You know, for years, it was hammered home repeatedly around the hockey media that Marc Savard had never made it to the playoffs. That line usually appeared in stories highlighting his early years, when he was an electrifying scorer who couldn't be bothered to do anything else, wasn't the greatest teammate and so on.
He started to silence the critics when he scored an overtime goal in Game 3 of Boston's seven-game series loss to the Montreal Canadiens in 2008, but today in Boston, he put a stake through the heart of that nasty reputation he had as a youth and not only hammered it through, but stomped on it, burned it and scattered the ashes to the four winds.
This is a guy who missed the last two months with a severe concusssion; who showed more heart and courage in his comeback than most thought possible for a player who allegedly was all about himself. This is a guy who refused to shut it down and toiled away in hopes of getting just one more chance to compete this season and do something big for the Boston Bruins.
It's only one game, but it was one the Bruins had to have. They outplayed the Flyers for the most part save for the two bad breakdowns in the third that allowed Philadelphia to erase a two-goal deficit. The Bruins then smothered their opponent in the opening minutes of the overtime period, peppering Woonsocket R.I.'s own Brian Boucher (who has enjoyed a renaissance to his hockey career after injuries to Ray Emery and Michael Leighton made him the team's goalie by default) with numerous quality shots that the former first-round pick turned aside with a lot of poise.
But in the end, Savard did what no Bruin could do 20 years ago in another overtime game, when Boston edged the Edmonton Oilers in sudden death play and threw the kitchen sink at Bill Ranford only to see Petr Klima go five-hole on Andy Moog and break a city's heart. Instead of another crushing and crucial loss at home to immediately relinquish home ice advantage, Savard's rocket shot of a rolling puck went up and over Boucher's shoulder, hitting the back of the twine and sparking a riotous celebration both by Savard and the delirious fans at TD Garden.
Today, Savard did more than just score in sudden death and then heave his stick into the stands as he hurled himself against the glass to connect with the nearest Bruins boosters he could find. This afternoon, Savard not only dispelled once and for all his own demons of unfulfilled expectations, but also exorcised Klima's ghost from the Boston Garden in the process.
The Bruins are only up in the series 1-0, but it feels like a stranglehold at this point.