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Savard on D&C: ‘I’m not mad at Michael Ryder’ 04.29.10 at 9:52 am ET
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Bruins center Marc Savard joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about his comeback (Click here to listen to the entire interview). Savard has been out since suffering a concussion in a game against the Penguins March 7, but this week he was cleared to play in the Bruins’ second-round playoff series against the Flyers that begins Saturday. “I’m feeling good on the ice right now,” Savard said.

He said he understands his presence will be an emotional lift for the home crowd Saturday. “Hopefully everybody is inspired, too, and even myself, and I bring a lot of emotion and adrenaline and energy to the team,” he said. “I’m going to try to do that with my play.”

Savard said he feared his season was over when he couldn’t seem to shake the effects of the concussion. “The first three or four weeks of this concussion I had, they were miserable days, days when I thought how long this might go on for the summer, or how long is this thing going to last. Things got better really quickly after the fifth week, going into the sixth, and so on. Then I felt great. I’m just happy to be normal again and playing hockey.”

Asked if he’s viewed clips of the hit from Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke, Savard said: “I’ve seen it quite a bit. It’s something that hopefully the new rule that they put in right away takes care of that stuff because we don’t need it in our game anymore.”

The Bruins received a firestorm of criticism for failing to respond to Cooke in the game, and much of the anger was directed at Michael Ryder, who appeared to be the only player on the ice who had a clear view of the play. Savard said no one on his team should be blamed. “It’s part of the game,” he said. “If you watch the hit again, Cooke kind of skates away quickly, and they try to get at him in the corner. I’m not mad at Michael Ryder. He’s a good friend of mine. It’s not just his fault or anybody’s fault. It was a bad hit, a bad play. I’ve got no problems with anything that went on. Had it been me, maybe ‘€” it’s different demeanors for different guys. I’m not the strongest guy or the toughest guy in the world. Would I have jumped somebody? Maybe, but that’s just different guys.”

Read More: Bruins, Marc Savard,
Bruins will play Flyers in Round 2 04.28.10 at 9:54 pm ET
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With the Canadiens completing their shocking comeback against the top-seeded Capitals with a 2-1 victory in Game 7 Wednesday night in Washington, the Bruins now know their second-round opponent in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The sixth-seeded B’s will meet the seventh-seeded Flyers, opening the conference semifinal series with the first two games at TD Garden. This will mark the first playoff matchup between Boston and Philadelphia since 1978.

Here is the schedule for the series:

Game 1: Saturday, May 1, at Boston, 12:30 p.m.
Game 2: Monday, May 3, at Boston, 7 p.m.
Game 3: Wednesday, May 5, at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Game 4: Friday, May 7, at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
*Game 5: Monday, May 10, at Boston, 7 p.m.
*Game 6: Wednesday, May 12, at Philadelphia, TBD
*Game 7: Friday, May 14, at Boston, 7 p.m.
* if necessary

Eighth-seeded Montreal trailed in its series three games to one but held the high-scoring Caps to one goal in each of the last three games behind stellar goaltending from Jaroslav Halak to pull off the upset. The Canadiens advance to play the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins in Round 2.

Read More: Bruins, Flyers, Stanley Cup Playoffs,
Brickley on D&C: ‘Believe in your system’ 04.27.10 at 2:17 pm ET
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Andy Brickley, who handles analysis for Bruins games on NESN, appeared on the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to talk about the B’s first-round playoff victory over the Sabres.

Just as an overview, what did the Bruins learn about themselves in this first-round win? What did we learn about the Bruins?

That you can win without some of your top players if you have a system and you believe in your system and you get great goaltending, and guys step up in crunch time, and I think that’€™s the greatest lesson that they learned. And they might have learned that down the stretch, when you think about what Boston did over the last 12 games. There were certainly some low points during the regular season ‘€” 10-game winless streak, their .500 record at home, especially with such high expectations coming into the year. The whole Pittsburgh-[Matt] Cooke-[Marc] Savard incident, and the lack of response not only in the game when it happened, but then the home game with just the one [Shawn] Thornton fight.

But what they were able to do to come together as a group over the last 12 games, and take a look at the teams that they beat during that stretch ‘€” they had the Rangers and the Thrashers, right behind them, one point back, they had to hold their position, they were able to win those games. They beat divisional leaders like Buffalo, like New Jersey, like Washington, all the while without [Dennis] Seidenberg, without [Mark] Stuart, without [Andrew] Ference, no Marc Savard, [Marco] Sturm, [Blake] Wheeler and [Michael] Ryder not scoring goals ‘€” how did they win? They had to be getting good coaching, and they had to have a good system and they had to have quality goaltending in order to amass enough points to climb to sixth, and that carried through, I think, through the first round.

