BOSTON -- The game felt normal, with Team White occupying one side of the ice in warmups, Team Black the other. But the differences became obvious: There were no numbers on the uniforms, and all the jerseys bore the same spoked-B logo.
Still, TD Garden was packed Thursday. There were goals by Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. And everyone came out unscathed.
That, really, was the best news of all for the Boston Bruins.
With 10 days off between Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final and Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues at Boston on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS), the Bruins opted to have an intrasquad scrimmage to break up the monotony of practice and to get back in the game-day routine midway through the break.
"I think it was good," said goalie Tuukka Rask, who played the first of two 25-minute sessions with a running clock. "Guys seemed to be huffing and puffing when they came out. I think once you go 10 days no playing, I think it's good to get a little action in, get used to that pace. I think that's what we wanted to accomplish, and it looked good."
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There was a moment of panic, when forward Brad Marchand came up holding his left hand and wrist. But he did not miss a shift, and after the scrimmage, coach Bruce Cassidy said he was fine. Center David Krejci did not play, after showing up with a fever. He was sent home for precautionary reasons.
"Listen, injury risk was our biggest concern tonight," Cassidy said. "It'll be Saturday, when we practice at our normal time, and Sunday. You keep your fingers crossed. But [Marchand] is fine. He just bumped into [Connor] Clifton in front of the net and jammed his hand or something. He kept playing. No issue there."
The rest of them did play, though, in a scrimmage that lacked the physicality of a real game, but which at least gave the players the chance for more of a game-like atmosphere than a regular practice -- of which there have been plenty this week. In addition to 5-on-5 play, Cassidy wanted to make sure the Bruins got a chance to practice power-play situations, so, at one point, Jake DeBrusk switched jerseys and teams, to put the top unit on the ice together, with Pastrnak scoring as a result.
"As far as the on-ice part of it goes, I think you can't simulate going back and breaking out pucks as a defenseman," Torey Krug said. "I think that was probably as close as you can get, possibly, to simulating it. If anyone benefits out there, it's definitely the D, for sure."
The Bruins sold out the scrimmage, charging $20 per ticket with the net proceeds going to benefit the Boston Bruins Foundation, with a crowd that included forward Charlie Coyle's 90-year-old grandmother, Mary Kelly.
After the scrimmage, the players gave a stick salute to the packed house, and Zdeno Chara and Bergeron got on the microphone to thank the crowd, as team president Cam Neely had done beforehand.
"It was great," Krug said. "Not many other cities around the League would that happen. So it was fun to get out there tonight. Extremely beneficial for us to get back on this ice and play in some game-like situations.
"Looking up and seeing that the upper bowl was almost full, it's pretty special."
And there were other things that didn't change, even in a scrimmage.
Asked if there was any chirping between the two teams, Krug said, smiling, "Probably Marchy."
Photo courtesy: Steve Babineau/Boston Bruins