BOSTON -- It just isnt the same this year.
Perhaps its that the Bruins are simplyon to bigger and more despicable enemies after last years Stanley Cup skirmish with the Vancouver Canucks.
Or maybe its just that things are too one-sided this season with the Bruins on top of the hockey world. After all fire doesn't have a rivalry with kindling, now does it?The once-proud Montreal Canadiensresidesomewhere between white-knuckled panic and knee-jerk reactions with every move they make, and have bigger problems than run-of-the-mill B's envy.
Thatmakes itdifficult for the Bruins to get their engines fully primed for a Habs team in full disarray. The Habs stuffed their best offensive forward into a cab between periods of a one-goal game on Thursday night, and then shipped him off to Calgary because he had a case of brutal honesty.That's the kind of toxic mix of arrogance and unwillingness to look in the mirror plaguing the once-proud Habs organization.
The Canadiens arent going to be better without Mike Cammalleri after provinghis mettle in the playoffs over the last fewyears in Montreal. He was just as dangerous as hed been for the Habs over the last two years, and his scorched one-timers are deeply engraved in the minds of Bruins fans as lethal weapons.
But thats just par for the course when Pierre Gauthier is axing coaches like they were pieces of Blue, Blanc and Rouge tissue paper. The Habs GM is also gladly trading for odious contracts like Tomas Kaberle when nobody else is interested in the salary cap-killing trash.
That doesnt even count the large sum of money handed over to Andre Markov this summer when his knee condition wasnt improving. For the record, Markov has played exactly zero games this season after Habs management attempted to convince the media that the defenseman was right on track during training camp.
But enough about Gauthiers greatest hits that are sure to be reviewed by a member of the Molson family in a nice sit-down meeting sooner rather than later. Most are fixated on the foibles and failings of a Montreal organization that graced the conference finals just three short seasons ago.
So it wasn't aboutthe emotional setting of the stage for Montreal, and more about Thursday nightscolorlessedition of the NHLs best rivalry.
The first two periods were missing the normalsnap, crackle and pop of typical Habs-Bruins rivalry in recent years, and it instead looked like a pedestrian Eastern Conference matchup between uninspired teams scrounging for points.
Theyve got a lot going on right now, and I think their situation is a little bit different. It takes two teams to engage, right? Right now I think theyve got other things on their minds, said Claude Julien. I havent felt the same energy, but yet the results of the game are very similar. So when we do beat them, we dont beat them by much, and vice-versa. Certainly it doesnt have the same flare it had maybe a year ago.
The action was sloppy, the passing was lazy and the passion was dwarfed by the fiery hatred on display when Vancouver was in town last weekend. The Bruins were ultimately able to pull out a 2-1 victory on a pair of greasy, dirty goals including Milan Lucic's game-winner.P.K. Subban dideventually stir up some rivalry passion with an elbow thrown at David Krejcis head in the third period, but even that didn't have the seething fury one might have expected even last year.
Despite all of that, the Bruins and Canadiens have lost that hating feeling this season, and its gone, gone, gone. These kinds of things are cyclical, of course, and there is nothing keeping the rivalry from heading right back into the heated category next season if both teams are fighting for the same divisional top spot.
There is always going to be that rivalry between Montreal and Boston no matter what decade it is just because of the Original Six teams, said Tyler Seguin. I think last year it was, maybe it was a bit tighter. Im not sure if there is a reason behind it but they still always give us a tough every time we play them no matter if were lower in the standings or they are lower in the standings.
But this years Habs-Bruins games have been uneventful, bloodless and bordering on downright boring. To say that about storied NHL rivals that have met each other in the playoffs in three of the last four seasons is truly telling.
Some, like Milan Lucic, still feel their blood pumping when they see that Habs jersey, but admit its not the same without hated rival Mike Komisarek on the other side. Sure theres Subban now, but No. 17 admitted its just not the same. Where once the Habs had Georges Laraque chasing Lucic around the Bell Centre ice challenging him to a fight, there is nobody that puts fear or true fury in his eyes.
It seems that the hatred has lessened for myself since they dont have Michael Komisarek -- it is different for me. I dont know. Its tough to find an answer for it, said Milan Lucic. But theyre a team that -- even though it hasnt really lived up to the emotions of Habs and Bruins -- always give us tough games and we have to fight through to the end and that was no different tonight.
Lucic ended the matchup with the shoveled backhander in the third period for the dirtygame-winner that might have sent the city of Boston into hysterics in years past. There was a time when stepping into the role of difference-maker against Montreal was as good is it gets for a member of the Bruins.But that's just not the way it is now for theStanley Cup champs.
It still feels good to pot the game-winner, of course, but the Bruins saw how the other half lived last year during the Cup Finals. Theres a much bigger hockey world outside of the insulated puck mad house that is the Bell Centre these days. That ultimate hockey chalice isthe one the Bs are chasing after this time around.
That old Habs-Bruins rivalry? That will always be there waiting for Boston no matter what happens, but this justappears to be one of those years.