Are you encouraged by them winning despite not scoring the first goal very often. Or are you discouraged by them not hitting the ice hard?

Somewhere in between. Going into last night, it had to be one of the keys to the game that they got the lead in game six, at home, took advantage of the crowd. You’€™re playing with fire obviously if you get behind a team that has Ryan Miller in goal. Buffalo is so aggressive on their forecheck, their defensive pinch, they love playing with the lead. Boston needed to establish themselves in the first period. They had to get the lead, they had to cash in on one or two of their early chances in the hockey game. I think that gave them the best chance, first of all psychologically to feel good about their game, and to know that they didn’€™t have to come from behind, and there was a little less pressure. And if you watch the game, after they scored that goal on the power-play by [David] Krecji in the first period, it almost looked like they relaxed, because Buffalo was all over them the next three or four shifts, and they had to realize, ‘€œWhoa, we’€™re back in a hockey game here. We’€™re glad to score first, but we had to get back to our game plan.’€

What is the point of the regular season? New Jersey out, Buffalo out, why do they play the 80 games in the regular season?

Well, this is the league. This is a business. It’€™s all about the money. If you’€™re ever looking for answers, always follow the money trail. Ideally though, in my opinion, I wouldn’€™t mind a little contraction in this league, if you really want to talk about dollars and cents. A few less teams a few less games, a few less players, might make for a better product.

Maybe one less round in the playoffs?

I kind of like it. 16 out of 30 teams getting in ‘€” I kind of like those numbers. I know there are some owners pushing for more teams to get into the postseason, but I think that would make it more diluted.

What if Washington loses, will Bettman take hostages at that point without [Alex] Ovechkin in the postseason?

Obviously they would love for that to happen, and I would like to see that happen as well. There’€™s no way I could ever, in any situation I guess, maybe in a very limited field, that I could root for the Montreal Canadiens. But I would like to see Washington move on, I like to see the best players in the game in the playoffs, and they’€™re having some problems, obviously, with the Canadiens. And anything can happen in a Game 7 ‘€” Washington is very nervous right now. They’€™re in a similar situation to Boston in the sense that they need to get the lead on home ice in Game 7 or they’€™re in trouble. Both teams are such a contrast in style. Because you had questions about Washington and their goaltending situation. They’€™ve already played both guys. I couldn’€™t believe Montreal went to [Carey] Price in this series, because [Jaroslav] Halak is clearly the better goaltender, and they finally realized that, and he is a dangerous guy right now as far as stopping the Caps.

Which would you prefer, the Flyers or the Penguins in the next round, athletically vs. artistically?

Well, I think if they drew the Flyers, obviously they’€™d get home ice, I don’€™t know if that’€™s good or bad for Boston, I think I’€™d prefer to see them start on the road to be honest with you, despite how great the fans have been. I like going on the road, I like trying to get that split away from the Garden. But Philly, it’€™s a contrast of styles, the Flyers are more powerful, they’€™re more physical, I think Boston was the more physical team than Buffalo certainly in the games that they won, so maybe that’€™s a real interesting matchup. I love the fact that Philly has a huge question in goal, although I thought the Flyers would handle New Jersey because Jersey doesn’€™t score enough. Jersey did not impress me when I saw them this year, so the Flyers’ win over New Jersey did not surprise me at all. But I would like to see Pittsburgh, just from a personal, selfish standpoint ‘€” I like watching great players, [Sidney] Crosby, [Evgeni] Malkin, they’€™re great down the middle, [Jordan] Staal as your third-line center is impressive, [Sergei] Gonchar’€™s good at the back end.

Plus, you’€™d like to play Oakmont in your off days.

Well, I did get a number of texts last night after the 4-2 win from down in Pittsburgh. I’€™d like to go to Pittsburgh, I’€™d like to see them, I’€™d like to see the Bruins knock off the Penguins.

Will the Bruins play up that revenge theme? What about when Savard takes the ice?

An iso-cam on Cooke wouldn’€™t be a bad thing. No, I think that would be part of the equation, I don’€™t think it would be a great percentage of what would go on between those two teams, but certainly a little bit of a revenge factor, up that emotional wheel early in the series would not be a bad thing.

