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The Atlantic Division rivalries are a collection of rivalries between the various teams that play in the National Hockey League's Atlantic Division. The New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins have been grouped together since being part of the Patrick Division in 1982, developing strong rivalries with one another. With the renaming of the Patrick Division to the Atlantic Division in 1994, minus the Penguins (they were moved to the Northeast Division until 1998), the rivalries became established and historic in their own way, starting with the Rangers/Devils 1994 Eastern Conference Finals series. With division realignment in 1998 the Devils, Flyers, Islanders, and Rangers remained together in the Atlantic Division with the Pittsburgh Penguins returning to the group. In the post-lockout NHL, the Atlantic Division rivalries have become more intense with season-ending comebacks, shrewd trades, and more games played against each other during the regular season. This is the only division in the NHL where all of its members have won the Stanley Cup, each having won at least twice.

The strongest rivalries are:

Broadway vs Broad Street: New York Rangers vs Philadelphia FlyersEdit

New York Rangers
Philadelphia Flyers
Overall records
Regular season games: 110-109-37 PHI
Regular season series: 18-17-7 NYR
Post season games: 30-24 PHI
Post season series: 6-5 PHI
Post season meetings
Year Round Series
1974 Semifinals 4-3 PHI
1979 Quarterfinals 4-1 NYR
1980 Quarterfinals 4-1 PHI
1982 Patrick Division Semi Finals 3-1 NYR
1983 Patrick Division Semi Finals 3-0 NYR
1985 Patrick Division Semi Finals 3-0 PHI
1986 Patrick Division Semi Finals 3-2 NYR
1987 Patrick Division Semi Finals 4-2 PHI
1995 Eastern Conference Semi Finals 4-0 PHI
1997 Eastern Conference Finals 4-1 PHI

The Rangers-Flyers rivalry is one of the most storied and well known rivalries ever in the National Hockey League. They have met ten times in Stanley Cup playoff contention, with the Flyers winning six of the series, and they have been division rivals since the 1974–75 season. On their way to a Stanley Cup title in 1973–74, the Flyers eliminated the Rangers in the Semifinals. The series went seven games, with the Rangers sealing their own fate, taking a too-many-men penalty in the waning moments of the game while trying to replace the goaltender with an extra attacker. The Rangers defeated the Flyers in five games in the 1978–79 Quarterfinals on their way to a Stanley Cup Finals berth; the Flyers did the same to New York 1979–80.

During the 1980s, the two teams met in the Patrick Division Semifinals 5 out of 6 seasons. Beginning in 1981–82, the Rangers defeated the Flyers in four games, then swept them in three straight in 1982–83. In 1984–85, the Flyers returned the favor by sweeping the Rangers, but in 1985–86, the Rangers did revenge, eliminating the Flyers in five. In 1986–87, the first round format was expanded to best-of-seven, and the Flyers eliminated the Rangers in six.

Rangers vs Flyers 2007 1

The Flyers and Rangers have met ten different times in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Flyers and Rangers renewed their playoff rivalry once more when the two teams met in the playoffs in 1995 Eastern Conference Semi Finals and 1997 Eastern Conference Finals, both series won by the Flyers. The first series was bitter for the Rangers — the Flyers' four-game sweep eliminated the defending Cup champions in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Many Flyers fans remember this for the second game the Flyers won in overtime. Kevin Haller scored, sending normally laid-back Flyers color analyst Gary Dornhoefer into a frenzy. The latter series was the Eastern Conference Finals that sent the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals. With a 4-1 series win, it marked the last time the Rangers would make the playoffs until 2005–06 and it later turned out to be both Wayne Gretzky's and Mark Messier's last playoff game.

The Flyers' Cinderella run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, where they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games, began on the final day of the regular season when they met the Rangers in a winner-take-all match-up for the final playoff spot. Philadelphia beat the Rangers 2-1 in a historic shootout, the first do or die shootout for a playoff spot in NHL history. With the win, the Flyers eliminated the Rangers from the playoffs..

There is a long-standing bitter rivalry between the sports fans from both New York City and Philadelphia, seen also between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies of Major League Baseball and the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League. Games at both the Wells Fargo Center and Madison Square Garden are often very intense, as each home crowd does its best to create an unfriendly and sometimes volatile atmosphere for any visiting-team fans. The Rangers-Flyers rivalry is considered to be one of, if not the best rivalry in the National Hockey League.

