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NHL Rivalry Night: Welcome to Bruins vs. Canadiens, Thomas Vanek

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Phoenix Coyotes
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March 6, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Montreal Canadiens left wing Thomas Vanek (20) before playing against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens meet on NHL Rivalry Night on NBCSN (coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET) to continue one of the League’s most storied feuds.

How storied? Oh, this storied, as NHL Rivals brings us back to the intense days of the B’s and Habs battling for the chance at the Cup. It’s Don Cherry against Scotty Bowman and Hall of Famers vs. blue collar guys, peppered with the requisite controversy.

On Wednesday night, the rivalry takes another turn with the introduction of Thomas Vanek to the proceedings.

Vanek, acquired at the trade deadline by Montreal from the New York Islanders, has been known as a Bruins Killer during his career. With the Buffalo Sabres, Vanek had 29 goals and 28 assists in 50 games, skating to a plus-17. That dominance continued with the Islanders, as Vanek had a goal and three assists in three games for a plus-4.

That’s 61 points in 53 career games vs. Boston.

So what does he think of this Bruins Killer thing?

“I don't know. The last four or five years, to me, Boston has been one of the better teams in the league,” he told ESPN Boston. “You want to play your best against the best teams, but again, I think sometimes just the numbers are the numbers. I can't really tell you why that is, but I can tell you that it's a big game, it's a great team and you want to play in big games.”

Vanek had 38 points in 53 career games vs. Montreal. He has 36 in 51 games against Ottawa. But he has 48 points in 49 games against the Toronto Maple Leafs who, much like Boston, were a more ferocious rival for his Buffalo Sabres than other division foes.

The Habs are 0-for-Vanek at the moment, losing two road games to San Jose and Phoenix since the deadline trade. Vanek has zero points, is a minus-1 and has four shots on goal.

But tonight is at Bell Centre. Tonight brings the Bruins to town. And if the Habs are going to turn around their recent fortunes (1-3-0), they could use a big night from Vanek.

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