In fact, it was the 100th straight sellout at the Garden for a Bruins regular-season or playoff game. The last time there was an unsold ticket for a Bruins game was more than two years ago, when a 4-1 win over Tampa Bay drew just 16,553 on Dec. 2, 2009. Three days later, the Bruins sold out a game with the Leafs, and the next 99 games were played before full houses as well.
But it wasn't that much longer before that streak began that the Garden was a pretty lonely place.
Bruins coach Claude Julien remembered what it was like in 2007 when he first took over a team that had finished last in the Northeast Division for two straight seasons.
"Well, you know, as much as it's great for the organization, I guess as coaches and players you feel pretty good about it because it means you're giving people some hockey that excites them and makes them want to come out and watch us," Julien said. "It's nice to see. I know that my first year here, my first game behind the bench, I kind of looked around and there might have been 6,000 or 8,000 people and it's certainly not something you like seeing. So it's nice that we kind of turned it around and we're selling out. And hopefully that's going to continue for a long time."
The Bruins are definitely appreciative of the support they've gotten in recent years, as their successes on and off the ice have proven that this is indeed a hockey town.
"I mean it's such a great feeling to be playing in front of a full stadium, a full arena," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. "It's been a really great feeling when you have cheers and the whole stadium behind you. We saw that in the playoffs give us that extra boost and energy. And a lot of times I like to use that phrase, but it is true. A lot of times when they are that loud and they are so passionate, it almost feels like you have an extra guy on the ice. So for sure it's a big thank you for them and hopefully we get another 100 after this."
Chara played through some of the lean times here and has seen how other markets have struggled at the gate, so he is particularly grateful for the support the Bruins are getting now.
"It's more exciting for us to play in front of a full arena," Chara said. "A lot of times when we go to cities where they don't have such a fan base, we have to create that excitement for ourselves. Sometimes it's not easy, but somehow we have to find a way to be excited and play with a lot of energy. Of course, when you have a full arena and everybody's standing and clapping and when we score it's so loud, you know you don't need to be maybe pushed as you have to be mentally. So it's really easier to play in front of fans."
Chara's defensive partner Johnny Boychuk agreed.
"It's just phenomenal," Boychuk said. "To have that many games be sellouts, it just goes to show that New England people like hockey, I guess. It's fun to be here when there's been so many sellouts."
Boychuk noted that Boston fans have plenty of options, so it says a lot about the team that so many have chosen to spend their hard-earned money supporting the Bruins.
"They're lucky having so many championships," Boychuk said. "You don't usually get that anywhere. They're probably a little spoiled right now, especially in the last 10 years. But when they choose us to come watch it means something, though I guess with basketball coming back we'll see how that goes."
The return of the NBA isn't likely to affect the Bruins' crowds too much. This team has formed a strong bond with the community with its style of play, character and personality, not to mention its dedication to worthy causes in the city and surrounding areas.
In turn, the crowd has helped lift the Bruins when they've needed it most.
"Especially when you have a tough shift or anything like that, then you see all these people standing up and cheering and supporting us, it's just phenomenal to see that," Boychuk said. "It makes you want to work harder."
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