Coaching ConnectionsEdit

Fred Shero, who was coach of the Flyers when they won their Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975, coached the Rangers to the 1979 Finals.

The coach of the Flyers from 1984 to 1988, Mike Keenan, was coach of the Rangers during their championship season of 1994 and coached in Game 7 Stanley Cup Finals with both teams, having been there in 1987. He also coached the Flyers in the Finals in 1985.

Battle of the Jersey Turnpike: New Jersey Devils vs. Philadelphia Flyers Edit

New Jersey Devils
Philadelphia Flyers
Overall records
Regular season games: 84-70-15 NJ
Regular season series: 15-12 NJ
Post season games: 13-10 PHI
Post season series: 2–2 tie
Post season meetings
Year Round Series
1995 Eastern Conference Finals 4-2 NJ
2000 Eastern Conference Finals 4-3 NJ
2004 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals 4-1 PHI
2010 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals 4-1 PHI

Although the rivalry laid well before New Jersey even have an NHL franchise, the rivalry between the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers took off with their first playoff meeting in the lockout-shortened 1994–95 season, when the Devils eliminated the Flyers in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals en route to winning the Stanley Cup. The turning point of the series came in Game 5, when Claude Lemieux scored from 65 feet out, sending a wobbly puck past Flyer goalie Ron Hextall, with 44 seconds left in regulation of a tie game. The series was considered an upset, as the Devils were the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, while the Flyers had made a dramatic improvement to end their five-year playoff drought by winning the division and the 2nd seed in the East, and were led by eventual Hart Memorial Trophy winner, captain Eric Lindros. Lindros and Devils captain Scott Stevens were afterwards known for their on-ice feuds.

During the 1999–2000 regular season, the Devils were leading in both the Eastern Conference and the Atlantic Division, but their 10-game slump near the end of the season resulted the Flyers overtaking them for both the division title and the No.1 seed in the East. They would meet once again in the Eastern Conference Finals; this time, the Flyers blew a 3-1 series lead over the Devils, including losing 3 of the 4 games played in Philadelphia. Game 7 of this series would also be the final game for Eric Lindros as a Flyer, suffering a concussion at the hands of Stevens, whose controversial hit was viewed by some as the key moment of the Devils' playoff run. The loss in 1999–2000 has been attributed by some Flyers fans to The Curse of Billy Penn, as the Devils would go on to win the Cup by beating the defending champion Dallas Stars in 6 games.

The Flyers would finally defeat the Devils in the playoffs in 2003–04, when they eliminated the defending Cup champs 4-1 in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The Flyers also defeated the Devils in the 2009–10 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, again 4-1. The latter series was considered a big upset, as the Devils won the Atlantic Division and the 2nd seed in the East while the Flyers clinched the 7th seed in a shootout victory over the Rangers on the last day of the regular season. The Flyers finished with a combined regular season & playoff record of 9-2 against the Devils for 2009-10.

This rivalry has become quite intense in New Jersey itself, sometimes referred to as the "Battle of the Jersey Turnpike", with the northern part of the state being the Devils fanbase, while the southern part of the state is overwhelmingly Flyers fans due to South Jersey's close proximity to Philadelphia. The Flyers practice in Voorhees Township, New Jersey, and since their Stanley Cup days of 1974 and 1975, many members of the Cup teams (as well as other Flyers alumni) have lived in South Jersey.

In 2006–07, Devils goalie Martin Brodeur broke Philadelphia legend (and fellow Montrealer) Bernie Parent's single season wins record of 47 by earning his 48th win against the Flyers. Flyers fans booed Brodeur and the milestone was not announced by the Flyers' PA announcer at game's end. Nevertheless, Parent offered his praise[1] even though he didn't have the benefit of overtime or shootouts in his era (12 of Brodeur's 48 wins were in overtime or the shootout). Brodeur also notched his 500th career victory at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia in 2007–08. This time, the milestone was announced by the PA announcer and was booed. Furthermore, on Sunday, March 1, 2009, Brodeur recorded his 100th career regular season shutout during a home game versus the Flyers. Brodeur recorded 27 saves in the 3-0 victory.

