BOSTON — Bruins center Marc Savard, out since March 7 with a Grade 2 concussion, skated on his own today at TD Garden for the first time since the injury.
“I feel great. I felt great,” Savard told the assembled media as his teammates skated in preparation for tonight’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with Buffalo. “The biggest thing was the last seven days, I had great days. To be honest with you, I said to the doctor ‘Can I get out and putt or something?’ And she said ‘Yeah, go ahead.’ So I started, I guess it was on Saturday [April 10], went out and putted for a half hour. Went home and felt great. And then I continued on Sunday, got out again, more putting.
“Hopefully I won’t have to use that putter for a while.”
“I feel normal again, so it’s nice,” he added.
Once ruled out for the entirety of the Boston-Buffalo series, Savard said there’s now a chance he could be back as early as Game 5. Savard is scheduled to take his neuropsych test Tuesday.
“Assuming I pass that, I’ll be cleared, and then it’s just about a matter of getting back into shape,” said Savard. “I haven’t done anything for six weeks at all. So I felt a little short-winded out there today just because of that. It’s going to take some time and hopefully sooner rather than later because I’m all excited that I’m feeling good and it’s playoff time.”
While he was winded, Savard said he was handling the puck with his usual skill. Soft hands or short of breath, the Bruins as a whole are glad their star player is nearing a return.
“That’s obviously unexpected,” said defenseman Dennis Wideman. “We hadn’t heard anything for a while and then all of a sudden he could be playing. Obviously you get a player like that in your lineup, that makes a little bit of difference and it would be a big lift for us.”
“I was more concerned about his health than anything else,” added winger Shawn Thornton. “So I’m glad to see he’s back. Now if he can play, great. He’s arguably our best player. … It definitely helps if we have him. But right now, what we have here, we have to continue to play.”
Head coach Claude Julien’s main concern obviously is to keep his team focused on Game 3 and not looking ahead to having Savard back. He tempered the enthusiasm for Savard’s potential comeback by pointing out the center will still need time to get back to playing hockey at a high level.
“He still has the exertion test to take tomorrow, and then once he takes that we’ll probably know whether we need to move forward with him or whether we have to take a step back,” said the coach. “Until I know that, I don’t think there is much more I can say. He’s been out for six weeks, more or less, and hasn’t been able to exercise. And if you’re going to be fair to the player, and fair to the team, you’ve got to give him a chance also to get back in shape. And that doesn’t happen overnight.”
Regardless, this is great news for the Bruins and Savard. Especially considering that it wasn’t that long ago Savard was having doubts about his career and the season.
“To be honest with you, probably about two weeks ago, in my head, I was writing it off that I just wasn’t getting better, this is terrible and I had a lot of negative thoughts, which wasn’t good,” Savard admitted. “My last doctor visit, wasn’t the greatest because of that. I almost said to myself, ‘I think I’m done for the year.’ And then last Friday I just kind of woke up and said ‘Geez, I feel pretty good; I feel normal.’”
Savard said he will probably skate on his own Tuesday prior to the team’s practice, even though he’d like to join his cohorts. If he passes the test in the afternoon, all restrictions could be dropped.
Then the Bruins would be whole again, and a whole lot tougher for the Sabres to handle.