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Rivalry Week: Who are the Rangers’ biggest rivals?

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Grab your grease paint

New Jersey Devils v New York Rangers Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

The question is simple... will it blend?... uh that’s not right. Although I dare you to click the link ;)

But seriously; let me try this again: who is the New York Rangers’ biggest rival?

Nine Blueshirt Banter contributors voted 6-3 in favor of the New Jersey Devils over the Washington Capitals. However, a Twitter poll revealed that most social media savvy Rangers fans consider the New York Islanders to be the team’s biggest rival. Clearly, there is much debate over which team Rangers fans hold the most ire for.


New York Islanders

  • Stanley Cups: 4 (‘80, ‘81, ‘82, ‘83)
  • Rangers vs Islanders: 130-116-19-9
  • Playoff Series: 3-5

The Islanders won our Twitter poll with 64.6 percent of 1,175 voters choosing them as the Rangers’ biggest rival. The Battle of New York has provided us with more memorable moments than we can count from chants of “Fishsticks!” to Dan Cloutier challenging the Islanders’ bench during a line brawl to a certain chant about Denis Potvin that just won’t go away.

Interesting tidbit: the Islanders and Rangers haven’t met in the postseason since 1994.

New Jersey Devils

  • Stanley Cups: 3 (‘95, ‘00, ‘03)
  • Rangers vs Devils (franchise): 120-94-27-10
  • Playoff Series: 3-3

Let’s just leave this here. Yes, that’s Stu Bickel taking a faceoff.

Aaaaand this.

The Battle of the Hudson burned brightest in the 1990s and was highlighted by the Rangers winning the Cup in 1994 and the Devils winning it in 1995. Things cooled down for a time but then exploded again in the first round of the 2006 Playoffs and the Rangers barked back with a 4-1 series win in the 2008 Playoffs.

There was also a game on January 12, 2010 which saw Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Brodeur post shutouts in regulation before Patrik Elias won it in a shootout.

Things exploded again in the 2012 Playoffs when the Devils bested the Rangers in the Conference Final 4-1, which was the Blueshirts’ first trip to the third round since the 1997 season.

Debates of Lundqvist vs. Brodeur continued to rage among the fan bases, but the focus has and will further shift given the youth each franchise possesses. The future of this rivalry looks bright because both teams are rebuilding and developing exciting young players like Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, Kaapo Kakko, and Igor Shesterkin.

Not many sports rivalries have been immortalized on Seinfeld, but this is one of them. How much grease paint has been sold as direct result of this?

Pittsburgh Penguins v New Jersey Devils Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Philadelphia Flyers

  • Stanley Cups: 2 (‘74, ‘75)
  • Rangers vs Flyers: 132-122-37-9
  • Playoff Series: 5-6

Ah, memories.

And more memories.

New York Rangers v Philadelphia Flyers - Game Three Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

And, who could forget this all-time chirp from Brad Richards.

Washington Capitals

  • Stanley Cups: 1 (‘18)
  • Rangers vs Capitals: 99-97-18-11
  • Playoff Series: 5-4

There’s been a lot less blood in this one than the rivalries with the Devils and Islanders, but it’s been one with many memorable highlight reel moments. Not all were positive, and Sergei Fedorov’s series winner, and the last goal of his career, in Game 7 back in 2010 is something that still stands out to this day since it was one of the first pivotal moments of this once budding rivalry.

Although a bit painful, we need to recognize these moments in order to truly cherish the overwhelmingly positive ones.

This rivalry was great before the rebuild, and during its apex saw Alex Ovechkin and Lundqvist rise from young stars, to NHL All-Stars, and eventually All-Time stars at their respective positions. In this same time frame there were five postseason meetings between 2009 and 2015, with the last meeting being especially memorable as key goals from Chris Kreider, Ryan McDonagh, and Derek Stepan enabled the team to escape a 3-1 series deficit.

A few years prior Lundqvist put the team on his back with back-to-back shutouts, and you can read more about that here.

Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Stanley Cups: 5 (‘91, ‘92, ‘09, ‘16, ‘17)
  • Rangers vs Penguins: 130-113-23-14
  • Playoff Series: 2-5

Yep.

In all seriousness, before the Penguins won back-to-back Cups in 2016 and 2017, the Rangers really owned them in the playoffs. In a way you could say the Rangers forced the Penguins to change how they played, and ultimately had a hand in them turning into a Cup champion.

The most memorable series of recent memory came back in 2014 on the Rangers’ road to the Stanley Cup Final, in which the team rallied around Marty St. Louis after the death of his mother. The Rangers won three games in a row, with Lundqvist playing some of the best hockey of his life.

Out-of-Division Rivals

Boston Bruins

  • Stanley Cups: 6 (‘29, ‘39, ‘41, ‘70, ‘72, ‘11)
  • Rangers vs Bruins: 259-293-97-3
  • Playoff Series: 3-8

There is a lot of history here, and that’s one of the reasons why this rivalry endures despite the Rangers and Bruins playing in different divisions. The Rangers have lost twice to the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final and Mike Milbury once beat a Rangers fan with a loafer in the stands of Madison Square Garden. Also, it’s Boston and New York and we’re talking sports. So there’s definitely something here beyond using a shoe as a weapon.

Montreal Canadiens

  • Stanley Cups: a lot (24)
  • Rangers vs Canadiens: 198-335-94-5
  • Playoff Series: 8-8

All of the Original Six teams have a lot of history with each other, but the slow march of time and teams landing in different divisions have taken a lot of the venom out of the rivalries that helped shape hockey history. However, the rivalry has seemingly always been boiling and bubbling away.

Maybe the secret sauce to this rivalry is the intensity of Habs fans and all of the playoff history here — to the tune of 16 series. Of course, things heated up during the ongoing debate over the superiority of Carey Price vs. Lundqvist. There’s also the Ryan McDonagh trade and a recent six-game showdown in the 2017 Playoffs.

And of course there’s this year’s amazing 6-5 comeback win at the Bell Centre which was arguably the most exciting game of the season.


Who do you think is the Rangers’ biggest rival? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Team records from Hockey-Reference.com.