Best NHL Rivalries All-Time

Best NHL Rivalries All-Time

Over the course of its history, the NHL has showcased some of the most heated rivalries of all sports.

Let’s take a look at some of best in NHL history.

Edmonton Oilers vs Calgary Flames:

The Battle of Alberta in the NHL originated in the 1980s when the Oilers and Flames played against each other in five tense playoff series.

Although Calgary leads the series all time between the two with a record of 129-118-18, the Oilers lead the series in playoffs with a record of 19-11 in the post season.

In 1983 Edmonton defeated the Flames in the Smythe Division Final 4-1.

The following year the Oilers would yet again defeated the Flames in the Smythe Division Final 4-3.

However, in 1986 with Edmonton attempting a three-peat, Steve Smith would score on his own net in Game 7 of the Smythe Division Final, giving Calgary the series win 4-3.

Edmonton would get revenge in 1988 in the Smythe Division Final, where they swept the Flames 4-0.

The last playoff series between these two teams was in 1991 where the Oilers defeated Calgary in the Smythe Semi-Final 4-3.

Although there has yet to be another segment in the Battle of Alberta, with both teams currently having solid seasons, a future series is certainly a possibility.

Montreal Canadiens vs Toronto Maple Leafs:

This Original Six rivalry had its first game on December 26, 1917 in Toronto at Arena Gardens.

Montreal leads the series all time 397-317-88-10, and in playoffs with a record of 42-29.

The two clubs have had 13 playoff series against each other all-time; although they have not had a series since 1979.

Of those series, five of them were Stanley Cup Finals, where Toronto would win 3, and Montreal would win 2.

In 1947 Toronto beat Montreal 4-2, in 1951 Toronto defeated Montreal again 4-1.

However, Montreal would get revenge in 1959, and 1960, where the Canadiens defeated the Maple Leafs 4-1, and 4-0 for the Stanley Cup.

Toronto would win another Stanley Cup in 1967 over the Canadiens when they defeated Montreal 4-2.

The last playoff series between these two teams took place in 1979 where Montreal swept Toronto 4-0 in the Quarter Finals, in route to their fourth Stanley Cup in a row.

Chicago Blackhawks vs Detroit Red Wings:

Chicago and Detroit have the second most meetings among NHL teams with 816; their first being on November 24, 1926 at Chicago Coliseum where the Red Wings won 1-0.

These two teams faced off five times in the 1960s, and three times in the 1980s.

Detroit leads the series all-time 406-310-84-16, and Chicago leads the series in playoffs 43-38.

Of the 16 total playoff series between the teams, two series were for the Stanley Cup.

In 1934, Chicago defeated Detroit 3-1, and in 1961 Chicago defeated Detroit again 4-2.

This rivalry last faced off in the playoffs in 2013 when Chicago defeated Detroit 4-3 in the Western Conference Semifinals.

New York Islanders vs New York Rangers:

The Battle of New York is between the Rangers who play out of Manhattan, and the Islanders who have played out of Long Island, and Brooklyn.

The Rangers lead the series all-time 164-163-19, but the Islanders lead in the playoffs 20-19.

There has been eight playoff series between these two teams, all taking place from 1974-1994.

From 1981-1984 the Islanders defeated the Rangers each season.

However, the Rangers would have the ultimate say in 1994, the last series between the two, when the Rangers defeated the Islanders 4-0 in the Eastern Conference Quarter Finals.

The Rangers would win the Stanley Cup that season for the first time in 54 years.

Philadelphia Flyers vs Pittsburgh Penguins:

The Battle of Pennsylvania has been alive since October 19, 1967 and consists of seven playoff series.

The Flyers lead the series all-time 175-122-30, along with playoffs with a record of 21-20.

Philadelphia has won four of the playoff series, including the well known 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals 4-2 which was an absolute war on ice.

However, I think people would say Pittsburgh has the upper hand considering they have won 3 Stanley Cups in the past ten seasons, and the Flyers have only appeared in one Stanley Cup Final.

