BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Bruins don’t like the Montreal Canadiens, and the Montreal Canadiens don’t like the Boston Bruins.
This is not breaking news by any stretch, and the dislike between the two teams has dated back nearly a century.
But still, just how much the teams dislike each other is always a hot topic before they face off. And while they’ll dish out soundbites that include praise for the opposition, it should come as no surprise that the dislike boils over into full-blown hatred when the two teams meet in the playoffs.
So with their second-round playoff series just one day away, the hatred is back and hotter than ever.
“Yeah I do,” Bruins forward Milan Lucic said Wednesday when asked if he hates the Habs. “If you asked them the same question I’m sure they’d give you the same answer.”
Lucic’s hatred started as soon as he was drafted and put on a Bruins sweater for the first time in 2006, and has grown over his the course of his career.
“It’s just natural for me being here for seven years now, being a part of this organization. You naturally learn to hate the Canadiens,” said Lucic. “And the battles we’ve had over the last few years makes you hate them.
“Meeting them outside the first round is going to take it up another level,” he added.
The Canadiens don’t really like Lucic all that much either. Captain Zdeno Chara remains public enemy #1 in Montreal, but Lucic’s tussles with Mike Komisarek — pick whichever one you want, there are plenty — over the years made him a villain in the eyes of players and fans alike. He only added more fuel to those hatred flames last month when he called Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin a “chicken” following a low hip check.
Soon enough, Lucic and Emelin will be going against each other once again on the ice. Don’t expect the two to exchange pleasantries until one side is shaking the victor’s hand at the end of the series.
“Him being a right D-man and me being a left-winger, by the forces of nature we end up meeting on the ice,” Lucic said of Emilin, adding that their current battles remind him of his constant battles with Komisarek. “He’s a guy that plays physical and doesn’t shy away. He’s done that so far this year in the first four games that we played in the regular season, and you don’t expect that to change heading into the playoffs. That’s what makes rivalries rivalries, and the playoffs so great. You have battles within the game and games within the games.
“You know he’s going to be game, playing physical, and you just have to be prepared for that,” added Lucic.
The Bruins enter the series touted as the bigger, tougher team, though Montreal has done their part to get that label as well. But despite their increase in penalty minutes during the regular season, the Canadiens are still viewed as a team that will take a tumble to draw a call.
Though it often infuriates the Bruins, they know they have to keep their cool with a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals up for grabs.
“Against Montreal, they have a really good power play and they do a really good job drawing penalties. Our biggest thing is we can’t get frustrated,” said forward Brad Marchand, who also doesn’t have many fans up north. “When we get a penalty called against us we can’t let it bother us, we have to go out and kill it. We have to push our game on them; we want to try to be physical and play the way we did last series.”
Marchand has his own special place in the hearts of Habs fans, thanks in large part to his personal rivalry with Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban. The two have exchanged more than a few extra shoves and punches after the whistle has blown, and they both are guilty of taking their fair share of flops.
Marchand knows he has a bigger target on his back following a possible flop in Game 3 against the Detroit Red Wings, and doesn’t want to fall into Subban’s trap this time around.
“We can’t get sucked into his game; he gets guys off their game and we can’t get sucked into that,” he said. “You just have to skate away. He likes to come in after whistles and grab guys and hit guys. The biggest thing is to just skate away from it.”
But when the hatred is this deep, just skating away is likely easier said than done.
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