Only a few players -- Patrice Bergeron
, Adam McQuaid
, Mike Mottau
, Benoit Pouliot
, Tim Thomas
, Marty Turco
, Trent Whitfield
and Greg Zanon
-- took the ice with assistant coaches Doug Houda, Doug Jarvis and Geoff Ward.
The remainder of the roster alternately played soccer, saw the trainers or spoke with fellow players and the coaching staff.
As Head Coach Claude Julien said previously, sometimes it's better for the club to rest rather than practice, and that's particularly so when everyone around the room seems clear on what needs to be fixed when the B's face off against the Florida Panthers.
"I think you can look at a lot of things and fix those areas, but again, I think it’s about our execution and just playing our game," said Julien prior to the B's optional morning skate in Sunrise, Florida. "Right now, there are too many breakdowns.
"So yeah, we do have to play a little better as a five-man unit on the ice, but at the same time everybody has to do their job a little bit better. Too many breakdowns right now and those breakdowns are becoming costly."
Also costly are the number of key players who have missed time during the stretch run and today, the B's continue to have questions about who will be in the lineup against the Cats.
"We’re dealing with some guys that are out there this morning and again, they’ll have to be game time decisions," said Julien of a group that includes center Patrice Bergeron
Bergeron told the media
he was hopeful for tonight, but was also hopeful the B's returned to their system of defensive responsibility - a sentiment with which his coach heartily agreed.
"I think the key to our game is always been defensively when we’ve had layers after layers, and whenever there’s a breakdown it doesn’t end up in our net," said Julien. "Right now, those layers aren’t always there.
"There’s some probably bad, aggressive decisions being made out there with pinches and with no layers – those kind of things, like I said it doesn’t take much and then you’re playing from behind.
"And playing from behind creates a situation where guys all of a sudden start getting out of the game plan and are trying to get us back in the game individually and it just snowballs from there," he said.
Julien didn't deny that all 20 players need to raise their level of play.
"Absolutely, I think we’ve always been that kind of hockey club," said Julien. "We’re not a team that relies on one or two players to bail us out, we’ve done it by community in the past.
"We also realize what we have here and what we’re all about, and our strength has been as a pack, not as individuals. So we need to play within our strengths.
"If we’re going to get ourselves out of it, like a lot of players have told you, it’s not about one guy. It’s about all of us picking up our game and putting us back in the right direction," he said.