Flyers vs. Lightning and 6 NHL Rivalries We Want to Reignite
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There are some NHL rivalries that define the NHL and stand on their own.
When the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins get together, there is a palpable hatred that is obvious. A similar feeling is present when the Pittsburgh Penguins play the Philadelphia Flyers or the Chicago Blackhawks meet the Detroit Red Wings.
The battle of Alberta between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames is another emotional rivalry.
But some of the best rivalries in the league are not the classics that have been talked about and written about for years.
Take the battle between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Philadelphia Flyers. No, these two teams don't have a long history of classic playoff battles.
However, the Flyers attempted to make a statement on behalf of the rest of the league in an early-season game last year when Philadelphia head coach Peter Laviolette had his players stop playing when they got control of the puck because he had a problem with the 1-3-1 trap that Lightning coach Guy Boucher employed with his team.
It was an unconventional yet effective way for Laviolette to make a statement.
It also created ill will between the Flyers and Lightning. Those two teams meet Feb. 5 in Philadelphia.
Here's a look at six more rivalries we would like to see get hot once again.
New York Rangers-Boston Bruins
The Rangers and the Bruins are two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
Both are Original Six teams that have a long history with each other.
Unfortunately for their fans, it's an ancient history. The Rangers and the Bruins have not met in a playoff series since 1973.
The Bruins and Bobby Orr won the 1972 Stanley Cup by beating the Rangers in six games in the Finals. The following year, the Rangers got revenge and upset the Bruins in five games.
They have not met in the postseason in 40 years.
It would not be a shocker if the Bruins and Rangers finished in the top two spots in the Eastern Conference and the two meet in the Eastern Conference Finals this year.
It would be one more spoke in the New York-Boston rivalry and it would be a meeting to savor.
Chicago Blackhawks-St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks have a natural rivalry that was once at the top of the charts in the NHL.
The Blues and Blackhawks were vicious towards each other and their playoff meetings were classic.
The rivalry also presented the St. Louis-Chicago angst that is often associated with the Cubs and Cardinals in baseball.
It's just as heated in hockey.
Here's the issue: The Blues and Blackhawks have not often been good at the same time.
That changed last year after Ken Hitchcock was named head coach of the Blues and they rose to the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference. The Blues are clearly a power in the NHL.
The Blackhawks won the 2010 Stanley Cup and they are off to a sharp start in 2013. A classic playoff meeting between the Blackhawks and Blues would have a dynamic impact on the NHL and would raise the intensity level of this rivalry.
Buffalo Sabres-Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres should be one of the toughest and most meaningful rivalries in the NHL.
The two cities are basically right across the border from each other and just 100 miles apart.
When the Sabres came into NHL existence, legendary Toronto head coach Punch Imlach became the boss of the Sabres.
The only thing preventing this rivalry from becoming a blood war is the lack of success both teams have had in recent years.
The Sabres did not make the playoffs in 2012 and they were knocked out in the first round in 2010 and 2011.
The Maple Leafs have not made the playoffs since the 2003-04 season.
Both of these teams need to step up and join the Northeast Division battle. Much improvement is needed.
Los Angeles Kings-Anaheim Ducks
This is a rivalry that should be the West Coast version of the New York Rangers-New Jersey Devils.
The Kings and Ducks share the Los Angeles metropolitan area and they will occasionally show their disdain for each other.
However, it doesn't happen enough.
There may be too much California cool in the matchup for either team's own good.
The Kings were silently seething when the Ducks won the 2007 Stanley Cup by beating the Ottawa Senators. However, they tried not to let their resentment show.
The Ducks were shunted to the background when the Kings won their first Stanley Cup last spring.
It's a rivalry that could be hot and nasty, but instead is lukewarm.
Minnesota Wild-Dallas Stars
The Minnesota North Stars should have been one of the most successful U.S.-based teams in the NHL.
Instead, the North Stars left the Twin Cities after the 1992-93 season and moved to Dallas, much like the Dodgers left Brooklyn and moved to Los Angeles after the 1957 baseball season.
In football, the equivalent was the Baltimore Colts moving to Indianapolis or the Browns leaving Cleveland and moving to Baltimore to become the Ravens.
Some moves should never happen and the North Stars moving to Dallas is one of them.
Every time the Stars come back to their former home to take on the Wild it is a chance for the emotion to come bubbling back to the surface.
The Wild upped their ante by signing stars Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in the offseason. They now have a chance to play with the better teams in the Western Conference.
They also have a chance to show their anger at the Stars for abandoning "The State of Hockey" and taking off for Dallas.
The sport needs both of these teams to get much better so this rivalry can turn white hot.
Philadelphia Flyers-Ottawa Senators
The Philadelphia Flyers are capable of bringing out the emotions in more teams' fan bases than any other NHL team.
The Rangers, Devils, Bruins, Canadiens, Islanders, Sabres, Blues and Maple Leafs have all had their moments with the Flyers.
The Ottawa Senators wouldn't seem to be in the mix, but there is a lingering hatred between the two teams stemming from the record-setting brawl between the two teams in March, 2004.
In that game, the Senators and Flyers combined for 419 penalty minutes, the most in any single game in NHL history.
After the game, Flyers general manager Bobby Clarke (known as Bob at the time), tried to get to the Senators' locker room to confront Ottawa head coach Jacques Martin (source: CBC.ca).
"I would not have hit him—I am not that stupid," Clarke said. "But I would have confronted him."