WINNIPEG, MB - Coming into the shortened season, a look at the schedule showed the torrid pace that games would hit come March and April. Three games in four nights, five in seven. Back-to-back after back-to-back. Home and away. Planes and buses and hotels a plenty.
But every team is in the same situation, and every team has to battle through fatigue. As has been said in the Bruins' locker room and from other teams around the league, they acknowledge the toughness of the schedule, but don't use it as an excuse.
"It's the same thing as everybody else. We're dealing with a situation here where games are in a short span at times," said Coach Julien following Monday's practice at the MTS Iceplex in Winnipeg.
But when the B's do get a day for rest and recovery, Coach Julien and his staff make sure the Black & Gold get the most out of the day.
"Now, the biggest challenge is balancing the rest with practice time, keeping your team sharp and also giving them the rest that they need," added Coach. "If you're only giving rest I think it means your sharpness suffers from not practicing, and if you practice too much then you're not giving them enough rest."
"I think that is what every coach is talking about, and we're dealing with it on a daily basis differently."
"Sometimes a whole team stays back. Sometimes, as you saw today, certain players with lots of ice time are kept off the ice. We don't go out there very long, but we do think that's going to help us in trying to make the most of it."
About half of the B's took the ice for practice at the Iceplex, including three defensemen (Adam McQuaid, Dougie Hamilton, Aaron Johnson), both goaltenders (Tuukka Rask, Anton Khudobin) and eight forwards (Jay Pandolfo, Rich Peverley, Tyler Seguin and Jordan Caron donning white jerseys and Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Lane MacDermid in merlot).
Most of the Bruins' top ice-time getters in Patrice Bergeon, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Dennis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference did not skate, while David Krejci received treatment and is "day-to-day" after leaving the third period of Tuesday's game in Pittsburgh.
It was a much-needed day of rest, following three games in four days.
"It's huge," said Horton, one of the B's who had the chance to stay off the ice on Monday, on getting the recovery time. "Just so you get a day of rest on your body. The next day it makes it feel so much better and it helps so much. We're going to have to do that the rest of the year. We have a lot of games in a lot of nights."
"It's definitely tough on your body," the winger added. "You can't really do anything to prepare for it."
"We haven't fared too well in the last game, the third game, and that's something we need to be better at because I think we have a few more. We definitely have to be better at it."
Following the loss in Pittsburgh Sunday, there was talk about about how the tight, playoff-type game displayed the fatigue factor of the schedule.
"You see it. When we got on the plane after last game, you really felt like you had three games in four nights and five out of seven, you start feeling those games catching up to you," said Tyler Seguin, on feeling the effects of the schedule after the three-in-four that ended in Pittsburgh.
"But I think guys maintain their bodies well, and a lot that happens away from the rink is really going to show on the ice, how you take care of your body. And if you stay on top of it, you should be good."
For the players, they're trying their best to see past that element, because they enjoy playing games so often. Physically - and mentally - they just need to stay aware of throughout the labor of the season.
"I don't mind it. I kind of like playing a game and moving on because you know you've got a game the next day, or within two days," said Seguin. "I don't mind that part. Obviously, you've got to be careful of mentally fatiguing, I guess. You've got to stay on top of that. Obviously, sleep is a big importance with that."
While Seguin did take the ice for practice, his time away from the rink will be spent resting and getting ready for the Jets Tuesday night.
"I think I'm probably just going to watch some movies, go get some dinner," smiled the forward. "Pretty much that's it for the whole day."
Horton, happy for the R&R on Monday, was on par with Seguin in enjoying the amount of games, but knows the B's need to find ways to power through whenever the schedule starts to take its toll.
"I think we need to keep pressing and keep working hard and going in the grind here," said Horton. "It's a lot of fun to play every other night."
"The games are so close that you don't have a lot of rest. We definitely want to feel better about ourselves and play more as a team."
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