Best All Time NHL Hockey Rivalry

We all love a great rivalry. It creates energy between not only the teams but between the fans. Pre-game time can spark lots of fun and sometimes even outlandish festivities. A great rivalry makes a game more than just a game. So what is the best all time National Hockey League (NHL) rivalry?

For almost 20 years, 1942 to 1967, six teams made up the NHL. Since there were not that many teams, the frequency in which they played each other was high. Because of that, many rivalries developed, that still exist today.

The teams that were the first to play in the NHL were dubbed the "Original Six" and they are the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs. The strongest rivals of the Boston Bruins were the New York Rangers and the Montreal Canadiens; while the biggest rivalry for the New York Rangers, besides the Bruins, was also the Montreal Canadiens. For the Detroit Red Wings it was the Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens that caused the most rivalries. The Chicago Blackhawks were also rivals with the Toronto Maple Leafs while the Maple Leafs also rivaled the Montreal Canadiens. So, the Montreal Canadiens had more rivalries than any of the other 5 and we pick one of those as the biggest rivalry in NHL history.

The two Canadien rivalries that really stand out are the ones they have with the Boston Bruins and also with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Historically, the Canadiens have been the top professional hockey team in hockey-crazy Canada. So, the question really is whether their top rival is a top hockey team from the U.S. (Boston) or the second best hockey franchise in Canada. The two teams from Canada dominated pro hockey in the 50's and 60's – one or the other winning nearly every Stanley Cup. But, we're going to pick the rivalry with the great American team (Boston Bruins) and the top Canadien team as the top NHL hockey rivals ever. [Most would say that the Detroit Redwings are the best American team historically; they've won more Stanley Cups than Boston. But, the Montreal – Boston Rivalry is greater due to closer geographical proximity and also being in the same Division or Conference most of the time.

Boston Bruins vs Montreal Canadians, 04/13/08.
Boston Bruins vs Montreal Canadians. Thanks to for the picture.
Source: cerebusfangirl

[By the way, geographical proximity helps make the Detroit – Toronto rivalry maybe the second biggest in the NHL.]

The Montreal – Boston rivalry peaked during the 70's and particularly in 1979. No Bruin or Canadien fan can forget Game 7 of the 1979 Wales Conference finals. Boston was leading with only a few minutes left in the game. Then, the infamous "too many men on the ice" call against Boston, leading to Guy Lafleur's tying goal and then the Canadien's win in overtime.

Currently those rivalries still rage on along with some new ones such as the Philadelphia Flyers and the NY Rangers. This rivalry has existed since the Flyers first joined the NHL. The NHL is not the only place that the two states represented by these teams are rivals. They are also rivals in the NFL, NBA and MLB. Other great new NHL rivalries, outside of the Original Six, are the Flames vs. Oilers, Penguins vs. Flyers, Islanders vs. Rangers, Devils vs. Rangers, Kings vs. Mighty Ducks, and Lightning vs. Panthers.

Philadelphia Flyers and the NY Rangers.
Philadelphia Flyers and the NY Rangers. Thanks to for the picture.
Source: CS Smith

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