Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Habs Rivalry Is Officially Back

The Toronto Maple Leafs versus Montreal Canadiens rivalry is officially back after game one of the regular season.

It’s been a long time since the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens were relevant at the same time. Typically when one team is playoff-bound, the other is not, so this year could be special for many reasons.

Although Toronto and Montreal have been competing against each other since 1917, this could become the most heated season between the two clubs in history. In a shortened campaign where the team’s will be play each other 10 times, each point means way more. I knew the season would get chippy, but I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly.

Canadiens defender Ben Chiarot was having a tough game to begin with. Earlier in the night, Wayne Simmonds beat the crap out of him and his team had blown a 3-1 lead to be tied 4-4 with only a few minutes left. So when you’re mad and tired, you do stupid things.

One of those stupid things was channeling his inner Bobby Clarke to cross-check Auston Matthews in the back as hard as he could. I understand that in a 4-4 game with minutes left between rivals, you’ll do anything to prevent a goal, but that was uncalled for. He attacked the sweet spot of Matthews’ back where there’s no padding and knew exactly what his intentions were.

If you’re a Habs fan, I can see why you would think this was okay because he didn’t attack his head or hit him from behind, but this should have been a penalty. If Jake Muzzin, for example, was doing this to a Canadiens player, I would say that he deserved reappreciations as well.

Toronto Maple Leafs Vs. Habs Rivalry Is Back

For a few minutes, it looked like the non-call on Chiarot would keep Matthews out of the overtime session, but fortunately for everyone he was okay to play. The Toronto Maple Leafs got their payback by storming back to a 5-4 win, but that play won’t go unnoticed the next time the two teams play each other.

Here’s what Auston Matthews and John Tavares said in regards to net-front cross-checking, courtesy of TSN’s Kristen Shilton:

“I think you always want to protect the players. The guys have a right to defend the net and create that body position and stuff, but you just have to find that happy medium as far as penalties go and stay consistent,” said Matthews

“There’s certainties got to be a line in the sand somewhere. It gets to a point where it crosses the line and it should be called and that line should be consistent on a nightly basis,” said Tavares.

Ray Ferraro also had some great insight on the non-call as well, commenting on Twitter:

Obviously the play was a cheap shot, but fortunately for everyone involved, Matthews won’t miss any time and he’ll back for the game against Ottawa on Friday. Although you never want to see anyone get hurt from a stupid play, as a fan, it’s great to know the hatred will continue to build, which will enhance this rivalry even more.

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, February 10 at 7:30PM, because that’s the next time these two teams will meet.