The best sporting event in Boston this year (yes I know we’re like two weeks into 2018) occurred last Saturday night.
And nope it wasn’t at Gillette Stadium, but at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
Truth be told, I couldn’t tell you anything that happened at that other game that had most sports in New England glued to their TV screens. I didn’t watch more than a couple minutes of that game, because there were more important things going on.
I mean, I’m a huge Patriots hater, but to me, Bruins vs. Canadiens is must-watch TV regardless of whatever else is going on.
As a huge Bruins fan, I legit HATE the Canadiens. If you ask me why there really isn’t a logical explanation other than… well they’re the Canadiens and I’m supposed to hate them. It’s in our blood as Boston sports fans to truly hate an opposing team. We all hate the Yankees because… well they are evil and that’s how we were all raised. If you’re a Red Sox fan you hate the Yankees. If you’re a Celtics fan you either hate the Lakers or the Cavaliers (or if you’re my age or older you can hate both of them). If you’re a Pats fan you… well you didn’t know your team existed prior to 2001 and everyone else hates your team. Sorry that’s all I’ve got since I hate the Patriots.
I mean I do have some actual reasons that I hate the Canadiens. I hate the fact that they flop like crazy all the time, I hated seeing P.K. Subban cower and act like a total bitch before he got traded, and I really hate the fact that the fans in Montreal still boo Zdeno Chara for something he did nearly seven years ago. And that the fans wanted him arrested for it. I mean come on he hit a guy into the boards… pretty sure that’s completely legal.
I honestly get pissed just seeing the silly Canadiens logo, and the only thing worse to me than that C and H logo is the hideous one that represents the Yankees. And just like with the Yankees, it doesn’t matter who the Canadiens are playing, I just want them to not only lose but to get absolutely embarrassed.
Unfortunately, the Bruins never embarrass the Canadiens when the two rivals take the ice. In fact, Montreal has had their way with the B’s for the past few seasons, and the Habs have given Tuukka Rask such a difficult time that only recently did the Bruins actually start him in these rivalry games.
Records never matter in rivalries, so although the Bruins came into Saturday’s game as one of the hottest teams in the NHL, and Montreal was in the midst of an ugly season, we all knew that we would likely be getting a really tight contest between the two Atlantic Division foes. Add in the fact that Saturday was the first time current Canadiens coach Claude Julien faced the team he spent the previous nine seasons with, and there was plenty of hype and anticipation surrounding the game.
And it definitely lived up to expectations, and then some. It wasn’t the prettiest game, and there were many times when the Bruins looked more like the team struggling mightily than the one that hadn’t lost in regulation in a month. In fact, those lapses added to the sheer intrigue and excitement on Saturday night.
Montreal clearly looked at the game as a chance to begin to turn their season around, and played with a lot of passion and intensity. They also fed off the raucous crowd at the Bell Centre, who annoyingly still booed when Chara touched the puck – and I’m sure they’ll boo even louder in the next meeting after a slap shot from the B’s captain nailed Phillip Danault in the head. (For a better account of how crazy the atmosphere in Montreal was, check out Lauren Campbell’s article as she was in attendance… yeah I’m really jealous of her too). Starting the second half of their season after a bye week with two points was obviously of utmost importance to the Canadiens, but beating their rival would have made it even sweeter. Too bad it didn’t happen hahaha!
I’m a pretty passionate sports fan, but I normally watch games by myself and keep pretty calm and quiet. I like listening to the announcers (even Joe Buck), but I do clear a path around the TV in case I need to go running off after a terrible call or a big play (I definitely did a mad sprint around my apartment after Alabama’s OT win in the College Football title game… Roll Tide!).
A rivalry game like Bruins-Canadiens is edge-of-your-seat excitement from start to finish. Montreal goals make my blood boil, and my heart rate was increasing by the second in the third period and during overtime, when the outcome of the game was seemingly in the balance on nearly every frantic shift.
These games make a normally calm sports viewer like myself start screaming at the TV for random plays, as if David Pastrnak can hear me all the way in Montreal when he made a silly pass or when he tried to post up a defenseman with his back to the net before spinning around with a circus shot that you would never try in NHL 95 (aka my favorite video game ever… god I dominated in that!).
So it is safe to say that I was pretty fired up when Brad Marchand ended the game with his shootout winner in the fourth round. That win basically made my night, just like if the Canadiens had pulled off the victory instead I would have been pretty pissed off for a while (without even noticing how badly the Pats were destroying the Titans).
That’s the magic in sports, and especially in rivalry contests like Bruins vs. Canadiens. What happens on the ice for 2.5 hours shouldn’t change your mood drastically, but it clearly does. When you’re as emotionally vested as us rabid Boston fans are, you take everything your team does personally. When they win, you win. When they lose, you lose. And regardless of how the rest of the season is going – and it’s going really well for the Bruins right now – beating the team that you are wired to hate has an even bigger importance.
That’s exactly why the Canadiens’ fans were chanting more feverishly and probably even more upset (aww shucks) than if they had lost to the Ducks or Golden Knights. Those fans are fully aware that their team is struggling, that they may not make the postseason, and that drastic changes may need to happen soon, but those issues would have all been erased with one simple win over the hated Bruins because at least they could say “we may stink but we still beat Boston”.
Rivalries can wipe away an entire year of failures or successes. No matter how well the Bruins are playing, if they can’t beat the Canadiens then the season wasn’t truly a success. And vice versa for Montreal – they may stink right now but it would have been a little better if they had beaten the B’s.
Boston has two more chances this week to make their 2017-18 season even better by beating the hated Canadiens. If they can do it, they may squash what little hopes that Montreal has for turning around their season.
That won’t give the B’s any extra points in the standings at the end of the day, but it does mean the world to both the players and especially the fan base here in Boston.
Let’s do this Boston. Let’s kill the Canadiens this week. FINISH THEM!
Rivalries are amazing, and rivalry hockey is next level. God I love this sport. Go Bruins!
Written by: Adam Belue (@albinomamba44)