Take out the highly entertaining seven-game playoff series in the opening round of the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs and there hasn’t been much excitement in hockey’s greatest rivalry over the past few seasons, but after Sunday’s intense playoff-like first place battle it looks like the rivalry has been reignited once again.
Looking at it from both sides it’s the perfect rivalry as each team has their heroes, and each team has their villains. Bruins fans love to hate P.K. Subban, but when in Montreal Subban can do no wrong. In Boston, Bruins fans love Brad Marchand, ask fans up north in Montreal what they think of Marchand and you’re bound to hear a few expletives, but that’s what makes this rivalry fun.
Then you have the fans. Canadiens fans bleed Montreal hockey, it’s all they have. They call themselves the best fans in hockey, and honestly it’s hard to disagree, even with them begging for a call every time someone looks at a Canadiens player the wrong way.
Bruins fans are tough, beer-guzzling bullies who certainly get going when the Le Blue Blanc et Rouge hit the Garden ice, and get going even more every time a Hab takes a spill as in their eyes it’s obviously a dive. It’s a perfect clash of two complete opposite fan bases that only helps add fuel to the fire in the historic rivalry.
Take a look at the play on the ice and it’s clear these two teams just don’t like each other. Everything from crazy game-seven’s to Zdeno Chara’s 2011 hit on Max Pacioretty to the Carey Price vs. Tim Thomas “fight” to Claude Julien calling out the Habs for “embellishing”, this rivalry has had it all, and then some.
Flip back the calendar to a year ago, the Bruins were defending their first Stanley Cup championship in 39 years and the Montreal Canadiens were well on their way to dead last in the Eastern Conference, but hockey just wasn’t the same because that extra spark that is usually there when these two teams meet was just not there.
Sunday night the Habs traveled into Boston with first place in the East on the line as both teams hit the ice with 30 points on the season. Even though the game didn’t go the way the Bruins and their fans would have liked, it was Bruins/Habs hockey at its finest.
Let’s face it folks, hockey is better when the Bruins and Habs are good, and luckily for all of us, both teams are good, they’re both very good.
Sunday’s tilt had it all. Back-and-forth goals, fights, dives—by both teams—big saves, and some controversy that always seems to surround these two historic franchises.
If you’re to take anything away from this game, here it is. After maybe taking a back seat to the extremely exciting Penguins/Flyers rivalry, the Bruins/Habs are back as the league’s best rivalry.
“Yeah, obviously it’s fun in rivalries. Those are always the best games” said Canadiens tough guy Brandon Prust who is getting his first taste of the Bruins/Habs rivalry.
“There is a lot of energy in here. They are fun games and the rivalry is kind of ignited again tonight.”
Bruins rookie defensemen Dougie Hamilton who scored in the loss is starting to enjoy the rivalry.
“Yeah, I was kind of excited for it and I think it was pretty fun and with our fans on our side, so I thought it was a pretty fun game, just unfortunate that we lost it in the third” said Hamilton.
Barring something crazy it looks like we have a dog fight on our hands as these two should remain neck and neck all season in the race for the Northeast Division. The two talented clubs meet again on March 27 in Boston.