By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Its tough to tell whether the Bruins' early season schedule is an advantage, or a path fraught with difficulty.
It was originally thought the Bs schedule for this season was an effort to counter-balance last years long-distance trip to the Czech Republic, and Boston would this season enjoy the home cooking consistent with playing 13 of its first 17 games at TD Garden.
It would make things easier for the Bruins over the first six weeks of the season, and there is an argument to be made that is true. The Bruins dont travel any further West than Chicago for any of the four road games during that six week span, and should have ample time to recover from the short, two-month offseason.
Its always nice to start off at home and kind of ease into the season a little bit, said Patrice Bergeron. Those are going to be some huge points. Putting together big point totals at home can help you quite a bit during the season, and put you in a good or bad position for the rest of the year.
Were aware that there are going to be home games that were not going to get at the end of the season. We need to take advantage of it.
Of course there is the opposite effect at the end of the season that Bergeron alluded to with the Bruins playing 11 of their final 19 games on the road, with a West Coast trip shoe-horned into the final few weeks of the regular season for good measure.
That should be a challenging trip through time zones as the Bruins are making preparations for a lush and long-lasting playoff run, but Bs management is really reserving opinion on what the schedule means for them.
This seasons schedule is really the reverse of so many for the Bruins in recent memory.
Normally the Black and Gold have embarked on a long road trip in the first few weeks of the season once the circus arrives at TD Garden, and that long road trip was always used as a team-bonding experience forging together any new elements to the squad.
That preseason team-bonding trip to clandestine New England spots has essentially taken the place of that long road trip, but there is truly something to be said for a long stretch away from home early in the season that forces hockey players to come together.
Its probably more than a coincidence that the last three Stanley Cup champions have all started the season as participants in the Premiere Games in Europe but that wont be the case for the Bs this season.
It seems if we had a lot of road games weve talked about that in the past being an advantage because youre able to bond, said general manager Peter Chiarelli. Thats certainly something weve discussed as a group. I dont think its a disadvantage. Its just the way the schedule sets out.
I think its just something that at the end of the year the latter third of the year and into the playoffs we were a really good home team. So you could look at it both ways.
As Chiarelli alluded to, theres also the simple fact that the Bruins struggled on home ice for the first half of last year and that it wasnt always rainbows and sunshine despite the 22-13-6 home ice record to end last season.
The Bs will need to shake off the hangover thoughts, burst out of the starting gate and dominate at home early in the season if they hope to make things easy on themselves in a year rife with challenges.
Theres no place like home, and thats truer this season for the Bruins than its ever been before.