Not long after the Panthers returned to the visitors’ locker room at Madison Square Garden following Friday’s practice, a good number of players crowded into a small room to watch TV coverage of the Boston manhunt.
Although the Panthers have gone about their business on this New York trip, they were wary things could have changed after Saturday’s game in New Jersey.
With Dzhokar Tsarnaev apprehended late Friday night in Watertown, Mass., for the Boston Marathon bombings, the Panthers will fly to Boston as scheduled on Saturday night and play the Bruins at TD Garden on Sunday afternoon.
Friday’s game at the Garden between the Bruins and visiting Penguins was postponed and there was a possibility that game may not have been played until Sunday. If that was the case, the Bruins and Panthers would have played Monday.
The Bruins-Pittsburgh game is officially on for Saturday, the NHL said after the manhunt ended.
“The whole nation is watching Boston right now trying to figure out what’s going on,” said goalie Scott Clemmensen, a Boston College graduate.
“Boston is not a destination spot right now. All joking aside, the situation is scary for the city and its residents.
“We have to go to work and have a game to play. We’re focused on New Jersey right now, but we’re watching Boston. Hopefully, it doesn’t affect us. They wouldn’t let us go there if things weren’t worked out.”
With Boston under lockdown Friday morning, the Bruins and Pens canceled their morning skate with the game following suit a few hours later.
The Red Sox were scheduled to play at Fenway against Kansas City for the first time since Monday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon. That game was postponed as well.
The Panthers will now close this four-game road trip at Boston on Sunday and fly home afterward as scheduled. The Bruins already had to reschedule their game against the Senators that was to be played the night of the bombings.
“It’s going to be heavy and I’ve thought about it a lot knowing we’re going there,” forward George Parros said.
“It’s one of those things where we are pulling together as a nation right now. If we can bring a little distraction, we’re happy to do that. My brother went to Boston College; I have a lot of friends there. It hits home. But we have to proceed as usual.”
Coach Kevin Dineen is looking forward to going to Boston as his daughter Hannah — who is a senior at a prep school in New Hampshire — had planned on heading into the city to spend some time with her father. It appears they will be able to spend some quality time together.
“We’re just more concerned about the people. We’re just a small piece of this puzzle,” Dineen said.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with them. We’re thinking about the people who are there.”
NEWS AND NOTES
Defenseman Erik Gudbranson sustained an undisclosed injury to a hand or wrist late in Thursday’s 6-1 loss to the Rangers.
Dineen said nothing was broken, although Gudbranson didn’t practice Friday and isn’t expected to play in Florida’s final two games of the road trip.
Filip Kuba, who has missed the past two games, will be back in the lineup Saturday.
“Gudbranson is out for the weekend although it’s not anything we’re worried about long-term,” Dineen said. “It’s just best to keep him out through the weekend.”
Because the locker room space there is small, the Panthers have dressed at Madison Square Garden, then boarded a bus for practice. The team would then get back on the bus after practice and return to the Garden.
With the Rangers off to Buffalo, the Panthers pretty much had the Garden to themselves Friday as workers covered up the ice and put down the basketball court for Saturday’s playoff opener between the Knicks and Celtics.
“Now I can take a deep breath,” Petrovic said Friday. “I think I did pretty good. There’s no better place to play your first game than New York. Even though we lost, I’ll never forget it.”