Well, sooner or later we were going to have to start writing about what was about to happen. The Boston Bruins taking on the Montreal Canadiens. It’s one of the oldest and the ugliest feuds in all of professional hockey. If you’ve taken a look at social media recently, you can feel the absolute contempt some Bruins fans have for the Canadiens. Those Canadiens fans respond with vitriol of their own. Amongst the Bruins players, there is a level of professional courtesy that the fans sometimes overlook.
Shawn Thornton is a winger for the Merlot Men. He’s far more than a simple grinder for Boston, and he’s one of those players that provides necessary energy for the Black and Gold. (He’s also known to score an impressive goal now and again too.) He spoke with the media yesterday. For Bruins fans who were expecting some serious anti-Hab chirping, they were disappointed. Thornton spoke of the rivalry with WEEI. “You feel [the old rivalry] once you put your jersey on the first time going to the rink or the first time they come to you. The way both cities are into it, the history of it, you embrace it. It’s a fun rivalry.” offered Thornton.
Thornton did chirp slightly during the interview, but he did give an accurate assessment of the Canadiens’ strengths. “I think Montreal’s very, very opportunistic with their goal-scoring ability.” The Habs do push for penalties. Call it diving, call it embellishing, call it dirty pool if you want. It’s part of their bag of tricks, and they would be the first to point out a certain pest that plays for Boston is capable of very similar things. “I think — from what I can remember — they’re very dangerous around the net. They have guys who put the puck in. They have tall, speedy guys. Their [Habs' GM] Marc Bergevin has done a pretty good job with getting them a little bit of sand paper and grit in the last year too, trying to not be all speedy guys. ”
Thornton finished up his assessment with a simple sentence. “They’re a well built team.”
Shawn Thornton feels a similar respect for the Canadiens fan base, who are as passionate (and occasionally rabid) about hockey as our own fan base. “Their crowd’s on top of you, somehow.” suggested Thornton. In my opinion, that’s pure truth. The Bell Centre is a very ugly place for other NHL teams to play in. “Every once and awhile, they can force a ref into calling penalties. It’s not the easiest building, but it’s almost the most fun place to play on the road too because you can feed off the energy in there. … It’s got a good energy, and you can feed off it from both sides, I think.”
We’ll see how that energy tastes when the Bruins play there in games three and four (and very likely six). The old rivalry will gain a little more luster.