BOSTON — For the second straight season, the Bruins will begin the playoffs without Marc Savard.

This time though, there's no chance for the playmaking center to make a triumphant return if Boston advances past the opening round.

Savard was initially injured on a blind-side hit from Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke on March 7, 2010. He missed the rest of the regular season and the first-round series with Buffalo but returned in the second round and scored the game-winner in overtime in Game 1 against Philadelphia last year.

That was the high point for Savard, who clearly wasn't himself the rest of the series. A recurrence of post-concussion symptoms followed during the summer months, delaying his debut this year until December. And his season ended with another concussion suffered in January.

Savard remains home in Ontario recovering and has stayed in touch with the club, but little has changed in his condition.

"I've kept in contact with Savvy every week or so," Bruins coach Claude Julien said Thursday as his club prepared to face Montreal in the first game of their opening-round series. "We communicate, and things haven't changed in his case, and it's unfortunate for him. I'm sure he’s going to be sitting at home and watching these games and wishing he could be part of it because as a player, that part of you will never leave. And this is the most exciting time of the year, and I know he loved the times that he was in the playoffs."

The Bruins miss the playmaking skills Savard brought to the lineup, even if they have become accustomed to his absence.

"He was obviously a pretty important part of the success of our hockey club, so will we miss his play? Absolutely," Julien said. "You don't lose an elite player like him and not feel it."