BOSTON (CBS) — Growing up in Dorchester and spending three years at Boston College, Jimmy Hayes has spent plenty of nights at the TD Garden.

But Thursday night, when the Bruins begin their 2015-16 season against the Winnipeg Jets, will be very different.

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Hayes, acquired by Boston in the offseason from the Florida Panthers, will play his first game as a member of the Bruins in front of his original home crowd. It’s a moment Hayes has imagined since he was a young kid, and hoped would one day occur.

“It’s going to be a pretty cool moment for me, being a hometown kid and playing that first home game. I’ll take it in and then be ready to play,” Hayes said after Wednesday’s practice at the Garden. “I’ve always tried to imagine it. When I made it to the pros I was hoping one day it would happen, and now it’s here. It’s going to be a special moment.”

After spending camp and the preseason getting acclimated to the Boston system, Hayes says he is ready to go with his new squad. He’ll likely slot in on Boston’s third line and the expectations will be high for the local kid, who finished last season with a career-high 19 goals and 35 points for Florida.

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But more importantly, he’ll have the expectations to fill the power forward role on the team. At 6-foot-6, he’s more than willing to accept that title.

“I feel like I’ve got a role here,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “That’s to be a big guy who plays a simple game and just kind of goes to the net, be reliable defensively and make sure I capitalize on my opportunities around the offensive zone.”

Hayes will obviously be a bit nervous before the puck drops on Thursday and admits that he’s already feeling some butterflies. But for the 25-year-old, that isn’t a bad thing.

“It usually means you’re ready to go,” he said.

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Tune in to the Bruins regular season opener against the Jets Thursday night on 98.5 The Sports Hub — the flagship station of the Boston Bruins. Zolak & Bertrand and Felger & Mazz will both broadcast from the TD Garden, leading up to pregame coverage with Dave Goucher and Bob Beers begins at 6:30pm!