Savard giving Bruins complete effort
Boston Bruins centre Marc Savard has been given more responsibility than at any other point in his career, and the 11-year veteran is loving every minute of it.
Savard, who has played for the N.Y. Rangers, Calgary and Atlanta before landing in Boston two years ago, led the NHL in scoring last week with eight points, including two goals.
More importantly, the Bruins have seen the Ottawa native transform himself into a complete player this season.
The Boston forward ranks third in the NHL with a plus-13, the highest rating of his career. It's a startling turnaround considering Savard only finished on the positive end in two other seasons.
The 31-year-old easily leads the team in scoring with eight goals and 27 points, outdistancing linemate Phil Kessel by 11.
"I'm killing penalties this year for really the first time and taken a lot of big faceoffs," Savard said during a recent conference call. "So it's nice to be counted on like that. It feels good, and hopefully we can keep winning like we are."
Victories have come at a torrid pace for the Bruins (14-3-4), who are tied for first in the Eastern Conference standings with 32 points. Boston has been the hottest team in November, steamrolling the competition while compiling an impressive 9-0-1 mark.
Savard has played mostly with Kessel and winger Milan Lucic, a line that has combined for 56 points in 21 games.
"We get along so well," said Savard. "I know a lot of teams say that, but we really do. If there's something to be said, we air it out in the room and go from there. We try and stress to each other [that] we've got to be good defensively. If we are, we're going to get a lot of offence.
"Really it feels like we haven't been in our zone too much for that reason, that we've been getting back, breaking up plays, and getting it in. We're having a lot fun as a line."
The highlight of the Bruins' four-game winning streak is clearly the two contests against the Montreal Canadiens.
Dominated for much of the previous two years by their Original Six rival, the Bruins humiliated the Canadiens 6-1 in Boston on Nov. 13, then followed it up with a 3-2 shootout win at the Bell Centre this past weekend.
Nursing an injury
The game in Boston featured a fight between Lucic and Montreal's Mike Komisarek. The Canadiens defenceman injured his shoulder and is expected to miss another month.
The animosity toward Lucic spilled over the night both teams returned to Montreal.
Canadiens enforcer Georges Laraque attempted to draw Lucic into a fight throughout the game, but was unsuccessful.
The two were seen jawing at each other at the faceoff circle just outside the Montreal blue-line in the third period when Savard approached Montreal's rugged winger — a move that seemed to calm the situation.
"I just told Georges that there's going to be another time for this," explained Savard. "Right now we're worried about wins. Milan is a hockey player and not just a fighter, so that's basically what I said. [It] kept him quiet for a little bit anyway."
Before the game, head coach Claude Julien instructed his players not to get into any altercations with Laraque.
"If they wanted to put Georges out there that much, that was fine with us," continued Savard. "We didn't want anybody fighting. We were on the road, and if they get hot on the power play, which they're capable of going, we didn't want them to do that either.
"So we played it the way we wanted to play it, and nothing else [materialized],"
Nothing except a red-hot team and a player who's enjoying a terrific start.