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    Fans send Bruins off to Chicago

    Bruin Brad Marchand walked by the crowd gathered to send the team off to Chicago.
    Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff
    Bruin Brad Marchand walked by the crowd gathered to send the team off to Chicago.

    Alex Paduch, 17, took the 5:20 a.m. train from Middleborough. After a quick stop to Dunkin’ Donuts, the recent high school graduate arrived at TD Garden by 6:45 a.m.

    Two friends were supposed to meet him there.

    “But they slept in,” Paduch said. “Their loss.”


    Paduch was one of hundreds of fans who lined the inside hallway of the Garden on Tuesday afternoon to see off the Bruins before they flew to Chicago. A Garden official estimated there were 1,000 fans.

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    The Bruins held one final practice at home on Tuesday morning, a 55-minute session of mostly situational drills. Then they dressed in suits and walked through the makeshift runway on the Garden’s ground floor, which resembled something of a red carpet at a Hollywood premiere.

    The fans yelled familiar chants such as, “We want the Cup!” and “Tuuuuuk!” as goalie Tuukka Rask strolled past.

    The players slapped hands with the fans, who grabbed their camera phones in frenzy to take up close photos of their favorite hockey players.

    “This is awesome,” rookie defenseman Tory Krug said. “The market in Boston is unbelievable. It’s one of the reasons that I came here.” Krug said the scene reminded him of a pep rally from his college career at Michigan State.


    “It does takes me back a little bit,” Krug said. “It’s awesome to see the fan support, obviously at a bigger level.”

    Most fans wore black and gold. Many were in jerseys. A handful were dressed in work clothes while some, such as 6-year-old Akeelah Gell, were playing hooky.

    Gell stood alongside her mother, Ahna, who decided it was OK to play hooky for kindergarten today.

    Akeelah Gell, of Andover, watches every game -- except for the end of double-overtime in Game 3.

    “I fell asleep,” she said.