Ranking the Philadelphia Flyers' 5 Biggest Rivals in 2014-15

Brad KurtzbergContributor IAugust 18, 2014

Ranking the Philadelphia Flyers' 5 Biggest Rivals in 2014-15

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    The Flyers have plenty of intense rivalries, but which one is the biggest?
    The Flyers have plenty of intense rivalries, but which one is the biggest?Associated Press

    Rivalries are a big part of what makes the NHL appealing. Any hockey game is great, but when you add an element of dislike for your opponent, the game gets even more exciting.

    The Philadelphia Flyers have some of the league's best rivalries, but which ones are the most intense right now?

    Rivalries are rated based on their history, geography and particular games or incidents that add to their intensity level. Playoff history adds more to any rivalry, as does facing a lot of former teammates in any given game. Also, recent history will be ranked higher than events that happened 20 or more years ago.

    Keep in mind that these rankings are based on right now, at the start of the 2014-15 season. The fact that two teams once had a burning hatred for each other but no longer do will significantly lower the ranking on this list.

    The team that narrowly missed making this list, the New York Islanders, is an example of a matchup that used to be extremely intense but has faded a bit in recent years.

    Feel free to comment on any team mentioned here or suggest a team you feel belongs but was omitted. As always, be sure to indicate why you feel the way you do.

5. Columbus Blue Jackets

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    The Blue Jackets are rising up the list of Flyers rivalries.
    The Blue Jackets are rising up the list of Flyers rivalries.Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

    Some people might be surprised to see the Columbus Blue Jackets on this list, but the rivalry between the Flyers and the Jackets is definitely picking up steam.

    Starting last season, these two teams became division rivals. Last year, Columbus finished with one more win than Philadelphia (43 to 42), but the Flyers ended the season with one point more than the Blue Jackets (94 to 93).

    Besides the teams' proximity in the standings, there are a lot of former Flyers on the Blue Jackets' roster and plenty of former Jackets now playing in Philadelphia.

    Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky is the cornerstone of the Columbus lineup and came over in a trade with the Flyers. He later won the Vezina Trophy and helped the Blue Jackets win a playoff game for the first time in franchise history.

    This past summer, the Flyers traded the popular Scott Hartnell to Columbus for R.J. Umberger.

    Some former Blue Jackets on the Flyers' roster include Jakub Voracek and starting goalie Steve Mason. Mason struggled in his final years in Columbus before the Flyers acquired him at the trade deadline in 2013. There is no question that beating the Blue Jackets is a little sweeter for Mason.

    This rivalry is picking up steam and should only grow more intense in the next few years as both teams figure to be contenders in the Metropolitan Division.

4. Washington Capitals

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    Last year's big line brawl between the Flyers and the Washington Capitals was a turning point in the Flyers' season. The Flyers lost the game 7-0, but the fight seemed to galvanize the Flyers, who started to win consistently shortly after that game.

    One of the highlights of the game was Flyers goalie Ray Emery challenging Braden Holtby of the Caps to drop the gloves and pounding the opposing netminder despite the fact that Holtby didn't want to fight.

    These two teams met again in March and another line brawl broke out.

    The fact that this rivalry also features one of the league's best passers in Claude Giroux and one of the league's best goal scorers in Alex Ovechkin only adds a little fuel to the fire.

    The Capitals and Flyers have also met four times in the playoffs, with each team winning two series.

3. New Jersey Devils

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    The Devils are just down the turnpike from the Flyers.
    The Devils are just down the turnpike from the Flyers.Rich Schultz/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils are connected by the New Jersey Turnpike. These two teams not only share a geographic rivalry but have been in the same division since the Devils moved from Denver to New Jersey in 1982.

    The two clubs have met five times in the playoffs, with the most recent meeting coming in 2012 when the Devils defeated the Flyers in five games to take a 3-2 series lead in this rivalry.

    The Flyers' most recent win came during their run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010 when Philadelphia defeated New Jersey in five games in the first round of the playoffs.

    Fans throughout New Jersey are often in the middle of this rivalry, with those closer to Newark pulling for the Devils while those in the southern part of the state root for the Flyers. Anytime you divide the loyalties of a state, the rivalry is rarely going to cool off.

2. New York Rangers

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    The Flyers and Rangers met again in last year's playoffs.
    The Flyers and Rangers met again in last year's playoffs.Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers have one of the most intense rivalries in the NHL. Philadelphia and New York have a natural rivalry as cities and are only about two hours apart by car or train.

    The rivalry between the two cities carries over into sports, and the one between the Flyers and Rangers is arguably the most intense.

    The two teams have met 11 times in the playoffs, with the first instance coming back in 1974. The Flyers became the first expansion team to defeat an Original Six franchise in a playoff series when they defeated the Rangers in the semifinal series that year. The Flyers went on to win their first Stanley Cup.

    The image of Dave Schultz beating up on Rangers defenseman Dale Rolfe in Game 7 was considered by many to be the turning point of the series.

    From 1979 to 1987, the two rivals met in the playoffs seven times in nine seasons, with New York winning four of the seven series.

    Their most recent meeting came this past year when the Rangers eliminated the Flyers in the opening round of last year's playoffs in another tight, seven-game series.

    The Flyers hold a slim 6-5 overall edge in the postseason.

    The biggest regular-season meeting between these rivals came on the final day of the 2010 season. The winner of this game qualified for the final playoff spot while the loser stayed home.

    The game went to a shootout, where the Flyers won after Brian Boucher stopped Olli Jokinen in the final round to send the Flyers to the postseason. Philadelphia battled its way to the Stanley Cup Final that season.

    These two teams have also been division rivals since the 1974-75 season.

    It's Broadway against Broad Street, The Big Apple against the City of Brotherly Love and one of hockey's most intense rivalries.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    The Penguins are division and cross-state rivals for the Flyers.
    The Penguins are division and cross-state rivals for the Flyers.Associated Press

    There is a lot of bad blood whenever Pennsylvania's two NHL teams meet on the same sheet of ice. The Flyers have many great rivalries, but none is more intense right now than the one they have with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    Both teams entered the NHL in 1967, and the Flyers enjoyed the better of the rivalry for the first two decades. From February 7, 1974 until February 2, 1989, the Flyers were 39-0-3 against the Penguins at the Spectrum in Philadelphia.

    The two teams have met six times in the playoffs, with the Flyers winning four times and the Penguins winning twice.

    The most memorable playoff game between the two teams came in 2000 when the Flyers and Penguins met in the third-longest playoff game in NHL history. Keith Primeau scored at 92:01 of overtime to give the Flyers a 2-1 win in Game 4 of the series. They went on to win in six games.

    Some great players have taken part in this rivalry, including Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber, Bernie Parent, Eric Lindros, Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Evgeni Malkin, Claude Giroux and Sidney Crosby.

    Anytime these two teams meet, the passion level of the fans goes up dramatically. "The Battle of Pennsylvania" is the Flyers' most intense rivalry right now.