Michael Ryder has to be thinking that, regretting not doing anything.

It would be great if he had the opportunity, certainly, but I think they’€™ve moved beyond that, I think. All that negativity that was well deserved for the Bruins really helped galvanize this team a little bit in those 12 teams we talked about early in the conversation. For Michael Ryder to get an opportunity to do something at the right time, well-placed, and done within the rules enough that you’€™re not hurting your team in the long run, as far as like I said, that’€™s not a bad situation to have.

My guess is that Claude Julien will use Savard in a sort of picking-your-spots way. Is there an advantage to that? As an emotional lift?

I think so, and I think that would be the game plan, I think, depending on how many days they have to practice, because at this time of year you don’€™t practice a whole lot, and when you’€™re an injured guy, you need practice, and you need to as best you can simulate game situations. So for Savard, he needs to practice at high pace with the potential of body contact. He needs to simulate that in practice. Can you do that in the playoffs? Very difficult to do. And they need to gauge where he is as far as conditioning, timing, his ability to handle the pace of the playoffs and how physical it can be.

All that being said, I like the way you think. I think that’€™s the way they tried to use Thomas Vanek last night, and I think you really have to concentrate and watch and see how Savard is reacting, how he’€™s handling it. Is he able to take the body contact, spin off, does he anticipate where the contact is coming from, is he effective in his ability to move the puck and make plays which is his strength. And maybe you ease him into that situation, maybe you start him on the fourth line, maybe you work him in if maybe there’€™s an offensive-zone faceoff, and I think that’€™s the way you have to coach Marc Savard, unless he just absolutely wows you in practice, and you say, ‘€œThis kid’€™s back.’€

I can’€™t imagine another sport where it would be harder than being a center in hockey, to come back after sitting out for this long.

Yeah, if he wasn’€™t such a high-end elite player, I would have more concerns about those type of things. But he’€™s just so gifted, he’€™s one of those guys that he can miss 9-10 games in a row, come back, and it looks like he hasn’€™t missed a day as far as his puck-handling skills. That being said, it’€™s just a different animal in the postseason, the pace of the game, I can’€™t emphasize it enough, and how physical it can be, obviously limits your time and space and your ability to read the play. But he’€™s just such an elite player, and a guy that knows exactly what he wants to do before he gets the puck and what his options are, and the subtleties of his game, to change the angle of the pass with the slightest of moves, whether it’€™s his hands or the position of the puck on the blade of his stick, he’€™s that good, so my concerns are somewhat lessened because of Marc Savard’€™s talents.

Did the two giveaways last night, bad ones, that led to Buffalo goals. Does that worry you going forward?

They worried me last night, I’€™ll tell you that. The Bruins had control of the hockey game, and Dennis Wideman, and I know he’€™s taken a lot of criticism this year, and it has been warranted, but there are times where I feel like sitting down with people and saying, “Let’€™s watch an entire game here in the last month of the season where Dennis Wideman does eight real good things to two bad things.” It’€™s the two bad things that jump off the screen at you, or if you’€™re at the rink screams “What a mistake,” but the other eight things kind of get glossed over.

That being said, all of a sudden Dennis wants to start passing pucks through people when he doesn’€™t have to. He has a simple and high-percentage play, but he has so much confidence in his own ability to make those type of plays, but they’€™re just poor decisions. So that turnover, the Michael Ryder turnover, he was well positioned, down low in his own zone, just mishandled the puck, laid it out front for [Nathan] Gerbe to score. The good news is that those are fixable mistakes.

I was concerned last night because I wanted the series to end, nobody wanted to go back to Buffalo for a Game 7, they had the lead, they were playing the way they should, and to have gift-wrapped, unforced turnovers, those generally kill you. So, yeah, you need your goalie to bail you out on a number of occasions, and [Tuukka] Rask certainly did that. And it’€™s amazing how good Tuukka Rask is, for such a young goaltender, because he’€™s unflappable, and he’€™s that athletic and that good, you can afford, at times, to make mistakes like that.

When you watch regular-season hockey, you see how difficult it is, and then you watch playoff hockey, and it gets ratcheted up a notch. Do hockey players point at baseball players who complain about a stiff neck, and laugh their ass off.

