BOSTON – It’s just a coincidence that the Bruins’ lone power-play goal Saturday in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series with Philadelphia came with Marc Savard in the penalty box and his unit on the ice.
Dennis Wideman, Johnny Boychuk, Miroslav Satan and Michael Ryder were more than excited to have Savard, one of the league’s premier playmakers, back in the man-advantage fold after a two-month absence with a concussion – even if it means changing the attacking plan against the Flyers.
“It was a little bit different. With Savvy, he wants the puck and we want to try to get him the puck because he sets everything up from that half-wall. So it’s a little different,” said Wideman. “Savvy likes to sometimes slow things down a little bit and hold onto it and set plays up. Whereas before, we might’ve just been getting the puck and shooting as fast as we could – just getting it to the net and trying to crash that way. So when you’ve got a guy like Savvy on the power play, you try to get him the puck as much as you can and then set up whatever he wants to do.”
Head coach Claude Julien has opted to keep together the other power-play unit of Zdeno Chara, Matt Hunwick, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Mark Recchi together after it heated up down the stretch of the first-round win over Buffalo. That’s put Savard in a bit of unfamiliar territory with guys like Satan and Boychuk who he hasn’t played with much in the past, especially on special teams. When the Bruins’ power play was at its best when Savard was healthy, he typically would’ve been on the ice with some combination of Chara, Bergeron, Ryder and Marco Sturm.
Although he had to watch his man-advantage mates score through the glass at the sin bin, he still felt like he fit in well.
“I felt fine. I didn’t get the puck that much, but when I did we moved it pretty well,” said Savard, who was replaced by Milan Lucic during the successful power play. “We had all the looks we wanted, we just didn’t complete some passes. So if we can get a little sharper, it’ll work out.”
Drawing more penalties from an infraction-prone Flyers team will be an obvious focus for Boston in Game 2 and beyond. And making sure the second unit contributes when the first fails, will be important as well. No doubt there’s a better chance of that happening with Savard manning the half-wall.