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On Sunday, the First Place B's Rest

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Boston Bruins; Milan Lucic celebrates after scoring, as Montreal Canadiens' Alex Kovalev, of Russia, looks on during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Montreal on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)
The Boston Bruins are 9-0-1 in their last 10. They are in first place in the Northeast Division by seven points over the Montreal Canadiens and, as of Sunday morning, are two points ahead of the New York Rangers for the lead in the Eastern Conference with two games in hand.

But perhaps the best news the Bruins got on Saturday night were the words “day off” referring to Sunday.

Sure, the Bruins are red hot, but they’ve also got to be dog-tired and will rest at home today before returning to Wilmington’s ice on Monday.

Speaking of the back-to-back games on Friday night, center Patrice Bergeron said it was just part of the job.

“It’s a little tough,” he said.  “We have to now save our energy for (Saturday) and get as much sleep as we can, but at the same time, just (we have) to be ready.

“We’re not the only ones with back-to-back games, we just have to go out there and play hard.”

Goaltender Tim Thomas, who owns the top spot in league save percentage at .944 and was in goal for both victories, said on Friday that the club was trying to keep things simple.

And by simple he means that there is only one thing that consistently leads to success: hard work.

“We’ve had some success this year, but the easiest thing to forget is the work that’s put into getting that success,” he said.  “As a team we’re really focusing on remembering that and keeping it all in perspective and not getting too far ahead of ourselves.

“We’ve got to play each individual game.”

Tim Thomas
Last night, it was obvious that after nine games in 16 days the B’s were, at times, running on fumes and had left everything out on the Bell Centre ice. So, a three-day break from NHL action might be just what the doctor (or head athletic trainer Don DelNegro) ordered. However, their division rivals, the Buffalo Sabres, will be waiting in Western New York on Wednesday and the Black & Gold will play three games in four nights.

“It was a hard-fought game tonight,” said Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien to NESN’s Naoko Funayama after Saturday night’s 3-2 shootout win over Montreal. “They obviously wanted to revenge that loss that they had in Boston and we knew it was going to be a hard game – our second game in two nights.

“I thought our guys battled hard.

“We just had to keep our focus, and that’s what (we) did,” he said.

There were all sorts of distractions in Montreal.

From the periphery there was the Canadian version of the Super Bowl, set to be played in Montreal on Sunday. And front and center, the Habs were celebrating goaltender Patrick Roy’s career by raising his number to the rafters as part of their centennial celebration.

Finally, the Montreal media seemed to be asking for Milan Lucic’s head due to the young left winger’s fistic drubbing of Mike Komisarek in Boston; a drubbing that left the Canadiens defenseman injured and out of commission for a considerable amount of time.

While it was later revealed by Coach Julien that he had told Lucic not to drop the gloves with the man Montreal fans call BGL – Big Georges Laraque – that didn’t keep the Canadiens enforcer from trying to goad the B’s bruiser into a fight.

But the usually loquacious Lucic was not talking about the non-incident.

Boston Bruins' Milan Lucic, left, tries to ignore Montreal Canadiens' George Laraque during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Montreal on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008. Lucic injured Canadiens Mike Komisarek in a fight during their last game. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)
“If that’s what they want to do they can do it,” said Milan to the television camera’s after question after question focused on Laraque’s transformation into Lucic’s shadow. “I don’t feel like talking about it, so that’s (all) I’m going to say.”

Instead, Lucic focused on the play that gave him the first Boston goal of the day and seemed to take the Montreal crowd out of the game.

“It was a good breakout pass by (Chara) and (Yelle) did a good job of finding (Kessel) up the ice and he made a great move,” said Lucic, who raised his hands upward to the crowd as if expecting epithets to rain down upon him. “I just beat my man up the ice and had an open net to shoot at.”

Bruins beat cop Shawn Thornton, who, according to media reports, was the man charged with taking on Laraque (again) if BGL wanted to pick a fight with someone wearing Black & Gold, told NESN that the Bruins showed some smarts.

“We don’t talk about it too much,” he said. “But we just focus on the first period. Then we focus on the second period and then focus on the third.

“We’ve been pretty successful, so far.”

Asked what the difference was between last year's B’s and the present Black & Gold, Thornton, who took home a Stanely Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2006-07, thought for a second and then said, “We’re not out of control.

“I think last year we became a little unglued at times and ran around a little too much.

“And I don’t mean taking penalties and stuff, but I meant being out of position trying to make up for things. I just think we did a good job of staying disciplined.”

Boston Bruins' Blake Wheeler scores on Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price during the shootout in the Bruins' 3-2 victory in an NHL hockey game in Montreal on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)
Perhaps the best evidence of that was the put-together-play of Lucic (no fight, goal), Matt Hunwick (goal) and Blake Wheeler (shootout goal).

“That’s just it,” said Julien to Funayama. “We’re getting a lot of goals by different players at different times and those young guys are stepping up and doing their share, as well.

“It’s great to see. And that’s why we are winning hockey games, because we’re not just relying on two or three players. We’ve got the whole team wanting to contribute in that way and every night we have somebody different (making a big play).”

Boston returns to work Monday at 10:30 a.m. in Wilmington.
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