BOSTON — The Bruins, like every sports team, set out goals at the beginning of the season. Some of those goals are obvious. You want to make the playoffs, win the division, win the Stanley Cup and so on. Some are a little more vague, though.
Like the Bruins’ preseason vow to make TD Garden a tough place to play for opposing teams. That’s something the club set out to do when the season started, and it has done that through just about the halfway point of the home schedule. The Bruins beat Buffalo 4-1 on Saturday night at the Garden, and in the process, they improved an already solid standing on home ice.
The win puts the Bruins at 15-3-2 at home on the season, a campaign that is rapidly reaching the midway point. The win over the Sabres is Boston’s seventh home victory in a row. They’re now 12-0-2 in their last 14 home games, with their last regulation loss in Boston coming all the way back on Oct. 26 against the New Jersey Devils. The B’s have now gone 14 games without a regulation loss at home for the first time since Oct. 25, 2008 through Jan. 1, 2009.
“Well I guess as you win more games, the more confidence you get,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said after his team’s win. “We talked about making sure this year that our building wouldn’t be an easy building to come in here and take away two points. So our guys have done a real good job of creating that situation. So right now it’s a matter of trying to create a little bit more of that on the road and we’re working on that.”
Tuukka Rask has been themain beneficiary of that home dominance between the pipes, as the goalie is now 12-3-2 on Garden ice this season, with a goals against average way under 2.00 and a save percentage of .945
“Every season we start talking about it — how to create that atmosphere and get the fans in it and be a tough team to play against at home because you’re always disappointed when you lose the home games,” Rask said. “This season we’ve been able to win a lot of games at home and it’s huge going forward.”
The Bruins have certainly given the home crowd plenty to cheer about this season. The Garden is not an easy place to play, but that’s mostly because the team occupying the home bench is pretty darn good. Still, the Bruins are using the home-heavy schedule to their advantage. Dominant home play has allowed Boston to stay away from any sort of long losing streaks, and a home date has also been what’s been able to help turn them around. In home games following a road loss, the Bruins are now 6-0-1.
” That’s what you try to do every year,” B’s forward Milan Lucic said. “You want to make your building a tough one to play in and the crowd’s been great. They’ve helped out a lot so far throughout the year.”
“And on the other hand I think we’re 9-7 on the road, so if we can clean that part up and get points on the road, we can move ahead in the standings but definitely want to do whatever we can in our power to make this a tough place to play.”
If the Bruins can start to win games on the road with anywhere close to the frequency they’re doing so in their friendly Causeway Street confines, they’re going to get even better, which is a scary thought for anyone who’s had to try to beat them at home this year.