Maybe, after a round of golf late in the day, and you’€™ve been sitting around at the 19th hole for a while, you might share a chuckle or two about some situations like that. But I think hockey players in general have a high regard for all professional athletes and whatever obstacles they have to fight through, it’€™s such a different animal, that long season, 162 games, as far as baseball is concerned. But sure, they know ‘€” they’€™re humbled, but they know how difficult it is to play playoff hockey, and the injuries, and the discomfort that you have to play through in order to be successful. And despite that, that respect that they have to their fellow athletes, they know what it takes to play hockey, and they know what they have to deal with. And  it’€™s what you signed up for, and you agreed to it, and it’€™s what you want to do, and you wouldn’€™t trade it for anything.

But how many hockey players did you know, when you played, that complained and scratched out because of a stiff neck?

That would be zero.

Read More: Andy Brickley, Bruins,
Captain Z: We can’t lose focus like last year at 1:00 am ET
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What a difference a year makes for Zdeno Chara following an opening-round win.

Last year, the Bruins dispatched of the Montreal Canadiens in four games, and then waited nine days for their second-round series to begin when Carolina came from behind to beat New Jersey in the closing five minutes of Game 7.

While the Bruins were long on rest, they were short on sharpness and, in the end, it cost them dearly as they dropped Game 2 at home and fell behind 3 games to 1 before rallying to force Game 7. They fell in heart-breaking fashion when Scott Walker scored the OT game-winner to end the Bruins season.

“We can’t lose the focus like maybe we did last year a little bit during that week off,” Chara said in the wake of Monday’s series-clinching win over Buffalo. “We have to stay on top of things and really get ready for our next opponent, which we don’t know who that’s going to be.”

The reason the Bruins don’t know who’s next is because Montreal has decided to learn from 2009 as well. They have not rolled over for Washington. Instead, following a 4-1 win over the Capitals on Monday, there will be a seventh game in America’s capital on Wednesday night.

If the Capitals survive, the Bruins open the second round in Pittsburgh against the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins. If the Canadiens pull off the shocker, the Bruins actually host Games 1 and 2 against Philadelphia beginning this weekend.

Chara said the team has earned one good day of rest but that’s all they need right now.

“Just maybe relax on [Tuesday], enjoy the day off, and then get back at it on Wednesday,” he said.

“Obviously it’€™s always a nice feeling, to be going to the second round. Buffalo was extremely playing well. They battled hard and it was a tough series.”

Another source of pride for Chara was the performance of the specialty teams. The Bruins killed off all 19 Buffalo power plays in the series while Boston scored five power play goals.

“I really thought that our specialty teams played extremely well,” Chara said. “We battled pretty much hard every game. We were almost into every game, besides Game 5.

“We take a lot of pride in our PK. We try to, you know, we’€™re obviously aggressive, but at the same time well-positioned and like I said, the people we have on the ice, those are the workers and we try to always outwork the opposite power play.”

Read More: Bruins, NHL, Sabres, Stanley Cup Playoffs
2nd period summary: Bruins vs. Sabres – Game 6 04.26.10 at 8:46 pm ET
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The Bruins are 20 minutes away from heading to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for a second straight year as they lead Buffalo, 2-1, after two periods.

It seemed the Bruins would come out regretting the roughing penalty taken by captain Zdeno Chara at the 20-minute mark of the first period that wiped out a power play to open the second.

Then apparently Buffalo’s Tim Connolly felt bad for Chara and the Bruins as he took an equally puzzling and terribly-timed undisciplined penalty of his own.

Connolly’s cross-checking penalty penalty just 16 seconds in led to a pretty power play goal for the Bruins as David Krejci found Mark Recchi down low to the left of Ryan Miller. Recchi wasted no time with the one-timer that beat Miller for a 2-0 Boston lead just 61 seconds into the second.

With the gold towels going crazy the Bruins seemed to be on the verge of putting away the Sabres.

But after Boston killed its 18th straight penalty in the series, Dennis Wideman turned the puck over in the defensive zone and the Sabres found some new life when Patrick Kaleta scored with just over 13 minutes left in the period to make it 2-1.

The Bruins killed off yet another penalty near the end of the period for too many men on the ice and now are a perfect 19-for-19 in the series.

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1st period summary: Bruins vs. Sabres – Game 6 at 7:49 pm ET
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David Krejci’s redirect of a Mark Recchi centering pass from the right circle beat Ryan Miller on the power play to put the Bruins up, 1-0, after one period.

The Bruins, who struggled all season finding the back of the net on the man-advantage, scored for the 5th time in 18 power play chances this series.