The first meeting between the two franchises was in the 1978 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and had no geographic significance. The Devils were then known as the Colorado Rockies. The Flyers took the best-of-three Preliminary Round series 2-0. It was the only playoff series the team would play in during their six seasons in Denver, and the only one they would play in during their first 13 seasons of play, until 1987–88.

The rivalry has taken on an even further extension; the Flyers had an ECHL affiliate in Trenton, New Jersey - the Trenton Titans, from 1999, including the 2005 Kelly Cup Championship. In 2006, the team was sold to the New Jersey Devils, which flipped the team's affiliation after the 2006–07 ECHL season and nickname to reflect its new ownership and identity, now known as the Trenton Devils. The Flyers' ECHL affiliate is now the Kalamazoo Wings.

Hudson River Rivalry: Rangers vs. DevilsEdit

Devils–Rangers rivalry
New York Rangers

New Jersey Devils

First meeting October 5, 1982
Latest meeting February 23, 2016
Next meeting TBD
Meetings total 266
All-time series 121–110–27–8 (NJ )
Regular season series 103–94–27–8 (NJ )
Postseason results 18–16 (NYR)
Post-season history

The New York Rangers-New Jersey Devils rivalry, exist between two National Hockey League teams in the New York metropolitan area. The two teams are called "cross-river rivals." This is because Madison Square Garden in Midtown Manhattan, where the Rangers play, is less than ten miles and across the Hudson River from the Prudential Center in downtown Newark (and previously, the Meadowlands Arena in East Rutherford), the home ice of the Devils. Travel between both arenas is easily accomplished by both road (usually through the Lincoln Tunnel) and rail (along the Northeast Corridor).

Stanley Cup championships of 1994 and 1995 Edit

The rivalry's most famous moments, however, are centered around the significance of the teams' meetings during the 1995–96 season.

1994: Rangers Win Stanley Cup Edit

Although both teams were the top point-getters in the NHL during the Rangers' championship season of 1993–94 (the Presidents' Trophy-winning Rangers netting 112 and the Devils notching 106), the story entering the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals was the Rangers' 6–0 record against New Jersey that regular season. In the final weeks of the regular season, the Devils were chasing the Rangers for the best record in the NHL. In response, the New York news media pushed Rangers Head Coach Mike Keenan to push the Rangers to winning the Presidents' Trophy as the League's top regular season team. Keenan replied, "I want to play Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in Madison Square Garden." The Rangers reached the Conference Finals with relative ease by sweeping their crosstown rivals, the Islanders, and beating the Washington Capitals in five games. In comparison, the Devils' road was much harder, as they needed all 7 games to oust the Buffalo Sabres in the first round and needed 6 games to eliminate the Boston Bruins in the Conference Semifinals.

However, all ideas of a quick New York series were soon ended after Game 1, a 4–3 double overtime victory that was sealed by the Devils' Stephane Richer. The Rangers responded by routing the Devils 4–0 in Game 2, and used a double overtime goal by Stephane Matteau to take a 2–1 lead after Game 3. After being routed in Games 4 and 5, the Rangers faced elimination in New Jersey for Game 6, with the Devils attempting to make the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history. Prior to the game, Rangers captain Mark Messier guaranteed a victory in Game 6 at the Meadowlands; with the Rangers down 2–0 to the Devils, Messier scored a hat-trick to tie the series at 3–3 and send it back to New York for the decisive Game 7. In Game 7, the Devils' Valeri Zelepukin tied the game with 7.7 seconds left in regulation, but thanks to another Stephane Matteau goal in double overtime, the Rangers won the series and ultimately went on to win the Stanley Cup over the Vancouver Canucks, also in 7 games. Interestingly, the first six games were won by the team that lost that respective game in 1992. That trend, however, was reversed when the Rangers won Game 7 in 1994.

1995: Devils Win Stanley Cup Edit

The Devils recovered from the crushing defeat to the Rangers in 1994, though they had to go through another of their own rivals (also a great rival of the Rangers) in 1995 Eastern Conference Finals, the Philadelphia Flyers, and also to win the Stanley Cup the following year in a shocking and improbable sweep of the Detroit Red Wings, making the rivalry during the 1995–96 season showdowns between the Stanley Cup champions of the previous two seasons.

