NHL: The Most Underrated Rivalries in Hockey Today
There have been a lot of people writing about NHL rivalries recently, so I figured that I would put my own spin on the subject.
Rivalries are one of the many reasons why we love hockey and circle certain dates on the calendar. At the end of a rivalry game, one team is met with an amazing feeling while the other feels awful. Rivalries are sure to bring out the best in each team, and they will always provide for great excitement, regardless of where each team is in the standings.
In the NHL, there are classic rivalries like Flyers-Penguins, Bruins-Canadiens and Devils-Rangers that we hear about all the time. However, there are several other rivalries that do not get as much credit or publicity that are among the league's best.
Next time any of these rivalries are taking place, be sure to tune in. You won't be disappointed.
Carolina Hurricanes-New Jersey Devils
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It seems like every time the Hurricanes make the playoffs, they end up facing New Jersey at some point along the way.
Carolina hasn't made the playoffs since 2009, but in the first round of that year, they battled through a seven-game series against the hated Devils.
In Game 7, New Jersey clung to a 3-2 lead at home with less than two minutes remaining. Then the storm hit. Carolina scored two goals in the last two minutes of the game, winning it in regulation and ending the series.
Ask Hurricane fans, and they will tell you that New Jersey is their most hated rival. Hopefully these two will make the playoffs again and square off in an epic postseason duel.
Detroit Red Wings-Nashville Predators
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These two Central Division foes truly hate each other.
Nashville has always used Detroit as a measuring stick in the Central Division, and they finally beat the hated Red Wings in a playoff series last season after losing the prior two. In that series, Shea Weber became public enemy No. 1 in Hockeytown after not being suspended for smashing Henrik Zetterberg's head into the boards after Game 1.
Both teams may have retracted a little this season after losing some key pieces of the roster, but the first game between the two will be just as heated as any before, as this is quickly becoming one of the best rivalries in the Western Conference.
Buffalo Sabres-Philadelphia Flyers
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Every time the Sabres and Flyers play, you can almost be guaranteed at least one good fight.
Whenever these two meet, regardless of whether it is in the regular season or in the playoffs, they always provide for some heavy-hitting old time hockey. They are usually about equal in terms of skill as well, and each game between the two is always meaningful.
The fans are also part of what makes this rivalry so good. Buffalo and Philadelphia fans are two of the most passionate groups in hockey. I have been lucky enough to attend a Sabres-Flyers game in each of the two cities, and it is safe to say that the fans get along just about as well as the players do on the ice.
Anaheim Ducks-San Jose Sharks
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So after San Jose's unbelievable start to the season, the Ducks are now first place in the Pacific (as of February 7th).
No, I'm serious, take a look.
Anyways, rivalries always seem to bring out the best in each team. That is exactly what happens every time the Sharks and Ducks face off.
Not a whole lot of people on the East Coast stay up late enough to pay attention to these games, but West Coast hockey is some of the most exciting hockey that you can find. Every team is decent, and there are a lot of big hits and fights.
Anaheim and San Jose have only met once in the playoffs, but it resulted in the No. 8 seed Ducks upsetting the President's Trophy-winning Sharks in the first round. There's still some bad blood between these California rivals, and it is on display every time they play each other.
A playoff series between these two would be a treat for every NHL fan...as long as they are willing to stay up late.
Trust me, it's worth it.
Boston Bruins-Dallas Stars
I do apologize about Jack Edwards.
I know this one is kind of out-there, and yes, I did mean to put Dallas instead of Vancouver. Unfortunately, the Bruins and Stars will not play each other this year, but it seems like there is always bad blood every single time they play. Especially if it is in Boston.
You may also want to check out what sparked this whole thing a few years before it happened: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eG6wQRnnT8o.
Now, Steve Ott plays for Buffalo, adding to the Bruins-Sabres rivalry, but it will still be interesting to see what happens whenever the Bruins and the Stars play next.
Also, the Stars acquired Aaron Rome over the offseason. Sound familiar Boston? This is where you have probably heard of him.
Minnesota Wild-St. Louis Blues
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This one may be the best of the bunch.
Everyone who is a fan of either team can agree that there is something special about every time they meet. These two teams have mostly been defense-based for the past few years, providing tight hockey games with big hits, great goaltending and a fair share of fights.
This goes back to the days of the old Blues-North Stars rivalry from the Norris Division. Hopefully the Blues and Wild will be in the same division together after the new realignment (whenever it may happen).
There is also a decent chance that these two could play each other in the first round of the playoffs this spring. They would without a doubt provide for one of the most entertaining series of the year.