To simulate a game day, the Stanley Cup Final-bound Bruins will host an intrasquad scrimmage Thursday night at TD Garden.
“I don’t know if it’ll have an effect,” coach Bruce Cassidy said Tuesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena. “I really don’t. But it’s something we’re trying.”
Cassidy is hopeful the two 25-minute periods will help mitigate the long layoff between the series-clinching victory over the Carolina Hurricanes May 16 and Game 1 of the Cup Final on Monday, May 27.
The plan is for the players to watch film in the morning, followed by an optional skate. Whether the team will engage in a typical warm-up before puck drop at 7 p.m. is still to be determined.
“We’ve had good practices, but this will be a little different,” Cassidy said.
Along with the Black Aces (a select group of Providence Bruins), Boston’s roster will be split into Team White and Team Black. Cassidy is still tweaking the final groupings, but he anticipates each team will have three lines and five or six defensemen.
Every player who is healthy should be available for the scrimmage. Only defenseman Kevan Miller and forward Chris Wagner are expected to be sidelined, with both also slated to miss Game 1. Cassidy said he thinks team captain Zdeno Chara, who missed Game 4 against the Hurricanes because of a nagging undisclosed injury, will be fine.
“I don’t think we have to put the reins on anybody, but it’s still three days away so we have to be careful,” Cassidy said.
Cassidy acknowledged this type of event does increase the risk for injury, and he stressed that players will be told its purpose is not to be a “physicality contest.” The hope is to keep the team, currently on a seven-game winning streak, sharp.
“We’re looking to compete and we’re looking for pace,” Cassidy said. “We’re not looking for guys to blow each other up.”
The action should be competitive, perhaps even more so once the prize is revealed.
“They will put something on the line,” Cassidy said. “I think that’s important.”
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The Bruins did not practice Tuesday and are scheduled to return to the ice Wednesday.
Patrice Bergeron, however, was spotted on the ice with his 3-year-old son, Zack, and 21-month-old daughter, Victoria, during the typical practice time.
Wearing jeans, Bergeron held Victoria in his arms and skated alongside Zack, who made his way around with help from a plastic penguin.
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Cassidy hasn’t done much tinkering with his lines since reinserting veteran David Backes into the lineup during the first-round series against the Leafs.
And don’t expect changes any time soon.
“The job’s getting done, so why fix something that’s not broken?” Cassidy said.
Before Wagner suffered what is likely a postseason-ending arm injury, Cassidy stuck to the same lineup for six straight games — all of which resulted in wins.
Even when forward Noel Acciari was available to return for Game 3 against the Hurricanes, Cassidy didn’t swap him in for Wagner. His hand was, of course, later forced when Wagner went down.
Cassidy said he was more prone to modifying the lineup during the regular season, in order to identify the most effective groupings, as well as to motivate players.
“We had a third-line center and second-line right wing spot that we were — I don’t want to use auditioning because that’s not fair at this level — but we were trying different players that we thought were capable,” Cassidy said.
“You move pieces around to keep them motivated and reward a guy here or there.”
During the playoffs, however, the need for additional sources of motivation wanes.
“This time of year, the motivation is those things out in the hallway, those silver trophies,” Cassidy said. “There’s no extra minutes or this or that this time of year. It’s about winning. I think that is part of the reason why there’s more consistency.”
Nicole Yang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.