Boston Bruins

A general view of the game between the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks during the first period at TD Garden on December 05, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

You’re not the only one excited about a ‘near full capacity’ TD Garden beginning this Saturday.

“We’re very thankful to [TD Garden president] Amy Latimer and Cam [Neely] and the entire TD Garden staff for advocating with all the authorities, including the Governor, and thankful to him and his staff to get us to this point,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney. “We’re fortunate that we’re moving on to the next round and be able to take advantage of what looks like as much full capacity as we can within the protocols and what the league will mandate.”

For the Bruins, that return to ‘near full capacity’ will likely project them close to or ahead of what we’ve seen in Carolina (12,000), Nashville (12,135), and Vegas (12,156) in recent days. If you’re wondering why it will not be at true 100 percent in Boston, which is expected to remove capacity limitations later this week, it’s because they will have to work in tandem with the NHL’s safety protocols, which remain in full effect and will require fans to wear masks and that the tarps near ice-level in place, which will obviously take some seats of the equation and limit capacity as a result.

“We’re working on the manifest now,” Neely said Tuesday. “It’s going to be extremely exciting. Going from no fans to 12 percent was a big difference for the players and then going to 25 percent was a really big difference, especially in playoff hockey.

“And to get to near capacity I think is going to be amazing, not only for the fans that are dying to come watch some live hockey, but also the players. Just that energy in the building makes a huge difference. I can’t even imagine what it’s been like to play without fans. When you’re in the building yourself watching, it’s a dramatic difference. Very excited about this next round, for sure, with fans in the building.”

The Bruins have certainly benefitted from the return of fans to TD Garden, too, with an 11-4-2 record at home upon the doors reopening on Mar. 25, and the Bruins have wins in three straight home games (one regular season, two postseason) since the attendance capacity was upped from 12 percent to 25 percent on May 10.

“We need it,” Sweeney said of the Bruins’ home-ice advantage with a closer-to-normal building. “The players have gone through tremendous challenges over the course of a year and a half and missing the excitement [and] having the energy of an incredible fanbase. And they persevered, it’s incredible the amount of adversity each and every one of those guys have had to go through. It’s difficult. You’ve heard our players talk about it in pockets. To go out and perform at a level that we all, including the fans, expect them to. It’s not an easy task and hopefully now we can get more fans in our building to fully support them the way that we know all Bruins fans will do.”

The Bruins will play either the Islanders or Penguins in the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. A date with the Islanders, who are currently up three games to two over the Penguins, would give the Bruins home-ice advantage.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.