When both teams won the Stanley Cup in their respective seasons, the Stanley Cup was awarded on their side of the Hudson River (Rangers won at Madison Square Garden in 1994, the Devils at the Meadowlands in 1995). The Devils did not have home ice advantage during their Finals. In fact, they were the first team to win the Stanley Cup without having home ice advantage in any of the four rounds of the playoffs.

1997 Eastern Conference Semifinals Edit

The third Devils-Rangers playoff series occurred just 3 years later. The Rangers, led by Wayne Gretzky, eliminated the Devils in the 1997 Eastern Conference Semifinals, winning four games in a row after losing Game 1. New Jersey was limited to just 5 goals in the 5 game series, including two shutout losses.

1998–2006 Edit

From the start of 1998, however, rivalry momentum began to shift in favor of the Devils. New Jersey dominated New York during the regular season in the late 1990s and early 2000s. At one point, the Devils had an unbeaten streak against the Rangers throughout 23 regular season games going 15–0–8, starting on February 17, 1997, and ending March 31, 2001, an undefeated streak spanning 4 years.

At the end of the 2005–06, the Devils had won 11 games straight — the second such streak of the season — and capped off the run by winning the Atlantic Division in comeback fashion against the Montreal Canadiens. Meanwhile, the Rangers had the division lead for most of the latter part of the season, but fell victim to a losing skid as the season came to a close. The Devils took the Division title away from the Rangers by ending the season with one more point than New York. As fate would have it, the white-hot Devils met the Rangers in their fourth playoff meeting in the 2006 Eastern Conference Quarter Finals. The result was a four-game sweep by New Jersey over their cross-river rivals for the first time ever in franchise history.

2007–2011 Edit

Two years later, the teams would meet yet again in the playoffs for the 5th time, in the 2008 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. After long-time Devil Scott Gomez signed as a free agent with the Rangers prior to the 2007–08 season, he has been severely booed by Devils fans at the Prudential Center every time he touched the puck. Gomez responded by scoring three assists in Game 1 and two goals in Game 4 against his former team en route to a Rangers series win. In Game 3, Ranger Sean Avery used a tactic to screen opposing goaltender Martin Brodeur. While essentially ignoring the play on the ice when his team had a two-man advantage, Avery faced Brodeur and waved his hands and stick in front of him in an attempt to distract him and block his view. Although not illegal, many NHL commentators and players described Avery's actions as inappropriate.[14] The following day, the NHL issued an interpretation of the league's unsportsmanlike conduct rule to cover actions such as the one employed by Avery. Following the Rangers victory in Game 5 of the series during the hand-shake line, Brodeur shook the hand of every Ranger except Avery. When asked what happened after the game, Avery said, "Well, everyone talks about how classy or un-classy I am, and fatso [Brodeur] there just forgot to shake my hand I guess. . . We outplayed him. I outplayed him. We’re going to the second round." That year in the regular season, Avery slid into Brodeur. Brodeur retaliated by shoving Avery, who shoved back and a brawl occurred.

During the 2009–10 season, there was a moment of peace in the rivalry with both captains, Rangers' Chris Drury and Devils' Jamie Langenbrunner, winning silver medals as members the Team USA during the Vancouver Olympics. However, the rivalry was revived because both head coaches, the Rangers' John Tortorella and the Devils' Jacques Lemaire, were on different team's benches — Tortorella was an assistant coach for the Americans, while Lemaire was with Team Canada, which ultimately took home gold over the U.S.

The Rangers won 4 of 6 meetings between the two teams in the 2010–11 season, and won the last meeting of the season to make the playoffs. Hours after the Rangers beat the Devils 5–2 in their last game of the regular season on April 9, the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes 6–2 to help the Rangers reach the 2011 playoffs. Both teams were in opposite directions during the season. The Rangers finished 44–33–5, while the Devils finished the season under .500 for the first time since the 1990–91 season, with a record of 38–39–5.

