The Bruins–Canadiens rivalry is a National Hockey League (NHL) rivalry between Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens. It is considered "one of the greatest rivalries in sports." Bob Sweeney once called it among the "top three rivalries in all of sports,... right up there with... New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox." The two teams have played each other more times, in both regular season play and the Stanley Cup playoffs combined, than any other two teams in NHL history.
Through the conclusion of the 2016–17 regular season, the Canadiens won 360 regular season games, with the Bruins winning 338 games, with 103 other games between the two teams ending in ties. In the playoffs, the two teams have met in 34 series for a total of 177 games, 11 series and 60 more games than two other Original Six teams, Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. The two teams have faced each other 9 times in Game 7 NHL playoff games, more than any other pair of opponents in NHL history.
|First meeting||December 8, 1924|
|Latest meeting||February 12, 2017|
|All-time series||466–338–103–7 (MTL)|
|Regular season series||360–267–103–7 (MTL)|
|Postseason results||106–71 (MTL)|
1950s: Canadiens dominance Edit
On April 8, 1952, Maurice "Rocket" Richard scored one of the most famous goals of all time, described variously as "the greatest in the history of the game" and "most beautiful in the history of the world." As blood dripped down his face after an earlier injury that gave him a concussion, he scored the series-winning goal of the 1952 Stanley Cup Semifinals. Richard had left the game but returned to the bench in the third period, wearing a bandage. Richard, although somewhat dazed, jumped off the bench and drove to the net to score past a surprised Sugar Jim Henry, the Boston Bruins' goaltender.
1960s and 1970s Edit
The Bruins and Canadiens made up 16 of the possible 30 Stanley Cup Finals appearances between 1965 and 1979. The Bruins went 2–3 and Canadiens went 10–1 in Finals appearances. The two teams went head-to-head in the 1977 and 1978 Stanley Cup Finals. The only final that neither team appeared during this period was in 1975, which was a showdown between the Philadelphia Flyers and Buffalo Sabres. During this period, the Bruins and Canadiens reigned exclusively as Stanley Cup champions, except in 1967 when it was won by the Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers in 1974 and 1975.
1965 to early 1970s: Dominance by Montreal over resurgent Boston Edit
Both teams won Stanley Cups between 1968–1970 against St. Louis Blues, who entered play as an expansion team in the 1967–68 season, all series against St. Louis were 4 game sweeps. Montreal beat the Blues in 1968 and 1969. The 1969 East Semifinals was described by Sports Illustrated as "the most intriguing Stanley Cup hockey series in a decade" as the upcoming Stanley Cup Finals against St. Louis would be considered a "formality." It pitted the defending champions Montreal Canadiens against Boston Bruins, an ascendent team since their 1967 trade with Chicago, with superstar defenceman Bobby Orr and regular season scoring champion Phil Esposito (who broke the century mark with 126 points). Boston had thought that they had outplayed their opponents in the series, however was Montreal who seemed to be in "the right place at the right time," as Jean Beliveau scored the winning goal in the second overtime period at Boston Garden to eliminate Boston Bruins in 6 games. In the 1969–70 season, Montreal Canadiens narrowly missed the playoffs on the last day of the regular season, while Boston Bruins won their first Stanley Cup since 1941 on the famous overtime goal by Bobby Orr.
Late 1970s: Bowman's Habs Dynasty vs Cherry's Lunch Pail Gang Edit
The mid-1970s Montreal Canadiens, coached by Scotty Bowman, had become one of the most dominant NHL dynasties of all time, with Guy Lafleur succeeding an often-injured Bobby Orr as the game's preeminent superstar. Their main opponents in the 1976–79 playoffs were Boston Bruins, who due to the departure of Orr and Phil Esposito were rebuilt into the "Lunch Pail Athletic Club," with Head Coach Don Cherry encouraging physical play and balance over brilliance. The 1977 Finals saw the Canadiens sweep the Bruins in 4 games. During the 1978 Finals series, which Canadiens won in 6 games, rough tactics were used against Lafleur, whose head was swathed in bandages at the end of the 1978 series after repeated high-sticking from Bruins players. Scotty Bowman later accused Boston Bruins star defenceman Brad Park of being a "sneaky dirty player" during the 1978 Finals.
