BOSTON -- This can be, under normal circumstances, one of the nation's most vibrant cities.
A place where, on a typical weekday, the sidewalks are crowded and noisy, where traffic on many of the narrow streets can flow like pudding through a straw.
But circumstances Friday were not normal.
Not for Boston.
Not for the Penguins.
They were supposed to play the Bruins at the TD Garden Friday night, but the manhunt for the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings Monday that effectively shut down the city all day led to the game being postponed until 12:38 p.m. today.
Mass transit into and out of the city was shut down from around 8 a.m. until early evening, and an advisory that people remain in their homes (or hotels) was in effect until shortly after 6 p.m.
The rescheduling of the Penguins-Bruins game forced one they were scheduled to play tonight against Buffalo at Consol Energy Center to be pushed back to 7:38 p.m. Tuesday.
Although those schedule revisions might cause a few logistical headaches for the Penguins, they were cognizant that their issues were trivial, at most, alongside what had gone on around them.
"The safety of the people of Boston, the city of Boston, is most important for everybody," general manager Ray Shero said.
Much that played out in and around this city Friday could not have been more surreal.
The Penguins responded to that by trying to make this most unusual of days seem as routine as possible.
They don't often get locked down in their hotel, of course, but do have plenty of times when they don't have a game-day skate, which was the case Friday.
Fact is, that's pretty standard when they play on consecutive days, so coach Dan Bylsma and his staff structured the players' day as if the Penguins had played Thursday night.
As players began to show up for a team breakfast at 8 a.m., word that public officials were advising people to stay in their residences had begun to circulate.
"As players came down to team meal, we alerted them to the situation," Bylsma said.
By midday, when the lockdown still was in effect, there was another meal, followed by a team meeting.
Just as there would have been if the Penguins had played the previous night.
When little had changed by early afternoon, it became apparent the game Friday night against Boston was in jeopardy.
Even so, players stuck to their personal game-day routines.
"I tried to get some rest in the afternoon," forward Craig Adams said. "We were operating under the assumption we were going to play, even though we thought it was unlikely."
They turned out to be correct, of course, and word that the game had been pushed back 17 1/2 hours by the league arrived in mid-afternoon.
When it did, Bylsma hadn't been outside the hotel near Boston Common since an early morning coffee run with a few other coaches.
Adams said he refrained from leaving the hotel during the day as well, simply because "they asked us not to."
The Penguins had an obvious vested interest in how things developed over the day, and there was a TV in the back of the room where they had their meals and meeting that allowed them to monitor events.
Asked if he had paid attention to what was going on in the manhunt, Adams responded: "Of course. We're not doing anything else. Like everybody else, we're anxious for updates."
He and Bylsma both said the events of Friday invoked memories of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, which took place when clubs were just opening training camps.
"Just being with the team, being together, and having an incident going on on TV," said Bylsma, a player with Anaheim at the time.
"And to kind of watch it unfold, not really knowing what it meant and what's going on."
NOTES -- A Penguins victory today, whether in regulation, overtime or a shootout, would clinch the No. 1 seed for the Eastern Conference playoffs. ... Tickets issued when the Buffalo game was scheduled to be played tonight will be honored Tuesday.
• Game: Penguins at Boston Bruins, TD Garden.
• When: 12:38 p.m.
• TV: Root Sports.
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@post-gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG. First Published April 20, 2013 4:00 AM