2012 Eastern Conference Final "The Rematch" Edit

The Devils–Rangers series debuted at its latest date since the Devils moved to New Jersey in 1982 during the 2011–12 season. For the previous six seasons, the teams had met at least once in October. In two of the first three meetings of the teams, there have been fights to start the game, which included the third game of the year, were two fights immediately broke-out after the first face-off. Also in the 3rd game, there was a controversial call that negated a goal by the Rangers' Derek Stepan due to alleged goaltender interference by Marian Gaborik. Some argue that Gaborik was pushed into the goalie, Brodeur, by ex-Devil Anton Volchenkov, while others argue that the forward did not make an effort to avoid the goaltender, therefore legitimizing the penalty.

The Devils and Rangers met for their final contest of the season on March 19, 2012, at Madison Square Garden. Continuing the trend established in prior games, the game began with three simultaneous fights, and the Rangers went on to win the game, 4–2. With the Devils defeating rival Philadelphia in 5 games, and the Rangers defeating Washington in 7, the stage had been set for a rematch of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals between the two in the Eastern Conference Finals. With the exception of Games 1 and 2, the remainder of the series was played on the 18th anniversary of each game of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals series between the two, and the pattern of wins from Games 3 to 5 were identical to that of 1994. This pattern was broken when the Devils won Game 6, 3–2, in overtime on Adam Henrique's game-winner, securing the Devils' first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals since their championship season of 2003. However, the Devils would eventually lose the Cup in six games to the Los Angeles Kings.

Battle of the Keystone State: Philadelphia Flyers vs Pittsburgh PenguinsEdit

Philadelphia Flyers
Pittsburgh Penguins
Overall records
Regular season games: 133–85–30 PHI
Regular season series: 29–11–2 PHI
Post season games: 15–14 PHI
Post season series: 3–2 PHI
Post season meetings
Year Round Series
1989 Patrick Division Finals 4-3 PHI
1997 Eastern Conference Quarter Finals 4–1 PHI
2000 Eastern Conference Semi Finals 4–2 PHI
2008 Eastern Conference Finals 4–1 PIT
2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals 4–2 PIT

The rivalry between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins was born in 1967, when the teams were introduced into the NHL's "Next Six" expansion wave. The rivalry exists due to divisional alignment, and geographic locations, as both teams play in the state of Pennsylvania.

The rivalry was not as strong in earlier years, as the Penguins struggled in the NHL until the arrival of Mario Lemieux in 1984–85. The Flyers had achieved just the opposite, winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975, and had been a perennial Cup contender since. When the NHL realigned divisions prior to the 1974–75 season, the two Pennsylvania teams were moved to separate divisions. The Penguins spent the next seven seasons in the Norris Division and became the Flyers division rivals once again upon joining the Patrick Division in 1981–82.

With the arrival of Lemieux in Pittsburgh, the Penguins slowly but surely gained respectability in the league and had begun to shed their image as one of the NHL's perennial doormats. In 1988–89, the Flyers and the Penguins met for the first time in the playoffs in the Patrick Division Finals. Despite the upstart talent on the Penguins roster led by Lemieux against the Flyers' aging core of players, the Penguins blew a 3 games to 2 lead and lost the series in seven games.

Despite the Flyers' victory, the series proved to be a turning point for both franchises. The Flyers fell from grace and missed the playoffs entirely for the next 5 seasons, while the Penguins continued to strengthen their ranks with the additions of Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis and Tom Barrasso among others, and won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992.

The rivalry continued during the 1990s with the arrival of Eric Lindros in Philadelphia, which gave the Flyers a counterbalance against Lemieux. But further divisional realignment split the teams up again in 1993–94 and the Penguins spent the next five seasons in the Northeast Division. Lindros and Jagr were tied for the scoring lead in 1994–95, but the Art Ross Trophy was given to Jagr for scoring more goals than Lindros. Lindros won the Hart Memorial Trophy that season as MVP, with Lemieux winning it the following season in 1995–96, with Lindros as first runner-up. The two teams met again in the playoffs, in the 1997 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The Flyers won in five games and Lemieux retired for the first time at the end of the series. After Game 5, Lemieux skated around the ice and received a standing ovation from the Philadelphia crowd. He had previously received a standing ovation from the Philadelphia crowd in March 1993 after returning from radiation treatments.

