It's been 12 games and more than 19 months since the Boston Bruins last beat their biggest rivals in the regular season.
Despite that, they certainly have the Montreal Canadiens' attention.
The Original Six clubs will face off on Wednesday night in the Canadiens' 100th home opener, meeting for the first time since Game 7 of their first-round series in last season's playoffs, when top-seeded Montreal finally eliminated an upset-minded Boston club.
The home opener will see the unveiling of the Ring of Honor, a row of portraits of the 44 players and 10 builders the Canadiens have sent to the Hockey Hall of Fame since the club's founding in 1909. The ring is inside the rink at the top of the upper deck.
It is the first of an entire season of special events planned for the Centennial, which will include the All-Star Game in January, Patrick Roy's jersey retirement in November and several games in which players wear jerseys from the team's early days. A Canadiens one-dollar coin, a stamp and even a special edition of Monopoly will also come out this season.
"It's a huge celebration, not only for the organization, but for the city and the entire country," said Christopher Higgins, who grew up a Canadiens fan in Smithtown, N.Y. "You see the impact this organization has on the country with the logo being on coins and stamps.
"The organization transcends the game in this country. It's something special to see and I'm very grateful to be part of it."
The season series between the Bruins and Canadiens couldn't have been much more lopsided last season, as Boston earned just one point in eight meetings, pushing the last matchup on March 22 to a shootout before losing 3-2. The Bruins were held to two or fewer goals in seven of the meetings and were outscored 38-16 overall.
Boston (1-1-0) also lost its last three games against Montreal in 2006-07, then dropped the first two games of the postseason series last spring, making it 13 straight losses overall against the Canadiens. But coach Claude Julien's eighth-seeded club won three of the next four to force a Game 7, in which the Bruins finally crumbled in a 5-0 loss.
"I think there's a lot (of motivation) that we can take from last year ... 0-for-8 in the regular season (and) getting pushed out of playoffs," Julien told the Bruins' official Web site. "We have to motivate ourselves the best way we can, and (the best) motivation means we need to go in there with the intention of winning a hockey game."
Boston last beat Montreal in the regular season on March 3, 2007, when it won 3-1 at the TD Banknorth Garden. The Bruins last regular-season victory at the Bell Centre came on Dec. 4, 2006, when they blew a 4-1 lead but still won 6-5.
Canadiens goalie Carey Price has never lost to Boston in the regular season, going 5-0-0 with a 2.17 goals-against average.
Beating Montreal (2-0-1) likely won't be any easier in 2008-09. The Canadiens began their centennial season with three strong performances on the road, quickly moving to the top of the Northeast Division. They scored four third-period goals in a 5-3 win on Monday against Philadelphia, the team that eliminated them in five games in last season's Eastern Conference semifinals.
"Going into the third period being down to the team that knocked us out last year, and finding a way to win, that definitely says a lot about the guys on the team and should give us more confidence," Montreal defenseman Mike Komisarek said.
After losing 2-1 in a shootout to Buffalo in their opener, the Canadiens have scored 11 goals in their last two games. Sergei Kostitsyn has two goals and three assists over that span, while newly acquired veteran Robert Lang scored the game-winner on Monday.
A defensive-minded club in recent seasons, the Bruins have allowed four goals in each of their first two games.
They were outshot 39-20 in a 5-4 win at Colorado in their opener, but goalie Manny Fernandez struggled in the second period Saturday at Minnesota, allowing three goals in a span of less than nine minutes during a 4-3 loss. Tim Thomas, who won the opener, could be back in goal on Wednesday.
There's still plenty of optimism in Boston surrounding a young core that led the Bruins back to the playoffs last season for the first time since 2003-04. Patrice Bergeron has three assists in two games in his return to the ice after missing nearly all of 2007-08 due to injury, while fellow forward Michael Ryder has a goal and two assists.
Ryder will be playing his first game in Montreal as an opponent after spending his first four NHL seasons with the Canadiens, scoring 207 points.