MONTREAL – The longtime rivalry between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens has seen the two clubs engage in some heated battles in the past couple of years, even if they weren't particularly close in the standings.
But when the first round of the rivalry this season begins Wednesday night, not only will there be pride on the line, but the lead in the Northeast Division will be up for grabs as well.
Not surprisingly, the Bruins are off to an excellent start with a 6-1-1 record, but the Canadiens are nipping at their heels at 6-2-0, adding a tiny bit of spice to what was already a highly-anticipated contest.
"They're first in the East right now, and we have to take the opportunity at hand," Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty said after practice Tuesday. "I know people can say we'll only be nine games into the year, but it's only a 48-game year, so this is a huge opportunity for us and I think it will show a lot about our team in the way we prepare for this game and the way we play."
Pacioretty was one of the few members of the Canadiens who was actually willing to admit Tuesday that the game against the Bruins is perhaps a little more important than the other ones on the schedule. The vibe was similar in the Bruins' dressing room after their practice at Bell Centre later in the day.