Boston Bruins welcome Canucks back to Boston

The Boston Bruins will be looking for some revenge when they host the Vancouver Canucks tomorrow night at the TD Garden.  Earlier this season, Boston was embarrassed by the Canucks, losing 6-2 in Vancouver.  As expected, that game got a little chippy, and there is no reason to think tomorrow’s matchup will be any less intense.

Boston Bruins

It has been nearly three years since the Bruins-Canucks rivalry began. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Although it has been nearly three years since the Bruins beat the Canucks in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, the hatred built up throughout that series still lingers for both teams, despite new players and in the case of Vancouver, a new head coach.  In their only visit to Boston since they lost all three games played there in the Stanley Cup, the Canucks beat the Bruins 4-3, with all of their goals coming on the power-play.  That game featured a total of 18 power-plays, over 100 penalty minutes combined and two Bruins players being ejected.  Milan Lucic was wrongly administered a game misconduct for leaving the bench less than five-minutes into the game and Brad Marchand was ejected for clipping late in the second period.

While Marchand avoided any major penalties in the game up in Vancouver earlier this season, he was still able to stir up some controversy for his on-ice antics.  This time however his behavior caught the attention of his head coach and general manager.  Marchand mimicked raising the cup while in front of the Vancouver bench and pretended to kiss a ring, both actions referring to the Bruins Stanley Cup victory.  After the game, coach Claude Julien criticized Marchand saying his actions would not be accepted by the organization.  That game seems to be a turning point for Marchand’s season. Since then, he has picked up his offensive production and has rediscovered his inner agitator.  Marchand’s actions in their last game won’t be forgotten by the Canucks players and it will only add to the rivalry in tomorrow’s matchup.

Boston Bruins

Marchand always seems to be in the middle of the controversy when these two teams square off. (Photo credit: Associated Press)

Despite coach Julien insisting no extra animosity is held by his team towards Vancouver, his players admitted playing the Canucks Tuesday night won’t be just another regular season game.  “Well, there’s just so much emotion that came out of the Cup finals that year. Obviously it was very intense, it was a very hard-fought battle,” Marchand said. “So that’s not something you just kind of let go and especially with both teams having a lot of guys who played, or a few guys who played in the finals. It makes this interesting.”

That extra hatred the Bruins will be carrying into the game is exactly what this team needs to be in top gear from opening puck drop.  The more emotion that the Bruins play with, the better they perform and going up against Vancouver there will be plenty of emotion.

As much as they thrive in those circumstances however, they need to also make sure they do not get too hyped for the game and play with a controlled emotion.  “I think that’s what makes this rivalry continue, but we don’t want to make too, too much of it like we did going into the Montreal game and then play the way we did, so I think we’re just focusing more on our game and how we need to play more so than on the rivalry,” Lucic said of the familiar faces on Vancouver.

Being unable to control their emotions was what got the team in trouble last time the Canucks were in Boston when the Bruins found themselves on the penalty kill 11 times.  Fortunately for the team, their style of play often requires them to skate the line between asserting their physicality over another team and playing overly aggressive and getting penalties so they should be used able to stay under control.

Prediction

The Bruins will certainly have a better performance against the Canucks compared to when they faced them in Vancouver in mid-December.  Boston has been excellent at home this season, sporting a 21-6-2 record, including winning 12 of their last 15 at the TD Garden.  Keeping that in mind, I think their impressive record at home will get even better.  Unlike their first matchup, Marchand and the second line has really been clicking lately.  Also, the third line of Carl Soderberg, Chris Kelly, and Loui Eriksson seems to be getting better each game played together.  Tuukka Rask will most likely get the start and he too will be carrying added motivation into the game after being pulled in the third period of the game up in Vancouver and in his most recent start against Montreal last Thursday.

Another chapter in the Bruins-Canucks rivalry will get underway tomorrow night at 7PM before a likely sold out TD Garden.  The game is sure to be one of the more intense regular season games for the team as they won’t face Vancouver again this season unless they meet in the Stanley Cup.

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