The assist was Recchi’s 75th career in the playoffs, by far more than any active player in the playoffs.

With the Bruins looking for an early strike in Game 6, it was the Sabres who got the game’s first big break.

Steve Begin was whistled for a cross-checking penalty at 2:32 of the first period.

But as it has been all season and in this season, the Bruins penalty kill came up huge.

Not only did they remain perfect in 17 kill chances this series, the Bruins were the ones who created the best scoring chances.

Patrice Bergeron collected a loose puck in the neutral zone on sloppy play by Buffalo and skated in on Miller. He lost control near the top of the right circle but Marco Sturm was there to gather it and fired point blank. The shot deflected off the crossbar keeping the game scoreless.

Daniel Paille had another clean shot on net on Buffalo’s power play from the left point but Miller made a nice pad save.

Buffalo’s best chance came with just over eight minutes left in the period on a re-direct when Nathan Gerbe got his stick on a puck in front of Rask but the Bruins netminder made the clean save with no rebound.

And the Bruins appeared certain to start the second on the power play thanks to a Henrik Tallinder, who flipped the puck out of play with 5.6 seconds to go for a delay-of-game call. But Zdeno Chara was called for an undisciplined roughing call in a scrum at 20 minutes to nullify the advantage.

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Recchi on D&H: ‘It would be a big boost getting [Savard] back’ 04.20.10 at 2:31 pm ET
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Bruins forward Mark Recchi, one of the heroes of Monday night’s Game 3 victory over the Sabres, joined the Dale & Holley show Tuesday afternoon. Recchi said teammate Marc Savard has been skating longer than the two days that the media found out about this week, and he’s hopeful Savard will return to action soon.

“He actually texted me last week and told me he was actually sneaking on the ice, so I knew it,” Recchi said. “He swore my secrecy, so I wasn’t allowed to to say it. I didn’t even tell any of my teammates. So, I knew he was getting eager and feeling good. It’s great to see him out there. He’s had a couple of hard days of practice [on his own]. I don’t think he likes being out there by himself right now, but hopefully we’ll see him in practice here soon and get him back in the lineup.”

Asked if he thought Savard might return by the end of the Sabres series, Recchi said: “I’m not sure. We’re the last guys to hear when he’s going to play. Like I said, he’s been practicing before us, and he hasn’t been there after. I’m not really sure. The longer it goes, obviously the chances get better, because he is feeling good and he is skating. By the end of this week he’ll have a full week of skating in. So, who knows? … Obviously, it’s going to come down the coach as well, if things are going well, when do you put him in, when’s the right time to do it? Obviously, he’s a tremendous player, and it would be a big boost getting him back.”

As for his own future, Recchi said he feels like he still has some hockey left in his 42-year-old body. “I still love the game, I still love the practice, I still love everything about it, and being in the dressing room with the guys,” Recchi said. “So, at the end of the season I’ll sit down. Obviously, I think I can still play and still help. It’s just a matter of figuring out everything at the end of the year and figuring out what’s best for me and my family.”

Recchi was asked about rookie goaltender Tuukka Rask, who has developed into a young star. Said Recchi: “He’s right there with all them. This kid is a world-class goalie. His composure for a 22, 23-year-old is incredible. … He made the big saves all year when we needed them, and he continues to do it.”

Recchi said Rask does not get taken out of his game even when he allows a goal. “It doesn’t faze him one bit,” Recchi said. “He’s a very, very competitive kid. He knows, he gets upset at himself, but he’s able to put it aside. … Game 2 in Buffalo, he battled like a bugger. You don’t see it too often, but you could see he was fighting it a little bit, he was fighting the puck. But when a goalie competes as hard as he does and fights it and battles it and is able to make the big saves really when you don’t feel great is a great sign for a young goalie. He came out and we had a great win. And then he was awesome again [Monday] night.”

Recchi reflected on the Bruins’ revenge game against the Penguins March 18 when the fans booed the B’s off the ice. “We were kind of disappointed in the way we played because we came out of that seven-game trip just before that playing great hockey and we really seemed to get more consistent,” Recchi said. “We found a way to be a tougher team to play against every night and a team that is committed to being better. That’s why we went on that good stretch — 8-3-1 in our last 12 games or whatever — to get ourselves in a good position for the playoffs.”

To hear the interview, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Read More: Bruins, Dale & Holley, Marc Savard, Mark Recchi
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