BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins -- one of the Eastern Conference's hottest teams headed into the holiday break, winners of six straight, nine of their past 10, and 20 of 23 -- have been blessed with three full days off before returning to the ice Tuesday afternoon in Phoenix, in preparation for Wednesday's battle with the Coyotes.
So what now?
"Rest, couple beers, and then -- " cracked Benoit Pouliot, before stopping himself. "No, just rest. The coaches are good to us with the time off, they give us a lot of days off, so it's nice. We played a lot of games, and now we get three days off, then to Phoenix, everyone deserves it."
The Bruins have gone from worst in the Eastern Conference to the best in a span of two months, and certainly this last stretch run before the holiday break -- capped with an 8-0 shutout Friday night over a Florida Panthers squad visibly tired from playing its third game in four nights -- merits the three days off.
Around the locker room, many players spoke of the importance of taking a well-earned break, to recharge the batteries and clear the head. After Phoenix, the Bruins fly out to Dallas on Friday for a Saturday night matchup with the Stars before closing out the road trip on Jan. 4 at New Jersey.
"I think first of all, a lot of guys are focused on seeing their families," Gregory Campbell said. "Whether it's their wives, kids, that's important. We don't get an opportunity like this often during the season, and sometimes you need that balance.
"It's hockey all the time for us, so if sometimes you can step back and enjoy the holiday, whatever it is each guy does. ... It's our responsibility as professionals to enjoy ourselves, but come back ready to work."
From a physical standpoint, players stressed the importance of staying active, even if it's a light workout, to come into Phoenix sharp and loose, ready to go.
"It's about making sure you take your rest and you relax, but at the same time you try to just go for a walk, or do anything you can do," Patrice Bergeron said. "Obviously it's one thing to enjoy the food of the holidays, but you've got to be smart with it. It's pretty important.
"You get a rest, but it's just a different type of workout, I guess. I don't think necessarily you have to work out, but just make sure you stay sharp and ready mentally, and don't get away from the game as far as being mentally strong and sharp."
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, for one, plans on hitting the treadmill.
"I'm sure I'm going to work out here or there to get a little bit of a sweat, because there's going to be a lot of eating," he said. "You don't want to just lay around and watch TV. You have to be smart about it, and know when your next game is, and adjust that somehow."