The 1979 Semifinals was a rough-and-tumble series which saw both sides win at home through the first 6 games, the Bruins took a lead in the closing four minutes of Game 7 in Montreal on a goal by Rick Middleton. The Bruins were charged with a minor penalty for having 7 players on the ice, Lafleur scored the tying goal on the ensuing power play, and the Canadiens' Yvon Lambert scored in overtime to win the series. The win allowed the Canadiens to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals against New York Rangers, who had been on a surprising post-season run, which they dominated to capture a 4th consecutive cup. Still reeling from the penalty and the loss, Bruins General Manager Harry Sinden dismissed Head Coach Don Cherry, although it was noted that the two men already had a tense relationship for some time. Cherry said that he had blamed himself for the too many men penalty, saying, "It was my fault. The guy couldn't have heard me yell. I grabbed two other guys trying to go over the boards. That would have made eight on the ice. Might as well have let them go."
1980s and 1990s: Division playoffs Edit
The rivalry continued throughout the 1980s, mainly due to a division-oriented playoff format that seemed to pair the teams every year. Some memorable brawls took place, including one which continued into the tunnel between players who had been sent off.
During the period of the division-oriented playoff format (1981–82 to 1992–93), each Wales Conference Final (except in 1982, which featured New York Islanders and Quebec Nordiques, in-province rivals of the Canadiens, and 1985, which featured the Philadelphia Flyers and the Nordiques) would feature either the Bruins or Canadiens. Both teams made up four of the possible ten Finals appearances from 1986 to 1990. The only final that neither team appeared during that time was 1987, which was a showdown between Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers. However, the only time either team won during that period was in 1986, when Canadiens beat Calgary Flames to win their 23rd Stanley Cup.
Consecutive playoff meetings Edit
From 1984 to 1992, the teams would meet in the playoffs each year. In 1984, Boston Bruins had won the Adams Division with a 49–25–6 record for 104 points, while Montreal Canadiens, finished 35–40–5 for 75 points. The Canadiens, however, swept the Bruins in the division semifinals.
In 1988, the Bruins won their first playoff series against Canadiens in 45 years in the latter's Montreal Forum on the way to advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals. However, they lost to the defending champions, Edmonton Oilers, in the Finals.
The next year, the Canadiens beat the Bruins on their way to the Finals, where they lost to Calgary Flames. In 1990, the Bruins, who won the Presidents' Trophy, finished off the Canadiens at Boston Garden for the first time since 1943. the Bruins advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals where they lost to the Edmonton Oilers in 5 games. The Bruins won the 1991 and 1992 playoff match-ups against the Canadiens. Part of Bruins' victories over the Canadiens was due in large part to goaltender Andy Moog, who was often referred to as a "Habs Killer."
1990s realignments Edit
When the NHL realigned for the 1993–94 season, they renamed the conferences and divisions to reflect geography and changed the playoff format. The realignment solidified the rivalry between the Bruins and Canadiens. Montreal entered the playoffs seeded 5th in the Eastern Conference, Boston 4th. Montreal, however, were again knocked out in the first round by Boston Bruins, this time in 7 games. That playoff series is best known for the Montreal's Patrick Roy, after he came down with appendicitis and missed Game 3, convincing doctors to let him return for Game 4 where he made 39 saves in his team's 5–2 victory.
With the NHL expanding to include the Nashville Predators, Atlanta Thrashers (today's Winnipeg Jets), Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild between the 1998–99 and 2000–01 seasons, the NHL realigned again, splitting each conference into three divisions of 5 teams each in 1998.
21st century Edit
In 2000 and 2001, both teams missed the playoffs. The Canadiens defeated the Bruins in the first round of both the 2002 and the 2004 Stanley Cup playoffs, despite the Bruins being seeded higher. The Bruins had finished first in the Eastern Conference in 2002 and second in 2004. For the Canadiens, the 2002 victory was their first playoff series victory since 1998. During that series, the Canadiens used the power play to oust the Bruins. In 2004, the Bruins lost their first playoff series after having a 3-1 series lead, and it was the first time that the Canadiens had won a series in seven games after trailing 3-1.
The 2008–09 regular season, however, resulted in an almost complete reversal of the previous year's results for the two teams, as out of the six meetings of Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins gained a total of 11 of 12 total points in those 6 games. Boston Bruins ended the regular season 1st in the Eastern Conference standings with 116 points, while Montreal Canadiens made it into the 2009 playoffs with 93 points, the two teams meet for the 32nd time in their long history. Boston swept the series for first time since 1992 and for the first time in franchise history in the first round.
