Assuming Tim Thomas plays tonight in Calgary against the Flames, it will be one week since his last appearance. He was happy to get the rest and watch backup Tuukka Rask earn back-to-back road wins against the Islanders and Senators.

"It's always nice," said Thomas of the rare late-season break. "You don't get many chances during a season, so when you do it's nice to recover and get rested up."

B's coach Claude Julien stressed that he hopes to keep both his goalies involved and sharp over the final 23 games of the regular season.

"You get into the playoffs, and you never know what can happen," said Julien, whose goalie duo has actually slipped to third in the NHL after allowing 25 goals in the last six games.The B's (2.33 goals-against average) now trail Vancouver (2.25) and Nashville (2.27).

Flaming hot

Julien, on the red-hot Flames, who are 11-1-2 in their last 14 and have climbed back to the cusp of a playoff spot: "They're very strong down low. They're protecting the puck and making plays. They compete hard and they compete smart. I think that's been their turnaround. They're a confident group; you can tell in their play and the demeanor.

"They're back in the playoff hunt. It's going to be a good test for us." .?.?.

With wins already in the first two games of their six-game trip, the B's could be in for quite a successful sojourn. They have the third-best road record in the league (18-7-4), behind Philadelphia and Detroit.