But in a league that has ballooned to 30 teams, scheduling two rivals to host each other in back-to-back games has become a rarity in the current NHL.
The Bruins play just four home-and-home sets this season, and one of those consisted of back-to-back neutral site matchups with Phoenix in Prague to start the season. Boston doesn’t actually play any home-and-home series with a true rival from their division, but this week’s clashes with Carolina come pretty close.
The Hurricanes are chasing the Bruins, among other teams, for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and they do have some recent playoff history with Carolina eliminating top-seeded Boston in overtime of Game 7 in the second round in 2009.
“They were doing real well before [Monday]’s game so obviously they’re going to want to bounce back,” said Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron. “And we know they’re pretty good in their building and they’re a team that never quits. You know we’ve seen it two years ago.”
Carolina also has some deeper history with the region, with its heritage as the Hartford Whalers before moving south. And the Bruins and the Whale certainly had plenty of home-and-home battles while they were less-than-neighborly New England neighbors.
Some of that old hostility could be reborn on Tuesday after the Bruins put a 7-0 spanking on the Hurricanes at the garden Monday afternoon. Carolina will be out for some revenge back on its home turf in Raleigh on Tuesday night.
“We got buried pretty good,” Carolina captain Eric Staal said after Monday’s loss. “We got embarrassed. I’m glad we get a chance to redeem ourselves [Tuesday] night.”
Carolina coach Paul Maurice agreed.
“It’s important for our team to answer back, show some character,” he noted.
The Bruins expect the Hurricanes to play a heck of a lot better in the rematch.
“The team we played [Monday] is a really good team,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “They had an off night. Having an off night happens in this league. … We’ve got to be wary of them coming back really hard [Tuesday]. We got to be well prepared like we were [Monday]. You can’t ask for more. You have to ask your team to be as prepared as they were [Monday]. The one thing that’s going to happen is you’re going to have an opponent that’s more determined and a lot better than they were [Monday]. So instead of a 7-0 game, you’re going to have a much different game. If we’re not ready for that, then the same thing could happen to us.”
The younger Bruins haven’t played in many home-and-home series, at least not at the NHL level, but even newcomers to the league have an idea what to expect.
“Well I guess it’s kind of like the playoff-type feeling, where you’re playing the same team back to back,” Bruins rookie defenseman Adam McQuaid said. “Things can carry over from games, so obviously they’re not going to be happy with how things went. They’re going to come out hard [Tuesday], so we got to make sure we come out with the same effort that we did [Monday].”
The Bruins know that while some bad feelings from Monday’s blowout could carry over, the score does not.
“It’s the same team, but it’s a whole new game,” Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. “I’m sure they’ll be prepared back home in their building. They’re tough to play against in that building.”