A 200 ft-by-85 ft sheet of ice is the stage for hockey players all around the world. Whether it was just learning to skate or playing their way through college and junior leagues, the surface where they perfect their craft has been a constant.
In the NHL, teams are encouraged by their fans when they play at home. Conversely, teams are told to ignore the home crowd when they play on the road. That is something that really does not need to be said out loud. It is common sense.
There are teams that flat out play better on the road. In the case of the 2010-11 Boston Bruins, they posted a better road record during that season (24-12-5). Those numbers gave the Bruins the third best road record in the Eastern Conference. When they played their home games at the TD Garden that season, they were ranked sixth in the conference with a 22-13-6 home record.
Fast forward to this season. The Bruins posses an impressive 17-7-2 record at home, which is the second best home record in the conference only behind the Washington Capitals. As the season comes down the stretch, it would not hurt to keep improving on this record to make their home ice a tough place to play come postseason.
The Bruins will have to endure another six-game road trip coming up in the month of February. This sounds like a daunting task for some teams, but not for the Black and Gold. Right around this time last season they went on a six-game road trip and walked out with no extra tallies in the loss column. They finished a perfect 6-0-0.
What it comes down to is that when one discusses home ice advantage, there is a point where you need to throw stats and records away. In the minds of professionals, or at least it should be, a sheet of ice is a sheet of ice
Everyone remembered when an injured Nathan Horton dumped some “Boston ice” on the sheet at Rogers Arena in Vancouver two hours before Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. He was later quoted as saying, “Don’t worry boys. It’s our ice now.”
How much of it was psychological? It still really was not their ice despite bringing their own shavings of ice from back home. The Bruins did have great success at home during the Finals, outscoring the Canucks 17-3. At the end of the day, they still had to win the Stanley Cup away from their home ice.
Having the depth and balance to be a successful team both at home and on the road is vital. The question is how many teams can pull it off? The Bruins are sure to be included in that conversation.