The Atlantic Division is pretty competitive. In a few years time, it's imaginable that all 5 teams will have a shot at the playoffs.
It's also pretty bitter. There's a lot of history between these teams, and the rivalries that have emerged are almost story-like. Or perhaps their only in the heads of fans who link reality to fiction. Either way, I'm curious to see how this board views our New York Rangers rivalries.
New Jersey Devils: The Hudson River Rivalry
Born out of playoff encounters, the fans of both teams quickly embraced a chance to do battle with each other. Often times, it seems that fans of the Devils hate the Rangers more than they like the Devils! They will of course, counter that such an opinion is typical of a New Yorker, thinking they're the center of the universe. What started as bitter hatred has devolved into a state acceptance of a worthy opponent, though sparks have still been known to fly if a game gets heated. The exception, of course, would be Sean Avery and Martin Brodeur. As long as either of these players are in the game, expect the fans to get involved just as much, if not more than the players themselves.
New York Islanders: The Battle for New York.
Much like New Jersey, it seems impossible for two teams based so close to each other to not have a certain amount of friction. The two teams meet and battle for the right to call themselves New York's team. To an Islander's fan, it's David vs Goliath. The Island vs the Big Bad City (and the Hudson Valley). To a Rangers fan, it's New York's definitive team, squashing down their red headed step cousin.
The Pittsburgh Penguins: The Big Market Battle
With Pittsburgh's recent unarguable success, led by their impossibly polarizing captain Sidney Crosby, backed up by a remarkably solid team, The Rangers find themselves the expected underdog of every match up. More than content to play the David, instead of the Goliath, the recent match-ups between these two teams have been more and more heated. This is aided by Pittsburgh's reputation of "Bettman's favorite team", accusations of favoritism, and even conspiracy. Also involved: Matt Cooke. Often very close games, won either by a single goal, overtime or even a shootout, The Penguins require New York to play to the best of their abilities, to which the Rangers gladly oblige.
The Philadelphia Flyers: Broadway vs Broad St.
If not for the existence of The Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia could be considered New York's greatest sports Rival. This rivalry has been the most bitter and vicious in recent years, replacing the Hudson River Rivalry. The fanbases in particular seem unanimous in their hatred for the other, and the players seem to take a bump from the other team a bit more personally than normal. Fights are hardly uncommon, with events like agitator Carcillo's fight with sniper Marion Gaborik, or Sean Avery's fight with Matt Carle serving to further the bad blood. With 2010's shootout for the playoffs, the rivalry came to a head, with the Flyers emerging the winner, and proceeding to make their way to the cup finals. Despite winning the majority of their matchups the following year, the Rangers managed to embarrass the Flyers on national TV with a 7-0 win, and would later beat Philadelphia in a shootout, acquiring a vital point, which would later put NY in the playoffs. With the Winter Classic taking place between the two teams, it's safe to say that the rivalry will only become more and more intense, not to mention the now orange wearing, former captain of the Rangers, Jaromir Jagr.
I characterize them all the same: A bunch of losers with fans that I can't stand and teams I wish didn't exist.
"Of course giving Sather cap space is like giving teenagers whiskey and car keys." - SBOB "Watching Sather build a team is like watching a blind man with no fingers trying to put together an elaborate puzzle." - Shadowtron
Sestito still on the make a wish tour. - rholt168 "Okay, Joel. You've had your fun. Give your brother his pads back." - Trxjw
When I was growing up in the 90s this was the rivalry hierarchy:
1. Islanders. Never forget the 80s, and unlike the Devils, if they win, they do draw (I think).
2. Flyers. Very dirty team, large fanbase.
3. Devils. Third because if they win, like the tree in the forest, does anybody care?
With that said, I think all the Rangers rivals have died down some.
None have the intensity of the 90s.
My ranking of how much I hate teams in the Eastern Conference:
1. Pittsburgh - I bet Bettman jacks off to Crosby
2. Philadelphia - Like morffin said; goons.
3. NY Islanders - A joke now, but it's the New York battle
4. New Jersey - The most disgusting team ever
5. Montreal - Most annoying fans ever
6. Washington - Ugliest Russian ever
7. Boston - I dunno, I just don't like 'em
8. Carolina - Probably since last year and Eric Staal
9. Toronto - Nope, never liked them
10. Ottawa - They're OK I guess
11. Tampa Bay - Same here, but boring
12. Buffalo - Buffalo, New York?
13. Winnipeg - Like them more than Atlanta for some reason
14. Florida - So what?