I’m not sure which was more traumatic for Savard, a regular season where he landed on the shelf more often than score-sheet or an off season where he was the subject of more rumors than any other player in the NHL with a contract. It was just days after the playoffs ended with him probably being the cause of one of the innumerable too many men penalties of last seasons playoffs that cost the Bruins a shot at the conference finals that the trade rumors started. This after coming back from a broken foot, and nearly having his head taken off by a now illegal blow from Matt Cooke. The only player on the ice who saw clearly what happened, Michael Ryder, apparently didn’t see enough wrong with it to do anything. Despite the inconsistent play brought on by injuries to himself and his wingers, Savard had produced at .804 PPG, not his usual point per game standard, but far from a bad season.
This season, he needs to return to form and develop some synergy with Horton, and reclaim his connection with Lucic.
While it’s a given Recchi will climb higher in the all time goals and games lists, you have to wonder what drives him. Clearly last season was exasperating for him, at twice the age of some of his team, he was one of the two or three most consistent players on the ice every day. He did everything he could to make the Bruins succeed.
Bergeron and Stamkos have credited Recchi with improving their game, Seguin is likely to be the new youngster on the line and Recchi will like find himself tutoring another bright light.
Hunwick has what I’ve decided to call “mirror competence syndrome”. Put him with a good player, having a good night and he’ll have one too, put him with a player who is hesitant, slow of wit or injured and it’s time to cover your eyes. If he plays with someone physical he’s likely to leave a few people on the ice while he goes about his duty. Much to the dismay of may Bruins fans Hunwick was paired frequently with Wideman last season and the results rarely managed to achieve passable.
On the plus side Hunwick was third on the Bruins in assists in the playoffs, and was never the worst Bruin on the roster in the playoffs and logged over 33 minutes in one game. Despite this being his fourth year on the roster, he’s still sixty games short of the 200 mark many NHL observers say it takes to learn to play defense at that level. With his skating, shot and vision he can be a big positive, he just needs more confidence. Despite his skillset he could find himself the odd man out with several younger, cheaper players pressing for roster spots.
He may possibly have had the hardest job all season. He was brought in at the expense of good guy Chuck Kobasew, and was immediately tasked with the job of leading the Bruins restructured penalty kill. With the Bruins abandoning stalwart P.J. Axellson, Paille was the new face of the penalty kill. For the sake of his career it’s a good thing he’s good at this, very good in fact. Otherwise he’d be shuffling around with Kyle Wellwood trying to find a job as camps open, because aside from his explosive speed and penalty killing ability there isn’t much to recommend him.
Hopefully Paille spent the off season working to improve his shortcomings and honing his current top skills. The Bruins need his penalty killing ability, but the former first rounder was forced to take a pay cut to stay in Boston. If he can threaten or achieve twenty goals this season or next he may earn himself a larger check either here or somewhere else in two years.