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 2012–13 regular season, Canadiens have won 350 of these games, scoring a total of 2,185 goals against Bruins, with Bruins winning 264 of them, scoring a total of 1,909 goals against the Canadiens, 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 some 57–60 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.

Bruins–Canadiens rivalry
Boston Bruins Montréal Canadiens
First meeting December 8, 1924
Latest meeting February 12, 2017
Next meeting December 12, 2016
Meetings total 910
All-time series 463-336-103-7 (MTL)
Regular season series 358-265-103-7 (MTL)
Postseason results 106-71 (MTL)
Post-season history[40][41]
  • 1929 Semi-finals: Bruins won, 3–0[6]
  • 1930 Stanley Cup Finals: Canadiens won, 2–0[7]
  • 1931 Semi-finals: Canadiens won, 3–2[8]
  • 1943 Semi-finals: Bruins won, 4–1[9]
  • 1946 Stanley Cup Finals: Canadiens won, 4–1[10]
  • 1947 Semi-finals: Canadiens won, 4–1[11]
  • 1952 Semi-finals: Canadiens won 4-3
  • 1953 Stanley Cup Finals: Canadiens won, 4–1[13]
  • 1954 Semi-finals: Canadiens won, 4–0[14]
  • 1955 Semi-finals: Canadiens won, 4–1[15]
  • 1957 Stanley Cup Finals: Canadiens won, 4–1[16]
  • 1958 Stanley Cup Finals: Canadiens won, 4–2[17]
  • 1968 Quarterfinals: Canadiens won, 4–0[18]
  • 1969 Semi-finals: Canadiens won, 4–2[19]
  • 1971 Quarterfinals: Canadiens won, 4–3[20]
  • 1977 Stanley Cup Finals: Canadiens won, 4–0[21]
  • 1978 Stanley Cup Finals: Canadiens won, 4–2[22]
  • 1979 Semi-finals: Canadiens won, 4–3[23]
  • 1984 Adams Division Semi-finals: Canadiens won, 3–0[24]
  • 1985 Adams Division Semi-finals: Canadiens won, 3–2[25]
  • 1986 Adams Division Semi-finals: Canadiens won, 3–0[26]
  • 1987 Adams Division Semi-finals: Canadiens won, 4–0[27]
  • 1988 Adams Division Finals: Bruins won, 4–1[28]
  • 1989 Adams Division Finals: Canadiens won, 4–1[29]
  • 1990 Adams Division Finals: Bruins won, 4–1[30]
  • 1991 Adams Division Finals: Bruins won, 4–3[31]
  • 1992 Adams Division Finals: Bruins won, 4–0
  • 1994 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Bruins won, 4–3
  • 2002 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Canadiens won, 4–2[34]
  • 2004 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Canadiens won, 4–3[35]
  • 2008 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Canadiens won 4–3
  • 2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Bruins won, 4–0[37]
  • 2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Bruins won, 4–3[38]
  • 2014 Eastern Conference Semi-finals: Canadiens won, 4–3

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. Maurice Richard became president of Montreal Canadiens, and he remained there until his death in 2000.

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.[67] The only final that neither team appeared during this period was in 1975, which was a showdown between the Philadelphia Flyers and Buffalo Sabres.[68] 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 the 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 Blues were 4 game sweeps. The Canadiens 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 Canadiens against the 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). The Bruins had thought that they had outplayed their opponents in the series, however was the Habs 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 Bruins in 6 games. In the 1969–70 season, Canadiens narrowly missed the playoffs on the last day of the regular season, while Bruins won their first Stanley Cup since 1941 on the famous overtime goal by Bobby Orr.

In 1971, Bruins finished first in the League with Esposito and Orr shattering scoring records, but they lost in the first round to Canadiens, who went on to win the Stanley Cup, in 7 games.

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 the 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 Canadiens sweep 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 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. 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 Montreal's Yvon Lambert scored in overtime to win the series. The win allowed Montreal 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 fourth 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 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, Bruins had won the Adams Division with a 49–25–6 record for 104 points, while Canadiens, finished 35–40–5 for 75 points. Canadiens, however, swept Bruins in the division semifinals.

In 1988, 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, Canadiens beat the Bruins on their way to the Finals, where they lost to the 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 five games. The Bruins won the 1991 and 1992 playoff match-ups against the Canadiens. Part of the 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. The Canadiens entered the playoffs seeded fifth in the Eastern Conference, the Bruins fourth. The Canadiens, however, were again knocked out in the first round by the Bruins, this time in seven games.[102] That playoff series is best known for the Canadiens' 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

2000–2004 Edit

In 2000 and 2001, both teams missed the playoffs. Canadiens defeated Bruins in the first round of both the 2002 and the 2004 Stanley Cup playoffs, despite the Bruins being seeded higher. 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, Canadiens used the power play to oust Bruins. In 2004, Bruins lost their first playoff series after having a 3-1 series lead, and it was the first time that Canadiens had won a series in seven games after trailing 3-1.

2007–2010 Edit

Canadiens met Bruins in First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which Montreal won in seven games on a shutout by goaltender Carey Price in Game 7. Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien was coach of Canadiens in 2004.

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 the Bruins and Canadiens the Bruins gained a total of 11 of 12 total points in those 6 games. Bruins ended the regular season first in the Eastern Conference standings with 116 points, while Montreal 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 CanadiensCanadiens won five of six games from Bruins during the regular season. Like in 1979, the Bruins lost because of a "too many men" penalty. Had the Bruins won their series, the two teams would have met in the Conference Finals.

2010–present Edit

In the 2010–11 season, Montreal won four of six meetings.

The game on February 9, which the 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.[129] The game featured six fights, a goalie fight and a total of 187 penalty minutes issued.

On March 8, the Canadiens beat the Bruins 4–1, but the game was marred when the Bruins' Zdeno Chara checked Habs' Max Paciorettyinto 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. The Bruins dropped their first two games at home but managed to win the next two away to tie the series, finally advancing in seven games after Nathan Horton's second overtime goal of the series. 

The League restored division-oriented playoff format, which allowed the Bruins and Canadiens to play each other in the second round of the 2014 playoffs, as the Canadiens swept the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Bruins beat Detroit in five games. The Canadiens would go on to face and defeat the Presidents' Trophy-winning Bruins in the playoffs in seven 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: Bruins 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