NHL Betting Tips: Boston Bruins At Montreal Canadiens, 17th December 2018
The Bruins-Canadiens is one of the biggest sporting rivalries in America and has burst back into life this season with the pair battling once again at the top of the NHL’s Atlantic Division.
Few matchups in US sport can boast such a deep-seated and historic clash of culture, civic pride and the pursuit of one-upmanship. This is a rivalry with its roots in the Great Depression of the 1930s which exploded in the 1950s and once more in the 1970s. It has simply transcended the decades, continually evolving and occasionally smouldering before bursting back into flame.
Hard to call this one. The winner will be the team who emerges from a bruising physical encounter having out-powered their opponent. It could be a toss-up in the NHL betting as to who to back, but this is simply one of the highlights of the North American hockey calendar.
Early History: Setting The Scene Of The Bruins Vs The Canadiens
Both the Bruins and the Canadiens were part of the ‘Original Six’, the half-dozen teams who formed the NHL in 1947. But the Boston-Montreal match-ups began back in 1924 with two sides representing the Canadian city regularly taking on their cross-border American rivals.
The Bruins and the Canadiens first met in the playoffs in 1929 and ding-donged a few post-season games in the early ‘30s. But the rivalry remained fairly contained for nigh on a further decade. It would be the demise of the Montreal Maroons in 1938 which left the city’s remaining club without a natural adversary and exploded the Bruins-Canadiens animosity into life.
Most of the world’s most famous sporting rivalries are built upon history flourished with a little legend handed down through the generations. And the Bruins-Canadiens is no exception. One of the most famous goals in North American hockey folklore came in a game between the two in the 1952 Stanley Cup semi-finals and a near full-scale on-ice riot three years later set the tone for what would come next.
In the 1952 game, Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard had left the ice in the third period to receive treatment for concussion and a head wound. Fully bandaged up, the Montreal native jumped off the bench to drive to the net and score past a hapless Bruins goaltender. The post-match image of the two shaking hands is one of the most famous images in sporting history.
The ’Richard’ Riot
Three years later, that same ‘Rocket’ Richard was at the centre of an incident which sparked one of the worst incidences of violence in hockey history. Having received a stick to the head and a cut which would later require five stitches, Richard confronted the Bruins defender, Hal Laycoe, and repeatedly struck him about the face and body with his stick. Turning his attention to the linesman who had attempted to restrain him, Richard knocked the official clean out with two punches.
The Canadiens player narrowly escaped arrest for his part in the violence but worse was to come. At the subsequent disciplinary hearing, at the NHL offices in Montreal, fans had gathered to hear the verdict. Upon learning their star player had been handed a season-long ban, the assembled crowd looted and vandalised the surrounding streets into the early hours of the morning. The episode became known as the ‘Richard Riot’.
Upon this now seriously deep-rooted hatred, the rivalry reached fever pitch during the 1970s when both clubs were league superpowers. The Bruins and the Canadiens contested 16 of 30 Stanley Cup finals between 1965 and 1979. In the intervening years, the rivalry has waxed and waned as either team has enjoyed spells of dominance, but the Bruins have won over 130 more contests in this fixture than the Canadiens.
Bruins Vs Canadiens: Fast Forward To Today
There have been some epic games between the two in the intervening years, but it all went a little quiet until last month. An absence of memorable matches in recent years and a lack of bite thanks to one or the other being pretty poor had rendered the rivalry all too quiet.
But such deep-seated contests rarely remain silent for long and the Bruins-Canadiens bust-ups burst back into life in November as the pair, now looking reasonably evenly matched in the league, played out a bloodcurdling match with the Boston side narrowly edging out their opponents from Montreal by three goals to two
Who to watch/Who to back in Boston Bruins At Montreal Canadiens
In some ways, the NHL odds go out the window a little for this match. You could almost flip a coin to pick the winner but the Canadiens are the home side and will be backed by a raucous and partisan crowd packed into Montreal’s Bell Centre.
If you’re scouring the goalscorer markets then look no further than Bruins winger David Pastrnak. The Czech kid has been at the top of the NHL scoring charts since day one and got his account off to a blistering start with a blizzard of goals and assists.
On the other side, in the white, blue and red of the Canadiens, Max Domi looks a good bet to be in amongst the scorers. The left winger enjoyed an impressive 12 game stretch with six goals and nine assists through the autumn.
*All odds from 21.co.uk’s online sportsbook correct at the time of writing.
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