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Thomas, Chara and Bergeron skip Ottawa trip, won’t play Thursday

Tim Thomas, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara

Boston Bruins hockey players Tim Thomas, Patrice Bergeron, and Zdeno Chara, left to right, appear on the NBC “Today” television program with the Stanley Cup, in New York Friday, June 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)


Tomorrow’s Boston-Ottawa tilt was supposed to be a postseason preview.

Instead, it’ll be more like the preseason.

The Bruins announced that captain Zdeno Chara, starting goalie Tim Thomas and second-leading scorer Patrice Bergeron won’t make the trip to Ottawa and, ergo, won’t face the Senators.

Defenseman Johnny Boychuk also didn’t travel with the team, but that was due to his injured leg that required an MRI.

The big news is that Boston’s resting three of its most important players against a division rival and likely first-round opponent (Boston is the No. 2 seed; Ottawa almost locked into No. 7.)

That said, it’s not an entirely surprising move.

One, the Bruins have played a ton of hockey over the last 12 months with Chara (25:02 a game), Bergeron (18:34) and Thomas (58GP) among the busiest. Two, they’re locked into second place and unable to gain anything from the Ottawa game. Three, why bother giving the Senators a free shot at any of your stars?

The interesting thing to watch moving forward is how other potential first-round opponents handle their regular-season finales. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia (the East’s likely 4-5 matchup) face off in the regular season finale on Apr. 7; the top-seeded Rangers play Washington -- currently battling for eighth -- in the last game of the year as well.

Out West, current No. 5 seed Detroit hosts No. 6 Chicago on Saturday (the ‘Hawks are just one point back of the Wings) while current No. 7 seed Phoenix plays No. 2 St. Louis on Friday.