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Savard ‘really tired’; return is unknown

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / March 9, 2010

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TORONTO - Yesterday afternoon, a day after Pittsburgh forward Matt Cooke’s hit to the head caused him to lose consciousness, Marc Savard flew back to Boston, where he was diagnosed with a Grade 2 concussion by Dr. Peter Asnis, the Bruins’ lead team physician.

General manager Peter Chiarelli said the team will know more about Savard’s condition and how much time he’ll miss in 4-5 days. However, given the nature of Savard’s concussion, the Bruins aren’t expecting their center back soon.

“That he felt like he got hit by a bus, and that he was very tired,’’ Chiarelli said of the text message he received from Savard yesterday. “Those are two major symptoms of a concussion. It’s a bad concussion.’’

Savard was examined by doctors in Pittsburgh yesterday morning and was cleared to travel. Prior to flying to Boston, Savard told the Boston Herald he didn’t remember the incident, which took place at 14:23 of the third period of Sunday’s 2-1 loss.

“I’m just really tired right now,’’ Savard said. “[I have] headaches, my head’s been pounding all morning. I just want to get back to Boston and get in my bed.’’

Chiarelli said he believes Cooke, a repeat offender, will be suspended. League disciplinarian Colin Campbell told Chiarelli the hit will be reviewed further today. A decision will be made prior to Pittsburgh’s game against Carolina Thursday.

Cooke’s hit took place on the eve of the GM meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., where head shots were scheduled to be a main topic of discussion. Yesterday, although the GMs didn’t discuss Cooke’s hit - a blind-side jolt to the side of an unsuspecting Savard’s head - they were presented with information regarding such hits as they attempt to come to an agreement regarding head shots.

“We were given an extensive study on the nature of hits to the head over the course of the year - in the offensive zone, neutral zone, defensive zone, with the puck, without the puck - which hits resulted in injuries and suspensions,’’ Chiarelli said. “It armed us with information to make a more [informed] decision.’’

One of the criteria the GMs had discussed centered around what they’re classifying as the triangle, or a player’s scope of vision. While hits within the triangle can be acceptable, the aim is to address head shots that are delivered outside of a player’s scope of vision.

“It’s the exact same thing we’ve talked about today at length,’’ Chiarelli said of Savard’s injury. “It’s unfortunate. I believe it came from outside the triangle. There’s an area where you would expect a hit to come from. This came from outside the triangle.’’

The GMs will continue the discussion today and tomorrow. Chiarelli said he expects a consensus on a rule change - shoulder hits to the head are currently considered legal - to take place before the GMs part ways.

“I think we’ll end up with a good bridge resolution, if not a complete resolution, by the end of the meetings toward change,’’ Chiarelli said. “My guess is that it would involve hits to the head without the puck and [players in] a vulnerable position.’’

Savard (10 goals, 23 assists) has missed 23 games this season. He sat out 15 games because of a broken foot, then was sidelined eight games because of a partial MCL tear. The Bruins went 8-10-5 without Savard, their best playmaker and power-play quarterback. The Bruins will look to Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci to assume Savard’s offensive responsibilities. Vladimir Sobotka, a healthy scratch in 10 of the past 12 games, will return to the lineup tonight.

“We need our whole team to step up,’’ coach Claude Julien said. “If we want to make the playoffs, we really have to win some hockey games. It’s not about just one or two guys stepping up. I think it’s the whole team that really has to step up their game. We’re going to have to play desperate hockey from here on in. It’s as simple as that.’’

Penner recalled
The Bruins brought up defenseman Jeff Penner from Providence on an emergency basis, indicating one of the six defensemen who dressed against the Penguins Sunday will most likely be unavailable tonight.

This is Penner’s first NHL recall. The 22-year-old has six goals and 21 assists in 55 games for Providence this season. The 5-foot-10-inch, 183-pound puck-moving defenseman was paired mostly with Johnny Boychuk last season.

Andrew Ference, who has missed the last three games because of a groin injury, remains in Boston.

Rask ready
Tuukka Rask, out of uniform the last two games because of swelling in his right knee, was one of four Bruins (Boychuk, Sobotka, and Brad Marchand were the others) to skate yesterday at the MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence, the Maple Leafs’ practice facility in nearby Etobicoke. “Taking those few days off and letting it settle down really made a big difference,’’ Rask said. “I feel 100 percent right now.’’ Rask originally injured the knee three years ago in Finland while wrestling with friends, requiring surgery to repair the meniscus. Rask said he tweaked the knee last week while walking. The rookie netminder had made seven straight starts before the injury. “I’m just trying to keep my mind straight, try to work on the good things, and not worry too much,’’ Rask said. “I’m just trying to do the same things I’ve done in the past.’’ . . . With Rask back to full strength, Dany Sabourin was assigned to Providence. Sabourin backed up Tim Thomas against the Islanders and Penguins.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com.

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