BOSTON - It had been 11 long days since the Bruins last hit the ice at TD Garden.
As such, the Black & Gold - in the midst of the longest pre-Stanley Cup Final layoff in NHL history - were in need of a bit of a jolt as they wade through their extended break.
They got one and then some on Thursday night.
A sellout crowd flooded Causeway Street for an intrasquad scrimmage, providing the Bruins with plenty of vigor and good vibes ahead of Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues on Monday night.
"That's really cool," said Charlie Coyle, whose grandmother was among several family members in attendance. "Not every fan base is doing that, I don't think. It makes you feel very fortunate to play in a place like this where they're so passionate that they come to a practice scrimmage like this and it's like we're playing a real game and they're cheering. It definitely helps and gets you going a little bit…it's just a great thing to be here and play for this team."
With chants of "Let's Go Bruins" and "We Want the Cup" raining down, it certainly felt like a playoff atmosphere, which Boston had been without since their sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final one week ago.
"It was good to get out there and obviously appreciate the fans and their support. Definitely something special," said David Pastrnak, who potted two goals for Team White. "It was awesome. We enjoyed it and hopefully they had some fun and it was a good pregame for them."
It was a good warmup for the Bruins as well, who tried to simulate as best they could their normal game-day routines.
"Coming to the rink this morning, getting out of bed, doing your morning routine, whether that's stretching or getting some treatment and then going home and regrouping and coming back to the rink, I thought it was extremely beneficial," said Torey Krug.
And while the hitting and physicality was at a minimum during the 50-minute session, the on-ice pace was much closer to game-level than a normal practice.
"As far as I'm concerned everyone in here was working as hard as they could to put themselves in a position to be ready for Game 1," said Krug. "We have the type of locker room that gives 100 percent all the time, whether it's practice or a game. That's what we tried to do tonight."
With the crowd delivering a standing ovation as time expired, the Bruins gathered at center ice to salute the fans, before Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron took to the PA to thank everyone for their support. Bruins president Cam Neely also addressed the crowd before the scrimmage.
"They showed up and it was great," said Krug. "Not many other cities around the league would that happen…I took a peak early on when we came out for the second half, looking up and seeing that the upper bowl was almost full. It's pretty special…you can see that everyone is pretty excited about what's going on."
The final score from the intrasquad scrimmage: Team Black 5, Team White 3.
David Backes (Team Black) and David Pastrnak (Team White) both scored two goals apiece. Here's a full rundown of the goals:
Black 1, White 0 | Peter Cehlarik
Black 2, White 0 | David Backes
Black 2, White 1 | David Pastrnak (PPG)
Black 3, White 1 | Anton Blidh
Black 4, White 1 | Karson Kuhlman
Black 4, White 2 | David Pastrnak
Black 5, White 2 | David Backes
Black 5, White 3 | Patrice Bergeron
Tuukka Rask (Team White) made the stop of the night in the first half, stoning Danton Heinen on a shorthanded breakaway attempt. Rask did not play in the second half, ceding the net to Zane McIntyre.
"He was going to play a period," said Cassidy. "Got his work in, and that was it. That was the decision for him. If he wanted to play the whole thing, he could've, and that wasn't a decision made tonight; that was this morning. He decided he was going to play half; that'd be enough, so it worked out."
The consensus for the most frequent chirper during the scrimmage? No. 63, of course.
"Probably Marchy," said Krug.
"Brad was obviously chirping," added Pastrnak.
Video: Pastrnak scores in team scrimmage
One of Cassidy's main talking points entering the scrimmage was avoiding injuries. And outside of a first-half scare when Brad Marchand collided with Connor Clifton, the Bruins came away unscathed.
"Listen, injury risk was our biggest concern. It will be Saturday when we practice at our normal time, and Sunday obviously," said Cassidy. "You keep your fingers crossed, but [Marchand's] fine. He just bumped into Clifton in front of the net and jammed his - I don't know what he jammed, his hand or something. He kept playing, and he was fine. There was no issue there."
David Krejci did not play in the scrimmage after arriving to the rink with a fever. The team decided it was best to send him home for the evening.
"Precautionary, not [to] be around the guys. We're off [on Friday], so we figured he would be fine by Saturday," said Cassidy.
Video: Cassidy discusses intrasquad scrimmage
The Black Aces helped fill out the rosters for both teams, with forwards Anton Blidh (goal), Paul Carey, Peter Cehlarik (goal), Trent Frederic, Zach Senyshyn, and Jack Studnicka, and defensemen Jeremy Lauzon, Urho Vaakanainen, and Jakub Zboril all seeing game action.
Cassidy believes that even a scrimmage atmosphere will be beneficial for the youngsters as they continue their development.
"I think it helps them, they're around a real good hockey team," said Cassidy. "I think it's good for those guys to see these guys how they work. It's a small sample size, one scrimmage. It would be great to incorporate them in a practice a little more but we have our own goal and agenda right now that we can't be worried about that part of it…I thought they played well, they scored two goals at least. Those guys fit right in."
Video: Krug talks how d-men benefit from scrimmage