BUFFALO -- While the Maple Leafs were hard at work last night against the Sabres, the Boston Bruins were wrapping up March Break at the other end of the QEW.
It wasn't exactly a week on the beach, but the B's, who play the Leafs tonight at the Air Canada Centre, are coming off a rare five-day break between games.
While it was a welcome rest for the Eastern Conference leaders before the home stretch of the regular-season, coach Claude Julien figures tonight's game is important for the team to get back up to speed.
"I think you have to stay fresh, but at the same time, you also have to maintain your sharpness," Julien said. "(The Leafs) might be a little looser, not as much pressure on them. I still think they are playing pretty well.
"You've got loosey-goosey teams that have nothing to lose that become strong challengers and then you've got the teams that are trying to survive that are also strong challengers. I don't find this time of year there are that many easy games."
The Bruins will be without their leading goal scorer, Phil Kessel. The centre is suffering from what Julien called "an undisclosed injury."
Don't mess with Marlies
While the Leafs have used a steady influx of Marlies players throughout the season, the team would like to scale back over the next week or so. The team's AHL affiliate is in a tight race for a playoff spot and with a big weekend -- including a crucial home game tomorrow against the Syracuse Crunch.
"Some of our better prospects haven't been up here in a while," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "Guys like Jiri Tlusty and Tim Stapleton have been doing a good job, but we want them to continue to develop and help (the Marlies) try to make the playoffs.
"It's important that those guys can help them and they can get some playoff experience. We don't want to completely drain all the talent from down there."
Tlusty has impressed Leafs management with 24 goals and 39 assists in 61 games prior to last night while Stapleton leads the Marlies in scoring with 22 goals and 47 assists.
Expect forward Nik Hagman to return to the Leafs lineup today after missing the past 11 contests with his second concussion of the season ... Justin Pogge joined the team to back up Curtis Joseph last night. He is expected to get the start tonight against the Bruins ... The Sabres' fight for the post-season won't be made any easier by the fact that six of their eight remaining opponents are currently in a playoff position. Included in that group are four division leaders.