Tonight, the Bruins will take on the Habs at TD Garden. Above, Alex Galchenyuk, Russian-American superstar and young gun.
Hockey fans across New England ought to rejoice at the turn of events to our North, in Montreal. This shortened season has brought a bounty of talent and fresh energy to the Montreal Canadiens, in no small part to their rookies and the returned health of cogs Andrei Markov and Brian Gionta.
Last year was an anomaly. A Bruins v. Habs game was less heated match, more painful kicking of a man already down. Are there Bruins fans content with this? Of course. Were most, and should they be? No.
A rejuvenate Habs club keeps the Northeast interesting. Sure, the Leafs might sneak into the playoffs this year, but the Northeast division has lacked the combustion of other divisions in recent years. Bruins v. Habs, while over-hyped, over-trodden, is still the gold standard.
What makes this Canadiens team different, the same? Michel Therrien for one. The dog of Martin’s teams is gone. Therrien, though still an interim solution, has brought clean new systems and life. Brendan Gallagher and Galchenyuk bring bright youth, and have and will change, for the future, the complexion of these match-ups. Unlike Canadiens of yore, this are highly skilled, but also hard-driving forwards. They head to the dirty areas, rush the net, and don’t stick to perimeter passing. This segues into what’s the same–this team is still built on specialty teams, small but skilled forwards and smart, European-styled hockey. Gionta, Plekanec, Pacioretty, et al. still play the Canadien-style.
I hope this team makes the playoffs, not just to keep pressure on the Bruins, but for the whole NHL.