Savard on the verge of return

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Boston Bruins forward Marc Savard is on the verge of returning to game action, so every day after practice he’s forced to give an update on his rehab and availability.

Following Monday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena, he said he would not be back in the lineup on Wednesday against the Flyers in Philadelphia.

What about Thursday at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning?

“I don’t know,” he answered with a smile. “We’ll have to wait and see.”

Savard’s return seems imminent, especially given Monday's trade of defenseman Matt Hunwick to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for defensive prospect Colby Cohen, which frees up approximately $1.4 million of salary cap space.

Chiarelli sat in the stands Monday and monitored Savard during practice. Because the forward is making major strides, Chiarelli said, the GM had to ramp up his efforts to make room for Savard's return.

“If I had a definitive timeframe, I’d let people know,” Chiarelli said of Savard's availability. “I know Marc said he left it open for interpretation, and we’ll look at it.

“We’ll see at practice [Tuesday] and we’ll see where he is conditioning-wise. He had a good practice [Monday]. I know he’s champing at the bit, which is reflected in his comments. He’s come a long way as far as testing and conditioning, so we’re on the eve of him coming back. We just have to make sure everything is right.”

The Bruins’ medical staff at Massachusetts General Hospital has cleared Savard for full contact. An independent specialist, Dr. Michael Collins, has also given Savard clearance. Now it’s a matter of the sides agreeing when it’s best to return.

Both the Bruins and Savard admit he came back too early last season after he missed nearly two months with a Grade 2 concussion. That resulted in Savard suffering from post-concussion syndrome as ramped up his offseason workouts, forcing him to miss a quarter of this season.

“I guess I’m a little protective,” Chiarelli said. “I want to make sure that he’s ready. Looking at last year, we all thought he was ready, himself included. Maybe I’m being a little ultra-protective here, but we’re going to get it right.

“I want to make sure Marc is up to speed, so that he’s in the right mode and he can hit the ground running.”

Once Savard is able to return, the Bruins will have three top centermen in David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and Savard.

“It’s going to take him a while to get up to speed when he’s back,” admitted Chiarelli. “We’ve had David in and out with a concussion and this latest flu bug, and it’d be nice to get some balance to our attack with three centermen back, so that would be nice.”