TAMPA, Fla. -- When the schedule maker smiles on you, you accept it and smile back.
So far in this shortened season, the Boston Bruins have had a lot to smile about regarding their schedule. To date, they have played the fewest number of games in the NHL. The current League high is 18 games played; Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Tampa Bay Times Forum will be game No. 14 for the Bruins.
And after Thursday, they get another break before facing the Florida Panthers on Sunday.
"Time off seems to be a recurring theme with our schedule of late," Boston forward Shawn Thornton said. "If I get caught saying it's a vacation I’m going to get yelled at. We had a couple of days off and had some practices to get ready for this -- at this point in the season we are fairly rested, so we should have a lot of energy. I think rest is a good thing, especially with the condensed schedule, so I'm going to look at it as a positive."
Bruins coach Claude Julien sees it as a positive, too, but he knows that sooner or later in the season Boston will have to pay the piper.
"Anytime you get a little bit of time off to rest it is a benefit, but at the same time you realize that you're going to have to pay for it somewhere down the road," Julien said. "Our schedule in the last two months is really hectic and compounded into nearly every second night, so you enjoy it while you can and make the best of it, but at some point we know we'll have to make up for it somewhere down the road."
The Lightning, with a two-game win streak in progress, last played Tuesday at home when they defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2.
"I think right now, we're rested too," Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said. "Maybe they are a little more rested than we are, but we're not in a position to say we're tired. Our guys are fresh and their guys are fresh, so it should be a real solid game."
Scratched: Keith Aulie (ill)
Injured: Ryan Malone