The Boston Bruins are in rare territory. They’re in midst of their longest layoff of the season after clinching their third Stanley Cup berth of the decade.
Bruce Cassidy‘s squad punched its ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals on May 16 following a 4-0 victory in Raleigh to complete the sweep of the Hurricanes. The Bruins entered Day 5 of their 11-day layoff as the St. Louis Blues look to finish off the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Final Tuesday night.
The Black and Gold are fighting off the proverbial rust with their normal practice regimen at Warrior Ice Arena. Yet, there is no real way to simulate game-speed in practice as Cassidy keeps devising ways to keep his team focused following the first three days. But his latest revelation certainly came outside of the box.
With the Black Aces now in the fold, the Bruins will host an intrasquad scrimmage at TD Garden — open to the public on a first come, first serve basis with a $20 ticket price — Thursday night for a 7 p.m. puck drop.
“We are trying to simulate a game situation. Going to the rink, preparing for a game day,” Cassidy said Tuesday in Brighton. “Listen I don’t know at the end of the day how everyone is going to play until Game 1 happens. We had some ideas we bantered around. We came up with this one. It’ll be live to a certain extent, we’ll obviously talk to the players about the physicality part. We are looking for compete and pace. We are not looking for guys to blow each other up.”
Bruins fans will no doubt witness a unique experience inside the Causeway Street barn.
But make no mistake, Cassidy will put his team to work. The third-year Boston bench boss will treat this as a “controlled” scrimmage — focusing on situational aspects like special teams and desperation sequences with the empty net.
“We’ve had some good practices but this will be a little different. We’ll look at some different scenarios in-game,” Cassidy said. “So it’ll be controlled in terms of power play, could be a 6-on-5 at the end of the game. 4-on-4 play. Try to come up with some different things to keep the players sharp. That’s the thinking behind it.”
Each team will have three lines consisting of a mix between Boston’s top roster and a select few of Providence’s Black Aces.
Cassidy didn’t distinctly divide the roster for Thursday’s scrimmage. Yet, he wants to keep most of the situational units together — including both power play groups — during the 50-minute on-ice session.
“We are going to try to have it simulate a checking line versus a top line so we are still going to sort through the final rosters,” Cassidy added. “We are going to use the Providence. It’s actually a great stage for them. I haven’t seen some of them in a while.”
Thursday’s scrimmage will likely be a little shorter than a full-length game with two 25-minute halves. That plan could change over the next 48 hours, especially if the Blues close out their series with the Sharks Tuesday night in St. Louis.
Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com
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