Remember way back when the Bruins last defeated the Canadiens in the regular season?
Yeah, neither do I... I can hardly remember what I did last weekend, let alone what happened in March of 2007.
Still, the Bruins keep coming back for more... and yet, of late, these match-ups have proven less and less preordained and much more interesting.
Boston gave Montreal a very rude awakening last spring, dragging them to a deciding game 7 of their opening round playoff series after losing all 8 regular season games to les Glorieux (most of them convincingly). The two teams followed a similar arc in their first encounter this season, with Montreal jumping out to an early 3-0 lead then hanging on for dear life as they defeated the Bruins 4-3 in a shootout.
To say the Habs and Bruins don't get along would be an understatement... anybody who believes Montreal/Toronto currently amount to anything remotely resembling a true rivalry obviously has not seen a Habs/Bruins game in the last couple years.
The whole thing really goes to show, overloading the schedule with intra-divisional matches has very little to do with generating rivalries in the NHL (which was the league's justification for having to bear 8 games a year against the Leafs); playoff battles (especially long ones) are what make teams genuinely dislike each other. Montreal upended a heavily favoured Boston squad in the first rounds of both the 2002 and 2004 playoffs (in 6 and 7 games, respectively), then defeated the 8th seed Bruins in 7 games last year.
Bad blood abounds in these matchups, fueled most recently by animosity between Shawn Thornton and Steve Bégin (after fracturing Marc Savard's back last season) and subsequently Thornton and Georges Laraque (who are very likely to rekindle their love affair this evening).
Need more cause for fireworks? You've also got Lucic/Komisarek (who compete with Ovechkin/Malkin for most obvious mutual-dislike in the league), and Claude Julien and Michael Ryder playing against their former team, one with deserving beef against the Canadiens organization and one having merited the ire of Hab fans everywhere.
Tonight's game, like those that preceded it, promises to be rough, nasty and full of entertainment value. It should also be a hell of a goaltending duel between Carey Price (who currently leads All-Star balloting by a landslide) and Tim Thomas (who sits second as a 'write-in' candidate after being snubbed by the NHL once again... but will be named to the team based on performance anyways, so why is everybody so up in arms about this crap all over again?).
The Canadiens will look to continue their dominance against the Bruins and stretch their regular season unbeaten streak to 13 games... the Bruins will do everything in their power to stop it.
The resulting game ought to resemble Mike Komisarek and Milan Lucic colliding at full speed.