WILMINGTON — The ice at Ristuccia Arena remained in pristine condition Thursday, unmarked by hockey skates, as Bruins coach Claude Julien gave his team the day off following Wednesday night’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Instead, the Bruins did their work off-ice in preparation for Friday night’s game against the Islanders at TD Garden.
“There was some negative and some positive,’’ Julien said when asked for his impressions of the team’s first setback of the season, one in which the Bruins rallied from a 2-0 first-period deficit to salvage a point.
“Our start was not necessarily the start that we wanted. We didn’t execute very well and we didn’t handle their desperation the way we should have, but we did a great job of getting ourselves back into it and getting a hard-earned point.
“I thought through the adversity we faced in the early going that the guys redeemed themselves well. It was nice to see that nobody hung their head and we just dug in there.’’
Given the compressed schedule, breaks from practice are likely to become a norm.
“Everybody knows the schedule, how it’s going to be,’’ said goaltender Tuukka Rask. “We trust the coaches, that they manage our rest and make the decisions that are the best for the team. I’m sure we’re going to see a lot of these kind of days, but we as players have to make sure we’re worth the trust and be ready for the games.’’
With three games in four nights looming next week, Julien noted that it is imperative to keep his players refreshed not just for the short term but the long haul. The Bruins will travel to Carolina Monday, then host New Jersey Tuesday and Buffalo Thursday.
“The last day off we had was over a week ago, and we’ve been going at it pretty good,’’ Julien said. “You’re thinking long term because we’ve got a schedule that allows us some days off here.
“I think it’s important that we’re a well-rested team, staying off the ice, and maybe getting a good morning skate [Friday] will serve us well.’’
Points of interestThere was an interesting intersection of milestones when Brad Marchand scored the Bruins’ first goal Wednesday night. It was the Bruins’ first power-play goal of the season, and on the play, Dougie Hamilton earned his first NHL point, an assist, while for Marchand it was his 99th NHL point.
“It was more Dougie making a great shot there,’’ said Marchand. “He put it in a perfect place. I have to be truthful, I didn’t even see the puck coming in. It just hit my stick and went in. So it really just shows how great a shot it was for Dougie.’’
Asked about reaching the century mark, Marchand said, “I really had no idea until last night, someone told me before the game. It’d be a nice goal to reach, but I’ve never really thought about it before. Hopefully, there’s going to be lots more after that. It just shows that I’ve been part of a great team and I’ve had great linemates the last few years.’’
The Bruins (14 for 14) and Islanders (5 for 5) have both been perfect on the penalty kill, the only two teams in the NHL operating at 100 percent.
“In those three games we’ve played, we’ve been tested a lot,’’ Julien said. “Not just five-on-fours, but five-on-threes and four-on-threes and at really crucial times as well, but they’ve responded well.’’
With Wednesday’s game tied, 3-3, the Bruins’ PK erased a Daniel Paille tripping minor at 16:10 of the third, sending the game into overtime.
“We made some adjustments with our PK this year,’’ Julien said.
“We really wanted to make it more aggressive and proactive versus passive. Right now, it’s really been good and it’s helped us get some wins.”
Nathan Horton, who tallied his first goal of the season to tie Wednesday’s game, 3-3, at 15:37 of the third, was happy to finally put the puck in the net. It was his first goal in more than a year (since Jan. 19, 2012, at New Jersey). “I’m just happy and it feels good,’’ said Horton. “I haven’t been thinking about it, but it’s definitely nice to get it out of the way. I don’t want to stop at one, but it’s definitely nice to get the first one.’’ . . . If the Bruins had practiced Thursday, said Julien, defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who missed two games nursing a lower-body injury, would have likely skated with the team. “He’s been a day-to-day situation and that hasn’t changed,’’ Julien said. Said Seidenberg of his off-ice work Thursday: “It was a regular session like everybody else, just doing some stretching and getting ready for [Friday], hopefully. I feel good. I didn’t go on the ice and was able to get some more rest. We’ll see how it feels in the pregame skate and then after that we’ll make a decision.’’ . . . Julien was asked how he felt about his team’s 2-0-1 start. “Happy, but not satisfied,’’ he said. “That’s how you keep moving forward in life — you keep looking ahead and you always look for perfection and that’s what we’re trying to do.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.