Tag: rivalry

Vancouver Canucks v Chicago Blackhawks - Game Six

Chicago is pretty fired up to face Vancouver tonight


Tonight, the Blackhawks will face the Canucks for the first time since being eliminated by Vancouver in last year’s epic, historic, unforgettable first-round playoff series.

A series that ended like this, in case you forgot:

Leading up to tonight’s game, the ‘Hawks have spent plenty of time telling local media just how excited they are to get it on.

Dave Bolland: “It will be like a playoff game on Sunday right from the puck drop. Something will happen. The fans and everybody will be into it. It will be a crazy game.”

Joel Quenneville: “At the end of the year you know they’re going to be a top team. The rivalry is definitely in place. When you play them three years in a row in the playoffs there’s something going on there.”

Brent Seabrook: ““It’s going to be an exciting game. We’re looking forward to it.”

Adding to the intrigue will be the presence of Dan Carcillo. Acquired by the ‘Hawks this past summer, Carbomb made waves during his introductory presser on Aug. 8 by saying the following:

Strong but problematic words from the ‘Hawks instigator extraordinaire — when Carcillo said this, Tanner Glass and Raffi Torres were no longer with the Canucks. Glass had signed with Winnipeg on Jul. 1, the same day Torres inked with Phoenix.

(Also, Carcillo got Maxim Lapierre mixed up with Ian Laperriere. Hey, it was his first-ever press conference.)

Unlike Glass and Torres, Lapierre is still with the Canucks and seems fine being at the top of Carcillo’s hit list.

“That’s all right,” Lapierre told the Vancouver Province. “We know he [Carcillo] plays his role and he might be the 500th guy in the league who has said that. I’m used to it and I enjoy my role. I don’t know what he’s doing and I really don’t care about him.”

There’s also the small matter of how both teams are coming into this game. Vancouver’s been bad (lost two straight and four of six) while Chicago’s been good (won three of four, gained seven of eight points) — setting the stage for a pretty key affair for both clubs.

NHL schedule humor: Coyotes take on Jets in home opener

Phoenix Coyotes v Detroit Red Wings - Game Two

The Jets are flying south to Phoenix. Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

You know someone in the league’s scheduling office has to have a sense of humor to arrange that kind of matchup for the home opener. The old Jets vs. the new Jets faceoff while the old Jets fight to stay in their new town. Did you catch all that?

In a way, the rivalry isn’t what it would have been at this time last season. For years, there were a portion of Winnipeggers who relentlessly hammered fans in Phoenix because they didn’t think they deserved an NHL team. Reading comments on Coyotes articles was a virtual how-to course for people learning how to troll effectively on the internet. There was plenty of hate to go around.

But things are a little calmer now. Since Winnipeg got an NHL team, the trolls aren’t as active these days. It probably has something to do with the fact that those pesky fans finally have a team of their own to follow. In Phoenix, the ownership problems aren’t any closer to being settled. No owner, no owner in sight, and the City of Glendale paying the bills. But here’s the difference: without Winnipeg chomping at the bit for a team, there’s less tension surrounding the Coyotes as they look for a new owner.

Still, these two teams have the potential to be rivals right out of the box. Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun expects an interesting dynamic in the stands on Saturday night:

“The mood at the Jobing.com Arena, Saturday, should be an interesting mix of Phoenix fans eager to heap derision on the Jets, and by extension, the people of Winnipeg, who almost stole their team last spring, and Winnipeggers taking advantage of an easy chance to see the Jets in a building that’s almost never full.”

On the ice, the Coyotes finished their season opening three-game road trip with a 1-1-1 record. They’re looking to build on Thursday night’s impressive 5-2 victory in Nashville as they play 9 of their next 12 games at home. For a team that hopes to make it back to the playoffs for the third straight season, every point matters in the tough Western Conference.

For Coyotes captain Shane Doan, facing off against the Jets will be an odd turn of events. He was originally drafted by the Jets in 1995 and has never been traded throughout his entire career. Yet, on Saturday, he’ll be playing against the Jets. It’s an oddity that isn’t lost on the Coyotes veteran who is looking for his 300th goal on Saturday:

“It’s a unique situation in the fact that it’s Winnipeg. Our team and our organization is connected to them and that makes it pretty special. They gave me the opportunity to play in the NHL and I will always be grateful for the incredible opportunity to play there.

