The Bruins and Celtics are both struggling at TD Garden this year making it a home with no advantage. The Bruins and Celtics have a lot in common. They both have rosters good enough to make the playoffs. They’re both likely going to be bottom tier playoff teams with the possibility of winning a round. They both lack a superstar that gives the team an identity within the league. You could make an argument that Patrice Bergeron does that for the Bruins. The Celtics clearly don’t have that. With all of these similarities, the one that is the most odd is their inability to play well at home.
The Bruins currently rank 27th out of 32 teams in the NHL in home record. Their record at TD Garden stands at 11-13-2. On the road, they’re 15-5-3 which is 3rd in the league. They consistently beat good teams on the road and they continue to play very poorly at home. This was evident in Tuesday’s Night’s loss to the Anaheim Ducks. The Bruins looked like they were ready for the All-Star Break and they played like it.
The Celtics are currently 13-10 at home. That doesn’t sound like a bad home record, but it in the NBA it’s not good for a team that’s currently 5th in the Eastern Conference. There is no professional sports league that has a greater home advantage than the NBA. The Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs have combined for a 47-0 home record this season. You simply do not see that type of home dominance in other sports. Yet, the Celtics sit there at 13-10. Their road record is almost identical at 13-11. It hasn’t really mattered where they play.
So, why don’t the Bruins and Celtics have an advantage at home like most other good teams do? Is it that they are actually over-performing on the road? Is it that they get too comfortable and expect to win at home which is causing a let down? Are they more focused on the road than at home? All of these are legitimate questions.
Last Thursday Night, the Bruins played the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden. This was a matchup of two solid teams who are contending for playoff spots. While this certainly was not the game of the year at TD Garden, it was a good matchup of two teams who have some history after their historic Stanley Cup Final five years ago. Yes, it’s been five years! The game was close for the most part. The Bruins ended up losing 4-2. Over the course of the game, there were three times where there were legitimate cheers that were noticeable from the crowd. As you would expect, two of them were when the Bruins scored. The third was a “Let’s Go Bruins!” chant towards the end of the second period. Outside of that, there was not much cheering. There wasn’t a lot of energy in the building.
On the flip side, you can look at the opposite approach for the Bruins vs. Canadiens Game on New Year’s Day. The Winter Classic brought over 65,000 hockey fans together. This was a game where there were more Bruins fans in one setting in history. Fans were excited. There was a lot of energy from everyone…except the Boston Bruins. The Bruins came out flat and delivered an all-time dud. The Bruins have defeated the Canadiens twice in Montreal in the past two months. On this day, they were dominated at home…again.
The good news is that the Bruins and Celtics are both good road teams and that will bode well should they make the playoffs. If they plan on playing into the peak of spring, both of these teams will need to find ways to win games against good teams at home. There’s no question that they will have the crowd support. It’s Boston and it’s the playoffs. It will surely be different. They’ll need to do a better job of feeding off the energy.
Let’s hope spring brings some new hope for growth to this Garden!