August 14, 2013 by Cups n Pucks
The National Hockey league is bringing something new to the 2013-2014 season by reshuffling the divisions. Now the NHL is comprised of four divisions with each division containing 7-8 teams. With new divisions will come new rivals.
Rivalries can stem from many sources. However, many rivalries are usually developed in the playoffs. With the new playoff format, these divisions could breed some serious hate. It’s fun to speculate who will be your favorite team’s new most hated rival, so I put together a few.
I’ll start off with the Eastern Conference which is broken into the Atlantic and the Metropolitan divisions. The Atlantic division consists of the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabers, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadians, Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Atlantic Division has four Original Six teams. Detroit doesn’t have much of a rivalry with the other three but fans could help create this four way rivalry. Also Detroit is playing Toronto in the Winter classic this season.
Sticking to the topic of Detroit, I’m sure Ottawa isn’t too happy with them after stealing the face of their franchise for the last 17 years. Daniel Alfredsson will be seeing his former team five times a season and has a chance to match up against them in the playoffs. There could be some drama between these two teams for as long as Alfredsson is playing.
Then you have your previous rivalries: Boston and Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, and Boston and Montreal. With Toronto and Montreal both getting much better over the last couple of years, their rivalries with Boston will be a phenomenal.
Tampa, Florida and Buffalo don’t hold much bad blood with the other teams, but all are rebuilding and could develop some hate with another team. The Atlantic division will have some snarl to it but maybe not as much as the other Eastern Conference division.
On the other hand…
The Metropolitan Division, which consists of The Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, and Washington Capitals, could be the most hate filled division to start the 2013-2014 NHL season. I don’t know where to start.
First you have the New York Islanders, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils who are all in extremely close proximity, geographically speaking. With New York Islanders getting better, they will be making the playoffs more and building more of a competitive match up than they could over the past few years. The Rangers and Islanders have a some great playoff hatred in the past (The infamous “1940” chant).
The New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers also have some heated playoff bouts. Most famously is the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals. Facing elimination in game 6, Mark Messier said “We Will Win” and backed it up with a hat trick to force a game 7 (which the Rangers won as well).
We’ve all seen what happens when Pittsburgh and Philadelphia meet up in the playoffs. You get some of the craziest, ‘gooniest’ hockey you could imagine. Both having high powered offenses and goaltenders with confidence issues (Fleury and assumably Steve Mason) means you could see physical, high scoring affairs each time these two play.
The Metropolitan division will also get the clashing of the NHL’s two biggest marketing names (five times per season) when Ovechkin and Crosby meet. Ovechkin might have become more of a streaky player (a ridiculous month of April in the previous season) the high profile scorer is still regarded as second only to Crosby in talent. Last time these two teams met in the playoffs, Crosby and Ovechkin both had a hat trick in the same game.
Let’s not forget about the Hurricanes. Carolina has developed some playoff animosity with the New Jersey Devils. The Canes have stifled New Jersey’s playoff hopes multiple years. In 2009 they stole game 7 and the series from New Jersey with seconds left. While both of these teams might be rebuilding a little bit, there is still some hate between these two clubs that could build into much more as they draft more skill.
The Columbus Blue Jackets don’t have much history with any of these teams, but they are really entering a battlefield. With hatred and bad blood, it will be only a matter of time before Columbus has some bad blood. Let’s not forget that New York Rangers and the Blue Jackets have swapped some extremely high profile players over the last year (Gaborik and Nash). The Metropolitan Division is going to be entertaining!