No team the Boston Bruins face are more hated than the Montreal Canadiens, and vice versa. The history of this rivalry goes back to the first year of the NHL, and somehow it seems to grow in intensity each year. Last year, there was the Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty plus the epic 7-game opening round playoff series that saw Montreal take a 2-0 lead at TD Garden before the Bruins rallied to win the series on Nathan Horton’s game 7 OT winner. It sparked Boston’s run to its first Stanley Cup since 1972.
The first time these two teams meet this year is late October in a home-and-home series: Montreal at Boston on October 27 and Boston at the Bell Center on October 29.
A Winning Habit’s Steven Ellis examines the changes the Canadiens made heading into the 2011-12 season:
We lost 3 starting defenceman, and many more depth players. The amount of players lost is much larger then the amount gained, but with all these losses, there are now spots for players like Yannick Weber, Riley Nash, Alexi Yemelin, David Desharnais and Aaron Palushaj.
How We Improved:
For many years the Canadiens have been looking for size and strength. By adding Gionta, Cammaleri and Gomez in 09, that cleary wasn’t the case. But it all started July 1st, when the Canadiens signed Erik Cole to a 4 year, $18M pact. In the next coming weeks, Montreal signed grinders Mike Blunden and Zack Fitzgerald, and defenceman Jeff Woywitka. Cole is expected to be a solid top 6 forward, while the other 3 are not expected to do much. From the great mind of Jackson Scarrow “We are less ‘Hobbity’” Peter Budaj is a better starting goalie then Alex Auld, but that’s not what he was brought in for. He was signed as a relief goalie for obvious starter Carey Price, but can be used in the case of emergency.
What We Lost:
Speed. Specifically Tom Pyatt, one of Steven’s favorite players.
You can read the rest of the rival preview at A Winning Habit.