The Bruins rookies went through another two sessions of workouts at Ristuccia Arena on Tuesday, but on Wednesday, they will move on to the big stage for the first of two rookie games against the New York Islanders at TD Garden at 7 p.m.
Rookie games are usually played in more intimate settings in small rinks like Ristuccia, and this year's clashes with the Isles prospects were in fact, scheduled for a similar setup in Shelton, Conn. But the popularity of new phenom Tyler Seguin and the interest in Boston's deep corps of prospects convinced the team to switch to a more upscale venue.
"We just thought that the interest was enough, that it would be a good way to introduce the players to our fans," said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. "We also feel that this is the deepest bunch of players we've had in a while, so it's a good glimpse of the future, and for some guys the present.
"It sounds like eight or nine thousand for each game, if not more with the walkup [sales]," added Chiarelli. "Money's going to a good cause."
Tickets to the game were distributed free to season-ticket holders, while other fans can purchase them for $5, with the proceeds going to the Bruins Foundation.
Sales have been brisk, and the Bruins prospects are excited about playing in front of a large crowd.
"They're saying that 10,000 people are going to be there or something like that," said forward Jared Knight, a second-round pick this June.
Knight plays his junior hockey for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, but hasn't played in front of a crowd as big as what's expected Wednesday night, not even in hockey-mad Ontario.
"That would be awesome," said Knight. "That's more than we get in London. We get about 9,000 in London, so 10,000 at the Garden is going to be pretty sick for a rookie game."
Wednesday's game will actually be Knight's second trip to the Garden, but his first chance to see the ice there.
"I'm psyched about that," said Knight. "I've been in there once when I was up here for [pre-draft] testing. We went in there when the Celtics were playing the Lakers and we went and watched them warming up, but I've never been in there with ice. I'm really excited about that."
Defenseman Ryan Button is equally excited about the chance to play in the Garden.
"I'm thrilled," said Button, a third-round pick in 2009. "My dad texted me the day they were moved to Boston. Last year we had a practice there and there were about 6,000 people there and it was pretty loud for just a practice, so I can't even imagine what a game's going to be like in The Bank. I'm sure it's going to be packed. Hopefully Seguin will be in the lineup, that's going to attract a lot of people so hopefully there will be a lot of people and we can put on a good show and come away with two points."
There won't actually be two points in the standings at stake, but there will be plenty on the line for the Bruins and Islanders hopefuls, who have a limited window of opportunity to earn a shot at sticking around for the main camp and competing for an NHL job.
"It's kind of do or die," said Button. "It happens quick, just two games. So hopefully I can out and play my best Wednesday and Thursday and make the main camp and go from there."
The Bruins may have made their fans happy by moving the games to the Garden, but they didn't make anything easier for the prospects, who will have to overcome the nerves of playing their first game in an NHL arena with a large crowd on hand.
"It's probably harder to play if your first professional game is in front of a bigger crowd," said Chiarelli. "They probably do get a little more nervous. When I had my introductory meeting with them I mentioned that there might be eight or nine thousand people [watching], and guys were looking at each other, so they'll probably be a little more nervous."
Despite that, the Bruins rookies have promised to deliver a quality performance to make the Garden faithful happy they came out.
"That will be a good game," said Knight. "The fans are going to like what they see."
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