Games between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins are typically very exciting ones. On Tuesday night, the Canadiens dominated the ice as they faced off against the Bruins in their playoff matchup. The two teams are long time enemies, their rivalry is unique, and few NHL teams can say that they hate each other with as much passion as Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.
While the two teams had originally begun playing against each other in 1924, the rivalry did not grow until 1952, when the Canadiens eliminated Bruins after the seventh game of the semifinal. The Canadiens’ Maurice Richard, better known as “Rocket” Richard, received an injury to his head but quickly returned, scoring the game-winning goal of the series. Both teams are rich in history and between 1946 and 1987, they had faced each other 18 times during the playoffs. This was a time when the Canadiens were a dynasty and seemed unbeatable. Yet in 1988, the tables have turned, and the Boston Bruins took the lead by winning 7 playoff rounds of the 11 times the two teams faced off.
In 2011, the rivalry was re-ignited after several seasons of peace. During a regular season game, Zdeno Chara, a Bruins defenseman, drove Canadien forward Max Pacioretty head first into the stanchion. The impact resulted in cracked vertebrae for Pacioretty and it was unclear if he would ever play hockey again. The act and resulting outrage from the Canadien fanbase forced the NHL to take measures to prevent such injuries in the future by padding the stanchions between benches, but Chara was never disciplined for his actions by the league.
Now in 2014, the two rival teams face off once again. The first game was intense, both teams leaving it all on the ice. With a 4-3 win in the overtime, Montreal took the series lead. Their main strength was Carey Price. The goalie stood as a wall, making great saves that matched his performance in the Sochi Olympics. “Carey gave us a chance to win tonight. It wasn”t our best game. He held us in and made some huge saves for us. We’re fortunate to come out on top, and it’s a big win for us,” praised his teammate and Canadiens captain Brian Gionta.
When the teams faced off again on Saturday, everything seemed to go in favor of the Canadiens when they grabbed a 3-1 lead over Bruins. However, everything changed in the third period, when the Bruins scored twice in the period, tying the game with just over five minutes left in regulation. For anyone watching, it seemed like there would be another OT game, but the Bruins had other plans. Boston is one of the best teams in the NHL when it comes to playing in the third period, and just minutes after tying the game, they scored the game-winner. This tied the playoff series at 1-1, leaving Montreal Canadiens fans upset at the loss, but optimistic of their team’s chances as they returned home.
When Boston and Montreal faced off again on Tuesday, both teams looked refreshed. From the start, it was clear that the Canadiens had polished up their play. They were more physical and had created more chances to get the puck to the back of the net. The Bruins again attempted to come back at the end of the third period, as the deja vu continued for the two teams. With a 3-1 Canadiens lead late in the third period, the Bruins scored to bring the game to within one. Yet they were robbed of their chance to tie the game when Lars Eller scored an empty net goal to seal the 4-2 victory. The Canadiens currently lead the series 2-1, but with historic rivalry between the two teams, anything can happen.
Commentary by Ivelina Kunina