Boston Bruins vs Philadelphia Flyers:

The Big Bad Bruins vs The Broad Street Bullies.

These two teams have had six playoff series against each other, with the Bruins leading the series 18-13.

Boston also leads the series all-time 124-82-21.

In 1974 Philadelphia defeated Boston in the Stanley Cup Finals 4-2.

The Flyers also defeated Boston again in 1976 in the Semi-Finals 4-1, ultimately losing to Montreal in the Finals.

However, the Bruins would get revenge two years in a row after that.

In 1977 Boston swept Philadelphia in the Semi Finals, and in 1978 the Bruins defeated the Flyers in the Semi Finals 4-1.

The rivalry would be renewed in 2010, when the Flyers would come back from a 3-0 series deficit, and a 3-0 deficit in Game 7 to defeat Boston 4-3 in the Eastern Conference Semi Finals.

But yet again the Bruins would get revenge; sweeping the Flyers 4-0 in the 2011 Eastern Conference Semi Finals.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals:

This rivalry started in 1974, and is considerably lopsided.

Pittsburgh leads the series all-time 148-125-16, and in the playoffs 40-28.

Of the 11 playoff series between the two teams, Washington has only won two.

Starting in 1995 and ending this past season, the Penguins had won seven series in a row against the Capitals.

This rivalry has been greatly brought to life due to the battle between Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin.

Pittsburgh has won Stanley Cups in 1991, 1992, 2009, 2016, and 2017.

Crosby captaining the most recent three.

Washington has only won one Stanley Cup in 2018.

Colorado Avalanche vs Detroit Red Wings:

This rivalry at its peak, is arguably the most hated in all of sports.

From 1995-2003 Detroit and Colorado combined for 5 Stanley Cups.

And these teams came from the same conference.

The first game between these two teams took place on October 6, 1995 in Colorado where the Avalanche won 3-2.

There were five playoff series between these two teams that were absolute wars.

Colorado defeated Detroit in the 1996 Western Conference Finals, which included Claude Lemieux burying Cris Draper from behind into the boards directly in front of the Red Wings bench.

This would then lead to the well known brawl on March 26, 1997 which saw 18 fighting majors, and 144 penalty minutes, and Detroit defeating Colorado 6-5 in overtime to advance to the Stanley Cup.

In 1999, and 2000 Colorado defeated Detroit in the Western Conference Semi Finals.

However, in 2002 Detroit would defeat Colorado again in the Western Conference Finals, in route to their third Stanley Cup in six years.

Detroit won Stanley Cups in 1997, 1998, and 2002, and Colorado won the Stanley Cup in 1996, and 2001.

Since then, Detroit has appeared in two Stanley Cup Finals, winning one in 2008.

Boston Bruins vs Montreal Canadiens:

This is the ultimate rivalry in NHL, arguably all of sports.

The Montreal Canadiens beat the Boston Bruins in their first game against each other 4-3 on December 8, 1924 at Boston Arena.

The Canadiens lead the series all-time 467-340-103-10, and playoffs 106-71.

There has been a total of 34 playoff series between these two teams, Montreal winning 25 of those.

Even more impressive, from 1946-1987 the Montreal Canadiens won 18 series in a row against the Bruins.

Of those 34 series, seven of them were Stanley Cup Finals.

The Canadiens won all seven.

Montreal handed Boston its most painful defeat in 1979.

The Bruins were ahead 3-1 in the third period against Montreal in Montreal on the verge of going to the Stanley Cup Finals when the Canadiens would tie the game late, capitalizing on a late power play for too many men on the ice by the Bruins.

Montreal would go on to defeat Boston in overtime, and then went on to defeat the New York Rangers for their fourth Stanley Cup in a row.

Previously before this, the Bruins had lost to the Canadiens in 1977, and 1978 in the Stanley Cup Finals.

The rivalry would be renewed with series in 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2014 with each team winning two.

Photo Source:







Philadelphia/ Pittsburgh:,,



Chicago / Detroit:,

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