After the Bruins defeated the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of playoffs on Saturday, they turned their attention to their second round opponent: the Montreal Canadiens. The Bruins-Habs rivalry is one of the most storied in all of sports, and these two Original Six franchises have met in the playoffs 33 times before, with the Canadiens winning 24 times. Before we look ahead to the 34th meeting between the Bruins and Habs, here’s a look back on some of their playoff history, with emphasis on the past 20 years.
Pre-1993: Montreal Dominance
In the first 26 playoff matchups between the Bruins and Canadiens, it was the Habs who came out on top nearly every time they played. The two teams split their first four meetings before the Canadiens went on a 17-playoff series winning streak from 1946-1987. The Bruins finally broke through in the 1988 Adam Division Final, and then went on to win four of the next five Adams Division Finals in which the teams faced off.
The Bruins and Canadiens met for the ultimate prize in the Stanley Cup Final seven times, with Montreal prevailing in all seven of those meetings.
1993-94: Bruins win in first matchup under new format
The NHL underwent an extensive change for the 1993-94 season, debuting the Eastern and Western Conferences for the first time. The Bruins and Canadiens finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the East and faced off in the first round. The Bruins fell behind three games to two and faced a Game 6 in the Montreal Forum, but came back to win and take Game 7 back in Boston to take the series from the Habs.
2001-02: Top-seeded Bruins fall to Habs
In 2002, the Bruins finished the season with the best record in the Eastern Conference, while the Canadiens barely slipped into the playoffs after scoring 87 points in the regular season. The teams traded the first four games of the series, but the Habs won Game 5 in Boston and took down the Bruins 2-1 in Game 6 to complete the upset.
2003-04: Bruins blow 3-1 series lead
The No. 2 seeded Bruins hoped to avenge their 2002 series loss to Montreal in 2004, and got off to a great start, taking three of the first four games of the series, including a double-OT win in Game 4 to come back to Boston with a 3-1 series lead. The Canadiens trounced the Bruins over the next two games by scores of 5-1 and 5-2, setting up a Game 7 at the FleetCenter, where Jose Theodore shutout the Bruins to complete another stunning upset over the Black and Gold.
2007-08: Bruins, down 3-1, force Game 7, but can’t complete comeback
The recent roles of these two teams were reversed in 2008, with the Canadiens being the top seed in th Eastern Conference and the Bruins just qualifying as the No. 8 seed. This time, it was the Bruins who fell behind 3-1, but rallied back with wins in Games 5 and 6 to force a Game 7 at the Bell Centre. The Bruins could not do what the Habs had done four years earlier, however, as the B’s ran out of gas and Montreal pummeled them 5-0 to win the series.
2008-09: Bruins sweep the Habs
Just one year after the Bruins near-comeback against Montreal, the B’s got another crack at their rivals, and this time they were ready to defeat their nemesis from the north. Boasting the best record in the Eastern Conference, the Bruins demolished the Canadiens in a four-game sweep, outscoring Montreal 17-6, in the most lopsided series these two would play with the Bruins coming out on top.
2010-11: B’s rally to take down Canadiens en route to the Cup
In the Bruins run to the Stanley Cup in 2011, arguably the hardest series the team played was their opening round matchup against the Canadiens. Coming into the playoffs as the No. 3 seed, the Habs took both Games 1 and 2 in Boston, and it looked like the Bruins had no chance and would fall to Montreal in the playoffs yet again. The Bruins dug deep and won two games in Montreal and Game 5 in Boston to take a 3-2 lead into Game 6. The Habs held off the Bruins in Game 6 to force a Game 7 in Boston.
In Game 7, the Bruins got off to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Johnny Boychuk and Mark Recchi, but the Canadiens came back for two of their own to tie the game heading into the third period. Chris Kelly gave the Bruins the lead halfway through the third, but a power play goal by P.K. Subban tied the game 3-3 with just 1:57 to play. In overtime, Nathan Horton added to his chapter in Boston hockey lore, scoring 5:43 into the period to win the series and vanquish the hated Habs.