For the last Bruins-Canadiens game, everyone's favorite Habs fan theactivestick from Eyes on the Prize and I teamed up to ask some important questions of each other about our two teams. This time, we've decided to talk rivalry: aka, how ours is better than everyone else's. Here's Laura's side of things. This is ours. Look, we just love to hate each other, and no one holds a candle to it.
There’s been a lot of talk about rivalries lately with NBCSN’s introduction of Wednesday Night Rivalry Night (which I think is a great concept, but perhaps needs better execution) and the discussed plans for the NHL’s realignment. It seems rivalries are all the rage. Some rivalries might be splitting up, and it seems like the NHL is trying to generate new ones. That's all well and good, but truthfully, I don’t have much to think about in the rivalry department. There's no question; I’ve only got my angry eyes for one team. You know who they are. Them! No other team has given me more joy through hatred and no team gets under my skin more than them.
Maybe I’m closed minded. Then again, maybe not - our pals over at Eyes on the Prize were recently given a little guff for not really considering the Leafs their rivals. So I threw it out there on twitter: who do you consider a rival of the Boston Bruins? The answers were all over the map! Leafs, Sabres, Rangers, Flyers, Carolina, Pittsburgh, Vancouver.
But here’s the deal - none of these hold a candle to what we have with THEM.
Think about it: Game 7s, devastating playoff losses and amazing playoff wins, dives, unintentional birds, 911 calls. Goalie fights. It all really has the makings of a weird cult hockey movie like Slap Shot or Goon.
Even when one of the teams is bad, there’s only one thing both fan bases can be sure of - the game will be fun and competitive. The record book largely goes out the window - these teams don't get it up for anyone like they get it up for each other. It’s circled on the schedule before anything else. Travel plans are made, game watching activities are established ahead of time.
They say familiarity breeds contempt - the Bruins and the Habs have played each other more than any team. No teams have more game sevens against each other under their belt.
Truthfully, I could never hate any team the way I love to hate Le Blue Blanc et Rouge. I can’t. 2003-2004 was my first legitimate heartbreak at the hands of the Boston Bruins. All season long, they played unbelievable hockey, then were matched up in 2 vs 7 first round against the Habs. After going up 3-1 in the series, and the Bruins blew it. It’s the first time I left a game in the midst of an epic foul mouthed rant that would make a sailor blush. How could the Bruins not show up in that game? It was game 7! I probably would have been upset if it was anyone else, but because it was THEM - ugh my stomach STILL turns thinking about it. It was something that just stuck with me. I still shiver when I see Mike Ribiero laying on the ice - no really I still get upset.
Then there’s the matter of a coach - because of that series I couldn’t look at Claude Julien. I didn’t know what the Bruins were thinking when they hired him. But now I can’t imagine living without him.
2007-2008 was a great time for the Bruins, they were "back" according to some. But ownership finally reacted to losing his season ticket base and declining revenues and they began to see results of the team they were now building. Sneaking into the playoffs was a relief, until we found out the opponent would be THEM. The Bruins put in a great effort and that Game Six in the Garden with the eventual game winner scored by Marco Sturm was the loudest I’d ever heard a building to that point. My husband the Caps fan was going to his first ever playoff game and turned to celebrate with me to find that I’d climbed a couple rows back to hug my friends in the back row. It wasn’t anything against him, it’s just he didn’t know. It wasn’t any OT winner to keep from being eliminated, it was over THEM. Unfortunately they fell hard in MTL and all small hopes of continuing were dashed.
There was something special about turning the lights out on Montreal's Centennial celebration (but I’m pretty sure they are still celebrating!) in a 4 game sweep in the 2009 playoffs. The same way there was something missing when the Bruins didn’t get a shot of the Habs in 2010. Winning in 2011 wouldn’t have been the same if the Bruins didn’t go through THEM. Of course it took seven games and overtime. Because it’s never really easy when these teams play. I love it and I hate it all at the same time. They are the only team to invoke swearing fits, joy and even tears (I didn’t handle the idea of a game seven against them well in 2011, but it worked out ok in the end.)
It continues on in the shortened season, and I’m mad to have missed out on the chance for the Bruins to play THEM 5 or 6 times this season because it seems like it’s never enough. Something tells me we’ll see them again in the playoffs this season. I’ll be nauseous and it’ll be awesome.
Sorry Leafs, Flyers, and whomever else....you just don’t have that with us.