The Boston Bruins are in an enviable spot. They’re playing their best hockey of the season with the playoffs right around the corner, and they also have a sizable lead in their division.
That should allow the Bruins to make some important lineup decisions down the stretch, including resting various players. But it might not be as simple as sitting their best players before the playoffs. The last thing the Bruins want is for an important player to be injured, but the second-to-last thing is for the team to get out of rhythm, especially when it’s playing so well right now.
“We’ve been talking about that, just trying to manage ice time and games,” Bruins president Cam Neely said during his weekly appearance on “Felger and Mazz” on 98.5 The Sports Hub. “It’s one of those things where it’s a delicate balance. You want to make sure guys are ready for playoffs. You want to make sure that guys are prepared for the playoffs. We still have a number of games here. We’ve got some back-to-backs still. It’s a conversation that we do have internally. It’s a delicate balance.”
The schedule almost certainly will force the Bruins’ hand. They’re about to enter arguably the toughest stretch of games they’ve faced all season. That begins Friday night in Denver, where the Bruins play the first half of a back-to-back against the Colorado Avalanche, before heading south for a Saturday night date with the Phoenix Coyotes.
To help with that, the Bruins had Wednesday off and held an optional skate Thursday.
“I think it’s one of those situations where we feel right now where we are with our game and in the standings that we can give these guys some rest, two days,” Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters in Colorado on Thursday afternoon.
Instead of taking the ice for formal practices, the Bruins can opt for off-ice video work. That way, they still can get work done without physically taxing the players.
“For a lot of the players that have been logging a lot of minutes either at the Olympics or playing a fair amount of minutes, it becomes physical, but it also becomes mental,” Julien continued. “We’re no different. I look at our team and I look at some of the mistakes we’ve made, you can bring the guy in front of the video and show him, and he’ll know exactly what he should have done and where he should have been at that point he made the mistake. It’s some mental fatigue setting in.”
Julien’s club certainly has handled that fatigue well so far. Boston has won 10 in a row and opened a 16-point lead in the Atlantic Division.