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Northeast: Savard, Bruins agree on seven-year deal

Wednesday, 12.02.2009 / 10:01 AM / Division Notebooks

By James Murphy - NHL.com Correspondent

In this case, all the talk was true. Marc Savard has signed a long-term contract extension with the Boston Bruins that will keep him in Boston through the 2016-17 season.

Savard, 32, was due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2010. Since signing with the Bruins as a free agent on July 1, 2006, Savard, 32, has led the team in scoring each of the last three seasons, in addition to leading the team's playoff scoring race each of the last two seasons. Savard has twice finished in the league's Top 10 in scoring with 95-plus points and has played in two consecutive NHL All-Star Games.

Savard appeared in every game for the Bruins last year, scoring 25 goals and 63 assists in 82 regular-season games, and 6 goals and 7 assists in 11 playoff games.

Savard has skated in 11 games this season, scoring 4 goals and 6 assists.

Miller the Hart of Buffalo -- Ryan Miller is making not only a strong case to be the starting goalie for Team USA at the Olympics this coming February, but also the Vezina Trophy winner and maybe even the Hart.

Miller beat the Maple Leafs 3-0 Monday for his third shutout of the season and now leads the NHL with a 1.84 GAA and .937 save percentage. Miller has given up two goals or less in 17 of his 21 starts and is the main reason his team sat in first place in the Northeast Division and third in the Eastern Conference heading into Tuesday night's action.

The Sabres are riding a three-game win streak and have been scoring more as of late, but Miller has fueled their success.

"We've fed off a lot of his saves," coach Lindy Ruff told John Vogl of the Buffalo News. "At the same time, the last three games we've supplied him with 12 goals. If you can average three, four a game, that's enough for Ryan to win.”

Forward Jason Pominville believes Miller's play warrants him as one of the NHL's elite goaltenders.

"He's making a statement," Pominville said. "He's in the elite of the League, and he's proving it out there. He's giving us a chance to win every night."

Miller has given his team the confidence that they're in every game no matter what the score.

"It's ridiculous," defenseman Henrik Tallinder said. "It doesn't matter when we break down or how we break down, he's always there. Right now, he's on top of his game. You can't really say enough about him."

Rask gets the job done --Bruins rookie Tuukka Rask filled in admirably for the injured Tim Thomas, going 4-1-1 in the six games Thomas (upper body) missed. In his last five games, Rask won four straight before losing to the Devils in a shootout. During that span he compiled a 1.75 goals-against average with a .942 save percentage.

Lucic hurt again -- Not even a week after returning from a broken right index finger that kept him out for a month, Milan Lucic is injured again. This time, it is a high-ankle sprain suffered in the Bruins' 2-1 shootout win against the Wild on Nov. 25. Lucic is expected to miss 2-4 weeks with his most recent injury. In the four games he played since returning from the broken right index finger, Lucic had 2 goals, including the game-winner in a 4-2 win at St. Louis.

For the Bruins it's just another setback and while they admit they will miss the bruising Lucic, they must move on.

"Looch is a dynamic, impact player. It's nice to have him in there, obviously, but we're going to try and soldier on without him," said forward Byron Bitz.

Good news for Markov – Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov skated this past week for the first time since tearing an ankle tendon on opening night. Originally thought to be out until mid-February, Markov told the Montreal media that he expects to be back by mid-January and prior to the Olympics.

Markov received some good news regarding his chances of playing for his native Russia in Vancouver. Russian hockey legend Vladislav Tretiak, in town to scout potential Team Russia players, had dinner with Markov prior to the Canadiens and Capitals game in Montreal Saturday and made it clear to him that he wants Markov to be on the Russian squad.

"My coaches would like to look for him to play soon, maybe in three, four weeks," Tretiak said. "He feels good, and he's a very important, very good player for us. ... He's a good, smart defenseman. Our team likes him very much. Markov's No. 1 coach now is his doctor. He knows our coaches like him. Today was very important for him. It was important for me to support him. I wanted to show him I believe in him."

Turn on the power – Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson has had to shuffle his power-play units recently. The Leafs went 0-for-4 Monday night, and 0-for-2 Tuesday against Montreal, making the Leafs 2-for-22 over the last six games with one of those goals going into an empty net against Florida. Wilson thinks it is getting better, but still needs work.

"Struggling means the puck didn't go in the net," Wilson told the Toronto Star. "Sometimes you do everything but score. Someone will say, 'You scored two the other night.' Well, we shot one in the empty net, but it was a power-play goal. Our power play was actually better (Monday night)."

Wilson wants players to stop depending on the hot Phil Kessel and for his point men to let shots rip from the point in hopes for a tip-in in front of the net.

"I really need (Tomas) Kaberle to shoot the puck, if they're playing really tight on Phil (Kessel)," said Wilson. "I mean pound it. He's got a good shot, shoot it. We're (supposed to have) guys standing in front of the net. That's been a big part of our power play, getting good clean looks from the point with screens. We didn't do that when we needed to."


Quote of the Day

Not only is it a great idea, but if you don't [start using analytics] you're going to fall behind. You have to be on the cutting edge. It was [Arizona Coyotes assistant general manager] Darcy Regier who said, 'If you didn't invent it, you have to be the second- or third-best copier, because if you're fourth or fifth you've got no chance.'

— Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock on his interest in advanced statistical analysis