WINNIPEG, Manitoba — With the Bruins already having clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference, it was time for some rest. Starting on Tuesday in Minnesota, coach Claude Julien began the process of resting his players, especially those who played through the Olympic break.
On Tuesday, it was David Krejci. On Thursday, it was Zdeno Chara. Patrice Bergeron also scratched for the Winnipeg game, with Julien calling it a minor injury.
Ryan Spooner, called up on an emergency basis for the second time in 10 days, took Bergeron’s place centering the second line. Had Bergeron been a healthy scratch, the Bruins would not have been able to use Spooner because of the nature of his recall.
As Julien said, it’s a delicate balance. While he wants his most important players to get a night off, he doesn’t want his entire team to take the night off, not with the postseason approaching.
“I think it’s obvious that some guys need rest,” Julien said. “It’s been a long year for certain guys that didn’t get necessarily the two weeks off.”
Krejci, Bergeron, and Chara all played in the Olympics, and did not get a two-week break like the rest of the team.
“It also doesn’t mean that our team should go out there and cruise and not play as well as we should be,” said Julien. “That’s probably the thing that I disliked the most about the last game [against Minnesota]. I didn’t think we put out a real good effort against a team that had played a lot of hockey.
“Just because you rest players doesn’t mean you want your team to relax. If you’re going to get dressed and you’re going to play, you’ve got to play hard no matter what. That’s what it means to me.
“We’ve given a lot of rest to our whole team there in this whole month of March with all these games. We didn’t practice much. It was about recovery and maintaining the intensity in the games, which I thought we did a good job, so now is not the time to change that.”
Because of that unacceptable effort, Julien made sure to his team practiced on Wednesday.
It wasn’t lengthy — about 40 minutes — but it emphasized that the Bruins can’t take their final games lightly heading into the playoffs. Julien didn’t get a better effort Thursday, though, with the Bruins suffering another shootout loss.
The Bruins have just two games remaining before the postseason starts, likely next Thursday.
“We have to make sure we get ourselves ready,” Krejci said. “We have to focus. We want to feel good about ourselves going into the playoffs. Right now there is no time to let up.
“There is no switch button on and off before the playoffs, so you’ve got to be playing great hockey and feel good about our team.”
Back ails Kelly
Chris Kelly also was out against the Jets, but he wasn’t just getting a rest. Kelly was injured Tuesday against the Wild, playing just one shift in the third period. He did not practice Wednesday, nor did he take part in morning skate Thursday.
Julien revealed Thursday morning that the injury was a stiff back.
“He’s obviously a little stiff there,” Julien said. “It’s a back injury. It’s day-to-day because a lot of those things are muscle spasms, that kind of stuff, so we’re just taking it easy with him.
“He definitely wouldn’t be able to play today, and that can change quickly there if things go the way they should.”
With the playoffs starting in a week, that does not seem to be a concern.
“From what I’ve been told,” said Julien, “very optimistic about him being ready for the playoffs.”
Iginla, Miller are in
Both Jarome Iginla (lower body) and Kevan Miller (undisclosed) were back in the lineup against the Jets. Iginla had missed three of the last four games, and Miller had sat out the last two . . . Milan Lucic, Gregory Campbell, and Krejci each wore an “A” . . . Corey Potter was the other defensive scratch . . . Krejci said the day off had helped him, though he’s never one to want to sit. “It’s nice,” he said. “The month of March was tough, lots of games, especially after the Olympics, so it’s nice to get a night off, but at the same time you always want to be playing. It don’t matter what, even if you’re hurt or tired, you always want to be out there. So, I’m happy to be back.”
Rebuffing the BillsBruins owner Jeremy Jacobs is not interested in buying the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, Bruins president Cam Neely said Thursday in an interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Jacobs was named as one of several potential buyers of the Bills in a report Sunday in the Buffalo News. He is from the Buffalo area and his company, Delaware North, is based there. The News reported that the Jacobs family “leads the list of potential local suitors” to buy the Bills.
“He has no interest in getting out of hockey,” Neely said on “Felger and Massarotti.”
“He’s been extremely happy with his ownership here in Boston and he’s enjoying how the team is playing. He told me that he has no interest right now, or doesn’t have any interest at all to give up the Boston Bruins.”
NFL rules prohibit ownership of franchises in other professional leagues except in the same city, although it’s possible to use family members to bypass the rule. Neely said he was not sure whether the Jacobs family might pursue that avenue.Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin. Matt Pepin of the Globe staff contributed to this report from Boston.