Rivalries. Where would the NHL be without them? Sure, it makes money on every game that’s played, but when a team faces off against a hated rival, fans will flock to an arena if it isn’t already sold out to see their team take them on its nemesis.
Be it because of history or geographical location, most teams have that one or even two teams that their players are definitely going to be up for.
However, nowadays, rivalries are more and more being formed by individual players on each team or by teams facing each other in the playoffs.
This season, what are the hottest rivalries the league? Will history have its say or will the rivalries formed more recently be the more prominent ones?
Games played against each other: 116
Los Angeles Wins: 50
San Jose Wins: 59
This is a new entry in this category. The Kings and Sharks have always been in the same division and therefore had a natural rivalry. However, now that both of them are competitive and will be fighting for the Pacific Division title this year, the games between them will be that much more important.
Games played against each other: 101
Washington wins: 63
Tampa Bay wins: 32
In the same situation as LA and San Jose, the Capitals and Lightning will be fighting for the Southeast Division crown. Washington has had a firm grasp on the division for quite a while, but Tampa Bay now seems ready to take the next step into contention.
Games played against each other: 709
Toronto Wins: 286
Montreal Wins: 335
No matter what, this will always be one of the NHL’s hottest rivalries. The Leafs hate the Habs, and the Habs hate the Leafs. This is what a rivalry is meant to be. No matter if either team is contending, these teams will always put on a good show.
Games played against each other: 174
Boston Wins: 90
Philadephia wins: 63
The Bruins and Flyers have faced each other in the playoffs two years in a row and they have come out of it with one series win each. Both teams went on to the Stanley Cup Final, but only Boston came out with the Cup. Out of all the rivalries on this list, this is the most based on pure competition.
Games played against each other: 167
Vancouver Wins: 68
Chicago Wins: 77
It is no secret that these two teams despise each other. For three years in a row, the Canucks and Blackhawks have gone to war in the playoffs, with the Blackhawks being the winning team for the first two years until the Canucks finally solved them last season.
Some of the personal feeling to the rivalry left when Chicago was forced to demolish its Cup-winning team because of the salary cap, but there is still a heated rivalry between them.
Games played against each other: 193
Pittsburgh Wins: 91
Washington Wins: 86
Or should I say Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin? This is the biggest example of a player-fueled rivalry. As long as Crosby and Ovechkin are members of their respective teams, which will most likely be their entire careers, the Penguins and Capitals will always be looked at as a rivalry just because of their captains.
Games played against each other: 711
Boston Wins: 265
Montreal Wins: 343
This has rivalry has its history, but what has happened in this rivalry recently has only served to bring more to it. The moment that Zdeno Chara plastered Max Pacioretty into the stanchion last season, the Bruins and the Canadiens rivalry was reignited. Now, every time these two teams play each other, you can all but guarantee some fisticuffs to take place.