The thing that makes sports as exciting as it is, is heated rivalries. Like all major and junior sports the NHL is not short of rivalries, whether it be cities, teams, players, or fan bases. Hockey as a whole is an intense game filled with emotion, which adds fuel to the fire when it comes to the NHL’s most electric rivalries. With the dynamic of rivalries changing year in and year out, what are the NHL’s most electric rivalries currently?
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals rivalry has stood since the 2005 NHL entry when the Penguins drafted future superstar Sidney Crosby, just one year prior the Capitals drafted Alex Ovechkin. This rivalry falls more into the player rivalry category as fans have and continue to argue over who is the greater player. Crosby has the championships while Ovechkin has the stats. Over the years the two have met 60 times in the regular season with Crosby and Penguins getting the best of Ovechkin and the Capitals 36 times.
Sidney Crosby improves to 36-22-2 head-to-head vs Alex Ovechkin in the regular season#LetsGoPens
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) December 11, 2021
Traditionally the Montreal Canadiens rivals have been the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, but suddenly the Caroline Hurricanes have emerged, but not for an on-ice factor. The Canadiens and Hurricanes have met just twice in the NHL playoffs (2002 and 2006) nothing of note nowadays for these two. So how does a young Hurricanes team spark a rivalry with one of the most storied franchises in sports? Flashback to the summer of 2019 when Carolina’s young star Sebastian Aho hit the restricted free agency market and the Canadiens decide to offer him a five-year $42 million offer sheet, forcing the Hurricanes to retain their young star at said price. Come the summer of 2021 the roles suddenly reverse as Canadiens young star Jesperi Kotkaniemi hits the restricted free agency market and wouldn’t you know it Carolina is waiting. The Hurricanes offered Kotkaniemi a one-year $6 million offer sheet with a $20 signing bonus (Aho’s number), which Montreal did not match resulting in Kotkaniemi becoming a Hurricane. It didn’t end there as the Hurricanes tweeted the signing in french and just like the young Hurricanes team had gotten the powerful Canadiens attention fueled with hatred.
Les Hurricanes ont annoncé aujourd’hui avoir déposé une offre hostile au joueur autonome avec restriction Jesperi Kotkaniemi des Canadiens de la Montreal. L’entente proposée est d’une durée de un ans et d’une valeur annuelle moyenne de 6,1 millions $.
— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) August 28, 2021
The “Battle of Alberta” has always been electric, whether the Flames and Oilers are on the same level or not. The two teams have met 129 times in the regular season prior to their January 22, 2022 meeting. Each time sparks fly. They have also met 30 times in the post-season. Flash forward to now a day, the Oilers have the likes of Conor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl while the Flames match with Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau, the Flames being less star-studded currently still enter the modern-day rivalry with that four less Stanley Cup history chip on their shoulder, while trying to prove why they should be “Alberta’s team”. Check out Betway Insider to see who has bragging rights in this series.
Dubbed the “Governors Cup” the rivalry between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers was nothing special until recently when the Lightning managed to haul in back-to-back Stanley Cups and cemented them as Florida’s number one hockey team. The Panthers have recently taken exception to this. While Tampa Bay has been winning Stanley Cups, the Panthers have been constructing a powerhouse of their own. For the first time in their young rivalry, the Panthers and Lightning are both built for playoff hockey, although the two teams have only met once in the postseason with the Lighting edging the Panthers in six games during the first round of the 2021 NHL playoffs, these two are set to be electric for years to come. Forcing fans from around the league to be intuned in the both of them.
One of the most classic rivalries in sports. The Boston Bruin and Toronto Maple Leafs first met way back in 1924 and since the two have battled 761 times, with Boston currently leading the all-time series 343–305–99–13, while the two remain tied in playoff series wins with eight wins per side, including the Bruins beating the Leafs in the first round of the 2018 and 2019 playoffs, both going to game seven. This rivalry stems from the ice to the nose bleeds, the players despise one another, well the fans are filled with pure hatred towards the opposing side. Montreal and both Boston and Toronto are also exciting rivalries but due to the current state of both these teams this rivalry will not soon fizzle out and fans can look forward to many more seven-game playoff series between these two storied franchises.
These are just five of the many rivalries in the NHL. There are many more active rivalries and more to spark, but as of now, there may not be any as electric as the ones above. Fans from all over the globe tune in and watch these teams fight tooth and nail to edge the other. Fighting, scoring, or trash talk these rivalries are lacking none of it. Fan’s make these rivalries and the sport of hockey itself even more electric. With that, if you are a casual fan or a die-hard fan get in on these electric rivalries.
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