When a team is struggling to find itself, with players struggling to get their legs under them and get comfortable with each other, you get games like the Bruins' last home game.
When a team is coming together, you get games like Tuesday night's, a 6-0 thumping of the Arizona that saw all four lines firing on all cylinders.
The postgame atmosphere in the Bruins' locker room was one of rampant, if tempered, positivity. To a man, the Bruins cited confidence, trust and comfort as contributing factors to the Bruins' first home win of the season.
"All the new faces that were maybe hesitating at first are now feeling more comfortable and more confident with what they need to do and when you take hesitation out of your game everybody on the ice benefits from it," said head coach Claude Julien. "I think guys are a little more assertive in all areas, whether it’s defensively or offensively, and guys are starting to feel more comfortable."
A dysfunctional start to the season was easy to anticipate, especially given the number of new faces. However, those new faces are starting to get it together, according to Brad Marchand.
"I think the first few games we were trying to figure out what our team was going to be and what we were going to be like, and I think now we kind of are starting to figure out our identity and the things that we need to work on to be a better team," he said. "We’re trying to improve everyday. The last four games, five games have been really good. We’ve got to be happy with how we’ve been playing and just want to keep it going now."
One man who would benefit greatly from a more cohesive team is Tuukka Rask, who stopped 22 shots for his first shutout of the season. When asked if he sensed a change in the team in front of him, Rask echoed his coach's comments.
"Watching that Islanders game, after the first period, we really got it together and we looked tight out there and the same thing today, so it’s really good," said Rask. "Everybody feels confident...I think we’re playing that team defense."
It's hard to blame the players for feeling confident when they've got David Krejci on their side. The NHL's second-leading scorer kept up his torrid pace with two more goals, briefly regaining the NHL scoring lead before Jamie Benn's three-assist night for the Dallas Stars.
"Give him the puck and good things are going to happen," said Torey Krug. "He’s a guy that always wants the puck and that’s what confident players do, that’s what the best players in the NHL do."
Despite already matching his goal output from the entirety of last season, Krejci isn't getting ahead of himself.
"I don’t really care," he said. "I mean, it’s always nice when the puck goes in the net and when you see those points, but it’s a pretty good feeling that we’ve won [four of five] games. It’s a good feeling in the room, we’ve just got to keep it rolling."
Two newer faces made big contributions last night as well, with Brett Connolly scoring once and Jimmy Hayes scoring once and chipping in two assists.
Connolly praised his new linemates, giving them some credit for his recent run of good play.
"Those are two guys that are very consistent they work hard every shift and you got to match that every shift," he said. "They’re two guys that have been in the league a long time and won. Two guys I obviously look up to and I want to give them my best game every time I’m on the ice. It’s helped me for sure playing with those guys."
Hayes expressed a sense of relief at the team getting their first home win of the season.
"It’s a big thing...you want to get that first win and you know it’s a city that expects wins so you have to continue to be there every night," he said. "You have to compete and you have to continue to make this place a tough place to play."
If the Bruins can bottle the team-wide sense of confidence and comfort, the Garden should continue to be a tough place to play for opposing teams to visit.
"The team has got some confidence," said Hayes. "We’re playing a much more simple game - north, south, stingy type game - and that’s what we’re going to beat teams with."
Music to Claude's ears, and a relief for Bruins fans: for the first time it what seems like ages, these Bruins like where they're at, but are even more excited about where they're headed.