WILMINGTON — With only two games scheduled over the next 10 days for the Boston Bruins  — including a pretty big statement tilt against the New Jersey Devils  this Sunday afternoon — the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins jumped back onto the practice ice this morning with something of a scrimmage feel.
The players were working on four-on-four drills and head-to-head matchups designed to raise the compete level and give off the vibe of an actual game, perhaps the best use of the time without a game until Thursday night against the Los Angeles Kings  at the Garden.
“We need to fine tune ourselves, get some rest and get going in the right direction,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien . “I think our team play is what’s suffering the most right now. If we get the team back on track then the standings will take care of themselves.
“It’s about getting our team to play as well as it can right now,” added Julien. “The thing that I see from watching our games is that the effort being deployed isn’t a poor effort. But it can appear like that at times when it’s not done properly. I thought our guys competed hard, but didn’t compete well and it resulted in penalties and scoring chances against. The slot opportunities that the (Penguins) had against us was as (many) as I’ve seen us ever give. It’s about a commitment to playing our game, and fine-tuning that part of it.”
–Winger Phil Kessel  was given a maintenance day off where he was at Ristucca Arena but didn’t see the ice. Everybody else was present and accounted for in the Boston lineup for the skate after an off-day on Monday.
–Julien agreed that defenseman Zdeno Chara  and Dennis Wideman  have been part of a group of Bruins players that have perhaps attempted to do too much during the Black and Gold’s recent stretch of treading hockey water. During the month of March, Big Z has a goal and 5 assists, but is also an Chara-like -2 in 8 games while Wideman — who really had a poor game against the Penguins in giving up the puck that led to the first goal, heading to the box for a penalty that created a 5-on-3 and having a shot from the point blocked that directly led to another Pens goal — has 2 assists and a +/- of zero over those very same eight March hockey games.
Chara has been -3 in two games since the beginning of March (losses to both the Flyers and Penguins) since not posting that bad a +/- since Opening Night against the Colorado Avalanche  way back in October — a period of time when the towering defenseman was still regaining form after offseason shoulder surgery.
Julien didn’t see a pair of blueliners that were injured or really worn out by the considerable ice time they’ve logged this season, but instead talked about a pair of good players getting out of their respective “games”.
“I don’t think it’s got anything to do with the minutes played. There are a lot of D playing minutes like that. It’s more about those guys trying to do too much and forcing too much. When you have a team trying to gain consistency, you’ll have guys that are attempting to do more thinking they’re going to help the team.
“And it just makes it worse,” added Julien. “This is a good time to take a step back and simplify your game and give it that type of effort for 60 minutes. Simple and consistent, and that will help us find our game again.”
—Marc Savard  wasn’t going there when asked about the war of words between himself and Pittsburgh Penguins  superstar Sidney Crosby  on Sunday afternoon that supposedly escalated to Sid the Kid taking off his face shield mid-game in anticipation of dropping the gloves with Savard. Perhaps it was simply something wrong with the visor — a scratch perhaps — that caused Crosby to take the protectice visor, but he was clearly playing without it later in period.
Savard said there was a little chirping between himself and Crosby, but nothing more.
“Well, it was just chirping you know … whatever,” said Savard. “There was nothing there. I don’t even want to talk about it.”