Boston Bruins host the Ottawa Senators, another division rival, tonight at TD Garden. Head coach Claude Julien called off Friday's practice at for most of his players following a 3-1 loss to their division rival the Montreal Canadiens.
"I just felt that last night, in the third period, we really kind of looked tired," said Julien whose team was outscored 2-0 in the game-deciding final-period. "We've kind of eliminated the fatigue excuse by giving them the day off today."
The Bruins have been following a jam-packed schedule of 11 games in 19 days.
"Didn't think there's much we would have done today that would benefit us in tomorrow's game," added Julien, whose squad did participate in off-ice workouts.
Despite the whittled down crew, dozens of fans still came to watch the Bruins skate, getting a close-up look at a team with championship aspirations.
"I think the Bruins will definitely be a contender for the Cup this year," said Chris Kavanaugh of Wilmington, who attends practices a few times a month.
Savard, still recovering from a concussion suffered on March 7 of last season, is expected to return towards the end of this month or in early December according to a report from TSN.
"We've got to take care of the individual, the person first and foremost, before we think about him with our hockey club," said Julien of Savard's recovery.
Bruins practice regularly at Ristuccia and Mallory Forde of Tewksbury is there quite often.
"I usually come about once a week," said Forde. "I came here to see Savard, he's my favorite."
Also present at the practice was Winger Marco Sturm, recovering from a knee injury from last year's post-season. Sturm teamed up with Savard and Boychuk to take shots against goalies Thomas and Rask.
Commenting on their eventual returns to the line-up Julien said, "To be honest, Marc is closer than Sturmy."
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk is recovering from a broken ulna suffered on Oct. 23 against New York. Boychuk signed a two-year contract extension with Boston in June.
The Bruins have good odds against the Senators tonight, despite the injured player line-up. The Senators, who are 8-7-1, are coming off a 6-2 loss to Vancouver on Thursday night.
"They took a bit of a beating," said Julien of Ottawa. "We better be ready for a team wanting to redeem themselves."
The Bruins crushed the Senators, 4-0, during their last game in Ottawa on Oct. 30.
The Bruins' practice schedule is available on a weekly basis on their official site in the "Bruins Week Ahead" column.