to his long term service to the team and by also giving them options to possibly turn this team into a contender.

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