Bruins updates on Marc Savard and Marco Sturm: Rehab on track

With the recent injury to Bruins center David Krejci, who’s out with a concussion, thoughts turned to the progress of other injured Bruins forwards Marc Savard and Marco Sturm. Savard has been out all season recovering from post-concussion syndrome while Sturm is coming back from knee surgery after getting injured in the playoffs. Jimmy Murphy from ESPN Boston gets the scoop on how they’re progressing from Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli, and the news is especially good for Savard.

“He’s starting to feel like he’s in good shape,” Chiarelli said, when asked about Savard’s condition. “There hasn’t been any lingering side effects that we talked about earlier on in his rehab. He was in very good spirits. I wouldn’t say he’s champing at the bit yet, but we’re almost at that corner with the turnaround. To me — again, timetables are difficult — but to me he seemed in good shape, good spirits. I wouldn’t say he’s close, but he’s getting there.”

The Bruins, of course, are going to be more careful with Savard after he potentially hurt himself more by coming back during the playoffs last season. Savard had been out with a concussion he suffered at the hands of Penguins forward Matt Cooke but talked his way back into the lineup during the playoffs to try and help the Bruins go deeper into the postseason dance. Mission unaccomplished as the Bruins blew a 3-0 series lead to the Flyers and lost in seven games.

As for Sturm, Chiarelli reports that all is going well with Sturm and that he’s aiming for an early December return to the lineup. Sturm had knee surgery after suffering an injury during the playoffs and the six months of recovery needed to get back on the ice puts him on track to be back right on time.

Once Savard and Sturm are back in the lineup, the Bruins will have some serious salary cap questions to get resolved. With both players showing improvement, perhaps it’s time to put Peter Chiarelli on the clock to get a solution figured out there as he’ll have about another month to get things squared away. If I were Bruins forward Michael Ryder, I’d start getting nervous. Ryder and his $4 million cap hit is a prime candidate to be sent down to the AHL to get his contract off the books.

Into the fire: Halak, recalled yesterday, starts for Isles in Pittsburgh

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A little scene setting for you.

New York heads into tonight’s massive game in Pittsburgh sitting two points back of Boston for the final wild card in the Eastern Conference. The Isles have two games in hand on the B’s — who are idle tonight — so a win could move them into a playoff spot.

As such, the Isles will start a goalie that hasn’t played in the NHL in 85 days.

Against the league’s highest-scoring offense.

The goalie in question is Jaroslav Halak, who’s spent the last three months playing for the Isles’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. Recalled yesterday, Halak will now face big league competition for the first time since Dec. 29, when he allowed four goals on 24 shots in a loss to Minnesota.

(Afterward, then-head coach Jack Capuano ripped Halak, saying he gave up “some soft goals to start” and “wasn’t sharp at all.”)

But Halak’s been really good in Bridgeport.

He’s posted a 17-7-1 record with a 2.15 GAA and .925 save percentage, and a pair of shutouts. And given how spotty Berube’s play has been as Greiss’ backup, the Isles really had no other choice than to recall Halak.

The club is in the midst of a compacted part of the schedule. Greiss was excellent in Wednesday’s win over the Rangers — stopping 34 of 36 shots in a 3-2 victory — but he was also busy.

The Isles are in Pittsburgh tonight, then host the Bruins on Saturday — another massive game — then host the Preds on Monday. It’s a compact part of the schedule, and Berube’s struggles have rendered him virtually unplayable, given how meaningful the games are (and, to borrow a timeless cliche, how vital points are at this time of the year.)

So it’s Halak tonight, and possibly more down the stretch.

For Tuukka Rask and the Bruins, a ‘bad goal’ at the worst possible time

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The growing ranks of Tuukka Rask detractors gained some serious ammunition during last night’s loss to Tampa Bay.

The deciding goal in the 6-3 defeat was a “bad one,” according to Rask and most anyone else who was watching.

It may have been a hard shot by Jonathan Drouin, unleashed at the top of the circle, but it still should’ve been stopped.

After the game, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters that Rask “needed to be better tonight.”

In fact, Rask hasn’t been very good the past few months. Since Jan. 1, his save percentage is just .888. But with nobody trustworthy behind him, he’s had to just play through his struggles.

It’s impossible to say if Rask’s numbers would be better if the Bruins had a more capable backup. He’d be more rested, though. And when he was struggling, the coach would at least have another option to consider. With an .897 save percentage on the season, Anton Khudobin simply hasn’t been reliable enough to garner that consideration.

Don’t expect Rask to get the next game off. Saturday in Brooklyn, the Bruins — losers of four straight in regulation, and suddenly on the verge of falling out of the playoff picture — face the Islanders in arguably the biggest game of both teams’ seasons.

Bolts recall Koekkoek, putting Garrison’s status into doubt

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The Tampa Bay Lightning, after earning a big win last night in Boston, may not have defenseman Jason Garrison tonight in Detroit.

The Bolts recalled d-man Slater Koekkoek from AHL Syracuse this morning — a move that would seem to put Garrison’s status into doubt against the Red Wings.

Garrison was forced to leave the Bruins game in the second period with a lower-body injury.

Koekkoek has played 29 games for the Lightning this season, recording no goals and four assists.

Melnyk blasts ‘whiner’ Crosby, who won’t face hearing for Methot slash

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Sidney Crosby won’t face a disciplinary hearing for his slash on Ottawa d-man Marc Methot, an NHL spokesman confirmed — news that won’t be welcomed by Sens owner Eugene Melnyk.

The incident occurred during Ottawa’s 2-1 win on Thursday night, and forced Methot from the game with a bloodied, lacerated finger. The club later announced that Methot would be “out for weeks” with the injury.

Crosby’s slash came two nights after he speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt. It should be noted that neither the O’Reilly spear or Methot slash resulted in penalty calls, and neither was subjected to supplementary discipline.

One individual that’s guaranteed to be upset with today’s news is Melynk. He appeared on TSN 1200 radio this morning and seemed to suggest the league was looking into the Crosby-Methot incident.

He also had a few choice words for No. 87: