(Photo: Alan Sullivan)
Thursday night the Boston Bruins will play their home opener of the 2016-17 season at TD Garden. Last season, home ice was anything but an advantage to the Black and Gold, making for a frustrating year for their fans.
The Bruins come into this first home game of the season bringing a 2-1-0 record from their three-game road trip. They will be the first to admit that their efforts against the Toronto Maple Leafs, to whom they lost, were no where near what they needed to be, but from a bonding experience, this small road trip may reap rewards in the remaining games in October, giving them perhaps a boost to build from at home.
“It’s a big thing, because now, you know, we don’t have to play at home and put on a show for our fans,” Torey Krug told me of starting the season on the road. “We can get away from Boston for a bit where you’re going to dinner with the guys on the team and you’re spending time in the hotel. Hanging out in the locker room a little bit more, so, it’s a big time for the team to come together and build that camaraderie and that chemistry. It’s important to start on the road, and hopefully it will be beneficial to us.”
I couldn’t help asking Krug though what it was about playing in front of their fans that made them feel they had to “put on a show.” Had they ever just thought about going out and simply playing a game?
“Yeah, we talk about it all the time, you know, being back at home for home stands, that you don’t have to put on a show. That it’s just about going out and playing hockey the way that we know,” he shared. “It’s just for whatever reason, it’s one of those things in sports that you can’t explain.”
I’ll be the first to admit that there is a palpable energy that fills the arena in anticipation of the team stepping on the ice. And as the Bruins rush out of their tunnel pouring forth in that single line to begin their laps before the game, the crowd’s electricity crackles, finally breaking free into raucous clapping and cheering.
“When the fans get excited, when there’s a play like a two-on-one or something, you try to make a pretty play, [whereas] when you’re on the road you might just go down and shoot it and it ends up scoring a goal,” Krug tried to articulate. “There’s little things you just can’t explain, but for awhile we were so good at home and the last couple of years it’s definitely taken a dip. But we look to get back to using it to our advantage and making sure that when teams come to the Garden that it’s a tough night for them.”
That first opportunity presents itself Thursday night as the New Jersey Devils come in having gone 1-1-1 so far in their opening three games—losing on the road in overtime to the Florida Panthers and in regulation to the Tampa Bay Lightning before getting a win at home against the Anaheim Ducks.
The Bruins will be looking to garner the two points and from everything that has been said in the last couple of days it looks probable that Patrice Bergeron will be back in the lineup, which is always a bonus for the guys in black and gold.