It’s now the end of the National Hockey League (NHL) 2012-2013 regular season, with the Toronto Maple Leafs playing host to their arch rivals the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens would win 4-1, to finish the regular season with 29 wins, 14 losses, and five overtime losses, good enough for first place in the Northeast Division and second place overall in the Eastern Conference. The Maple Leafs finished with a record of 26 wins, 17 losses, and five overtime losses for 57 points, good for third place in the Northeast Divsion and fifth place overall in the Eastern Conference.
Let’s look at the greatest rivalry in sports:
The Maple Leafs and Habs have met 15 times in the post season, the last time being in 1979. Of those meetings, five have been for the Stanley Cup (1947, 1951, 1959, 1960, 1967) with the Leafs winning three of those finals. The two teams also played for the NHL Title (and the right to play for the Stanley Cup) in 1918, which Toronto also one. Overall, Montreal has won eight of the playoff meetings between the two teams with a record of 42-29.
The outcomes of their playoff encounters are as follows:
- 1918 NHL Finals: Toronto, outscoring Montreal 10-7 in a two game, total goals final.
- 1925: NHL Semi-Finals: Montreal, outscoring Toronto 5-2 in a two game, total goals series.
- 1944 Semi-Finals: Montreal four games to one.
- 1947 Finals: Toronto wins four games to one.
- 1951 Finals: Toronto wins four games to one.
- 1959 Finals: Montreal wins four games to one.
- 1960 Finals: Montreal wins four games to none.
- 1963 Semifinals: Toronto wins four games to one.
- 1964 Semifinals: Toronto wins four games to three.
- 1965 Semifinals: Montreal wins four games to two.
- 1967 Finals: Toronto wins four games to two.
- 1978 Semifinals: Montreal wins four games to none.
- 1979 Quaterfinals: Montreal wins four games to none.
With the exception 0f 1961, Toronto and Montreal would win every Stanley Cup between 1956 and 1969 including five straight by Montreal (1956-1960) and three straight by Toronto (1962-1964). Both teams met in the postseason six times during that stretch, inlcuding three times in the finals.
Everytime the Leafs and Habs have met in the playoffs, the winning team has gone on to hoist the Stanley Cup. This just demonstrates how important their rivalry is, and how important a victory over the other team is on the outcome of the season for each team. The Canadiens have won the most Stanley Cup titles with 24 victories, while the Maple Leafs have won the Stanley Cup 13 times for second place.
Montreal leads the overall series 379-311-88 in 783 overall meetings (regular season plus the postseason.) In regular season meetings, Montreal has a record of 337-282-88.
The rivalry has historically represented the main division in Canada between ‘English Canada’ (The Maple Leafs) and ‘French Canada’ (The Canadiens.) This dimension has gradually decreased over the years, and the two teams have interpovincial rivalries as well (Maple Leafs vs. the Ottawa Senators since 1993, and especially since 1998 when the Leafs moved into the same division as Ottawa; and the Canadiens vs. the Quebec Nordiques from 1979 to 1995.)
Their games tend to be highly competitive as both teams consider it to be an insult to lose to the other team. This makes for very exciting games to watch.
The two teams met numerous times during the regular season up until the 1981-1982 season when the Maple Leafs moved to the Norris Division which was moved from the Prince of Wales Conference to the Clarence Campbell Conference. The two teams would only play a couple games a year from then until the 1998-1999 season when the Maple Leafs moved to the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference along with the Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres, and Boston Bruins. The two teams now meet six times over the course of a full 82 game season.
The rivalry may or may not continue this spring depending on how far each team goes in the playoffs. While it is now impossible for the two teams to meet for the Stanley Cup as they both play in the Eastern Conference, it is possible for them to compete for the Prince of Wales Trophy as Champions of the Eastern Conference and the right to play for the Stanley Cup. So long live the greatest rivalry in sports!!!