With the Vancouver Canucks in town to play the Bruins tonight at the Garden, grudges born three summers ago will again be revisited, and the question that has been asked again and again hopefully will settle on the answer it deserves:
Yes, the Canucks are a rival to the Black and Gold.
photo via bruinshockeynow.com
The epic, draining, heart-stopping, controversial, and engaging Stanley Cup Final series played between the two teams in 2011 was not a normal playoff series. It was not a normal battle for Lord Stanley.
The Kings and Devils in 2012 did not share what the Bruins and Canucks shared the year prior. Nor did the Blackhawks and Flyers in 2010.
This was not the Blackhawks and Bruins this past year, nor the Penguins and Red Wings in 2008 and 2009, were both teams were 'rivals' in terms of mutual respect for one another. The Blackhawks took out a full-page ad in The Boston Globeto thank the city of Boston and its fans for their hospitality and good sportsmanship that had used.
Can you ever have imagined Boston or Vancouver doing the same back in 2011? Nope.
The Bruins and Canucks did not share a mutual respect. They shared a mutual hatred, that over the course of seven whirlwind, highly-contested games, became something else entirely.
Burrows. Luongo. LaPierre. Sedin. Rome. Marchand. Lucic. Thomas. Horton. Chara.
Some of the names are the same. Some have moved on to different teams.
But the players that remain, and certainly the fans on both sides, have not forgotten what took place in 2011.
In the figurative 'room' of Bruins rivals, there is no question the Montreal Canadiens sit on the throne. But to the side, on the chairs adjacent, who sits besides them? The Flyers? The New York Rangers? Toronto?
The Canucks fit into that discussion. Vancouver and Boston will always share the series in 2011. Fans who experienced the two-week series will remember the binaries for each team: being down/up 2-0, Alex Burrows chomping on Patrice Bergeron's finger, Alex Burrows diving, the Sedins diving, the blowouts in Boston, the suspension of Aaron Rome for blindsiding Nathan Horton, Brad Marchand speed-bagging Daniel Sedin, 'pumping the tires.'
The list of memorable moments goes on and on. And that's the point: this was not a normal series.
Vancouver dropping Game 7 on home ice resulted in a city-wide riot that shattered building windows and set ablaze to dozens of cars in the streets. It became news shown across the world.
photo via sbrforum.com
From here on out, as long as both cities continue to play in the NHL, the Bruins and Canucks will be rivals. The lockout last season cancelled a game between the two, yet this season and for the foreseeable future, these two teams will play each other twice a year.
Vancouver took the first meeting in Vancouver since 2011 this past December, where they blew the Bruins out 6-2, and the fans cherished every second of it.
The second leg is tonight in Boston. And if you still have any doubt about the level of intensity in this rivalry, ask yourself this one question: Do you think Roberto Luongo WON'T be jeered tonight?
Of course he will. It'll take less than a minute for Garden crowd to start bellowing out the chant.
That won't happen when Corey Crawford comes back to Boston.
Tonight at 7:00 pm, we'll all be remembered yet again, that these two teams are without a doubt rivals.