Reaching into the most intense stories of rivalry, when hockey is at its best, when there is nothing left than hate, no compassion, no pity: tonight’s the night Hockey fans, the “Forever Rivals” will meet again.
We have been waiting exactly 65 days to have a match-up; expecting nonetheless that the players would pick up right where they left.
On November 8th 2008, Toronto dropped Montreal like a sack of potatoes with a final score of 6-3. The Canadiens were outplayed in all the aspects of the game and that was Guy Carbonneau’s “most embarrassing game as a coach.”
For Toronto, beating the Habs once is nice, twice is better; at the Bell Center, it is better and spicier.
Time to avenge that hit on Mike Van Ryn, time to avenge those jokes about Stanley cup’s black and white photos, time to avenge the na-na-na goodbye chants last year, as Montreal ended up first in the East while Toronto wouldn’t clinch the playoffs.
Put aside the 692 games of hate, put aside the day Toronto eliminated Montreal from a playoff spot two years ago, put aside Darcy Tucker and Alex Kovalev’s brawl; it will be one of those very special games for one specific player at least: Mikhail Grabovski.
For the first time since he was traded, the young Byelorussian will hit the ice at the Bell Center, looking forward to show those 21,973 fans (who will certainly boo him), that the organization made a terrible mistake.
On the other hand, for Montreal, it is time to avenge specifically that sad day of November watching Grabovski pointing at the scoreboard with a smile, late in the third period.
It has reached the limits of the bearable for both the Montreal fans and Sergei Kostitsyn. “I have a long memory, we will meet again” he said after that game.
Montreal completely lacked character that night, character and skating.
There should be nothing to add to motivate those players tonight. After all, it is not any team, it is the Toronto Maple Leafs!
Enjoy the game!