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Montreal Canadiens vs. Boston Bruins: The Best Rivalry in the NHL?

Adam GrahamAnalyst IIJanuary 12, 2012

Montreal Canadiens vs. Boston Bruins: The Best Rivalry in the NHL?

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    There are certain teams in sports that will always be rivals. No matter who the players are and what the situation is, there will be hostility.

    The Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins possess one of those rivalries.

    This ongoing war on ice goes back nearly a century and includes countless chapters, but for the sake of this article, only the most recent version of arguably the best rivalry in the NHL shall be discussed.

    As the two teams face off against each other tonight, there’s no better time to review why this modern day rivalry is so epic.

    It’s a mixture of the playoff battles, a multitude of physical wars and a bit of trash talking too.

    The only other current rivalry that even comes close to being as fierce and as hated as this one is the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks rivalry. If you’d like to see the breakdown of that rivalry, you can by clicking here.

    As for the Bruins and Habs, let’s break down in detail why they’re such hated rivals. There’s plenty of video evidence of the bad blood as well to help you relive the memories!

Playoffs

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    There have been some fascinating playoff series between the Canadiens and Bruins over the last four years, all in the first round.

    The most recent rivalry began in 2008 with the Canadiens as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and the Bruins seeded eighth. Despite the difference in the regular season standings, along with Montreal’s regular season dominance of Boston, the Bruins took the Habs all the way to seven games.

    Montreal may have won the series, but Boston played them extremely tough and potentially tired them out for the next series, which they lost to the Philadelphia Flyers.

    Highlights from this series included the mini-brawl in Game 3 that resulted in a spirited fight between Guillaume Latendresse and Shane Hnidy, as well as a back-and-forth Game 6 that included a wild six-goal third period in a 5-4 Bruins victory to force a deciding Game 7.

    Oh, and there was also the booing of the American national anthem by Canadiens fans before Game 7.

    In 2009, the roles were completely reversed. This time Boston was the No. 1 seed and Montreal was the No. 8 seed. The only difference was that this series wasn’t close as the Bruins went on to sweep the Canadiens 4-0, beating them up in a few fights along the way.

    The teams didn’t match up with each other in the 2010 playoffs, but they renewed rivalries in 2011 as the Bruins won a memorable seven-game battle as the No. 3 seed beating the sixth-seeded Canadiens.

    The series featured the road team winning the first four games of the series, Andrew Ference flipping off the Montreal crowd, Milan Lucic getting a game misconduct for hitting Jaroslav Spacek headfirst into the glass and an overtime series-winning goal from Nathan Horton in Game 7. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Physical Destruction

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    There has been no shortage of full-fledged donnybrooks, let alone fights, between these two teams over the last three-and-a-half years.

    The Canadiens have never backed down from the big bad Bruins in that time, and in some cases they’ve even been the aggressors in the teams’ post-whistle altercations.

    Back in the 2007-08 season, Steve Begin committed the first questionable hit in the recent rivalry when he crosschecked Marc Savard from behind, breaking a bone in his back. The irony of this is that Begin would end up switching teams and becoming a Bruin the very next season.

    It’s reminiscent of how Claude Julien coached the Canadiens earlier in the decade before later joining the Bruins.

    The next two seasons saw plenty more fights between the two teams, the most notable being when Milan Lucic knocked out Mike Komisarek and then taunted the Canadiens bench while pumping up the Bruins fans.

    Komisarek kept the bad blood between the two players going when he hit Lucic from behind during the 2009-10 season.

    However, none of this compares to what transpired during the 2010-11 season.

    Max Pacioretty may have planted the seed for what turned out to be a nasty series of Habs and Bruins battles early in 2011 when he shoved Zdeno Chara after scoring an overtime winner on January 8th, 2011.

    Just one month after that game, the Bruins and Canadiens took their rivalry to an even higher level when they hooked up for an all-out blood bath. The video footage for all seven fights, one of which featured goaltenders Tim Thomas and Carey Price, and 187 penalty minutes can be viewed here.

    However, on March 8th, things turned ugly when Chara ran Pacioretty’s head into the metal partition between the benches. The hit knocked Pacioretty unconscious and caused a criminal investigation by the Montreal police.

    Nothing anywhere near that serious has taken place between the two teams so far this season, but that doesn’t mean it won’t in the future. We just hope the bad blood doesn’t cause any serious injuries like it did for Pacioretty.

Trash Talk

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    The war of words between the Canadiens and the Bruins has mainly revolved around the Chara hit on Pacioretty.

    While Pacioretty was disgusted at the NHL for not suspending Chara, Bruins forward Mark Recchi took a different approach when he implied that Pacioretty embellished the injury.

    Bruins pest Brad Marchand has also taken some shots at the Canadiens, most notably when he referred to them as divers, ironically before the same game that Pacioretty got taken out by Chara.

    Of course, the majority of trash talk between these two teams has come on the ice. The talk through the media has simply been an acknowledgment of what we already know.

    They hate each other!

    What’s even better, though, is that they’ve had the chance to vent their frustrations with each other in the playoffs for three of the last four years!

    Is it the best rivalry in the NHL?

    It’s hard to say. Certainly it comes down to either this one or the rivalry between the Canucks and Blackhawks. I’ll be doing a rivalry comparison later this month, so watch out for it.

    In the meantime, enjoy the game tonight.

     

    Follow Adam Graham on Twitter

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