Optional practice as B's prep for Habs

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- After giving his team Sunday off, Bruins coach Claude Julien decided to hold an optional practice Monday morning at Ristuccia Arena, and most of the team worked out off the ice.

It will be a total of four days between games for the Bruins, and Julien didn’t think a string of three practices would help the team prepare for its next opponent -- the Montreal Canadiens.

“Today, I wouldn’t say it’s a rest day, but an off-ice day,” explained Julien.

Only a handful of players went on the ice, including both Tuukka Rask and Chad Johnson. Seeing Rask on the ice was a bit of a surprise given that he’s played 22 of the team’s 27 games this season. Johnson was in net for Boston’s 3-1 win Saturday over the Columbus Blue Jackets, so Rask had two days off.

“I’m trying to do the best I can to feel rejuvenated out there come Thursday,” Rask said. “As long as you focus on the right things and get your rest, it should be fine.”

Rask was asked why he would skate during an optional practice when he could have stayed off the ice for a third consecutive day. Half-jokingly, Rask said it was goaltending coach Bob Essensa who decided both goalies would practice.

“I haven’t had a good goalie skate because I’ve played so much, so it was good to go out there and get a little sweat and see some shots,” Rask said. “It wasn’t too hard physically, just mentally when you get scored on by [Shawn] Thornton.”

Rask worked up a good sweat on Monday and felt the optional practice will help him prepare mentally for the Canadiens.

“I don’t want to go out there and just go through the motions in practice,” Rask said. “I want to go out there and try to be as good as I can be. Sometimes that could lead to a little fatigue, but that’s just how I am.”

Overall, Rask is 14-6-2 with a 1.90 goals-against average.