Boston Bruins center Marc Savard (91) leaps into the arms of Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman (6) after scoring the game winning goal in the overtime period of Game 3 of the NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal hockey playoffs in Boston, Sunday, April 13, 2008. The Bruins beat Montreal 2-1. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Much has been said about the Boston Bruins resurgence during the 2007-08 season, but not enough has been said about one of the most important working parts to the refurbished Black & Gold machine -- Marc Savard.
"It's tough right now with the playoffs still going, watching those games at night," answered Savard when asked if time had healed the heartache created when Montreal eliminated Boston in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
"You want to be still in it," said Marc. "We took a lot of bodies and it was a well-played series by both sides and the excitement is still there and you wish you could have gone on.
"But in the same sentence, we are a proud [team] and we're tired and we're going to try and get some rest here."
Savard certainly deserves a rest.
By all accounts the dynamic center had an excellent season and played the best two-way hockey of his NHL career. Always one of the NHL's best playmakers, Savard was a plus-3 (rebounding from a -19 in 2006-07) and had a 15-63-78 line in 74 games.
After he secured a berth into his first All-Star Game, Savard turned the jeers from his former hometown fans in Atlanta into cheers when he gave the Eastern Conference a late, and dramatic, win in the midwinter classic.
As the season progressed, and veteran players went down to injury, the Bruins top playmaker was a needed voice in the B's young locker room. Savard transferred that leadership onto the ice, playing hard-working, responsible hockey (earning only 66 penalty minutes) while anchoring the Bruins power play and seeing time on the penalty kill.
More than all of that, Savard embraced being a Boston Bruin and his tenacious play wrought havoc with players on both sides of the puck. In the playoffs against the Habs, a wounded Savard (felled by a nasty crosscheck from Montreal's Steve Begin in the last month of the regular season) continued to be a force.
"There is another level there and it's amazing to see that," said the center of his first playoff experience in the NHL. "That was specially so after missing seven games and then coming back for game one.
"Stepping in, after not being able to practice…it was the quickest hockey I have ever seen.
"I even thought it was too quick for me [at first] -- I only practiced once, really, before I got to play...but, I thought as the series went on I felt a lot better and I contributed a lot more [and] I can't wait to do it again," he said.
For sure, Savard's game winner in overtime of Game Three against the Habs won't soon be forgotten in the Hub of Hockey.
“I saw the little hole, and I thought [Peter Schaefer] was going to come right across to me, and he did a great job in holding that puck,” explained Savard at the time. “I knew [Dennis Wideman] saw me when I came in, I was yelling, too. He kind of gave the goalie a little fake, and the net was open…one of the biggest [goals of my life]."
Days later, Savard's series saving shot was still fresh in everyone's mind.
"It was an amazing feeling just to get that goal," he said. "At the time…we needed it. It was an exciting moment, something that I will never forget.
"I have the puck and it is something special that will be near and dear forever."
After some reflection, however, Savard is not satisfied with that souvenir.
"I want to get back [to the playoffs], for sure, now that I've been there," he said. "It was a great taste of what could've almost been [and] I am excited as a hockey player to get back to that position.
"I think, with the team that we have, we can cause some trouble next year."
From the sounds of it, Savard, who generally wears a Cheshire cat's smile, had even more of a blast while vying for Lord Stanley's Cup.
"It was (fun). Especially when we got down the nitty-gritty and our backs were against the wall in games 5-6 and obviously 7, it was amazing and just the electricity.
"You felt it going right through your body and in game six here, I have never been part of a game that was that exciting.
"If that was a fan's first sporting event, I don't know how they would ever go watch another [game] -- it was just an amazing game."