BOSTON — There were more positive developments in the saga that is center Marc Savard’s return to the lineup.
Now seven days removed from his first day on the ice, Savard joined his teammates for a full practice today at TD Garden. He took part in line drills and battle drills, all while wearing a brick-red colored sweater usually reserved just for energy players.
It would seem that the next step would be to take on Buffalo in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Sabres Monday night in Boston.
“I felt great,” said Savard after he got off the ice after some extra work while skating alongside Boston’s ‘Black Aces.’ “It’s a tough situation, obviously. It’s a huge game and I haven’t played in a long time. But I felt great out there. I was controlling the puck well out there. But I felt good with the puck and I did some more contact down low, another step, and we’ll see what happens.”
Savard said he has one more test to pass Monday and then he could be cleared to play. That would leave the decision up to head coach Claude Julien, who when asked about Savard stuck to his usual answer about working with the center to get him in shape and only worrying about his status once final clearance is granted.
“There’s nothing much I can do except work hard and be ready to go when [Julien] tells me,” said Savard. “The guys are playing well, so I’m not going to cause any kind scene because I want to be in the lineup. Obviously anybody wants to get in the lineup; that’s just the nature of it. Conditioning-wise it felt better today. I’m taking steps in the right direction. If you ask me, yeah I can play. But I’ve got to do what’s best for the team. I’m a team guy, so if it’s me watching another one, that’s what’s going to be.”
Savard didn’t take a lot of contact in practice, but he said he tried to throw some hits in order to test himself out. His only ailment, he explained, is tiredness.
Even after all the workouts he has done on and off the ice, there’s no telling how much Savard, who hasn’t played since March 7, could give the Bruins in a playoff atmosphere, where the pace is twice as fast and the hitting twice as violent as in the regular season.
“The other thing too is, I’m fresh, and the other guys are battling every night,” said Savard. “So give or take either way too in that situation. … But I’ve been in the NHL for quite a bit of time, so the pace is something I’m pretty familiar with; your body gets familiar with the pace. It would be tough to keep up for sure, but I’m think I’ll be fine.”
At least one teammate, Shawn Thornton, was starting to see the vintage Savard the Bruins have come to rely on.
“Savvy threw a lot of saucer passes. He looked good,” Thornton said. “Obviously he’s a dynamic hockey player. He makes plays happen that people don’t even see them being there. So he’s doing a lot of that today. It’s good to see him getting back to speed.”