BOSTON — Marc Savard returned to the Bruins' lineup over a week ago, but as far as he is concerned, he still isn't truly back yet.
Savard hasn't been able to recapture his old playmaking magic, as he's managed just one point in four games. That shouldn't come as a surprise after missing more than six months dealing with post-concussion syndrome symptoms, but it still has been extremely frustrating for the slick-passing center.
"I've just got to keep working and it's going to come," said Savard after a rare non-game day workout at the Garden on Friday. "I'm confident. I'm behind a bit and it's tough to realize that, because I'm such an intense guy and I want results every night and it's tough to realize it's going to take some time."
Savard did finally collect his first point of the year Thursday night against the Islanders, though it wasn't exactly a vintage Savard setup that earned him the assist on Milan Lucic's first of two goals. Savard didn't think much of the play, but he did win a crucial faceoff to set up Lucic's power-play tally.
"It took a little longer than I would've liked and it was a little cheesy too, but they all count I guess," said Savard. "It's tough for me, because like I said, I'm an intense guy and I want results every night and I haven't been getting them. But I have to realize it's been six months, I haven't touched the blades and I'm a little behind schedule and behind these guys. Hopefully within a month I'll be caught up and things start happening, but I still want more."
Bruins coach Claude Julien hopes to get more from Savard soon as well, but he understands that it will take time for Savard to approach his pre-injury form.
"There's no doubt he's going to get better," said Julien. "What's going on right now as far as him maybe not being on the top of his game, and I'm not saying he's been a bad player, but he's not at the top of his game yet and we didn't expect him to be at the top of his game. You've got to give him time. When you haven't played in six months, you can't expect a guy to come back and all of a sudden take off from where he left."
There were some positive signs for Savard on Thursday. In addition to the assist, he also won eight of 13 draws he took, played well on the power play and even saw a shift on the penalty kill.
"I'm trying," said Savard. "On the power play [Thursday night], I felt normal again. I felt I was making good plays and smart decisions. I've got to take those positives as tough as it is, because I did have some tough shifts too, but I've got to pull those positives out."
Savard actually had his lowest ice-time total on Thursday night, playing just 13:10 after logging 15:45, 14:21 and 16:26 in his first three games back. That ice time should start trending back up soon though, as Julien hopes to use Savard in more situations.
"It's about giving him some more ice and showing some confidence in him," said Julien. "And I can do that when I see the progress, and he's coming around. I don't think it's at a fast pace, but he's coming around.
"I think that first game I almost have to take out of the equation because he played on adrenaline, and if you asked me to evaluate, I'd say that was his best game," added Julien. "But then you get back to reality and from the Toronto game to the other games here he's coming around and I've utilized him a little bit more in different situations."
Savard did admit that he got through his debut on Dec. 2 against Tampa Bay largely on adrenaline, and has struggled with his timing since.
"It's just the pace of the game," said Savard. "Things are happening quicker. Where usually I have time, for some reason I feel like I'm being rushed. I have to get that timing back and be able to slow things down the way I like to.
"I think my first game I felt really good, but I was on a lot of adrenaline," added Savard. "The second game I hit a bit of a lull, but two games ago I felt better and last game I felt a little bit better again. So it's coming, but it's frustrating. I'm not a very patient guy and I'm trying to be. I want more out of myself and I think that's the toughest thing right now. I go home every night and I feel like I'm not doing anything."
Savard remains confident that the skills and the timing and ultimately the production will all come back eventually. But as to pinpointing how long that process will take, Savard remains uncertain.
"I don't really have that answer," said Savard. "I feel that it's getting better, but I want more. I know I can be so much better and I just have to stick with it. It's going to come."