The Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens are the best rivalry in hockey. Sometimes there are others that pop up and make those who do not follow these two teams closely question why it is said so often. Toronto and Ottawa, Edmonton and Calgary, New York and New Jersey, Pittsburgh and Washington. The NHL is at its best when rivalries are front and centre. Then nights like February 9, 2011 happen to silence the conversation.
The fight-and-goal-filled “Beantown Beatdown” sent shock-waves through the hockey-world as two defensive-minded teams combined for 14 goals and hundreds of penalty minutes. The Bruins exacted revenge over their rivals winning on the score sheet and the fight sheet, finally giving their fans something to cheer about after the Habs had continually beat the Bruins in recent regular season play.
Those expecting a repeat performance tonight however, will likely leave disappointed. The reason is simple – there is far too much on the line.
With 2 points tonight the Bruins will share 1st place in the Eastern Conference with Philadelphia (with Philly holding a game in hand). 2 points for the Canadiens would have them trailing Tampa by a single point for 5th, and would see them 2 behind Pittsburgh for 4th. If the Canadiens seek home ice advantage in the playoffs – beating the Bruins tonight would be a huge first step.
Though many Habs fans would like to see the Canadiens avenge their loss with a tit-for-tat beatdown of the Bruins, its far more likely that we’ll see a tightly contested game played largely in the neutral zone with both teams relying on great goaltending. The 2 points are just FAR too important at this late juncture of the season for either team to lose focus on the score.
Here’s hoping the Habs can pot the first one and set the tone early. Boston will try to come out physically, so some quick passes and hard skating may be able to break down their defense.
Go Habs Go!!!