“Being from Western Canada, it meant so much for me. It’s pretty unique to have a chance to play against them. I signed every contract, never asked to be traded and have never been traded. Now I’m playing against the team that drafted me. But it’s different now, they’ve got a whole different organization. A great group of guys that are in there, the management and you hear such rave reviews about it and it’s exciting for the city I’m sure.”

It’ll be the Jets job to make sure Doan doesn’t feel too much at home with the Winnipeggers in attendance. Winnipeg is 0-2 in the early going and new incarnation of the team is still looking for its first win. If they could get it against Phoenix, it would make it that much sweeter for fans in Winnipeg.

And that much more bitter for fans in Phoenix.

Sharks and Ducks renew acquaintances in Anaheim

San Jose Sharks v Anaheim Ducks

There are always quirks in the NHL schedule and there’s no better example than tonight’s game between the Sharks and Ducks in Anaheim. The Ducks haven’t played since last Saturday when they played the New York Rangers in Sweden. Likewise, the Sharks haven’t played since they destroyed the Phoenix Coyotes in their opening night game at the Shark Tank last Saturday. But as Ducks coach Randy Carlyle joked, “Schedules sometimes have oddities in them. And we never complain about our schedule.”

Both teams are obviously itching to get back onto the ice—and what better way than against a divisional rival to kick really kick start the season. Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf knows that it’s always a battle when the Sharks come to town

“San Jose and us are put together in a similar fashions,” Getzlaf said. “We all play the same kind of game—a hard, fast game. Every time we play those guys, it’s a big rivalry for us and those things grow within a playoff series. We’ve had our fair share against them in the last five years.”

Both teams made the playoffs last season and even earned home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Both Sharks coach Todd McLellan and Carlyle admitted that they thought the Pacific was the toughest division in the NHL; they both know that points are at a premium every game. The Sharks need every point they can get as they look to earn home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. The last two seasons the team has lost in the Western Conference final—last season they knew that home-ice advantage could have helped against the Canucks.

Likewise, the Ducks know that every point in the Pacific is crucial as they look for back-to-back playoff appearances. The two teams definitely have history. When the 8th seed Ducks beat the top seed Sharks in 2009, it took the rivalry to the next level. It may be the beginning of the year, but hockey players have long memories. There’s always potential for some fireworks.

Some people will remember that Joe Thornton and Ryan Getzlaf dropped the gloves at the opening faceoff during that nasty series in 2009. When asked if he planned on dropping the gloves with Joe Thornton in the faceoff circle, Getzlaf laughed, “Not likely!”

So you’re saying there’s a chance…

Max Talbot’s defection to Philadelphia helps make Flyers-Penguins rivalry more bitter

Maxime Talbot

You could argue that Maxime Talbot was one of the more underrated players on the Pittsburgh Penguins the last few seasons. Always a grind line-type player and not a guy to score a ton of goals, Talbot was the sort of player that could get lost in the mix.

In Pittsburgh, it’s easy to go unnoticed when you’re playing alongside the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jordan Staal. Then again, Talbot was the most important player for the Penguins when they clinched Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup finals scoring the Penguins only two goals against Detroit and giving the Pens the Cup.

That’s part of what makes Talbot’s free agency departure to Philadelphia all the more difficult for Penguins fans to wrap their heads around. Not only did Talbot end up leaving Pittsburgh, he took his irascible talent just across the state. With the Penguins and Flyers already being bitter rivals, you’d think that Talbot deciding to go to a hated team would make it a hard decision. As Adam Kimelman of NHL.com finds out, it’s equal parts business and respecting one’s opponent.

“The first step for me this summer was to realize that I was not going to be back with the Pens,” he said. “That was obviously tough. It was a hard thing, because I had been there six good years. But when that was set aside, I wanted to make the best decision for Max Talbot — the best organization that gave me the chance to win, an organization that treats its players well and takes pride in winning and doing the right things.”

That made signing with the Flyers an easy decision for Talbot.

“You know one, two players on every single team in the League,” he said. “You hear about the way ownership and the organization takes care of their players. Let’s say there’s 10 top teams (in the top third), 10 middle teams … the Flyers always come up in the first third. It’s their reputation and I think it’s well-deserved. Since I signed here, I know camp hasn’t started, but I can see the professionalism of the ownership. You feel like you’re in good hands. It would have been tough for me to move from Pittsburgh to a team that you have to build a lot more.”

