BOSTON – The final score didn’t matter, and truth be told the identities of the goal-scorers and the assist-makers didn’t really matter all that much either.
The only things that really mattered during Thursday night’s Intra-squad scrimmage at TD Garden were that all the Bruins players got out of the exercise healthy (they did after a brief scare with Brad Marchand), and that an amazing 16,000 plus Bruins fans filtered through the gates as paying customers to watch a glorified night practice.
Certainly it was a good night for David Pastrnak scoring a couple of goals, and David Backes kicked in a couple of scores of his own. It was a little less than stellar for Tuukka Rask giving up a couple of goals in his 25 minutes of work, and David Krejci never even made it on the ice after running a fever earlier in the day on Thursday.
But the biggest winners of all were the Bruins fans that got to see their Bruins for a $20 fee going to the Bruins Foundation, and showed exactly the kind of support that the Black and Gold get from their hardcore fan base.
“I thought it was great to be back in front of our home crowd. They had good energy. I think the guys fed off that a little bit. It’s nice to be appreciated I guess or cheered on in these circumstances, but we’re trying to get our work done. That was the message. We can’t get out there and have it like a summer hockey league game,” said Bruce Cassidy. “You’re going to make some plays but try to stay detailed as best you can.
“Sometimes in these environments, you want to do a little more, so we got a little bit of both, but we got our work done. Thanks to the fans for coming out. Supports a good cause and got to see some decent players playing, getting ready to go into the Final, so it’s a win-win.”
It showed just how hungry Bruins fans are for the Stanley Cup, and just how frenzied the following is with Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final scheduled for Monday night against the St. Louis Blues at the Garden. Bruins President Cam Neely saluted the fans ahead of the two-quarter scrimmage on Thursday night, and B’s leaders Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron addressed the crown after the two teams produced eight goals during the game rehearsal.
It all added up to an impromptu love-fest with a Bruins team that’s exceeded expectations and hopes this season, and could bring a second Stanley Cup back to Boston in the last eight years. All of that good mojo was apparent to the Bruins players as they talked it about after scrimmaging for 50 minutes in front of a packed house.
“I was saying to my dad or somebody that I hope [the fans] remember that we still have one more series to go. They showed up and it was great. Not many other cities around the league where that would happen,” said Torey Krug. “It was fun to get out there and extremely beneficial for us to get out there in some game-type situations.
“We have the type of locker room that gives 100 percent all the time whether it’s a practice or a game, and that’s what we tried to do tonight. Looking up and seeing the upper bowl was pretty full, that’s pretty special.”
Some will say that the game day simulation with the night scrimmage was odd, or that it didn’t really make much of a difference with the 10 days off between the Eastern Conference Final and Stanley Cup Final. Certainly those both might be true, but the B’s had to try something to keep too much rust from gathering on their game prior to puck drop on Monday night against the St. Louis Blues.
Now all that’s left is to count down the days until the Cup Final begins in earnest on Monday evening, and the fans really get a treat with the Bruins and Blues facing off after Thursday night’s scrimmage appetizer at the Garden.
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