Last spring, the Bruins and Canadiens met in an unforgettable seven-game series to begin the NHL playoffs. The Habs, you’ll recall, won the first two games, setting the stage for a remarkable Boston comeback that wasn’t complete until Nathan Horton scored at 5:43 of overtime in Game 7.

Monday night, the two teams met again at TD Garden. This time, they were teams going in different directions.

The Bruins stormed into the matchup with four straight wins to put them atop the Eastern Conference. That rise to the top was highlighted by Saturday’s stunning 6-0 win over a Flyers team that hadn’t lost this month.

Philadelphia had been the top team in the conference before the showdown, but it didn’t take long to see the Bruins had regained the swagger that led them to the Cup six months ago. The Bruins had a 2-0 lead just 2:50 into the game and were firmly in command at 4-0 by the first intermission.

It was the Flyers’ worst shutout loss at home since 2006. And it came with HBO cameras following the home team every step of the way for its “24/7 Road to the NHL Winter Classic.”

While the Flyers are becoming reality TV stars, the Bruins are once again looking like the team to beat in the East. They outscored opponents 19-5 in the four games leading up to Monday night, and are getting scoring from all four lines. Six Bruins scored Saturday afternoon.

It’s been a stunning turnaround since the Bruins lost back-to-back games to the Canadiens at the end of October. The 4-2 loss in Montreal on Oct. 29 put the Bruins at 3-7, the worst record in the entire NHL. They are 18-2-1 since, a staggering stretch that included a November without a single regulation loss.

Meantime, the Canadiens are in turmoil. They arrived in Boston having lost 8 of 11 games, and fired Coach Jacques Martin on Saturday before a home game against the Devils. Randy Cunneyworth’s debut as interim coach didn’t do much to fire up the team, as it lost to New Jersey 5-3 before a Hockey Night in Canada audience.

Suddenly, it’s Montreal in last place in the Northeast Division. The Habs have scored the second-fewest goals in the conference – only the woeful Islanders have fewer.

Scoring hasn’t been a problem for the Bruins, who were averaging 3.39 goals a game entering Monday night’s game, the second most in the league. That’s a scary output from a team that buys into a defense-first system.

Entering the week, the Bruins were the only NHL team giving up fewer than two goals per game. Claude Julien preaches the gospel of team-wide defense from the moment he wakes up in the morning until he turns the lights off in the video room at night. And, on those rare nights when the system doesn’t seem to be working, Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas is there to clean up the mistakes. He did it last Wednesday when the Bruins were outshot 49-29 by the Senators but still won, 5-2.

The Bruins have just one game in the next eight days, a holiday break that gives us all a chance to savor just how good things are in the so-called “Hub of Hockey.”

It’s not often a Stanley Cup champ gets better the following year, but this is the type of team that doesn’t come along very often.

Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.