Image Courtesy of USA Today
After a seven game series in May and a heated battle on Thursday this is just the beginning of a serious divisional rivalry.
By Chris Yackel
Trust me, I know the NHL has beaten the “rivalry” moniker to death pretty much since the 05-06 season and especially after divisional realignment in 2013-14. It got to the point where the NHL and NBC (smartly) re-branded their “Wednesday Night Rivalry” where real rivals weren’t playing half the time to the “Wednesday Night Game of the Week”. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some great rivalries since the 2005-06 season, like Caps-Pens, Bruins-Canadiens, Kings-Ducks. Most of these rivalries been prevalent in the playoffs. There have been great playoff rivalries like Blackhawks-Kings as well (the 2014 WCF between these two teams is still greatest series I’ve ever watched as a hockey fan.)
However, the hatred and rivalry in the game is rarely seen in the regular season anymore. As I stated earlier there are rivalries that still show this, but they have either become stale or the teams involved are no longer what they once were. Never fear though, because there is a new rivalry in town. A rivalry that began last season with a heated and intense seven game series and will likely continue for the next several years. Especially in the playoffs.
The Nashville Predators and the Winnipeg Jets now have the best rivalry in the NHL. Thursday night you saw why. There was a little “trash talk” before the game on the Predators (by the way absolutely ridiculous) Western Conference Regular season championship banner from Winnipeg. Some Winnipeg players like Patrick Laine banner dismissed the banner, because ultimately the Jets won when it mattered most, in the playoffs. This probably had little impact on why it got heated during the game, but still it was a little nugget of hate that fans appreciate.
Boy did it get heated though. The hatred and will to win for game number four of the regular season was refreshing to see. Especially, with the line brawl in the second period. This melee and chaos developed into two separate fights between Jets captain Blake Wheeler and Mattias Ekholm and Nikolaj Ehlers against Colton Sissons. It was old time rivalry hockey at its finest and it got me pumped for the next time these two teams face. I’ll be sure to make it appointment television as I’ll definitely find an illegal stream for the next one (sorry I meant NHL game pass of course). I think the most exciting thing of all is these two teams have most of their key guys locked up on contracts so this will be a battle for the next several years.
This rivalry is one that has the potential to be the best rivalry since the 90’s with Colorado vs. Detroit. Although, I was barely alive and don’t remember these battles, they were so great every hockey savant will tell you about it. Buckle your seatbelts. We’re just in the beginning of the NHL’s new best rivalry. Plenty of chapters and line brawls left in this one.
Follow @NHLNosebleed for more!