MONTREAL – Bruins-Canadiens Game 7. It goes together like peanut butter and jelly.
It’s a rivalry that is etched in stone in the National Hockey League. A rivalry that spans back to the “Roaring 20′s.” A rivalry that, over time, has gone from a one-sided affair in the mid-1940′s to late 80’s into a competitive race where either team can come away victorious.
The 32nd version of the rivalry saw the two teams engage in an epic seven-game series. Three years later, in the 33rd postseason meeting, the Black and Gold and Les Habitants are, once again, heading to a Game 7. That takes place Wednesday night at the TD Garden, just steps away from the old barn on Causeway Street.
After the Habs took Game 6 Monday night at the Bell Centre – 1.8 kilometers away from their old home at the Montreal Forum – the two teams will have 48 hours to rest, recover and make final preparations in what expects to be another epic encounter.
Both teams aren’t expecting anything less, either.
“I love it,” Habs defenseman and resident Bruins villain PK Subban said to NBCSN’s Pierre McGuire after their 4-0 win over the Bruins Monday night. “That’s what the playoffs are about. I hope the crowd is louder than in here. I hope it gets nasty. I hope it gets dirty.
“At the end of the game, when you’re shaking hands, whoever wins. that’s what the feeling is all about. Knowing that you went through a war. You know what? We’re going to be there at the end standing tall.”
The Habs will engage in their first Game 7 since 2011 when Nathan Horton ended their season with his second overtime winner of the series. The Bruins, meanwhile, have played in four Game 7s since Horton’s overtime magic, including twice that same year against the Tampa Bay Lightning (ended by another display of Horton’s heroics) and against the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Final. The other two times came against the Washington Capitals, where Joel Ward ended the B’s quest for a repeat, and the epic comeback against the Toronto Maple Leafs last spring.
This will be the Bruins’ ninth Game 7 under Claude Julien. They are 4-4 all time in the decisive game of the series under the seventh-year coach.
Despite the tough loss Monday night, Milan Lucic and the Bruins are a pretty confident group. They have every reason to be after winning the Presidents’ Trophy, but at the same time, anything can happen.
The two styles are vastly different. One is a physical team that likes to grind opponents out and cycle the puck for extended zone time. The other is a finesse team that likes to spread the ice and play a back and forth type of game.
It’s a clash that is worthy of being the main event whenever they meet in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And it all comes down to this.
“Anything can happen in Game 7,” Therrien said.
With the experience factor, Julien sees things differently.
“I expect to win,” said Julien as he ended his press conference on Monday night.
One thing is for certain, you can expect the Bruins and Canadiens to lay it all out Wednesday night with their season(s) on the line.