There is no doubt that the Boston Bruins‘ rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens is as heated as it has ever been. Both teams are constantly jostling for the top spot in their division. On paper, the two sides look uneven with the Bruins having more depth and toughness on their side. However, the Habs have been giving the Bruins their run of their money in recent years, especially last season in which they edged out Boston in the season series.
Next year, this looks set to change as the Bruins have grown even stronger with improvements to the squad while the Canadiens are remaining a stagnant team.
The Bruins’ biggest advantage over their rivals is the depth that they have at every position, from the back end to front end. The defensive and forward lines have relatively few weak spots, except for one on the Bruins’ third line. Tuukka Rask has been an outstanding goalie for the Bruins and looks set to continue his performance in the years to come.
Also, they have the benefit youth on their side with talented, young players stepping up from the AHL. It is hard to imagine that Patrice Bergeron is still only 28-years old. Physically, the Bruins have been able to boss the Habs around on the ice. The simple addition of George Parros on the ice by the Habs will create a few interesting fights, but nothing will make the big bad Bruins play nice.
Jerome Iginla and Loui Eriksson are two great additions that will improve the right wing for the Bruins with consistent scoring and physical play.
On the other hand, the Canadiens do not have a lot going for them. They did manage to win the division last season, but only after some exceptional play and a few key games which allowed them to narrowly beat out the Bruins. Next season, the division will be even harder and fortune will not be enough to win in one of the most difficult divisions in the NHL.
Carey Price is a bit of a loose cannon for the team, and it is unclear how well he will perform. If he can meet the expectations set by the Canadiens, then he may keep them in the running for a shot at the division, but that is a big if seeing how he has not been a stable goaltender the past few seasons.
Also, the age of the Canadiens could be a factor down the line. The only thing that should be realistically expected of Daniel Briere is size, as he just adds to their legion of aging players; most of their marquee names are in their mid-30s. Nobody is saying they are as old as the Detroit Red Wings, but this is one of the reasons why Wings and Habs are going to be each other’s biggest competition next year for second place.
Even the most ardent Canadiens fans should be realistic about the team’s chances next season. They will do well, but there has not been enough change or improvements to face their more difficult circumstances next season. Maybe winning the division last season brought a false sense of security that everything will be fine. That will not be the case if an even stronger Bruins team has anything to say about it this time around.
Tim Nikolouzos is a Boston Bruins writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @timnikolou