Nhl Tickets 2023

The Biggest Rivalries in the NHL

The National Hockey League (NHL) is known for its intense action, electrifying goals, and punishing body checks. But what really brings fans to the edge of their seats are the longstanding rivalries that have been nurtured over years, if not decades.

These rivalries make the NHL not just a sport but a theater where drama, pride, and emotions run high. Here are some of the biggest rivalries in the NHL, each with its own storied history, key moments, and substantial impact on the league and sport of hockey.

Montreal Canadiens vs. Toronto Maple Leafs


These two Canadian clubs have been battling it out since 1917, making this one of the oldest rivalries in NHL history. Both have been immensely successful but in different eras: the Canadiens are the most decorated team in the NHL with 24 Stanley Cups, while the Leafs are second with 13 but have not won since 1967.

Key Moments

  • The 1967 Stanley Cup Final: The last time the Leafs won a cup, and fittingly, they beat the Canadiens to do it.
  • February 9, 2019: The Canadiens win 4-3 in overtime, marking their 15th consecutive home victory over the Leafs.


This rivalry captures the essence of Canadian pride and passion for hockey. It's more than just a game; it's a cultural event, especially when these teams meet in the playoffs.

Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens


This is the most frequently contested rivalry in NHL history, with over 900 meetings. They first met in December 1924 and have faced each other more times in the playoffs than any other teams.

Key Moments

  • 1979 Semi-finals: Montreal wins in seven games, including a famous too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty against Boston.
  • 2011 First Round: Boston beats Montreal in seven games en route to winning the Stanley Cup.


The Bruins-Canadiens rivalry has often been a David vs. Goliath scenario, with Montreal historically being the dominant force. However, the rivalry continues to be one of the most anticipated, offering some of the most entertaining hockey in the league.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals


Starting in the early 1990s, this rivalry pitted two of the greatest players in NHL history against each other: Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Washington's Alex Ovechkin.

Key Moments

  • 2009 Second Round: Pittsburgh wins in seven games, Crosby and Ovechkin both have hat-tricks in Game 2.
  • 2018 Second Round: Washington finally gets the better of Pittsburgh in six games and goes on to win their first Stanley Cup.


This rivalry has brought a lot of attention to the league, particularly in the U.S., thanks to the star power of Crosby and Ovechkin. Their duels have often been billed as generational clashes, elevating the profile of NHL in non-traditional markets.

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Detroit Red Wings


Two of the Original Six teams, Chicago and Detroit have been rivals since 1926. They have met in over 800 regular-season games, more than any other two Western Conference teams.

Key Moments

  • 1995 Western Conference Finals: Detroit sweeps Chicago and goes on to the Stanley Cup Finals.
  • 2013 Western Conference Semi-finals: Chicago comes back from a 3-1 series deficit to win in overtime of Game 7.


The rivalry is not just about the teams but also the cities they represent, two of the most passionate sports towns in the U.S. It’s a clash of cultures as much as it is a clash on the ice.

Edmonton Oilers vs. Calgary Flames


Known as the "Battle of Alberta," this rivalry has provincial pride at stake. Both teams were incredibly strong in the 1980s and have had periods of resurgence since.

Key Moments

  • 1984 Division Finals: The Oilers defeat the Flames en route to their first Stanley Cup.
  • 1991 Division Semi-finals: Theo Fleury's famous slide-across-the-ice celebration after scoring the OT winner for Calgary.


This rivalry has a profound impact on hockey in Western Canada and often influences the moods and emotions in both cities. The games are marked by their physicality, intensity, and the involvement of fans.

New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders


An intra-city rivalry that began when the Islanders joined the league in 1972. The rivalry reached its peak in the late 1970s and early '80s.

Key Moments

  • 1975 Semi-finals: Islanders come back from a 3-0 series deficit, only to lose to the Rangers in Game 7.
  • 1994 Eastern Conference Quarter-finals: Rangers defeat Islanders en route to their first Stanley Cup in 54 years.


Known as the "Battle of New York," this rivalry fuels the local sports scene and creates a divide among fans in the city, generating a buzz that goes beyond the NHL.

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins


The "Battle of Pennsylvania" has been raging since the Penguins joined the league in 1967. The rivalry reached new heights in the 2010s.

Key Moments

  • 2000 Eastern Conference Semi-finals: Flyers come back from a 2-0 series deficit to win in six games.
  • 2012 Eastern Conference Quarter-finals: A high-scoring series that saw the Flyers upset the favored Penguins in six games.


Both cities have loyal, passionate fan bases, and the rivalry extends beyond hockey to include other sports as well. It's a battle for statewide bragging rights, and the animosity is palpable every time these teams meet.

These rivalries epitomize the passion, drama, and sheer excitement that the NHL has to offer. As long as these teams continue to meet on the ice, the fires of these rivalries will never go out. And for the fans, that's a very good thing.

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