-- When the Boston Bruins
took to the ice for their season opener against the Washington Capitals
just under three weeks ago, visions of a parade through the streets of Boston next June, celebrating the team's first Stanley Cup since 1972, may have been dancing through the minds of both players and fans.
Coming off their best season in recent memory and advancing to within one game of the Eastern Conference Finals last spring had many media pundits picking the Bruins to contend for the Cup. But after stumbling out of the gate to a 3-4-0 record while underachieving in the eyes of many, those visions of grandeur have became distant.
In the span of just four days, the Bruins have lost both Marc Savard
, their leading scorer of this and the last three seasons, and rugged winger Milan Lucic
, each for four to six weeks.
On Sunday night, the Bruins announced that Lucic had been placed on long-term injury reserve with a broken right index finger. On Wednesday, prior to their game-day skate, Boston announced that Savard would be joining Lucic on LTIR with a broken left foot.
Lucic broke his finger in a 3-0 win against Dallas last Friday, and Savard revealed that he has apparently been playing with the broken foot since the preseason when he took a puck of his foot.
"It wasn't hurting that much," said Savard, who was wearing a protective boot that will be on the foot for the next two weeks. "I just re-aggravated it yesterday. We took some MRIs and it was broken. The best thing now is to shut it down for a couple weeks here and let it heal."
While many will ask how the Bruins will replace Savard's offense, coach Claude Julien
reminded the media Wednesday that Savard is worth much more to this team than just scoring points.
"When he's on his game, he's good offensively and good defensively," Julien said. "That's why we use him on the penalty kill. He anticipates well and he reads the game pretty well. That's why he excels when he's on top of his game. That's why I've always said he's much more than a point-producer when he sets his mind to it."
The Bruins have depth at center with Patrice Bergeron
, David Krejci
and Steve Begin
filling. In 2007-08, when Savard missed the final month of the season and Bergeron had already been out since late October, Vladimir Sobotka
and then Krejci filled in admirably, keeping the team in the playoff hunt and helping the Bruins squeeze into the eighth playoff slot. But Julien pointed out the team can't just think Krejci, who has since become a key cog in the Bruins' offense, or another individual will compensate for the loss of Savard or Lucic.
"I think you have to lean on everybody when it comes to filling in for Savard," Julien said. "Is David a part of that equation? Absolutely. I think that to say that David Krejci
has to replace Savard ... I don't know that you'd want to do that because, first of all, David Krejci
just has to play like David Krejci
. He was injured and got operated on over the course of the summer and has already played seven games, so it's up to him to find his game. I don't think he needs to replace 'Savvi' as he just needs to play his game. If he plays his game, then that will help us immensely."
What about the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Lucic, who has been developing into one of the better power-forwards in the NHL?
"Well I'm not going to replace his size," joked 5-9, 183-pound rookie forward Brad Marchand
, who was preparing to make his NHL debut Wednesday night. "But I'll play physical and chip in any way I can. I'm sure the whole team will step up and do the same trying to fill-in for 'Luch' and 'Savi.' That's why people said we're a deep team and now we have to prove it."
For a team that has been searching for its identity again, the Savard and Lucic injuries could serve as a rallying cry and as a chance for the Bruins to become a tighter team once again.
"There is certainly a chance for this to be a rallying point for the team," GM Peter Chiarelli said. "There will be opportunities for players to play in more important roles. We've had these types of injuries before and responded. So we would expect our team to respond."
Julien concurred and said there is no time for his squad to feel sorry for itself.
"There's no doubt we've been through this before," Julien said. "Right now, it's about meeting the challenge that's ahead of us. There are a couple players who usually have pretty good impact on our game who are out of our lineup. I don't think anyone is going to feel sorry for us around the league. I don't think there's any reason for us to feel sorry for ourselves. It's more about rolling up our sleeves and getting ready to take this challenge head on."