WILMINGTON — It was probably just a coincidence that the Bruins decided to reward their assistant coaches with contract extensions just before they will be counted on to pace the team through a stretch loaded with heightened practice time.
After inking assistant coaches Doug Houda, Craig Ramsay and Geoff Ward, goaltending coach Bob Essensa and video coach Brant Berglund to multi-year contract extensions the Bruins got back to work at their practice rink Monday.
They will probably be spending a lot of time there.
Having played 10 games over a 19-day period, the Bruins will have just four games over a 12- day stretch. That means time to work out the kinks at practice and the chance for key players to mend minor injuries.
Leading scorer Patrice Bergeron  was not on the ice for practice Monday after being struck by a shot in the leg while killing a penalty seven minutes into Saturday’s 4-3 Bruins victory over Ottawa. Bergeron left the ice and the Bruins bench for several minutes before returning late in the period.
Coach Claude Julien  said Bergeron had been given Monday off, but the skilled center should be fine for game action when the Bruins host Tamp Bay Wednesday.
‘He’ll been in Wednesday, no ifs, (ands) or buts,’ said Julien. ‘It was just maintenance.’
Defenseman Matt Hunwick was also given a maintenance day off Monday.
While more practice time may not be the players favorite situation, they recognize the chance to regroup is important at this juncture of the season.
‘Guys just like to play really, but when you get the opportunity to practice you have to take advantage of it,’ said 16-year veteran Mark Recchi . ‘This gives us time to get in the gym, get in some extra work there. During the course of the year it pays off.’
The break in the hectic pace of the last three weeks will also give returning all-star center Marc Savard  additional time to practice with the team’s power play.
‘I didn’t get a chance practice a lot before I came back,’ said Savard, who returned to action last week after being sidelined for five weeks with a broken foot. ‘Hopefully it will help my own game out. I’m starting to feel better and hopefully can contribute more.’
Savard also provided on an update on a pending contract extension that could be announced shortly.
‘We’re getting really close, so hopefully we’re going to get it done because this is where I want to be,’ said Savard, the Bruins leading scorer for the past three seasons.
The Bruins assistant coaches are waiting no more after receiving their contract extensions Sunday.
‘It’s been in the works for awhile, when my extension was given to me I was asked about my coaching staff and I really wanted them to be with me,’ said Julien. ‘Assistant coaches are never given enough credit’¦they do a lot of behind the scene work, one on one work, extra work on the ice, that kind of stuff. Our group is a good group. ‘