Perhaps the pinnacle of the Flyers-Penguins rivalry occurred during the 1999–2000 season, when the two teams met in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. A season after the Penguins joined the Atlantic Division, the Flyers had won the division and the 1st seed in the East, while the Penguins snuck into the playoffs as the 7th seed. Despite this, the Penguins jumped out to a 2 games to none lead in the series, winning both games in Philadelphia. The Flyers won Game 3 in overtime, but NHL history was made in Game 4. Tied at 1, the game stretched to five overtime periods and set the record for the longest game played in the modern era of the NHL. Keith Primeau's goal at the 92:01 mark gave the Flyers a 2-1 win and a 2-2 split in the series. The outcome energized the Flyers and demoralized the Penguins, as the Flyers went on to win the next two games and the series.

The rivalry between the two teams lost its luster in the years leading up to the 2004–05 NHL lockout as the Penguins struggled on and off the ice, dropping to the bottom of not only the league standings but the attendance rankings as well.[2]

In 2006–07, the Penguins defeated the Flyers in all eight matchups between the two teams, and Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury became the first goalie to defeat a team eight times in a season since 1967–68. The Flyers have swept the season series twice, winning all four games during the 1980–81 season and winning all seven games during the 1983–84 season.

During the 2007–08 season the Flyers won five games and the Penguins won three of the games the season series. The series was highlighted by an 8-2 win by the Flyers and a 7-1 win by the Penguins.

The Flyers and Penguins faced off in the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals, won by the Penguins in 5 games for the Penguins' first-ever playoff series win against the Flyers. A year later in the 2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals the Penguins beat the Flyers again, winning the series 4-2 on their way to winning the Stanley Cup.

In an October 8, 2009 regular season game, Penguins defenseman Kris Letang accused Flyers forward Scott Hartnell of biting his hand during a scrap.

On October 7, 2010, the Penguins hosted the Flyers in the first regular-season game at their new arena, the Consol Energy Center. Danny Briere scored the first NHL goal in the new building, and Tyler Kennedy scored the first Penguins goal. The Flyers won, 3-2. Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made his NHL debut, stopping 29 of 31 shots.

Battle of New York: New York Rangers vs New York IslandersEdit

Rangers-Islanders rivalry
New York Rangers

New York Islanders

First Meeting October 21, 1972
First Result NYR: 2–1
Location Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Latest Meeting April 7, 2016
Latest Result NYI: 4–1
Location Madison Square Garden
Next Meeting October 13, 2016
Location Madison Square Garden
Number of Meetings 286
Regular Season Series NYR: 124–107–19–8
Playoff History
Playoff Series NYI: 5–3
Playoff Games NYI: 20–19

1975 NHL Preliminary Round

Islanders won 2-1
1979 NHL Semi Finals Rangers won 4-2
1981 NHL Semi Finals Islanders won 4-0
1982 Patrick Division Finals Islanders won 4-2
1983 Patrick Division Finals Islanders won 4-2
1984 Patrick Division Finals Islanders won 3-2
1990 Patrick Division Semi-Finals Rangers won 4-1
1994 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals Rangers won 4-0

The Rangers-Islanders rivalry, also unofficially known as the "Battle of New York", was established when the NHL awarded a second franchise in the New York metropolitan area. With the impending start of the World Hockey Association in the fall of 1972, the upstart league had plans to place a team, the Raiders, in the then-new Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Nassau County. The National Hockey League did not want the competition in the nation's largest metro area, so despite having expanded two years before, the NHL awarded franchises to Atlanta and Long Island. The fledgling New York Islanders had an extra burden to pay in the form of a $4 million territorial fee to the nearby New York Rangers.

In 1975, the Islanders made their first trip to the NHL playoffs, facing the heavily favored Rangers in a best-of-three first-round series. After splitting the first two games, the Islanders won Game 3, and the series, when J. P. Parise scored 11 seconds into overtime. The teams met again in the 1979 playoffs; this time the underdog Rangers were victorious, eliminating the heavily favoured Islanders in 6 games and earning a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals. This was particularly memorable as it continued the Islanders' reputation for playoff "chokes" despite finishing first in the league during the regular season.

The teams also met in the playoffs every year from 1981–84; the Islanders won each series by margins of 4-0, 4-2, 4-2 and 3-2 enroute to 4 finals and three Stanley Cups (in addition to their 1980 win to make it four championships and 5 finals in a row). In the 1990s, the teams met twice, with the Rangers winning 4-1 in 1990, and sweeping the Islanders 4-0 in 1994, en route to winning their first Stanley Cup since 1940. The 1994 Eastern Conference Quarter Finals is the most recent meeting between the two teams in the playoffs.

