WILMINGTON - With two games left in the regular season and the Bruins locked into the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, coach Claude Julien must decide whether he wants his team to tiptoe to the finish line by resting some top players or sprint full-speed ahead with a playoff-ready roster.
He might do both.
“At this stage, we’ve got to look at it day by day,’’ Julien said Wednesday after practice at Ristuccia Arena.
The Bruins traveled to Ottawa for Thursday’s penultimate game of the season against the Senators, the team likely to be their first-round playoff opponent, leaving behind injured defenseman Johnny Boychuk along with three of the team’s healthy stalwarts: goalie Tim Thomas, defenseman Zdeno Chara, and center Patrice Bergeron. Goaltenders Marty Turco and Anton Khudobin made the trip, with Khudobin likely to get the start.
There was no news on Boychuk’s left leg injury. Boychuk, who slammed into Pittsburgh’s Arron Asham Tuesday night and fell awkwardly, had to be helped off the ice by teammates in the Bruins’ 5-3 loss to the Penguins.
“We haven’t had the results yet but I’m still confident that it will be hopefully not as bad as it looked,’’ said Julien.
Defenseman Adam McQuaid, who has missed three games with a cut over his left eye, said he was feeling good and ready to play. Rounding out the defensive corps Julien will have to choose from in Ottawa will be Andrew Ference, Joe Corvo, Greg Zanon, Mike Mottau, and rookie Torey Krug.
“Not only do we have good depth, we’ve got good people that came in,’’ said Julien. “[Mottau] and [Zanon], they’ve played well.’’
Julien added that his extra defenders understand their roles; they’re not always in the lineup, but they’re always ready.
“You’ve heard us say it often, “at one point you need everybody,’’ and those guys have to be ready.
“We talk to these guys all the time,’’ he said. “We’ve got our guys in the right frame of mind. It’s not that they’re OK with not playing, but they’re OK with us keeping them in the loop as best we can.’’
Rest days are easier for some more than others.
“Obviously I want to play, that’s what you want to do,’’ said Chara, one of the team’s top workhorses along with defense partner Dennis Seidenberg. “I enjoy playing in every game, I don’t want to miss any, but at the same time, you have to respect the decisions the coaches are making, for good reasons. It’s just this one [game] and I’ll be back for the last game at home.’’
Seidenberg, too, said he doesn’t want to rest.
“I just had my rest,’’ said Seidenberg, who missed two games with an infected cut. “I felt like it was forever, those four days. I’m rested and ready to go.’’
Julien emphasized the only Bruins resting will be in Boston.
“Just because we’re leaving people behind to rest, doesn’t mean that the guys that are going there are resting,’’ he said. “We’re going to play hard.’’
MacDermid is back up
Forward Lane MacDermid, recalled from Providence, practiced with the Bruins and joined them for the trip to Ottawa. The 6-foot-3-inch, 205-pound MacDermid had 4 goals, 11 assists and 115 penalty minutes in 65 games with the Baby B’s. He was called up earlier this season and played in five games, registering five penalty minutes.
“I got called last night after the game; that was a nice surprise,’’ said MacDermid. “They gave me a great opportunity before and they’ve put me up again, so I’d like to show that I’m worthy of being part of the team and can be an asset and help the team out. I’ll just try and do my best.’’
Horton not close
Right wing Nathan Horton and goaltender Tuukka Rask skated with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides before practice. Julien said Horton, out with a concussion since Jan. 22, is not close to joining the team, but his spirits are good.
“He’s in a good spot emotionally,’’ Julien said. “Everything I do with him is small talk - how’re you doing today? - and he’s looking good, he seems to have good color, and he seems happy. Those kinds of things are encouraging.’’
Rask, who started skating Monday, has been sidelined with a lower abdomen/groin strain since March 3. “He’s coming around and we hope to have him with us soon, at least in practice,’’ said Julien.
The Bruins hope Rask can be ready for the playoffs next week.