With the Canadians & the Lakers, there'll be no love lost at the Garden. (SawxBlog Composite)
Last nights contest between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadians served as a fine opening act for tonight's game pitting the Celtics against the Lakers - as the Boston Garden plays host to the intensity of rivalry week that's being played in collegiate gyms across the Nation. Not a bad 48 hours to be on Causeway Street.
The Bruins finished off the hated Canadians yesterday in a thrilling 8-6 victory giving them a four point lead over Montreal in the division. I didn't think anything could match the insane intensity of last Thursday's game between Boston and Dallas - which featured three fights in the first four seconds, and two goals within the first 2:20, but last nights game somehow seemed to top it. And what pushed this game past is the tradition, history, and hatred that only a properly simmered rivalry can provide.
While the Bruins have fallen on some hard times with the tragic loss of Savard, they've been playing some of their most inspired hockey of the year, and are winners of seven of their last ten games. They may be missing a true scoring winger - or a defenseman who can handle the puck and lead a power play, but they're showing a lot of heart, which once again has them poised to make a deep run at Lord Stanley's Cup.
On the other side of the Garden the Celtics have been both breath taking and frustrating. They've shown they can rise to the ocassion and gut out big wins such as in LA or against the Magic on Super Sunday. But they also show major signs of lapse, like against the Bobcats or Suns. The things that scares me about the Celtics is that at this time of year they only seem to get up for the really big ones. So tonight and Sunday I have no fear of them not showing-up. Asking them to win both isn't out of the question, but what I'm more worried about are the games next week against the likes of the Nets, Nuggets, and Warriors. I don't think home court advantage can be downplayed, especially in light of Game 7 last year - and with Miami only half a game behind us in the East, I'm looking for the Celtics to play like it's a national game every night.
Regardless of the highs and lows a regular season presents, there's no doubt that with the Canadians coming to the Garden last night, and with the Lakers and Heat coming tonight and Sunday - that our version of rivalry week is in full throat, which makes for some great time killing as it's only three short days until pitchers and catchers report.