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New York Islanders New York Rangers Is A Real Rivalry

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 12: Nick Leddy #2 of the New York Islanders hits Mika Zibanejad #93 of the New York Rangers during the third period at the Barclays Center on January 12, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 12: Nick Leddy #2 of the New York Islanders hits Mika Zibanejad #93 of the New York Rangers during the third period at the Barclays Center on January 12, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The rivalry between the New York Islanders and New York Rangers is far from dead. It’s as feisty as ever and could get more intense.

Recently NBC asked followers on Twitter if the San Jose Sharks vs. Vegas Golden Knights rivalry was the best in the NHL? As if the New York Islanders versus New York Rangers rivalry wasn’t a thing.

First, how in the world is the Sharks versus Golden Knights even a rivalry? They’ve played eight times in the regular season and another 13 times in the playoffs. That’s a 21 game total history over two seasons.

Second, if the Vegas Golden Knights had any sort of penalty kill to speak of in the playoffs we aren’t talking about this even being a rivalry.

The Islanders Rangers, on the other hand, now that’s a rivalry.

A Real Rivalry

The New York Islanders and New York Rangers have played each other 270 times in the regular season. Some 34 times more than the Sharks and Golden Knights. The Rangers hold the edge here with 124 wins to the Islanders 121.

On February 27th, 1979, New York Islanders defenseman Denis Potvin slammed Rangers forward Ulf Nilsson into the board. A hit that resulted in Nilsson breaking his ankle. Rangers fans were none too pleased. That night they started chanting “Potvin Sucks”.

A chant that still lives today, some 40 years later. Rangers fans chant it even when the Islanders aren’t playing!

The rivalry between the Islanders and Rangers goes beyond the ice. In 2003 two Rangers fans were pummelled by Islanders fans during an Islanders vs. Flyers game. The two fans, disguising themselves as Santas (the games was days before Christmas) made their way to the ice with the rest of the Santas only to reveal their Rangers shirts. It didn’t end well for them.

In the playoffs, the Islanders and Rangers have played eight series between 1975 and 1994 with a total of 39 games played. Three times more than the Sharks and Golden Knights. (The Islanders hold a 20-19 lead on the Rangers in the playoffs.)

Still Kicking

And that rivalry hasn’t dissipated over time. Last season the New York Islanders and New York Rangers have faced off four times. As you’d expect with rivalry games it neither was a tepid affair.

Across all four games, the two teams averaged a combined 21.5 penalty minutes per game. The NHL average for 2018-19 was roughly 16 penalty minutes per game.

These two teams hate each other. That’s what happens with almost 50 years worth of history. The Islanders-Rangers rivalry is alive and well.

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I get that the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights have some beef. They had that one game where Evander Kane received 26 minutes worth of penalties. Cute. But let’s talk when that beef spans decades. Until then, the New York Islanders and New York Rangers are the real rivalry.

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