Two years ago, they finished just one game over .500 at the Garden, losing 10 straight at home at one point in the middle of the season. Last year, the struggles continued until the Bruins closed with a 7-1-3 mark in their final 11 home games, then carried that over into the playoffs when they won 10 of their final 11 home games after dropping the first two in the opening round against Montreal.
The problems at home appeared to be back at the start of this year, though, with Boston dropping five of their first seven at the garden as part of a 3-7-0 October. With no margin for error as they found themselves close to digging a hole too deep to get out of entering a stretch of six more home games over their next seven.
So what do the Bruins do? They go out and win all seven, including a perfect 5-0-0 homestand capped by Thursday night's 2-1 shootout win over Columbus.
"It's important, especially with the way things started," said Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid, who scored Boston's lone goal in regulation. "When we had this homestand we had no choice but to string together some wins to get ourselves into the position we want to be in."
The 5-0-0 run at the Garden was the Bruins' first sweep of a homestand of at least five games since 1986.
"You always want to win at home too," McQuaid said. "You have your fans behind you and you want to put a good product on the ice. And you want to make it a tough place to play. You want teams to come into your building knowing it's going to be a difficult place to play."
Thursday's game was difficult for both teams. Columbus carries the worst record in the league at 3-13-2 and hasn't won a road game since last March. But the Blue Jackets gave the Bruins all they could handle for 65-plus minutes before goals by Rich Peverley and David Krejci and two saves by Tuukka Rask lifted Boston to the shootout win.
"That wasn't our best game but like I said it's going to happen throughout the course of the year," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said. "Sometimes you're going to play better than the other team and you're going to come out on the losing side and the opposite is true too, and tonight is probably one of them. It was one of those nights we got a little lucky getting the two [points] but we found a way."
The Bruins have been finding a lot of ways to win throughout this seven-game run. The first five featured offensive outbursts every night with Boston averaging six goals a game. Then on Tuesday they rallied in the third to eke out a 4-3 victory in a see-saw affair with the Devils.
Thursday night wasn't pretty, but they managed to get the two points and that was all the Bruins really cared about.
"It was a little sloppy and I think the speed wasn't there like it's been for the last few games," said defenseman Andrew Ference, who returned after missing two games with a lower-body injury. "There’s games that are like that. But we talked about that even between periods they're not all going to be great and pretty and the way they're drawn up, but the way we started the season, we just need the points. We're not going to care how we get them as we get on in the season."
The Bruins are back on track thanks to this homestand. They've recovered much of the ground they lost in their brutal October and they have much of their swagger back. Opponents know once again that they're not in for an easy night against the reigning Cup champs, especially not on Boston's home ice.
But it wasn't all about just winning at home. It was more about getting back to Bruins hockey, no matter where they are playing.
"I don't know if it's the homestand, actually more than it's we've kind of turned our game around and realized what kind of hole we were in, and still are as a matter of fact," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "It'll be good to go on the road. It'll be a good test for us, but I liked the fact that we were 2-5 for a while [at home] and we've managed to get ourselves back to being a better team at home and certainly want a better record, and we wanted to make our place not such a comfortable place to play in for opposing teams."
The Bruins now begin a three-game road trip Saturday at the New York Islanders, and they'll have to find a way to maintain this level of play away from the comforts of home and the support of the garden faithful.
"We talked about it before when we were looking at the schedule we had and that was the goal and now we accomplished it," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said of the perfect homestand. "But that's not exactly how we were looking at it when we started playing those five games at home or the six of [the last] seven games we played at home. We were thinking one game at a time and our goal was to [get] as many points as possible and we got all of them, so now we have to set a new goal and we're going to have to be playing probably a little bit at home and on the road so we can't be satisfied, we just have to keep going."