In the 2009–10 season, the second game between the two teams was played at the Bell Centre on December 4, 2009, the very date of the Canadiens' 100th anniversary as a hockey team, which resulted in a 5–1 home victory for Montreal. Montreal won 5 of 6 games from Boston during the regular season. Like in 1979, Boston lost because of a "too many men" penalty. Had Boston won their series, the two teams would have met in the Conference Finals.
In the 2010–11 season, Montreal Canadiens won 4 of 6 meetings.
The game on February 9, which Boston Bruins won 8–6, saw a brawl in which All-Star goaltenders Carey Price and Tim Thomas squared off during the second period, leaving the penalty boxes overflowing and the ice littered with the players' equipment. The game featured six fights, a goalie fight and a total of 187 penalty minutes issued.
On March 8, the Canadiens beat Bruins 4–1, but the game was marred when the Bruins' Zdeno Chara checked Habs' Max Pacioretty into the glass between the player's bench areas with 15.8 seconds left in the second period.
The Bruins–Canadiens First Round meeting in the 2011 playoffs was the 33rd meeting of these teams in the post-season, by far the most frequent playoff series in NHL history. Boston dropped their first 2 games at home but managed to win the next 2 away to tie the series, finally advancing in 7 games after Nathan Horton's second overtime goal of the series.
The League restored division-oriented playoff format, which allowed Boston and Montreal to play each other in the second round of the 2014 playoffs and the 34th meeting between the teams, as Montreal swept the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Boston beat Detroit in 5 games. Montreal would go on to face and defeat the Presidents' Trophy-winning Boston in the playoffs in 7 games. Several controversial incidents, however, would cast a shadow over the hard-fought series. In Game 1 at the TD Garden and with the score tied 3–3 in double-overtime, the Canadiens' P. K. Subban scored the game-winner on the powerplay to win the game for Montreal. Following the game, a number of Bruins fans took to Twitter with racist tweets directed at Subban. Both the Bruins and Canadiens organizations as well as the players on both teams condemned the Twitter posts. Subban himself refused to place any blame on the Bruins or their fans for the posts, earning praise from many Bruins fans. Following the Canadiens' 3–1 victory in Game 7, Bruins forward Milan Lucic allegedly threatened Canadiens forward Dale Weise in the handshake-line, claiming, "I'm going to fucking kill you." Lucic's actions were widely criticized by commentators and fans. While Lucic did not make a full apology, he did acknowledge that his actions were "over the line" and were caused by his frustrations about losing the series
All-time post-season series results Edit
- 1929 Semi-final: Bruins 3–0
- 1930 Stanley Cup Final: Canadiens 2–0
- 1931 Semi-final: Canadiens 3–2
- 1943 Quarter-final: Bruins 4–1
- 1946 Stanley Cup Final: Canadiens 4–1
- 1947 Semi-final: Canadiens 4–1
- 1952 Semi-final: Canadiens 4–3
- 1953 Stanley Cup Final: Canadiens 4–1
- 1954 Semi-final: Canadiens 4–0
- 1955 Semi-final: Canadiens 4–1
- 1957 Stanley Cup Final: Canadiens 4–1
- 1958 Stanley Cup Final: Canadiens 4–2
- 1968 Quarter-finals: Canadiens 4–0
- 1969 Semi-finals: Canadiens 4–2
- 1971 Quarter-finals: Canadiens 4–3
- 1977 Stanley Cup Final: Canadiens 4–0
- 1978 Stanley Cup Final: Canadiens 4–2
- 1979 Semi-finals: Canadiens 4–3
- 1984 Division semi-finals: Canadiens 3–0
- 1985 Division semi-finals: Canadiens 3–2
- 1986 Division semi-finals: Canadiens 3–0
- 1987 Division semi-finals: Canadiens 4–0
- 1988 Division final: Bruins 4–1
- 1989 Division final: Canadiens 4–1
- 1990 Division final: Canadiens 4–1
- 1991 Division final: Bruins 4–3
- 1992 Division final: Bruins 4–0
- 1994 Conference quarter-finals: Bruins 4–3
- 2002 Conference quarter-finals: Canadiens 4–2
- 2004 Conference quarter-finals: Canadiens 4–3
- 2008 Conference quarter-finals: Canadiens 4–3
- 2009 Conference quarter-finals: Bruins 4–0
- 2011 Conference quarter-finals: Bruins 4–3
- 2014 Conference semi–finals: Canadiens 4–3