WILMINGTON, Mass. - With more than a week between their last game of the first playoff round and the opener of the conference semifinals, the Boston Bruins found someone to play against Tuesday.
Themselves. The Bruins held a 20-minute scrimmage as they waited to find out who they play next.
"I think it's important that we don't let ourselves slip too much and try and stay on top of our game and that's kind of the idea behind" the scrimmage, coach Claude Julien said. "A little bit of a scrimmage (will) put us into game-like situations as best we can, and then make sure that we stay on top of our game."
Last Wednesday, the top-seeded Bruins completed a four-game sweep of the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens. Their next opponent will be the Carolina Hurricanes, who beat New Jersey 4-3 in Game 7 Tuesday night.
"We've got to make sure we're staying sharp and (Julien) is making sure by making us skate hard and doing some scrimmages that we've got to work hard at," centre Patrice Bergeron said. "He doesn't want us to just go out there and just make plays that you're not going to do in a game. I thought it was pretty good."
The last time the Bruins scrimmaged was March 20, the morning after a disappointing home loss to the Los Angeles Kings. Boston, which had lost three of its previous four games before that scrimmage, then won six straight and seven of their next eight.
"I think it's probably a little different mindset going into this one," forward Shawn Thornton said. "That other one was kind of to relieve some tension and become sharp.
"I think this one was still to become sharp, but more getting back into the game frame of mind."
The time off allowed some injured players to get healthier. Bergeron, goalie Tim Thomas (flu) and defenceman Andrew Ference (undisclosed injury) have rejoined the club for full practice sessions.
"That's a privilege we earned by winning four straight," Julien said. "We have to take advantage of it and with everything that you get, there's always challenges.
"And I think the fact that we've got an opportunity here to give our guys some time to rest and heal and everything else is all positive.
"The only challenge that we have is to try and remain sharp and stay sharp, and I think we're doing a decent job of that."
The break has been a physical and mental relief for players.
"Everyone that was a little bit banged up will be back to 100 per cent, hopefully. And then we can make a run for it," Thornton said. "It's good to get a little bit of a mental break, too, over the weekend there.
"The playoffs are a long haul, hopefully, so every little mental break away is good."
Defenceman and captain Zdeno Chara returned after skipping practice Monday to attend the birth of his first child, a girl.