As the NHL season approaches, so does the hostility and one-upmanship among fans of various teams. Rivalries in the league tend to be based geographically and divisionally. There are many that have come and gone, and many that have only just begun.
For fans new and old, here’s a ranking of current rivalries in the NHL that provide the best entertainment.
10. Ottawa Senators vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
In recent years, The Battle of Ontario seems like it’s one-sided with the Senators as the better team, but when it comes to playing one another, the Maple Leafs tend to pull out the win more often than not. While this rivalry may not be on the radar for many hockey fans, it’s a blood-boiling one within Ontario. As the Senators appear to be taking a seat in Cup contention, the Maple Leafs are gearing up to take Ottawa’s vacant spot.
9. Calgary Flames vs. Edmonton Oilers
As with the previous rivalry, fans outside of Canada might not be aware of the Battle of Alberta. This rivalry has a long history that dates back to the 1980’s. Before last season, the Oilers hadn’t made the playoffs for a decade while the Flames made them five times, only making it past the second round once. The rivalry had all but fizzled out, but thanks to new talent like Connor McDavid, Johnny Gaudreau, and Leon Draisaitl, it’s been revived.
8. Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings
7. San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings
It’s hard to pick between these two rivalries featuring the Kings. All three teams have had recent success and face each other in the playoffs often. Oddly enough, it looks like the Kings might get left behind as the Sharks and Ducks continue to contend.
6. Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
The interstate rivalry is another long-lasting one. A few years back, this was one of the most vicious of them all but, as the Flyers have faded in the postseason, so has some animosity by Penguins fans and players. Regardless of whether they view one another as a threat, this rivalry is always a fun one to watch.
5. New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders
The hatred between players on-ice is not as prevalent in this case as it is between their fans. The teams haven’t face one another in the postseason in over two decades, yet the rivalry still remains. The fight is over who is New York’s best team and, as both have been in a bit of a slump the last few years and have suspect futures, it’s a valid question to ask.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens
This rivalry has a long history as well but has been semi-dormant while the Maple Leafs were also dormant. Given the rise of the Maple Leafs and the steadying of the Canadiens, it’s clear to see that they both will be contending teams within the next few years, making this rivalry prominent once again.
3. Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues
This is another one that goes back for some time and is always reinforced thanks to the playoff structure. It’s always intense and bloody when these teams meet. The Blues are known to dominate the regular season and the Blackhawks the postseason, but in recent years, neither team are who they used to be. Both have gone through quite a bit of change and, with interesting mid-season trades and off season acquisitions, both of these teams’ futures are really up in the air, making their match-ups this season even more entertaining.
2. Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
These two teams have battled it out as divisional leaders for the past decade. Both teams got better around the same time when their captains, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, were drafted. While the Capitals have been frequently winning the divisional title (and even President’s Cup), the Penguins have three cups, which adds fuel to the fire. It also doesn’t help that the playoff structure allows these two powerhouse teams to meet, constantly reinforcing the rivalry. Both teams are contenders and will likely be so for years to come. This rivalry is not going anywhere.
1. Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens
An original six rivalry. It’s been around since the formation of the league and, because both teams have been contenders in recent years, the rivalry will be here to stay. For years it’s been largely fueled by the fact that no other Atlantic Division team could keep up with the Bruins or Canadiens, so they found themselves constantly battling for the divisional title. With this rivalry comes big names and dirty plays. This year, there’s a fun layer of drama considering the Canadiens’ coach used to coach the Bruins… and the Canadiens before that.
Who do you think is NHL’s current biggest rivalry? Who did we forget? Leave a comment below or let us know on Twitter: @puckitupblog.