With an 11-day layoff between the Eastern Conference Final and the Stanley Cup Final, the Boston Bruins have been doing everything they can to stay sharp and remain in the playoff routine they developed since dropping the puck on their run to the Final back on April 11 against Toronto in the first round. Since then, the players and coaches have been on as routine and strict a schedule as possible and there’s only so much they can do to maintain that with such a long layoff between rounds. On Tuesday, the team announced that they will hold an intrasquad scrimmage at TD Garden Thursday night and will open it up to the public for $20 per ticket.
Tickets for the Boston Bruins Intrasquad Scrimmage on May 23 are on sale now. Net proceeds from the event will benefit the #NHLBruins Foundation. Get your tickets: https://t.co/hytMDKFypR pic.twitter.com/LAqtE74BKk
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) May 21, 2019
“We’re looking for compete, and we’re looking for pace,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy told the media Tuesday. “We’re not looking for players to blow each other up. We’ve had good practices, but this will be a little bit different.”
There will be minimal to no contact in the scrimmage but simulating a game in their home barn with their fans there hopefully will help get them back into the mindset they need to be in when they host either the St. Louis Blues or San Jose Sharks.
“That’s one of the inherent risks of this,” Cassidy acknowledged when asked about the injury risk in a scrimmage vs a practice. “This isn’t a physicality contest out there. It’s compete on pucks, play with some pace, be respectful of each other; no different than practice. We have some moments in practice where we ask guys to establish body position and not running each other. That’ll be a challenge, but we have a smart enough group and we’ll relay that message to some of the younger guys that we’re doing this for a reason and the reason isn’t to injure one another.”
The scrimmage will be Team White vs Team Black with each team consisting of an array of players from each line and d-pairing that’s been used in playoff games and also the ‘Black Aces’ which is the group of Providence Bruins now up with the big club for the remainder of the playoffs. Conn Smythe Trophy favorite Tuukka Rask will play for Team White, while Jaroslav Halak will man the pipes for Team Black.
This scrimmage will also give Cassidy and his staff a chance to see if maybe there could be some new lines, blue line combos or special teams units should he need to actually switch it up when the Final begins.
“Look at some different scenarios in game…We’ll try to come up with some different things that keep the players sharp,” he said.
Whatever comes of the scrimmage, it won’t be a bad thing to do something other than drills. The Columbus Blue Jackets did the same thing during their layoff after sweeping the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round and while they still lost the first game of the second round to the Bruins, from management down to the players, they were happy they did it.
“Instead of coaches on the ice putting them through drills, I wanted them to play some 5-on-5,” head coach John Tortorella said after their scrimmage back on April 22. “I wanted them to look at situations 5-on-5, making plays 5-on-5, defending 5-on-5. A coach always wants more game situations, and I think we got as close to it as we can.”
The Blue Jackets drew more than 5,500 fans for their scrimmage following the first round and that was during the day. One can only imagine how many Bruins fans will pack TD Garden to see their Cup Final-bound Bruins Thursday night!