By: Jeff Playdon | Follow me @PlaydonJeff
Two of NHL’s most storied franchises and NHL’s biggest rivalry, the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens, are both having phenomenal seasons so far and are both sitting at the top of their divisions. But what are the chances of them playing each other in the Stanley Cup finals?
How the Divisions Line Up
Before the 2021 regular season started, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the board got together and discussed how the NHL season would play out. They decided to shuffle the NHL divisions to reduce travel because of COVID. This new division alignment meant that whatever division you were put in, you can only play the teams that are in your division. The division alignment put the Boston Bruins in the East Division with Buffalo, New Jersey, New York Islanders and Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington. For Montreal, they got put into the North Division or, as I like to call it, “the All-Canada Division.” Alongside Montreal, the division consisted of Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg.
The playoffs will also look different this year. Yes, it will still be the traditional 16-team, best of seven playoff format, but it will look different thanks to the division realignment. The top four teams in each division will qualify for the playoffs and be placed into divisional brackets for the first few rounds of the playoffs (No.1 seed vs. No. 4 seed, No. 2 seed vs. No. 3 seed). So, if the season were to end right now, Boston and Montreal would be locked into the playoffs.
Boston right now is playing exceptionally well and, as of February 5th, 2021, they have a record of 7-1-2. With David Pasternak recently rejoining the Bruins first line and getting a hat-trick Wednesday night, the Bruins new surging third line of Trent Frederic, Charlie Coyle, and Craig Smith, and Vezina Trophy worthy goaltending from Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak, the Bruins are well on their way of making a deep playoff run. One thing Boston will have to fix, though, is early goal scoring. Throughout the season, Boston has found themselves in early holes and have had to dig themselves out and scrape away a win.
Now for Montreal, Montreal is coming off a disappointing season last year after going 31-31-9, totaling 71 points, and losing to the Flyers in the playoffs. But this year, Montreal completely turned it around and are hot. As of right now, they’re 7-2-2, and what a lot of people were calling a “fluke team” at the start of the season are looking pretty wrong right now. GM Marc Bergevin made a lot of great moves this offseason, including signings of Joel Edmundson, Josh Anderson, and Tyler Toffoli. Right now, Toffoli has nine goals and four assists in 11 games for Montreal, and it looks like he could be well on his way to winning the Maurice “Rocket” Richard award.
Matchups Between the Two
These two storied franchises and NHL’s biggest rivalry could be one of the best Stanley Cups EVER. Together both franchises have 30 Stanley Cups (24 for Montreal, 6 for Boston) and have played each other in the playoffs 34 times! The last time these two played each other in the playoffs, though, Montreal got the upper hand and won in the 2013-2014 Eastern Semifinal. The last time the Bruins beat Montreal in the playoffs was in 2011 when Boston won in seven games in a Game seven overtime thriller.
From all the history that these two franchises hold and the rivalry that these two teams have, if they were to meet each other in the Stanley Cup Finals, we might be treated to one of the best Finals of all time.