For obvious reasons, be it history, or be it recent memory, the Habs are the Bruins’ rivals. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Hate ‘em, hate their guts, hope nothin’ but the bad things in life happen to them and nobody else but them etc. etc.
And a Rivalry is always much more vicious when the home team just can’t seem to put their enemy down. Being bested in spite of themselves, or perhaps because it’s who they are.
Since before the turn of the decade, Boston has largely under-performed against the Canadiens, whether or not they were the better squad. They’ve played the Habs in huge chunks of the season or in less than 4 games all year, and have always had this be a problem for them come the regular season with specific, noted exception (2008). Even in Boston’s cup year, they still couldn’t get over that Bleu, Blanc et Rouge hump in the regular season, posting a 2-3-1 record over 6 games played. Even in a shortened season they couldn’t get a win over Carey Price and his increasingly ineffective bunch of merry men! Even in the fantastic 2013-14 season they could only muster a single win. Believe it or not, last year’s season was the best seasonal record they’ve had against the Canadiens since 2008.
And with all that said, we can say without doubt it is a “team” thing. It isn’t a goalie thing, it isn’t a skater thing, or a defenseman thing, or even a coach thing. For awhile, the simple easiest way to make Boston play down to itself was to be the Montreal Canadiens, regardless of how putrid or how overmatched either side seemed. Be it Carey Price, PK Subban, Paul Byron (for whatever reason), they found a way to make Boston’s life miserable.
And now, the time is right for the trend to take a sudden, abrupt, shift for the Boston Bruins.
The Montreal Canadiens are bad this year. Very bad. Worse than you think and even worse than that. Their possession is nothing to write home about, their defense is haggard, old, and bad at hockey, their number one center is a winger that has absolutely not panned out the way they expected it to, nobody on that team has any more than 23 points and nobody on that team has more than 16 goals. Their saving grace, the luminary goaltender Carey Price, can no longer shoulder the workload, coming in at a paltry .911 in SV%, and averaging around almost three goals against per game. And their backup, Antti Niemi, isn’t looking any better.
They are hurting, they are old, they are gormless and not fun to watch at all. Theory states that naturally, they should murder Boston tomorrow, right?
Yeah, that’s not how things go anymore, dear reader. The 2017-18 Boston Bruins are not like the past decade of Bruins teams. They thrive in situations where they can come back. In fact, since 2017 started, there’s been a slow uptick in the way the B’s handle the Habs. The prospects dealt with them handily in preseason, the most recent game they’ve played against them was a 4-0 bludgeoning. The 2017-18 Bruins handily outshoot and outskate whoever it is they’re playing on most nights, and all four lines can be said to go off at any opportunity. From arguably the best line in hockey taking up the front three to the high-energy, scrappy, responsible fourth line. Nobody is safe from a team that is the best of youth and speed, combined with experience and resilience.
Against a Habs team that is approximately a line and a half deep, the time has never been better for this iteration of the Boston Bruins to finally, at long last, exorcise the Montreal Canadiens from their collective consciousness. Clean the slate, and let them wallow in the fact that if this is going to be Game one on the year between the two?
They should dread the next one. and the one after that.
Go Bruins, I for one hope they beat the Habs so bad they panic trade Galchenyuk to Vegas for Cody Eakin.