The Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins’ rivalry was renewed Monday night at the TD Garden, their final meeting of the 2018-19 campaign. Another chapter in a long-storied tradition of hatred between two legendary franchises.
Unlike previous matchups in years past, however, it didn’t see the same vitriol, hype, and even animosity that normally precedes the matchup on my social media timelines. But it’s also a weekday night, and the Habs are in the middle of the season. The games are slowly starting to matter more, but they haven’t reached their critical level.
TSN 690’s Morning Show had an interview with CBS Sports’s Pete Blackburn, a noted Boston sports fan, on Monday morning. He admitted the city might have more hate for the Toronto Maple Leafs this season than the beloved bleu-blanc-rouge. But he admitted it has more to do with the standings, and he understands how much the rivalry means to each fanbase.
So, maybe this was just going to be a run-of-the-mill Habs-Bruins contest?
Ehh, no such thing.
Fighting will soon become an antiquated way of settling dust-ups, but old-time hockey fans could appreciate the Nicolas Deslauriers-Kevan Miller tilt in the first period.
Nic Deslauriers and Kevan Miller throwing some serious bombs pic.twitter.com/9sXI49FB9r— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 15, 2019
Both Tuukka Rask and Carey Price were on their games, making 19 and 41 saves, respectively. Brendan Gallagher and Paul Byron scored, but the Bruins tied it in the dying seconds so we could have an overtime-winner where Jeff Petry batted the puck out the air like Larry Walker hitting a line drive.
As a result, both teams shut each other out and each team had a one-goal win in the season series. There’s not much separating these teams in head-to-head battles this year.
How much did Deslauriers’s fight matter in the grand scheme of things? The Canadiens tied it not long after his scrap with Miller, so you could make the argument they thrived off the momentum. Did the rivalry need the fight? I think my colleague, Scott Matla, summed it up perfectly:
“Habs/Bruins games exist in a different universe,” he said. “The Habs and Bruins could be playing at elite levels, high skill hockey and all that. But when they meet, none of that matters and it’s a slugfest.”
It could have been Max Domi versus everybody — which almost happened near the end of the second period. There will always be some sort of disdain among players on both sides of the rivalry. The fight definitely brought the juice, but someone else would have scrapped. Even if the games aren’t always competitive, the hate is lying just below the surface, and it doesn’t take much to bring it out.
Let’s not doubt this rivalry ever being a thing ever again. Not that we would.