By Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Bruins finally get to play a game on their home ice Thursday night, hosting the Philadelphia Flyers for their TD Garden opener. Of course, it won’t feel much like a home game for the Bruins.

For winger Brad Marchand, no fans in the stands means no home-ice advantage this season. The Bruins feed off those 17,500-plus packing the TD Garden on a nighty basis, and those fans can greatly sway any contest. The Bruins will certainly be missing them while the turnstiles remain closed due to the ongoing and unrelenting pandemic.

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“I think the only advantage we have is maybe is being in our own homes,” Marchand said Thursday morning. “I don’t think there is any advantage to be here, other than that last [line] change. … But other than short drive to the rink and sleeping in my own bed, I don’t think there’s much of a difference.”

Still, it does feel good to be back home after starting the season with three straight road games.

“I think it’s always nice to be home and go back to your routine at home,” said team captain Patrice Bergeron. “It was a nice feeling. I think obviously it’s a lot different without the fans. It might not be the same advantage that it used to be. But that being said, you just try to take advantage of the familiarity of being at home.”

It’s unfortunate that Bergeron’s first home game with the C on his sweater will be played in an empty TD Garden. At least the team will save some money on the roof repairs that likely would have been required after Bergeron’s introduction Thursday evening.

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And that is really what the Bruins will miss the most; the voracious fans who provide an atmosphere like few others around the league. They won’t be around to help shift the momentum of games, so players will have to rely on each other to get those swings going.

“With no fans, there’s no momentum swings other than what you can do within your group,” said Marchand, who added that comeback wins will be a much rarer occurrence for home teams.

But playing in empty buildings is a reality that players need to accept. Fans likely won’t be back in TD Garden or NHL venues around the country for another few months — if at all this season.

“It’s going to be exciting to get it back. We’re going to get it back at some point,” said Marchand.

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Hopefully a few nights in the comfort of their own homes will be enough for the Bruins to feel at home Thursday night. Boston is looking to snap a two-game skid, and score its first 5-on-5 goal of the season. Staff