A relaxed and well-rested Bruins team will return to the ice at Ristuccia this afternoon for their first practice after the three-day All-Star break.
“Relaxed” and “well-rested” probably won’t last long, however.
“As much as we’ve put a lot of importance on [past] games, this is where it’s going to get decided,” said head coach Claude Julien after Thursday night’s 4-1 win over the New York Islanders.
“Our playoffs…start [now].”
Even while looking forward to their weekend break and celebrating their victory, the players all knew Coach was right.
“We are right back at it on Tuesday,” said goalie Tim Thomas
, who earned an All-Star victory for the Eastern Conference in Atlanta. “We have a relatively short break, and we have to be ready to come back.”
Right out of the starting blocks – or rather, right from the puck drop – the B’s have a hectic schedule that lasts the rest of the season. 23 of the team’s 82 games will be played in this last month and a half.
“It’s every second night. March has 16 games in 30 days,” said Coach Julien. “We have a real heavy schedule ahead of us.”
Everyone in the locker room had ideas for making the end of this season a successful one.
“Hopefully we can get healthier and get a couple guys back in the lineup,” defenseman Dennis Wideman said.Marc Savard
, who scored the game-winning goal for the East, echoed his sentiments.
“We’ve been begging for some guys back,” he said.
The main focus, however, was on the playoff race and fighting to stay in it.
Coach Julien felt the team needs to “be more consistent and keep getting the points that [we] need…to earn.”
“[We] should be looking at who’s ahead of us and trying to start moving up in the standings,” Thomas said.
“We’ve got to…stop worrying about the people behind us,” Savard said. “If we start looking at the teams ahead of us, it’s going to get us closer to the top.”
Winning and getting points is essential all year, but especially so as the season counts down.
“We’ll have to start looking at those teams [we haven’t beaten] and beat them, and start moving in the other direction and putting winning streaks together,” said Savard.
“Those are key at this time of the year.”