The greatest rivalries in the NHL

Photo by Tim Trad on Unsplash

Ice hockey is known for its intensity and violent brawls. Over the years, fans have witnessed some extreme physicality and tense matchups. Such rivalries not only involved players, as fans and coaches had a go.

For decades, these rivalries have been around in the NHL, and honestly, it is quite entertaining to watch two teams that despise each other compete. Some rivalries date back to the beginning of the competition.

From the countless rivalries, let’s look at the best of all, considering the history between the two teams, overall record, and reason behind the feuds. These fights are good for the ratings and fans’ attention because it brings spectators from across the continent and increases viewership.


Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins

The most intense and fierce rivalry of all has to be between the Bruins and Canadiens. Both teams are among the first members of the NHL, and their rivalry began when they first met in a 1929 playoff match. Since then, there have been some infamous and bitter riots between fans and players.

The rivalry peaked in the 1970s when both were among the strongest teams in the NHL. Until the 1980s, Boston never defeated Montreal in the postseason match, and it elevated the intensity of their rivalry. However, in the 1990s, Boston eliminated Montreal four out of five times in the playoffs.

Some incidents include the infamous fight between Carey Price and Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara going after Max Pacioretty, and Bruins fans lashing out against P.K. Subban.

In the overall record, the Canadiens are ahead of the Bruins with 469 wins against 345 losses.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens

The two teams from Canada and the Original Six have been at each other since the beginning of the NHL. It is the oldest and most storied rivalry. Both teams have faced several times in postseason matches and are one of the strongest teams in the league.

However, the rivalry peaked in the 1960s because of the coaches, Toe Blake and Punch Imlach. Regular spectators are familiar with the intensity in the rink when both teams collide. But the rivalry goes beyond that as it links to cultural disparities.

Besides the overall record, Montreal has the upper hand in playoff matches, but they haven’t faced each other in the playoffs since 1979.

Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins

It is another strong rivalry between two solid clubs, the Capitals and Penguins. It also makes sense because both cities belong to the northeast of America, and both want to be the superior team in that region. Their rivalry broke out in the 1980s when they met multiple times in tight matches.

However, their battle grew in the 1990s, as they faced each other twice in the Stanley Cup playoffs consecutively in 1991 and 1992. In total meetings of 308 matches, Pittsburgh is leading the record in both regular and postseason.

Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers

The rivalry is also known as the Battle of Alberta. Naturally, both cities have hatred for one another. They fight in everything, and hockey is just another thing. Although Edmonton has five Stanley Cups as compared to Calgary’s one, the NHL odds are close in their matches to identify the clear favorite.

Their rivalry peaked in the 1980s when both teams met five times in playoffs, and Edmonton won four times. Those matches had some iconic moments in NHL history. 

There hasn’t been a lot of success for the Oilers and Flames in recent years. However, it does not matter when these two teams play with each other. Every Battle of Alberta has a playoff atmosphere. There is nothing like it in the world for a hockey fan. In the overall record, Calgary is leading despite winning only one Stanley Cup.

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