WILMINGTON, Mass. - Two days after completing a four-game sweep of the Montreal Canadiens, the Boston Bruins returned to practice Friday while they wait to learn who they will face in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The session at Ristuccia Arena was the first of many the Bruins will hold until their Eastern Conference semifinal series starts, probably not until late next week because it could take that long to determine Boston's opponent.
Bruins coach Claude Julien wouldn't want it any other way, saying anybody given the choice would prefer a short series to a long one.
"So we'll take the short one and accept it and certainly make the best out of it," Julien said. "There's too much positive that comes out of the short one, contrary to the long one, where a couple days later you might have to start and you're banged up."
The Bruins have experience with layoffs in the midst of their schedule. At the end of March, the club enjoyed five days off between their win over New Jersey on March 22 and their win over Toronto on March 28. They're taking a similar approach now.
"Well, you've got to take the positive out of it," Julien said. "And first of all, it just gives us an opportunity to rest, and whatever little ailments, which we're real fortunate to have a pretty healthy team right now, just gives you an opportunity to take care of those things."
Julien said while getting rest was important, it also was important that the team practice well to remain sharp and focused.
Winger Milan Lucic agreed with that approach.
"Every time we're out there having our practice, we've got to make sure we're having a good practice, keeping things sharp and those type of things to make sure we don't lose our edge," Lucic said.
Depending on how the other Eastern Conference playoff series shake out, the Bruins could face Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Carolina or the New York Rangers.
Defenceman Andrew Ference, out since April 4 with an undisclosed injury, skated on his own before practice.
"There's no reason to not think he's going to start the next series," Julien said.
Marc Savard, Tim Thomas and Patrice Bergeron did not practice. Julien said they were given the day off for "minor maintenance."