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Great NHL Rivalries ( Part 1)

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Ever since the beginning of the NHL, there have been many incredible rivalries, on the ice and in the stands. The following are in no particular order, other than the order they fell out of my head. Enjoy.

Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

PANTHERS/LIGHTNING

The “AARP” Rivalry

To me, this is one of the most irrelevant rivalries in all of sports.( I didn’t even know panthers existed in Miami!) Especially when you consider that most of any potential fan base is either watching Jeopardy, asleep,(or dead!) by the time games start. Although in their defense, if had to choose between watching these 2 squads, Jeopardy,(or death) I’d bet dollars to doughnuts you’d find me in a Craftsmatic Adjustable Bed rocking an Alex Trebek jersey. Every. Time.
Let’s face it; hockey In Florida makes about as much sense as hockey in Arizona.(or Vegas)

And the Lord said, “Go habs!”

 

BRUINS/CANADIENS

The “Greatest Rivalry in Sports”

This one takes you back. Way back. We’re talking like the “Charleston” and the Great Depression way back. To date, no two NHL teams have faced eachother more often than the Bruins and Canadiens.

As of the start of the 2014/2015 season they have faced eachother 718 times.(including playoffs) with 351 wins for the Canadiens, 264 wins for the Bruins, and 103 ties. They have also faced one another 34 times in the playoffs(MTL 25-BOS 09) with 9 of those series going to a game 7, more than any other opponents in history.

They also both enjoy the luxury of having two of the most dedicated, charismatic fanbases in all of sports. Love them or hate’em, their fans live and breathe for these guys.

 

No! No! Not THAT Ted Kennedy!

RED WINGS/MAPLE LEAFS

Another trip in the way back machine…

This is another one from the time when people didn’t have shoes,( We had to tie rocks to our feet!) had to walk uphill to school,(both ways!) through three feet of snow, blah blah blah…

With plenty of fire,( many Detroit fans still believe Toronto’s Ted Kennedy acted maliciously in the 1950 playoffs when Red Wings Gordie Howe mistimed a check on Kennedy, falling face first into the boards. Resulting in injuries so severe he needed emergency surgery to save his life.) and a great deal of success,( 23 playoff series, 5 for the Stanley Cup) the Red Wings/Maple Leafs rivalry definitely belongs in the conversation for the greatest of all time.

This is a rivalry so fierce, that upon reaching the finals against the Red Wings in 1950, the New York Rangers, unable to host games at Madison Square Garden,(Ringling Bros./Barnum & Baileys Circus was in town!) they arranged to play their home games in Toronto. Simply because their fans hated the Red Wings so much.( this was also in the immediate aftermath of the Gordie Howe/Ted Kennedy incident)

While in 1998 the rivalry lost some of it’s flair with the Maple Leafs switching to the Eastern Conference, it was reignited in 2013, when the league realigned the conferences, placing Detroit in the East.

“I went to Henry’s house for drinks, but he had no cups!”

 

DEVILS/RANGERS

“Battle of the Hudson”

If you read my last piece, you probably knew this one was coming. (up until 2012 chants of,”Matteau!!,Matteau!!” Still haunted my dreams!) But even if I am biased,(I am!) this one should still rank pretty high on the list.

Though many drunken Ranger fans will tell you otherwise, the Devils have had a considerable amount of success,(20 playoff appearances, 5 trips to the finals, 3 Stanley Cups) in their relatively short time in New Jersey.(32 years) Compared to the Rangers only slightly greater success(11 trips to the finals, 4 Cups) over a much longer timeline.(90+ years)

With plenty of passion from both players,(from Mark Messier’s iconic,”We’ll win tonight!”declaration, to Sean Avery. Who, while possessing no real hockey talent, will surely be a first ballot inductee into the “pissing off Martin Brodeur” Hall of Fame) and fans alike,(the Rangers had spent years listening to chants of,”1940!!” Or the always popular,”Rangers suck!!”) I consider this to be one of the most entertaining rivalries in the game today.

Interesting side note: the last time Ranger fans celebrated a Stanley Cup they had to brag about it in person. The Internet didn’t exist yet…

See, i’m a part of things too!

 

RANGERS/ISLANDERS

“Battle of New York”

Yes. Even though I hate the Rangers, they made the list twice…

While never short on excitement, this rivalry is unique in the fact that the teams play in the same state, same division, and now that the Islanders are moving to Brooklyn, if you eat your Wheaties, you could walk from one rink to the other.

As always, the fans are what makes this rivalry so enjoyable. It was Islander fans, after sweeping the Rangers in the 1981 semifinals who started the,”1940!!” Chant.( at the time a reference to the Rangers last Cup victory) a chant picked up by fans of many other teams until the Rangers finally won it in 1994. Ranger fans, not to be out done, have a few comebacks of their own. The ever popular,”Potvin Sucks!!” a reference to HOF Islander defenseman Denis Potvins questionable, ankle breaking check on Ranger center Ulf Nilsson. To the not so family friendly,”Potvin beat your wife!! Potvin beat your wife!!” a reference to allegations that Potvin committed domestic abuse.

Though this rivalry fizzled in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s, it has been brought back to life by the islanders reemergence as one of the top teams to beat in the Eastern Conference.

To be continued…

 

**Image Credits: USA  Today, Nj.com. Imdb, 3dartistonline,  soccerpubs