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Skating in the Sunshine State

by Angela Stefano / Boston Bruins
On Wednesday, many of the Bruins went golfing. Here Stephane Yelle shows off his driving skills.
After a day off to enjoy the warm weather and sunshine, the Bruins returned to practice Thursday morning at the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, FL.  It was a long, intense workout, but with three days between games, the players welcomed the challenge.

“As much as it’s not fun to do it, right now, you feel a lot better,” forward Byron Bitz said. “You got that sweat in, and you got your legs back into the everyday grind. It’s the best thing for you.”

And, once again, the locker room was full of smiles – albeit, exhausted ones – after the skate.

“You’ve got to have fun out there,” Bruins forward P.J. Axelsson said of the team’s disposition. “That’s the whole point: Hockey is fun.”

Of course, a 5-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night, after losing four games in a row, probably helped.

“The puck wasn’t going into the net as much as we’d like, and when you’re playing hard, you’re doing everything the coaches want you to do, and the puck’s not going in the net, you get frustrated,” Blake Wheeler said after practice. “But I think a lot of guys had some nice goals last game, so I think we’ve built up our confidence, got a little swagger back.”

And Wheeler speaks from experience. In a bit of a goal-scoring dry spell, the Boston forward netted the B’s first goal of the game. Patrice Bergeron also scored his first goal since returning from injury on Jan. 27.

“Sometimes the puck goes in the net; sometimes it doesn’t,” Wheeler said. “You’ve got to keep shooting, keep trying…You can’t really dictate if the goalie’s going to make a great save on you.

“Sometimes you’re going to score goals that maybe shouldn’t in, and sometimes he’s going to rob you; it’s just the way the game works.”

Head coach Claude Julien was pleased with the chance to get in a hard skate like this morning’s before “fine tuning” the team for two games over the weekend.

“When we looked at [the schedule] this year, we said hopefully this [lighter schedule in February and March] can benefit us down the road,” he said. “You want your team to be rested, and those breaks can sometimes help your team in the long run, especially heading into the playoffs.”

Boston will practice again on Friday before squaring off with the Florida Panthers on Saturday and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday.

John Bishop contributed to this report.
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