BOSTON – You score the game-winning goal in overtime in your first game back in a second-round playoff game, and you try to throw away your stick?
Come on, Marc Savard, you’re one of the most meticulous players on the Bruins when it comes to preparation and routine. You use a black marker to ink out any white portions on your skates. You line up three sticks in front of your stall every morning in perfect formation and no one’s allowed to breathe on them.
And then you go and try to get rid of the luckiest stick in your collection?
Savard can be forgiven for getting so caught up in the emotion of his goal that lifted the Bruins over the Flyers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the two longtime Eastern Conference rivals today at TD Garden. After his one-timer from the right dot beat Brian Boucher for a 5-4 victory, he glided across the ice into the glass and threw the stick into the stands just before his teammates buried him in a pig pile.
The fan, who has not been identified, played the ultimate good-samaritan role by throwing back the lucky stick. Could you imagine what that would fetch on Ebay tomorrow? But every good hockey fan knows you don’t throw away an overtime-winning stick, even if Savard didn’t sound like he was too attached to his scoring tool after the win.
“I thought it was a treat for somebody because they’d been great all night, but that person threw it back,” Savard said. “I went off to do the three stars and all of a sudden I had my stick and I thought, ‘Jeez, is it my head? Something’s wrong here.’ But no, I got it back.”
The obvious story here is that after two months on the sidelines with a Grade 2 concussion, Savard returned to active duty and capped the night with the biggest goal of the year. He took the ice 1:15 into the game to a standing ovation from the Garden faithful.
“To be honest, when I got out there, there was a little water in my eyes at first,” admitted Savard, who won his first faceoff right after the great welcome. “I’ve loved playing here and that’s why I wanted to stay here. The crowd treated me great. My teammates were great with me all day. And I just wanted to fit in.”
Considering how sparingly head coach Claude Julien utilized his returning star through the first three periods, it was stroke of either genius or luck that Savard was on the ice for 4:05 of overtime, including the final shift.
Just as big a stroke of genius or luck was the Savard, who nine times out of 10 will try to make a pass rather than shoot, decided to fire away.
“I just thought, ‘Why not get a shot on net?’ I tried one in the third from center and it was pretty pitiful,” he explained. “So I thought, ‘Jeez, I got to get a shot on net here.’ It just landed perfect and I clipped it with everything.”
A shot so perfect, on a shift so perfectly timed to win a game the Bruins played less than perfect in. If you’re not starting to feel that the Bruins might be a team of destiny by now, you better have your vitals checked.
The injuries have hit this team time and again harder than Chris Pronger and Mike Richards together could ever hope to hurt the Bruins. But nothing slows them down. To lose Marco Sturm on the first shift, and then only have Vladimir Sobotka back on a part-time basis after a short stint in the trainer’s room, and then pull out the victory, can’t be anything shy of destiny.
There’s magic in these Bruins. You could see it when they suddenly went from a team that couldn’t get out of its own way at home to a dominant TD Garden beast down the stretch to wrap up a playoff berth. You could see it when they found a way to solve the world’s best goaltender and eliminated Ryan Miller and Buffalo in just six games. And now you can see it when a guy that just a couple weeks ago couldn’t be in a lighted room steps off the bench and scores a game-winning goals.
The magic might be in that stick, Savard. So find other ways to show your admiration for the fans and make sure that you do everything you did today the same way for the next week, maybe two. Or maybe the next month. Then you can give that stick away … to the New England Sports Museum as a relic from the first Stanley Cup-winning Bruins team in 38 years.
That would be magical.