By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Bruins need to show they can consistently play well on their home ice at TD Garden. But Thursday night was a nice, big step in that direction.
The Bruins played with a more up-tempo pace and modified offensive attack in their 6-3 win on Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks. For one night, it worked out well – but of course, they need to keep it going so interim head coach Bruce Cassidy’s spark can last more than just one night.
More importantly, the Bruins showed the kind of intensity that has been particularly lacking in their on-ice efforts at home this season. Cassidy was satisfied to see the Bruins finally put forth the kind of effort the team is capable of in their own building.
“I liked that we reestablished some urgency in this building,” Cassidy told reporters after the game, also citing the team’s resiliency in responding to the Sharks. “There’s a whole list of things we can go down, but those I guess are the things that come to mind.”
The win got the Bruins back to .500 at home. Their 13-13 record at TD Garden is still the fourth-worst in the league and they will need to keep producing the kind of efforts you saw on Thursday night to even have a chance of making the playoffs, let alone making any kind of run.
Bruins president Cam Neely touched upon the Bruins’ struggles at home in his Thursday interview with Felger & Mazz, implying that ex-head coach Claude Julien may have been over-thinking the matchups when trying to use home-ice line changes to his advantage. He seems to believe that contributed to the Bruins’ home struggles being more than just an isolated incident.
“I think at home, maybe there’s a little more strategy concerns that may handcuff you a little bit, so to speak,” said Neely. “If it happened for half a season you’d say we just had a bad run at home, but we’re talking about a season-and-a-half now. So you have to ask, ‘Why is that?'”
David Pastrnak admitted that the Bruins felt a sense of urgency to get a win in Cassidy’s first night behind the bench, regardless of location.
“Obviously we came a little more energized and we wanted to get the win for Bruce, the first win so I think we all came a little bit more energized and we did a good job as a team,” said Pastrnak.
The Bruins certainly played with more of a loose, aggressive style, especially in the offensive zone with defensemen making more plays and joining more rushes. The team’s looser playing style could have partially resulted from focusing less on individual matchups, but that is a question that won’t be answered until the Bruins’ next handful of games. It’s up to the players on the ice to show that Cassidy’s systemic changes are sustainable – especially at home.
“I’m going to sleep well tonight but tomorrow’s a new day, we’ll get back to work, and see if we can build on this one,” said Cassidy. “But I mean, yeah, who doesn’t enjoy a win?”
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.