Late in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Bruins center Marc Savard waved his stick in the air, calling for a line change — prompting teammate Vladimir Sobotka to jump on the ice — but then changed his mind, leaving Sobotka in no man’s land.
Sobotka tried to hurry back to the bench, but failed to get there before being whistled as an extra man — and that was just icing on a cake that has had a bittersweet taste this season for Boston's star pivot.
Thanks to the penalty, the Flyers ended up scoring the game-winning goal on the resulting power play to complete their miraculous comeback in that game and series, stealing a 4-3 win.
Following Game 7, Savard said that he never saw Sobotka come over the boards for the change, and that’s why he changed his mind, choosing to follow the play. Savard is still sticking to his story, but after watching the replay a few times, he is accepting some blame.
"I’ve seen it, and it looks like there was a lot of time there, so I don’t know. … I did look at the bench, I think, so I’ll take blame if that’s what it is," Savard said on Tuesday. "I did look at the bench, and there was quite a span [of time] there, so I just got back. I didn’t know what was behind me because they may have had a guy coming up the ice. Those things happen, unfortunately. We seemed to have things in order."
But the 2009-10 season was anything but in order for Savard, who started the season with a back injury, then broke his foot, then signed a seven-year extension with the Bruins worth $4.2 million per season, then suffered a knee injury, then — on March 7 — suffered a Grade 2 concussion that kept him out of commission until Game 1 of the semifinal series with Philadelphia.
Savard returned that day, May 1, to score the overtime winner for the Bruins. However, from then on, he could only muster two assists over the next six games. After only 41 regular-season games played, Savard admitted that his roller coaster ride of a season had more dips than rises, and it took its toll mentally and physically.
"I wanted to [play] every night, and I just didn’t feel it in my legs, for whatever reason," Savard said. "But mentally, I wanted to do it. When I started the year, obviously I had a broken foot for the first while, and when I came back, I felt healthy. And then I hurt my knee, and the knee was not great for a long time. Then, obviously when I got the seven weeks off [after the concussion], that healed everything, but it was a tough year all around."
Still, Savard vowed to come back stronger next season.
"For me, it hurts more, obviously, with the way we finished," he said. "Just the season as a whole, for myself, was a tough year every which way. So I just want to have a good summer. I’m positive I can bounce back and have a good season."
Bouncing back, though, may be something Savard will be doing with new teammates. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli made some changes after last season’s second-round exit from the postseason, and on Tuesday, he promised more.
"If you look at last year, we had such a strong season and there were a lot of moves still," Savard said. "So I’d imagine there’s still going to be a lot of moves. That’s the way things work."
The Bruins have the second overall pick at the 2010 NHL draft, as well as five picks in the first two rounds, so Savard will be tuning in to see whether his team takes Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin. Savard, who has a no-trade clause, joked that he’d be watching to make sure he’d be playing with either of them.
"It will be interesting to see, so I’ll probably click it on and see what happens," Savard said. "In Canada, [the draft] is a huge thing, so yeah, I’ll be watching.
"I got moved at the draft once, so you never know what happens," he added with a laugh. "I don’t think about that stuff ever. … You know, if that’s what happens, that’s up to Peter, so I don’t think about that stuff."