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Bruins intent on making the most of rest time

04.24.09 at 6:48 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — With the Bruins resuming their practice schedule at Ristuccia Arena on Friday afternoon, the name of the game was staying sharp with a week-long potential break before their next playoff round with the Rangers/Penguins/Flyers/Hurricanes. The week or more of practice time/waiting for their next opponent isn’t unlike the lengthy break they enjoyed in late March when the Hockey East tournament/concerts/NCAA hoops tourney regional occupied the Garden following a fairly intense New Jersey Devils game on a Sunday afternoon – and the B’s had five days of intense, scrimmage-type practices headed into their final stretch run that many players now say energized them for their final kick.

It was a pivotal moment during the season when the Bruins, who followed by ripping off five wins in a row and closing out their season with seven wins in their final nine games. The late surge allowed the Black and Gold to claim the top spot in the Eastern Conference and retain home ice advantage should they play anybody but No Show Joe Thornton and the sagging San Jose Sharks in the Stanley Cup Finals.

“You’ve got to take the positive out of it that it gives us an opportunity to rest,” said B’s head coach Claude Julien. “We have the good fortune of being a pretty healthy team right now. I think it’s really up to us as a group, coaching staff and player to take care of what’s important. To practice well and stay sharp. That’s what we did in those few weeks we had at the end of March that allowed us to get some rest and fine tune our game.

“We’d probably like to not have so long of a rest, but we’ll make the most of it and turn it into a positive,” added Julien.

–The Bruins called young goaltender Adam Courchaine up from the Providence Bruins to get a taste of the big time, and give goaltender Tim Thomas a day off from his duties between the pipes. Thomas had been battling a pretty serious head cold throughout the first round series against the Canadiens, and the day was presumably something to allow the 35-year-old to get everything out of his system before their next opponent comes calling.

The 20-year-old Courchaine was exactly as wide-eyed as you might expect him to be after previously stopping pucks for the Ottawa 67′s in the OHL and the P-Bruins, and assured the reporters that there wasn’t anybody in either league that shoots the puck like Zdeno Chara. Courchaine said he intends on working hard this summer and coming to camp next fall with the hopes of opening some eyes, but there remains a possibility that he could be headed for a third year of junior hockey.

“It’s something you wake up everyday hoping that you get that kind of phone call,” said Courchaine. “In juniors you might have one guy that shoots the puck hard, but here you have guys that sometimes shoot too hard. That one first slap shot from Chara, I wasn’t even ready (for it).”

Courchaine was signed by the B’s to a free agent contract in Sept. 2007, and made one start with the P-Bruins before getting the call up to Boston on Friday afternoon. He started and played in one game for the P-Bruins this season and went 0-1-0 with a 3.00 Goals Against Average. He played 30 games for the 67’s and registered a 13-11-2 record, a 3.28 Goals Against Average and two shutouts.

–Here’s a good story from Andrew Ference, who appears to be on the comeback trail from the dreaded undisclosed injury that knocked him out of the first round. Claude Julien said that Ference should be ready to play at the start of the semi-finals — likely set to begin next weekend — and will begin practicing at the start of next week.

Ference’s story, however, has to do with a scrap he had with troublemaker and afro-connosseiur Scott Hartnell during the B’s last game against the Flyers this season. Ference and Hartnell got tangled up in a third period fight on the ice involving the requisite glove dropping and fighting majors that landed both players in the penalty box. Joffrey Lupul skated by Ference when the two players were separated by the refs, and asked the noted environmentalist a pretty pointed question about what started the brawl: “What’s the matter, did you catch (Hartnell) littering or something?”.

Ference admitted that was a new one to him and it even had him laughing to himself a little bit as he headed off toward the penalty box to serve out his time. Who ever said going green doesn’t involve its share of sacrifices or hardship? Getting smack-talked by Lupul certainly counts on both fronts.

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