The New York Rangers are an original six team, meaning they have been around a long time. With that comes plenty of organic rivalries that come and go with time. Let’s take a look at which rivalry is the most intense today.
Past but not Present:
First, the teams that the Rangers have had rivalries with in the past, but presently do not. The Boston Bruins have had their fair share of mix-ups with the Rangers, and Boston-New York games are always heated in general.
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However, New York has only met the Bruins in the playoffs once since 1973, and the two teams only meet three times a year. The two are rivals in the sense that they are both Original Six teams, but outside of that it’s mostly narrative.
The Montreal Canadiens watched the Rangers advance to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014 by defeating them, including Chris Kreider bowling over Carey Price. Since 2014, however, matchups have been relatively clean and quiet. New York met Montreal in the playoffs once more since their 1994 Stanley Cup victory, and like the Bruins, the teams meet only three times a season.
On the Back-Burner:
While the New Jersey Devils are rivals with the Rangers, the Devils have struggled mightily since their trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012. Sure, New Jersey defeated the Rangers to get to that point, but the fallout has largely dissolved since then. Now, the Devils are in re-building mode, and the majority of the games between the two teams are snoozefests, not heated battles.
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The New York Islanders will always have the ire of Rangers fans, but the team took a major step back this season. As far as the Rangers are concerned this year, the Islanders are their pesky little brothers that are running around aimlessly. The games between the two teams are still intense, but the Rangers have bigger problems to worry about.
The Main Contenders:
Three teams stand out as possibilities to be New York’s strongest rivals. The Philadelphia Flyers check in first, with a loaded history of animosity between the pair of teams backing their case. New York met Philadelphia in the 2014 postseason, defeating the Flyers in seven games.
Currently, Philadelphia is focusing on catching the Rangers in the standings. The most recent meeting between the two teams was quiet on the anger scale. The Flyers are focusing on skill over grit under Ron Hextall, while the Rangers have rid themselves of their enforcers.
With that, unless the Flyers are in direct competition with the Rangers for the top seed in the Metropolitan Division, they are a bit behind Pittsburgh and Washington.
Choosing between Pittsburgh and Washington is an impossible task. New York played Pittsburgh in each of the past three postseasons, but played Washington in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015. Pittsburgh boasts Sidney Crosby, and the Capitals have Alexander Ovechkin to terrorize the Rangers.
Realistically, both teams present the Rangers with formidable threats that both intimidate and anger the team and their fans. When the Capitals or Penguins arrive in town, all eyes are on the game, and the games are almost always hard-fought battles. Perhaps this postseason will vault one team over the other.