No time for an Olympics letdown

BOSTON -- Players, especially those who just returned with medals, are still buzzing about the Olympics.

The Wednesday trade deadline will be less than 24 hours away by the time the Bruins take the ice against Montreal Tuesday night at TD Garden (7 p.m.).

And, oh yeah, there’s the little matter of two points on the line in a tight race to grab the last few playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins begin play tonight just one point ahead of the Canadiens for seventh in the East.

“It is a little unique,” said defenseman Mark Stuart, who’s returning from a broken finger, after the morning skate at the Bruins’ home rink. “You’re trying to work some rust out from after the break, but also you’ve got [the trade deadline] in the back of your mind. So it is pretty unique, but we’ve just got to go out there and play. Because also we’ve got some points we’ve got to get. So that should be first and foremost.”

Boston rallied to its current position with a four-game winning streak right before the Olympic break. There was hope that the Bruins could start the post-break stretch run, 22 games left, with their full complement of players for the first time in months. But it was learned that center Patrice Bergeron won’t be available against the Habs because of a groin injury. Nonetheless, it shouldn’t be difficult for players to get their juices flowing and their minds focused against the team the Bruins hate more than any other in the 30-team NHL.

“Obviously, it’s a rivalry we’ve had for a long time,” said winger Milan Lucic. “It’s nice when, obviously, the crowd’s going to be more excited and everyone’s excited for the season to get going again in this last final stretch here. You couldn’t have picked a better opponent. We’re neck-and-neck in the standings.”

Added defenseman Dennis Wideman: “Obviously whenever we play Montreal, there’s a little added emotion. And I think that for both teams, coming right into an emotional game like this, it shouldn’t be any layover from the break emotionally.”

Wideman also noted that he hadn’t really thought much about the trade deadline because of the break. Usually, he said, the hype leading up to the deadline lasts about a week and a half. That might benefit guys in their attempt to keep their eyes on the game and not the news wire.

Head coach Claude Julien doesn’t anticipate any problem with his team picking up where it left off.

“It’s a good opponent for us, it’s a good way to start this stretch and at the same time we realize the importance of having a good stretch here if we want to be in the playoffs.”