With 10 games left in the 2013-14 Boston Bruins regular season, and the club on the verge of securing the top seed in the Atlantic Division, the questions are flowing. Will the Bruins rest their players and head into the playoffs a rested group of guys. Or will they go all in and try to secure the Presidents’ Trophy and clinch home ice throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Head coach Claude Julien says the Bruins can do both.
“We’re going to do both, we’re going to do both” said Julien Thursday morning prior to their Stanley Cup Final rematch with the Chicago Blackhawks.
“And that’s the right answer. The real answer is that absolutely we want to finish as high as we can but we’re not going to jeopardize the players that probably need rest.”
Heading into Thursdays slate of action, the Bruins trail the St. Louis Blues by one point in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy. The San Jose Sharks sit one point behind the Bruins but the B’s have two games in hand.
One of those players who certainly can use some rest is Zdeno Chara. For a guy who logs nearly 25 minutes a game, rest would be welcomed.
Zdeno Chara turned 37 earlier this month. He logs big time minutes each night and his team is on cruise control with a 15 point division lead over the Montreal Canadiens and a seven point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins for the number one seed in the east.
We all saw what happened last year in the Stanley Cup Finals. He looked gassed. He may have been battling through an injury, but he was getting pushed around and beat to spots convincingly which one never hears often.
The B’s can afford to let their captain take a seat. Once the playoffs come, it’s just impossible obviously. Along with goalie Tuukka Rask, Chara is the backbone of this team when it comes to defense. Bruins fans would rather have him fresh at the start of the playoffs than have him hit a wall in Game 5 of the opening round.
We take for granted what Chara does on a nightly basis. He battles the best play-makers in the world and does more than an efficient job of it.
Chara is still a work horse and loves to play. His teammates know that, his coach knows that and the fans know that. He takes pride in his craft. As hard as it is to tell your captain that he isn’t suiting up in a game in which he loves to play, it is the wisest decision Julien can make over the next couple of weeks.
The B’s need their top defenseman fresh, healthy and ready to roll as they prepare for another Stanley Cup run.
Chara is not the only one who could use, and will get some rest as the regular season winds down. Julien wouldn’t open up to the media which guys he thinks could use some rest.
“None of your business. How’s that for an answer? You’ll see it as we go along but I think you guys understand. There are guys who have been at the Olympics and guys who have played a lot of hockey. We’re going to do that but for me but we don’t want to start too early because if you give them rest now, by the time you get to the end, they’ll be right back to where they were. So we’re kind of going to ease into it as we move forward.”
Obviously the Bruins want to finish as high as possible in the standings, but resting their key players is certainly their top priority. Look for Julien to start giving his guys some rest starting next week.