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Bruins Notebook

Savard is at contact point

Progress continues but he won’t suit up

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / April 23, 2010

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WILMINGTON — Yesterday, during a meeting with Dr. Kelly McInnis at Massachusetts General Hospital, Marc Savard received clearance to take contact, which he plans to do during today’s morning skate at HSBC Arena in Buffalo.

“There’s not going to be much bumping in practice from here on in,’’ Savard acknowledged. “But I think I’m cleared to start doing that stuff, take some bumps and stuff gradually and get more into it.’’

Following yesterday’s meeting, Savard skated at Ristuccia Arena alongside Tim Thomas, Trent Whitfield, Brad Marchand, Andrew Bodnarchuk, and Jeff Penner. Savard then went off with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides for some solo skating as he tries to ramp up his conditioning.

Following the workout, Savard traveled to Buffalo with his teammates, his first time on the road since suffering his Grade 2 concussion in Pittsburgh March 7. Savard did not attend Games 1 and 2 in Buffalo and will not play in Game 5 tonight.

“I think it’s been a bit tougher, to be honest with you,’’ Savard said of trying to get back into shape. “I really just sat in one spot all six weeks. Even in the summer, at least I’m out doing things, moving around and burning calories. Now, I was just sitting on the couch.

“Through four days of skating, I can feel better. I feel stronger. I’ve watched my heart rate, and it’s getting down quicker, so that’s a good sign.’’

Because of the Bruins’ 3-1 series lead and Savard’s six-week absence, it’s unlikely that the playmaking center will return in this series if it goes beyond tonight, especially considering how well their four healthy centers have performed. The power play went scoreless in Games 2 and 3, but broke through for two strikes in Game 4, including Miroslav Satan’s game-winner in double overtime.

If the Bruins can end the series tonight, Savard could have a week to work on his conditioning. The second round is not expected to kick off until next weekend.

“I’m proud of the way the boys have been playing, that’s for sure,’’ Savard said. “I was as excited as anybody, watching that game [Wednesday].

“There’s no pressure, anyway. I went through a really serious injury. I haven’t put that pressure on myself. I’m waiting until I’m 100 percent. I know the trainers and coaching staff feel the same.

“The boys are playing hard. There’s not as much pressure because we’re up in the series. But in the same sense, who knows when I’ll be back anyway?’’

Sturm a driving force
Marco Sturm remains without a point in Round 1. It’s a slump that reaches back to the regular season, when he went 15 games without a goal until scoring against Washington in the finale.

But coach Claude Julien was quick to credit Sturm for opening up a seam for Satan in double overtime. As Michael Ryder carried the puck down the right wing, Sturm drove to the net, sucking in Tyler Myers and Toni Lydman.

“You look at Michael Ryder and you say, ‘What a great pass.’ You look at Miro’s goal and you say, ‘What a nice move.’ But all of that was created by Marco Sturm going to the net,’’ Julien said. “He brought two guys with him and he opened up that lane.

“Sometimes those things go unnoticed by certain people’s eyes. But this is something that’s been huge for us. Our net drive has created some space and created some net-front presence. We’ve got to keep doing that.’’

Nothing for granted
The Bruins could wrap up the series tonight with a win, but they know first-hand how 3-1 leads can be erased. Last year, they forced a Game 7 with Carolina after falling behind, 3-1. They did the same two years ago, rallying from 3-1 to take Montreal to seven games. “Just because you’re up, 3-1, we understand that we’re far from being done here,’’ Julien. “We’re going to see, probably, the toughest game coming up [tonight]. Getting comfortable, for this team, has never served it well. Playing on edge and playing for the moment has made us a better hockey club. I think that’s what we’ve got to keep doing here. The last game is the toughest one to win.’’ . . . Sabres left wing Thomas Vanek, missing the last two games because of an injured left leg, skated for the second straight day. According to the Buffalo News, he is doubtful for tonight. “If he’s 75 percent and the pace of the game is the way it is, it might be a very bad place to be,’’ coach Lindy Ruff said. “I would love dearly to put him in. But the way the pace has been and the way Tim Connolly’s been in a limited role coming off his [foot injury], if I’m down two players into the game, it puts us in a real bad spot.’’ . . . Myers, who’s averaging a team-high 27:55 in ice time per game, was named one of three finalists for the Calder Trophy yesterday, joining Colorado center Matt Duchene and Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard.

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

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