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Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens A Rivalry Relived

Without any playoff matchups since the 2013-14 season the Bostons Bruins and Montreal Canadiens rivalry has cooled off in recent years. The greatest rivalry in National Hockey League history, the Bruins and Canadiens have made for plenty of memorable moments over the years. Take a look at some of the biggest moments ever to come from the two legendary franchises.

Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens Rivalry Relived

Beginning of the Rivalry

Before digging deep into the most memorable moments between these two rivals, look at how the rivalry began in the first place. Being one of the oldest rivalries in all of sports, 1930 marked the beginning of the rivalry. The Bruins had won their first ever Stanley Cup in 1929 knocking the Canadiens out in the semifinal. The following year, Montreal won the Stanley Cup beating the Bruins in the finals. In 1931, the Canadiens would win the Stanley Cup again, however knocking Boston out in the semifinals.

Three consecutive playoff matchups and the rivalry was born. By 1938 the league re-structured its divisions causing the two storied franchises to be placed in the same division. The two teams played each more frequently due to the restructuring, only adding to the early beginnings of the rivalry.

Most Notable All-Time Moments

The rivalry has seen many memorable playoff moments, reflect back on them listed chronologically here.

1946 Stanley Cup Final

Montreal opened the series with a win in overtime on a goal by Maurice “Rocket” Richard. The Bruins were never able to rebound from that initial loss as they went down 3-0 in the series and would eventually lose 4-1.

This was the first time the teams had played each other in a seven-game series. The series win for the Canadiens also marked the start of 18 consecutive series wins against the Bruins.

1952 Maurice Richard Game Seven Comeback

The 1952 semifinals went to a deciding seventh game. Richard tried to split the defence and was caught with a hit from Bruins defenceman Leo Labine. While falling the Rocket’s head collided the Bruins defencemen’s knee, knocking Richard unconscious and leaving him a nasty cut requiring stitches. The Canadiens legendary scorer left the game, only to return for the third period with his face full of bandages. The Rocket scored the game-winning goal. Some say it is the greatest goal ever scored by Richard. The result is one of the most iconic photos of Maurice Richard ever taken.

March 1955 the Richard Riot

On March 13, 1955, the Canadiens and Bruins played a regular season game in Boston. Maurice Richard was again front and center this time culprit of a violent outrage.

Boston defenceman Hal Laycoe caught Richard in the head with a high stick. When play was blown dead on the delayed penalty a brawl broke out. Richard charged at Laycoe striking him in the shoulders and face with his stick. In an effort to subdue Richard the linesman stepped in, Richard punched the linesman as he tried to break free.

The incident resulted in Richard being suspended for the rest of the 1954-55 season, including playoffs. Four days later the man who handed out the suspension, NHL president Clarence Campbell, visited the Montreal Forum. A riot broke out in Montreal, known as the “Richard Riot”.

1971 Ken Dryden Steals Series

Following the 1970’s Stanley Cup Championship the Boston Bruins had an excellent regular season and scored a record 399 goals in 1971. The Bruins roster boasted legends Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Johnny Bucyk. Montreal had failed to make the playoffs in the previous season. The Bruins looked poised for a dynasty.
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The rivals faced off in the first round with the Bruins taking game one 3-1. Game two saw Boston with a 5-1 lead entering the third period. Whatever was said in between periods worked as Montreal woke up and won the game 7-5. The Canadiens backed by a rookie goaltender Ken Dryden went on to win the series 4-3.

“What happened? Many things, really. I didn’t play as well as I had during the regular season, getting three goals in the seven games. I was frustrated many times by Dryden, who played one helluva series. But, the thing that really hurt us was allowing the Canadiens to [control] play after that awful defeat in Game 2. They played their game and we didn’t play ours. It was that simple.” Phil Esposito said when speaking of the upset in the “Brothers Esposito” book. The 1971 Bruins remain one of the best teams to not win the Stanley Cup.

1979 Don Cherry’s Bruins vs Scotty Bowman’s Dynasty Habs.

Boston and Montreal would meet in consecutive Stanley Cup Finals in 1977 and 1978. Both times Montreal continued their winning ways against the Bruins.

In 1979 the two rivals met in the semifinals and played into a decisive game 7. With just four minutes remaining, the Bruins took a one-goal lead off of a Rick Middleton marker.

