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|The Canadiens again got the better of the Bruins on Thursday night in Boston.|
The Bruins were even better the next season. Four players -- Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge, Johnny Bucyk and Bobby Orr -- topped 100 points and earned first-team All-Star honors. Then, they ran into their old nemeses. The Canadiens knocked them out in the first round of the 1971 playoffs, a crushing defeat for a team still regarded as one of the best ever and the first step toward another Cup for Montreal. For Boston, the heartbreaker came in Game 2 of the series. Up 5-1 and apparently on their way to an easy win, the Bruins surrendered six straight goals. They never recovered from that 7-5 loss. If not for that defeat, the Bruins would have had a bona fide dynasty, given their Stanley Cup victory the next season, their second in three years. The Habs tormented the Bruins even more in the late '70s. Montreal beat Boston in both the 1977 and 1978 finals, part of a string of four straight Stanley Cup victories that solidified the Canadiens as one of hockey's best dynasties. For the Bruins, the low point of that decade -- and maybe in all of franchise history -- came in the 1979 semifinals. The hard-working, gritty Bruins squared off against the fast-skating, high-scoring Habs, forcing another Game 7 for the ages. Ahead by a goal with less than two minutes left after an amazing play by Rick Middleton, the Bruins were whistled for having too many men on the ice. Guy Lafleur scored the tying goal on the power play for the Habs, who then won in overtime to send Boston home early again. Coach Don Cherry was fired for the mistake. Nearly three decades later, many old-time Bruins fans still can't forgive Cherry for his error. Ironically, the former coach now is a national hero in Canada, delivering his uncensored commentary during weekly "Hockey Night in Canada" telecasts. He probably would be the country's next prime minister if he ever decided to run. The Bruins have claimed a few big wins of their own in the rivalry. In 1988, they knocked off the Habs in the Montreal Forum and went on to the Cup finals against the Edmonton Oilers, the last finals series played in the Boston Garden. The height of Boston's dominance in the rivalry started two seasons later. Led by Andy Moog, the Bruins dispatched the Habs in three consecutive postseasons. Hockey-obsessed Montreal was so vexed by the heroics of Boston's goalie that local radio stations started playing a takeoff of Madonna's hit single "Vogue" with derogatory lyrics about him.
|The Bruins last won the Stanley Cup in 1972 behind the heroics of Bobby Orr.|