Here we go. Bruins and Canadiens. It’s not hockey’s oldest rivalry, but it’s hockey’s best rivalry. Often times in rivalries, you get two teams that are mirror images of each other, but with this one, it’s about philosophy. It’s about two very different approaches to building winning hockey teams. The Canadiens are about speed and skill, about capitalizing on the other teams penalties, and drawing as many penalties as possible. The Bruins are about grit and toughness, about capitalizing on the other teams mistakes, and making them pay. Habs fans think the Bruins are a bunch of meatheaded goons who would rather fight that score, and Bruins fans think the Habs are a bunch of diving weasels. Whenever the two teams meet, it gets ugly, and I expect nothing less in this second round playoff series.
The faces have changed, but the rivalry keeps going. Gone are the days of Eddie Shore or Maurice Richard or Bobby Orr or Ken Dryden or Terry O’Reilly or Guy LaFleur or Cam Neely or Patrick Roy or Ray Bourque or Saku Koivu or Tim Thomas or Mike Cammalleri or Andrew Ference or Hal Gill, but Milan Lucic, Alexei Emelin, Brad Marchand, Brian Gionta, Johnny Boychuk, P.K. Subban, Zdeno Chara, and Max Paccioretty have filled those skates quite nicely.
There are two great goaltenders in this series in Tuukka Rask and Carey Price. Rask earned a Bronze Medal in net with Finland, and Price won the Gold with Canada with a Claude Julien coached defense in front of him. I give the B’s a slight advantage in net. The Habs have better scorers on their roster in the form of Max Pacioretty and Thomas Vanek, but the Bruins have quality depth and can generate scoring chances with all four lines. David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and Carl Soderberg are not the great scorers that the guys Montreal has are, but they can spread the puck around.
I will of course be writing more as the series goes on, but in the meantime, I just want the games to get going. As soon as the puck drops, there will be a dozen more reasons for Bruins fans to hate the Habs. Let’s get going.