The Bruins blew a line change shortly after and were given a “Too Many Men” penalty. On the ensuing powerplay, Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur tied the game. The Habs won the game in overtime and went in to win another Stanley Cup.

“That was my fault,” Boston coach Don Cherry said. “They (his players) must have thought they heard me say something. I had to grab two other guys or we’d have had eight out there!”. Cherry was fired and began his famed segment “ Coach’s Corner” on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada shortly after.

1988 Division Finals

With the emergence of Bruins’ power forward Cam Neely, Boston finally ended Montreal’s playoff dominance.
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Neely scored two goals in the series-clinching game 5, vanquishing the Bruins tormentor. The Bruins would ride the wave all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. Unfortunately, the Bruins were no match for the Edmonton Oilers.

Still, the series win marked the first time the Bruins beat Montreal dating all the way back to the 1942-43 playoffs. Game 5 highlights can be seen here. This also kicked off a stretch where Boston and Montreal would meet in the playoffs six of the next seven seasons. Boston would win five of those six series.

2001-02 Playoffs Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens Rivalry renewed.

While a Habs and Bruins playoff series seemed like a right of spring, after 1994, the two rivals did not meet in the postseason for seven seasons. The Bruins entered the 2001-02 playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s number one seed. Boston was the heavy favourite coming into the series; however, the two teams split the first four games. Bruins defencemen Kyle McLaren injured Montreal forward Richard Zednik near the end of game 4. This incited a turning point for the rest of the series.
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Canadiens goaltender Jose Theodore put on two amazing performances to close out the series. Theodore made 43 saves on 44 shots leading Montreal to a 2-1 victory. In Game 6 Theodore continued his brilliance making 34 saves on 35 shots including this larceny on Boston’s Bill Guerin.

2004 Playoffs Alex Kovalev Sends Glen Murray in Alone

Game 5 needed double overtime and it was a bizarre play that ended the game. Kovalev collided with teammate Sheldon Souray and stood shaking his wrist while Boston’s Glen Murray picked up the puck and skated in alone to end the game. The win gave the Bruins a 3-1 series lead. For some reason, this turned the series in the Habs favour. Montreal would win the remaining three games to eliminate Boston. Kovalev, despite the incident in double overtime, dominated, scoring five goals and eight points in the series.

2011 Bruins and Canadiens Game 7

In 2011 the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens required game 7 once again. The teams split the first four games of the series.

Game 5 required double overtime, where Bruins forward Nathan Horton notched the game-winning goal.

The Habs answered back in Game 6, forcing the deciding Game 7. Just like Game 5 the rivals needed overtime to find a winner. Horton played hero again, scoring the game-winning goal. The win propelled the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup championship since 1970.

The Bruins and Habs played one last time in the postseason, in 2014 with the Habs winning in (of course) seven games. The two rivals have not met in the playoffs since.

Regular Season Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens Fisticuffs

The two franchises have a long history of fighting and rough play. While fighting is on the decline in today’s game, here is some a few examples of the physicality shared between the two teams.

There have been numerous bench clearing brawls (when that sort of thing was allowed) between the two teams. There was the infamous “Brawl in the Hall” in 1986 as well as a brawl that spilled into the Boston Garden’s stands in 1970 to name a few.

More recently we have seen:

  • November 8th,2008 Milan Lucic drops the gloves with defenceman Mike Komisarek.
  • February 9th, 2011 Tim Thomas and Carey Price square off.
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  • On March 8th, 2011 Zdeno Chara’s hit on Max Pacioretty left the Montreal forward seriously injured. Montreal police began an investigation however no charges were pressed against Chara.

Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens All-Time Records

Montreal holds the advantage with a 106-71 playoff record against Boston.

The Habs have won 25 of the 34 total playoff series between the two teams.

The regular season record also belongs to the Canadiens with a 363-277-103-11 record over the Bruins.

Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens Rivalry Future

Needless to say, after looking back at the intense playoff battles, we are due for the next chapter of this rivalry.

With Montreal loading up on young talent, they will start seeing playoff action regularly within the next couple of seasons. Boston on the other hand has some vital core players nearing the end of their careers. The future isn’t too clear after this season for the Bruins.

In hopes that the oldest rivalry in the league is sustained, fans of both franchises should be hoping for plenty of playoff duels in the coming years.

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