WILMINGTON — After a 2-1 overtime victory over the Senators Thursday night, the Bruins held an optional skate Friday morning at Ristuccia Arena.
While the majority of the team enjoyed a “maintenance day,’’ assistant coaches Doug Jarvis and Doug Houda were charged with running a short skate for nine players.
The group consisted of goaltender Anton Khudobin, as well as Dougie Hamilton, Chris Bourque, Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton, Lane MacDermid, Jay Pandolfo, and Aaron Johnson.
With the Bruins set to begin a stretch of 17 games in 30 days, the first Saturday’s matinee against the Lightning, it seemed like an obvious opportunity to give some of the players a breather.
While coach Claude Julien deflected several questions about Saturday’s starting goaltender, Khudobin confirmed he would indeed get the call against Tampa Bay.
“I’m going to get to play tomorrow, so it’s pretty good,’’ said Khudobin, who is 2-1-0 with a 2.70 goals-against average this season. “Pretty excited. I didn’t play for a while, so it’s going to be good. Tampa plays the forecheck hard and creates a lot of scoring chances, so I’ll get ready for the game, go out there and play, and try to get the W.”
Asked if he planned to give Tuukka Rask a rest Saturday, especially with a home game looming Sunday night against the Canadiens, Julien said, “As I said, we were going to utilize both goaltenders at some point.
“Tuukka right now is playing extremely well and we’re really pleased by that. But we know that it’s impossible to ride Tuukka through this whole thing, so we’re going to need both of them.
“As far as what I’ve seen from Khudobin, he’s been good as well. We don’t have a concern there as far as utilizing both goaltenders. It’s just that you’ve got a No. 1 who’s doing very well and you don’t want him to lose that groove, so you make decisions based on that and try to keep him fresh and keep him sharp, and you want to do the same with the other guy.’’
The optional skate gave Thornton, who is averaging just 6:17 of ice time this season, a chance for extra work with linemates Paille and Campbell, who have averaged 11:30 and 11:34, respectively.
“We haven’t been playing a ton, but I wanted to skate today, anyways,’’ said Thornton, who skated 10 shifts for 7:01 of ice time Thursday night. “I felt fresh the last game and I’ll feel fresh tomorrow . . . So, it’s more keeping your legs underneath you when you’re not playing a ton.’’
Asked if the fourth line might merit a little more ice time, especially in light of the number of the games this month, Julien said, “I don’t know that they’re not getting enough. That’s my take. I don’t think that’s changed much. They’re getting the ice time they’ve always gotten, except for maybe Thorny, but other than that, they’re getting their ice time.”
Julien said he was not worried about Thornton’s lack of ice time.
“He’s fine,’’ the coach said. “Thorny’s always been a team-first guy in the past and he’s going to do what he has to do. There’s nights where it’s tougher than others. I thought [Thursday] he had more ice time than he has in a while, but we were able to roll four lines. First two months, we had so many games that were spread out and we had a fresh team, and when you have those one-goal games, you’re able to take advantage and shorten your bench.’’
Push for pajamas
The Bruins are again teaming with Cradles to Crayons in the sixth annual “PJ Drive’’ to benefit underprivileged youth. Large purple bins will be set up to collect pajamas Saturday. For each pair of pajamas donated, fans will receive a raffle ticket for a chance to win autographed Bruins memorabilia.Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.