Player's opinions on the Boston/Montreal rivalry
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09-16-2011, 02:16 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Sydney, NS
Habs fan who doesn't post much, posting in this thread here...
I think when looking at rivalries, there is both the "culmivative" rivalry and the present day rivalry. Of course throughout history the Habs have had big rivalries with both the Leafs & the Bruins (and the Nordiques). I think when people look at it from a historical point of view, the Leafs are bigger rivals- which is to say that if the Habs were to have back to back playoff series with the B's and Leafs, under similar circumstances, that the series against the Leafs would be the bigger deal (although both would be big).
But given that the circumstances AREN'T the same, I have no doubt the rivalry with the Bruins is bigger at this exact moment. Personally I get MUCH more fired up talking about the Bruins than the Leafs, even though I technically would say I hate the Leafs more. (Last season's Bruins team was an exception- I'll get to that!)
Someone mentioned the Flyers- historically speaking, Montreal perhaps has an underrated rivalry with the Flyers (they do have their own section in the Canadiens HOF at Centennial Plaza, of course) that's likely driven by the style of play the Flyers play- they pretty much have rivalries with everyone.
To answer the OP's question... I think I can sum up my thoughts on the current Habs/B's rivalry in ONE sentence.
Bruins players take it too seriously, Habs players don't take it seriously enough.
It's already been talked about in this thread, but we saw some ridiculous things coming out of the Bruins' mouths this past season. Marchand's hypocritical rant about the Habs style of play, Recchi's accusations about Pacioretty, and Thomas's comments about Subban come to mind. (And I can't remember- did Ferrence accuse Halpern of embellishment after game 7? There was also his finger incident.) Whereas in the media, the Habs were generally very cliched when speaking about the Bruins... "It's a great rivalry, blah blah blah, etc.".
I'm not sure what causes this from the Bruins side of things (and it obviously extends to, or starts from, NESN/Jack Edwards and media there in general). I don't know if it's an inferiority complex, if it's having a different take on what a rivalry is, or if it's just the "Boston mentality". I might sound like a biased Habs fan here, but I don't know how some of this doesn't embarrass Boston fans (and I'm sure some of it does.)
There's the flip side of it. Montreal seems TOO emotionally detached from this rivalry. Look at what happened in the 8-6 game and the subsequent March 8th game. A slew of fights in the game in Boston, with Hab players letting up after winning their tussles while Bruins players kept pounding away after winning theirs (the worst being the Campbell elbowpadding Spacek). Chara chasing Pacioretty around for 2 games and then finally finishing him for the season with a late hit... then Lucic thinking it was an appropriate time to go asking for payback, upset that a Krecji lost a fight that he asked for in the first place. (Not to imply Montreal never did anything dirty to Boston all season, but you get the idea.)
After all that... Montreal SHOULD have been using that as motivation. I don't doubt the professionalism of the Habs in terms of giving their all or that the team has heart (you don't come back twice on the road in game 7 if you don't have heart), but they had a very pedestrian view of the rivalry it would seem.
Above I said that I figured Bruins fans would be embarrassed by some of their antics, whereas as a Habs fan, I'm angered by what I perceive as a lack of emotion on my own team's part. Where was the "win it for MaxPac" sentiment? Where was the "they beat us in the alley, let's beat them on the scoreboard to get back at them" mentality? As a fan, I was SCREAMING, "I can't believe we lost to THEM" and yet the guys who could control the outcome, the guys in bleu blanc rogue who actually LIVED through this rivalry, were upset about losing, but seemingly not about losing to the BRUINS. The reaction was no different than if they had lost the same series to, say, Florida. Again- not faulting the effort or heart, just saying there was no extra motivation it seemed....
By comparison, let's look at the Bruins when THEY were the victim. Things totally turned around in the Cup final they lost Horton. Bruin hating fans like myself, while hoping Nathan Horton would be okay, were thinking that as a team, the Bruins actually got what they deserved by losing a player and karma was biting them in the butt. But they didn't see it that way- they got indignant. They made a big spectacle of him being lost and used it as a rallying point (witness the pre-game ceremony in game 4).
It was quite angering as a Montreal fan to see them get what was coming to them and yet use it as motivation, make it a positive, which Montreal seemed to fail to do earlier in the playoffs under similar circumstances. You get the impression that if it that was the Habs in the final and it was say, Plekanec that Aarom Rome hit, that the Habs would have been there the next day in the media scrums, perhaps mildly appealing for a suspension but yet mostly talking around the issue. But Boston's approach worked- they played an inspired brand of hockey and pretty much blew the Canucks out of the water from that point forward.
I think these player attitudes re: rivalry extend to the fans, to a degree. No doubt there is a healthy hate for the Bruins among Montreal fans, but for someone like myself, I'm shocked it's not greater. I just look back at all the nonsense mentioned above, specifically the Chara/Pacioretty incident, followed by the Bruins narrowly beating Montreal in arguably the closest series in 20 years or so (without the before mentioned Pacioretty, who's numbers pro-rated would make him Montreal's leading goal scorer last year)... and some Habs fans are remarkably ho-hum about it, saying at year's end Boston deserved to win the Cup because they dominated Vancouver so thoroughly, completely ignoring how the Bruins just ever so narrowly beat the Canadiens under dubious circumstances. Even taking the Chara/Pacioretty incident out of the equation, I wouldn't have been remotely happy discussing the Bruins winning the cup, even if I thought they deserved it- whereas some Habs fans don't seem to have that problem at all.
Of course, when dealing with fan bases, both Montreal & Boston are extremely popular teams, so it's difficult to really pinpoint a specific mentality to each group, but I think my post and all the others in this thread hit on that.
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