BUFFALO — Marc Savard, his injured knee secure in a derotation brace, is back in the Boston lineup and will center Milan Lucic (LW) and ex-Buffalonian Miro Satan tonight when the Bruins face the Sabres here at HSBC.
The Bruins will try to snap their 1-7-1 freefall over the last three weeks that this morning has them slotted ninth in the Eastern Conference. They officially lost hold of a playoff berth with their weekend losses to Ottawa (2-1) and Carolina (5-1). They have become the Goal-a-Game Bruins in 2009-’10.
Neither Marco Sturm nor Steve Begin, both of whom worked out with the club this morning, will be in uniform this evening. Post-workout, Begin said he might be able to play Saturday night with the Kings in town. Sturm, though noting he is close to returning, figures he will be out through the weekend.
Tuukka Rask was the first Boston goalie to leave the workout, so look for him in net. No. 1 backstop Tim Thomas lingered for a while after the formal workout and fielded shots taken by both Sturm and Begin.
Look for these to be Boston’s lines tonight, at least as of the 7:30 p.m puck drop:
Danny Paille-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi
Blake Wheeler-David Krejci-Michael Ryder
Shawn Thornton-Vladimir Sobotka-Byron Bitz
When asked if it most likely would be late in the summer before his injured knee were fully healed, Savard said, ”Exactly.” However, the veteran pivot, who is also the club’s most consistent offensive producer, said he didn’t feel he required any additional time to heal from his most recent injury which forced him to miss the last eight games.
”I feel good enough to play,” said Savard, who enters with 22 points in 28 games this season. ”If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be back, because I would be hurting the team.”
Savard on the general dynamic of the Lucic-Savard-Satan combination: ”Well, I haven’t played much with Looch this year because we’ve both been hurt at different times. It will be nice to be back with him, and if I can keep near him he can create some room for me and then I can get it over to Miro for him to score. That’s how it is supposed to work, anyway.”
With only one goal scored in three of their last four games, the Bruins have plummeted to dead last in goals scored (127) this season. Last season they connected 274 times, second only to Detroit (295). Boston is on pace to score 204 goals this season, a decline of of 25.5 percent.
Coach Claude Julien on the general plight of his underperforming squad: ”We all know we’re in a position right now where we have to control our destiny–and to do it we have to win hockey games.”
The prevailing mood at the morning workout: somber. During the 25-minute tuneup, the club did not work on penalty killing, nor did it run through the power play. The latter really needs help (Savard?). Boston has scored only one power-play goal since Jan. 7, going 1-for-16 (6.3 percent) in the eight games Savard was absent. Incredibly, 10 other NHL clubs are ranked lower on the PPG scale than the Bruins this season. However, Boston still ranks second overall, trailing only San Jose, with its penalty killing (only a 12.6 percent failure rate). The Sabres ranked third, killing off 87.1 percent.