- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins are expecting a full house for their annual Black & Gold scrimmage at 7 p.m. Tuesday at TD Garden.
It’s the only game they’ll play before the lockout-shortened, 48-game season begins Saturday at 7 p.m., when the Bruins host the New York Rangers.
“It’s pretty exciting to realize how quickly [the scrimmage] got sold out,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “As I’ve often said, we’ve got some pretty loyal fans here. If anything, they miss the game more than anything and they’re looking forward to seeing our team back on the ice. Our job this year is not to disappoint them.”
As part of their season-long incentives for the fans, admission for this scrimmage is free, but fans had to secure tickets prior to the game. Since all 17,565 complimentary tickets have been distributed, the game will be live-streamed for fans on bostonbruins.com, beginning at 6:55.
“It just shows you that they never really were against, I would say, the players,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara about tonight’s sellout. “They want to see the hockey games. We all want to play hockey, they all want to see hockey.”
The Bruins will play their AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins, which should be a good test since the P-Bruins have already played 35 games this season.
“The fans are so excited to see the hockey and obviously to be supporting their own team, so now they’re going to have the chance to see both teams -- the whole Boston Bruins system of players. It’s going to be good.”
Since it’s the lone game action for the Bruins before the puck drops Saturday, Boston will try to simulate a regular-season game.
“I just try to think like it’s a practice type of thing,” Tuukka Rask said. “I know there will be a lot of people watching us, for sure, but for us it’s just a matter of trying to find our game and getting ready for Saturday.
“We’ll try to build that momentum going into Saturday. You just try to gain that confidence that you feel good about yourself going into Saturday. It’s good that Providence has played half a season and they’ll give us a good game, for sure.”
Now that the Bruins are in Day 3 of training camp, Julien said he has seen a gradual improvement in the players who did not play overseas during the lockout. The Bruins had a total of 12 players go overseas.
“The guys who didn’t play, you can see an improvement every day,” Julien said. “I find that it’s starting to level off pretty quickly, but what we’re going to have to be careful of is, obviously, the schedule part of it.
"Guys who are used to every day, or every second day on the ice, can handle that. The guys who haven’t played, we’ll have to see how they do in regards to that. Hopefully they do well, but right now I have no complaints. If anything, I’m pleasantly surprised at the pace and the sharpness in our hockey team right now.”