- Joe McDonald, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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But a major dislike has grown between the organizations since the Bruins won that series for their first championship in 39 years. Vancouver has won the last two games, beating Boston 4-3 on Jan. 7, 2012, at TD Garden, and 6-2 on Dec. 14 at Rogers Arena.
The Canucks have a new coaching staff led by former Tampa Bay and New York Rangers coach John Tortorella, who returned Monday night after serving a 15-day suspension. Vancouver went 2-4-0 during the coach's league-mandated absence.
Since many of the same players remain on the respective rosters, Tuesday's game between the Bruins and Canucks at TD Garden will not disappoint.
"I think there's definitely some hatred for that team," said Bruins forward Brad Marchand. "And they have it for us. I think anytime you're playing a team and you're on the ice I think you've got to have that feeling. You've got to hate the other team. That's what makes you want to push so hard to win that game. I think it's safe to say that you kind of hate every team when you're on the ice."
No doubt this rivalry has grown between the Bruins and the Canucks. Even though it's been nearly three years, the remaining players feel the hatred that Marchand described. Fans feel it, too.
Prior to the Bruins' 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens Thursday at TD Garden, coach Claude Julien and his players were talking about how important it was not to focus on the storied rivalry, but instead concentrate and continue to play the way Boston had been playing leading up to that game. But Montreal outplayed the Bruins in every aspect, and Boston showed no emotion during its worst loss of the season.
It will be different against the Canucks.
"It's there just because of the bad blood and all the emotion that was in that final," said Bruins forward Milan Lucic. "There's still guys that were big parts of that final that are still on the same team. 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."
It's going to be difficult to ignore the Canucks as just another opponent. If the previous two games against Vancouver are any indication, the Bruins will be faced with a challenge. This rivalry is legit.
"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."
Caught up in all the emotion of this rivalry, Marchand thought he was embarrassing the Canucks by mockingly kissing his championship ring, and pretending to lift the Stanley Cup in the air during Boston's loss in December. However, he embarrassed himself, and afterward the Bruins addressed the situation with him. It was the first time the Bruins returned to Vancouver since winning the Stanley Cup, so emotions were running high for both teams.
"If I go back, probably not something I'd do again. But I've just got to move on," Marchand said.
The Bruins hoisted the Cup on June 15, 2011, at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, and the first regular-season rematch between the teams was played on Jan. 7, 2012, at TD Garden. It was a game filled with fights, ejections and total resentment for one another.
Of course, Marchand was right in the middle of it.
With that game tied at 2-2, Marchand was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for clipping the Canucks' Sami Salo at 18:47 of the second period. Vancouver scored twice during that man advantage for a 4-2 lead and finished with a 4-3 victory over the Bruins. Marchand was suspended for five games for his hit on Salo.
"It was a crazy game. It was a lot of fun to be part of that game as well, for a couple periods, but yeah it's fun being part of those games," Marchand said. "There's a lot of emotion. Those are the games that people want to see, the games you want to be part of. I'm sure it's going to be a hard-fought game [Tuesday]. They're a really good team and they play really hard, and they've got a few guys in there who are playing a little more physical too. It's going to be a little more of a fun game."
The Bruins returned to the Stanley Cup finals in June and eventually lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games. The teams played the regular-season rematch on Jan. 19 at United Center in Chicago. It was an entertaining game and finished with the Blackhawks winning 3-2 in a shootout. That game was played similarly to the finals and proved how much respect the Bruins and Blackhawks had for one another, which is completely different than the Bruins and Canucks.
When the puck drops Tuesday night, it will be an intense game. Players on both teams will be into it and fans will be ready, too.
"Yeah, I think so," Marchand said. "I think the fans are going to be really excited about it. Obviously they were not happy with how we played last game against them. So we're going to want to have a big game and they're big points for our team. We've got to make sure we go after them hard."
10dJoe McDonald and Kyle Brasseur