NHL Longest-Running Rivalries: A Look at Time-Tested Showdowns


The world of hockey is filled with intense rivalries that date back decades. These rivalries have stood the test of time, with teams facing off against each other year after year, building up a fierce competition that captivates both players and fans alike. Some of these rivalries are rooted in history, while others are fueled by intense playoffs matchups or even geographical proximity. Regardless of their origins, one thing is for sure – these rivalries have become an integral part of the NHL, providing a thrilling storyline for every season.

As we dive into the world of NHL’s longest-running rivalries, we’ll explore the teams, players, and moments that have defined these iconic matchups throughout the years. From the Battle of Alberta to the Original Six showdowns, let’s take a trip down memory lane and relive the intensity and passion of these time-tested showdowns.

The Battle of Alberta – Calgary Flames vs Edmonton Oilers

The Battle of Alberta is one of the most heated and historic rivalries in NHL history. Dating back to the late 1970s, the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers have been locked in a fierce competition, with both teams hailing from the Canadian province of Alberta. This rivalry has been amplified by the success of both teams, with the Oilers winning five Stanley Cups and the Flames claiming one.

The intense rivalry between the two teams has been fueled by the presence of legendary players such as Wayne Gretzky and Jarome Iginla on opposite sides. The games between the Flames and Oilers have been known to bring out a level of physicality and aggression that is unmatched by any other matchup in the NHL. These games are not only fiercely contested by the players but also by the fans, who pack the arenas to watch their teams battle it out on the ice.

The Original Six – Montreal Canadiens vs Toronto Maple Leafs

The Original Six rivalry between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs is one of the most storied and enduring rivalries in the NHL. These two Canadian teams have faced off against each other since the beginning of the league in 1917. This rivalry was taken to a whole new level during the playoffs, where the two teams met a total of 15 times, with the Canadiens holding a slight edge with 8 series wins.

The intensity of this rivalry is fueled by the iconic locations of these teams – Montreal, known for its Francophone culture, and Toronto, the largest city in Canada. The fans of these two teams are known to be some of the most passionate and vocal in the league, often traveling to away games to support their team. No matter where the game is played, the atmosphere is always electric when the Canadiens and Maple Leafs are on the ice.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Philadelphia Flyers

The rivalry between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers dates back to the 1967-68 season when both teams joined the NHL as expansion teams. These two Pennsylvania teams have a long history of fierce competition, with the Flyers holding a slight edge over the Penguins in their regular-season matchups.

The intensity of this rivalry was taken to another level during the 2012 playoffs when the Penguins and Flyers met for the first time in the postseason since 2009. The series saw both teams trading blows and setting records for the most goals scored in a playoff series. In the end, the Flyers came out on top, but this series cemented the rivalry as one of the most exciting and high-scoring matchups in the NHL.

Boston Bruins vs New York Rangers

The rivalry between the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers is one that has stood the test of time. These two Original Six teams have been facing off against each other since the 1920s and have met in the playoffs 10 times. Both teams have a strong history and passionate fan bases, making their matchups a must-watch for hockey fans.

The rivalry between the Bruins and Rangers reached its peak during the 1970s when the two teams met in the playoffs three times in four years. The physicality and intensity of these matchups were unmatched, and it was during this time that the iconic brawls between legendary players such as Bobby Orr and Rod Gilbert took place. While the Bruins have had more success in recent years, this matchup continues to be one of the most anticipated games of the season.

Final thoughts

As we look back at these longest-running rivalries in NHL history, one thing becomes clear – these matchups are more than just games. They represent the passion, determination, and resilience of both teams and their fans. These rivalries have stood the test of time and have become a fundamental part of the NHL, shaping the league and its players in ways that will be remembered for generations to come.

From the Battle of Alberta to the Original Six showdowns, these rivalries continue to provide endless excitement and entertainment for sports fans everywhere. And as long as these teams continue to face off against each other, we can be sure that the intensity and passion of these matchups will never die.