The rivalry heated up in the regular season. Before the 1995–96 season the Islanders attempt to updating their look resulted in the unveiling of the fisherman logo, it proved to be such a disaster as Rangers fans mock the Islanders with chants of "we want fishsticks", which is a reference to the way the logo resembled the Gorton's fisherman. The Islanders soon reverted back to their original logo with an updated color scheme in late 1996.

With both teams' fans visiting "enemy territory" for games, organized shouting matches and fights break out in the stands. Rangers fans often refer to the Nassau Coliseum as "Garden East" or the "Mausoleum", as Ranger fans sometimes make up as much as one third of the crowd when as the visitor on Long Island. The Rangers' fanbase generally comes from the city's five boroughs, Westchester, Fairfield, and Rockland Counties while the Islanders tend to draw fans from Nassau and Suffolk counties, and parts of eastern Queens. Fans will direct derisive chants at their rivals regardless of whether the teams are actually playing. At each home game, Ranger fans engage in perhaps their most popular chant: whistling the song "Let's Go Band" and punctuating it with "Potvin sucks", referring to retired Islander Hall of Fame defenseman Denis Potvin. Rangers fans also occasionally bring out the chant "Beat your wife, Potvin, beat your wife", a reference to unconfirmed allegations that Potvin has committed domestic abuse.

Islander fans taunted Rangers fans for many years with the chant "1940!" referring to the Rangers having the all-time longest drought without winning the Stanley Cup, until the Blueshirts finally won in 1994. For a period in the late '90s and early 2000s, Islanders fans would punctuate the "Chicken Dance" with chants of "the Rangers suck." The Islanders had stopped playing the song at games for a length of time but as of the 2007–08 season the song is played solely at Islanders-Rangers games. Rangers winger Theoren Fleury used the chant as an excuse for flapping his arms to taunt Islanders enforcer Eric Cairns. In addition a popular chant was "Crackhead Theo!" referring to Fleury's erratic behavior and history of substance abuse at the time. Islanders fans also sing a song to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It", replacing the standard lyrics with "If you know the Rangers suck, clap your hands." In the early 1990's a group of boisterous fans at Nassau Coliseum would sit in section 329 and mock Rangers announcer Sam Rosen's tag line "It's a power play goal" by announcing in unison "it's a power play goal, screw you Sam Rosen" after each Islander Power Play Goal.

One well-known incident at an Islanders/Philadelphia Flyers game in 2003 turned an innocent holiday promotion at Nassau Coliseum into a on-ice shoving match between Rangers and Islanders fans in Santa suits.

One incident that has been rumored was a brawl between fans of the two teams at a New York Mets game at Shea Stadium in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

As of 2008, the Rangers and Islanders are tied in the all-time series with 100 wins, 100 losses (including overtime and shootout losses), and 19 ties. In the playoffs, however, the Islanders hold the lead with a 20-19 record, and have won five of the eight playoff series' between the two teams.

Since 2001, the Pat LaFontaine Trophy has been awarded to the winner of the Rangers-Islanders regular season series. The winning team receives a trophy to parade around for their fans and bragging rights for another year, while the losing team must make a $50,000 contribution to the charity of Pat LaFontaine's choice.

Greg Gilbert won the Stanley Cup with both teams and is the only player to do so with both New York City hockey teams, winning with the Islanders in 1982 and 1983 and with the Rangers in 1994. In addition, Neil Smith served as general manager of both teams.

During the 2009–10 season, there was a moment of peace in the rivalry with both head coaches, Rangers' John Tortorella and Islanders' Scott Gordon winning silver medals as assistant coaches for the U.S. men's ice hockey team during the Vancouver Olympics, under Toronto Maple Leafs Coach Ron Wilson, the head coach.[3]

References Edit

  1. - Recap: Devils @ Flyers (2007-04-05). Retrieved on 2009-05-04.
  2. NHL Attendance Leaders - National Hockey League. Retrieved on 2009-05-15.
  3. Associated Press. "Tortorella, Gordon named assistants",, June 29, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-07-22. 

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