Hearing about professionalism and respect when it comes to this rivalry is stunning to hear. Seeing Talbot speak in the third person when talking isn’t quite so surprising. When these teams collide there’s always a little extra heat between the two. This season figures to have things run a lot hotter with Talbot’s defection as well as former Penguins legend Jaromir Jagr spurning an offer from Pittsburgh to sign with Philadelphia.

What Talbot brings to the Flyers is a guy who plays the game with a sandpaper-like nature, consistently rubbing the other team the wrong way with his aggressive style. He also gives them a stable presence on the penalty kill and a guy with enough of a scoring touch to be a threat if given the opportunity. He’ll also figure to be a scene stealer once again on HBO’s 24/7 leading up to this year’s Winter Classic.

While Flyers fans have every reason to be excited about putting one over on the Penguins in the offseason, the reception for both Talbot and Jagr doesn’t figure to be very welcoming when the two teams meet up for the first time in Pittsburgh on December 29. If Talbot can do for the Flyers what he did in Pittsburgh, the fans on Broad Street might have a reason to throw a parade next summer.

Rivalry put on hold: Current and former Rangers lend support for upcoming Long Island arena vote

New York Rangers v New York Islanders

Many Islanders fans will tell you they hate just about everything to do with the Rangers. Likewise, many Rangers will share the same feelings towards anything related to the Islanders organization. Consider it one of the perks of a bitter rivalry that spans almost 40 years. But as much as the two sides love to hate one another, dire situations tend to bring out the best in one another. For the Islanders, they face an important Nassau County vote on August 1st regarding public funding for a new arena in Long Island. Note: this is not the same thing as the ill-fated Lighthouse Project that was killed last summer by Kate Murray and the rest of the Town of Hempstead. If they are unable to secure funding for a better home, the Islanders may be forced to look outside of Long Island for a future home.

Fans and players alike on both sides of the New York hockey aisle know that an Islanders departure would ruin something special. They may dislike one another on the ice—but everyone seems to love the rivalry. If the Islanders were forced to move, it would kill something distinctive for all hockey fans in the area—it would be the same for both Islanders and Rangers fans.

A few former Rangers players shared their thoughts on the rivalry and how important it is to keep the Islanders on Long Island. Rod Gilbert scored over 400 goals and over 1000 points over parts of 18 seasons with the Rangers. Even though he played his entire career with the Broadway Blueshirts, he wants the best for Islanders fans:

“I want to see this situation with the arena finally get settled and I know I speak for the Rangers organization when I say that I want to see the Islanders franchise strong forever and ever. I also want their fans to have a team that will never play anywhere else except where they won those Stanley Cups. It’s time the Islanders and their fans were rewarded.”

Fellow Rangers legend and Hall of Famer Brian Leetch shared similar feelings on the arena issue and towards the fans on Long Island:

“Islanders fans have proven their support for the team. It would be bad for the area’s hockey fans and for the NHL to lose this rivalry. The health of the Islanders is important to the league, I know that. It’s disappointing to see the friction over the new arena, but I really hope it gets figured out and the Islanders are able to be competitive for a long, long time. The fans are there, there’s no question in my mind about that. The fans have proven it before. There are a lot who are just waiting to get back in there and fill the place.”

Without getting too deep into the politics of the situation, it’s great to see hockey people getting together for the greater good. Politicians have stated that the referendum (if it passes) would cost Long Island residents $58 per household—a number that has been proven wrong by the folks over at Lighthouse Hockey. Like anything else, the more successful the arena (and team) are in the standings and box office, the more successful they’ll be in the profit column. The Islanders have the potential to make money with a new arena and exciting, young team over the next few years. Members of the Rangers organization know it—we’ll see if the residents in Long Island share their vision.

Of course, there are always other alternatives if the arena deal fails at ballot box.

“…to an Islanders fan, the cost of replacing the Islanders with a Target, Dave and Busters and an Olive Garden is way, way more than $17 per year. But if you are an arena skeptic, I assume that doesn’t count for much.”

Not even Rangers fans would want to see that.