WILMINGTON — Claude Julien  kept his top six forwards (among others), five of his six starting defensemen and his No. 1 goalie off the ice Friday, and it wasn’t because they didn’t have their legs Thursday against the Senators, but because they’re going to need their legs this weekend and this month.
March will be an especially busy month for the Bruins after having a lighter schedule to open the season. The B’s have played 17 games since the season began on Jan. 19, but they’ll have 17 games in 31 days in the month of March. That includes four sets of back-to-backs.
“We have to take it game by game,” David Krejci  said. “When you look at it as 17 games in a month, that’s a lot. When you look at it game-by-game, it’s not that bad.”
The Bruins are set to host the Lightning Saturday afternoon and the Canadiens Sunday night. The former is an offensively skilled team that’s lost three straight and needs to get its record back to .500 (9-10-1), while the latter is perhaps the NHL’s biggest surprise team, leading the Eastern Conference with 29 points in 20 games.
The Bruins’ 17 games played is the least in the NHL. They’ve actually been the conference’s most productive team, as they’re just a point behind the Habs with three games in hand, but seeing any team above them in the standings is enough to keep them from getting complacent.
“It’s easy to stay motivated right now,” Julien said after Friday’s session. There are teams that are ahead of us and we want to be at the top. You work to get there, and you can’t afford to have any letdowns. Those are all motivational factors that keep us going.”
March’s busy schedule means the B’s will have to go about things differently. There will be less practices and more video work to make up for lost time between games. There will also be more of Anton Khudobin, who will spell Tuukka Rask  more frequently than he has thus far. Khudobin has played just three of the Bruins’ first 17 games, but he should get into at least four this month with the back-to-backs. Khudobin will be in net Saturday against the Lightning.