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Open Up Your Eyes People!

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Last night the best New York local rivalry took center stage at Madison Square Garden.  Only problem is just a few people seemed to notice.  The Rangers and Devils are the best the tri-state area has to offer in terms of natural rivalry.  Sure, Mets fans will always be envious and hate the Yankees, while Yankee fans kind of laugh at this point.  Jets fans and Giants fans will argue about which team is better, though I’m pretty sure that debate was settled this past year.  The Knicks were good in the 90’s when the Nets were awful.  Then the Nets got good in the early 2000’s while the Knicks were a joke.  Then they both sucked for a bunch of years.  Can’t say much a rivalry exists there.

Last night the Ranger and Devils put on a show from start to finish in front of the Garden faithful.  The game started with a 6 man melee, and ended with a Ranger insurance goal to give the Blue Shirts a 4-2 win.  The hatred these teams have for each other was evident from the first drop of the puck.  The Devils threw out their toughest line to start the game, so the Ranger coach countered by starting his bruisers, to match up.  Then Ranger coach John Torterella had defenseman Stu Bickel take the face-off, the first in his NHL career, solely because it was a good fighting matchup for the club.  The best part is that this was the third time this season a similar scenario occurred between the two teams.  On Dec. 20, they had two fights in the first minute and then a month ago they had two more fights in the first 2 seconds.

(Click below to see video of last nights fight)

Other than the fist-a-cuffs, the rivalry between the two teams features all-around great hockey.  Each team has a  Hall of Fame caliber goalies playing net, the Devils Martin Brodeur and the Rangers Henrik Lundqvist.  Both teams have young talent, such as Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky and Dan Girardi in New York and Zach Parise and Travis Zajak of the Devils.  Both teams sport great goal scorers like New York’s Marion Gaborik and Jersey’s Ilya Kovalchuk.  Petr Sykora and Patrik Elias give the Devils great veteran leadership, as does Brad Richards for teh Rangers.  The teams have been battling for the Atlantic Division all year long, and while the Devils might have fallen out of contention last night, while the Rangers still battle the Penguins and Flyers, both teams will surely make the playoffs.

My favorite hockey memory ever was when the Rangers defeated the Devils in the 1994 Conference Finals, lead by Mark Messier’s guarantee and subsequent hat trick in Game 6.  Game 7 was capped off by a thrilling OT victory by New York, which lead to their Cup matchup and eventual victory against Vancouver.  This year the games have been just about as tight and contentious and the teams have split the 6 games evenly.  I have my fingers crossed that the tie-breaker is settled in the playoffs this year, which is looking extremely possible.  Lets just hope that people living in the Tri-State area don’t miss the show.

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8 responses

  1. Pingback: Lets Get Ready to Rumble « Sports Debaters

  2. Big game against the Red Wings tonight, see how we stack up against one of the West’s best teams. Now that we clinched, the team could fall into the natural trap of relaxing. I hope the desire to finish first in the Conference outweighs that risk and we work on building momentum after the win vs. the Devs

    March 21, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    • Andrew

      Clutch win against Detroit, that’s the team that soared to top of the conference standings. I don’t think Tortorella will let them lose their motivation during the last 9 games I think it is now, they’ve got 5 pretty winnable ones coming up but then end the season with a tough stretch and I’m sure the final standings won’t even be wrapped up until then since they play Pittsburgh one more time and Pittsburgh doesn’t seem to lose anymore. But overall they look really good the last 2 games so hopefully they got their mini losing stretch out of the way before playoff time.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:50 PM

      • Tough one to swallow last night, I guess it’ll come down to the last few games when we play Philly and Pittsburgh. Sabres look pretty solid themselves, so a #1 seed might lead to a matchup with the them in the first round, which might not be the best matchup for us either. Guess only time will tell at this point, we’ve been in first for so long that it would be great to finish there, but as you know, the #1 seed in hockey can be meaningless.

        March 24, 2012 at 5:24 PM

  3. Andrew

    Great post and I totally agree with you on the greatest hockey memory. I was 9 in the spring of 1994 and I don’t even really remember the Rangers win the cup, but I remember with perfect clarity where I was watching when Stephen Matteau won the game against the Devils. This is also one of the most pure rivalries in the tri state area, the Jets and Giants rarely play each other, the Knicks and Nets have never been good at the same time, and Yankees/Mets, well we’ll just leave that one out of it. If these two teams met in the playoffs the games would extremely tight and well played and probably filled with a ton of fights. Monday’s fight was awesome, but more importantly I hope the win got them back on the winning track for the last 10 games before playoff time.

    March 21, 2012 at 6:41 PM

  4. Butler

    Can’t wait for the playoffs. I think the Rangers hit their little slump at the right time. Get it out of their system. Remember what losing feels like and get it together before round one. This fight was pretty awesome and a good gut check for the blue shirts. Love to see these guys face each other in the playoffs. Nobody in NY cares but who gives a shit. Time to throw away the razor and get the second season started.

    March 20, 2012 at 9:33 PM

  5. Peter

    This is as much of a rivalry as the Natives vs. the Dead Rabbits. Hockey has not been about sports in decades. There’s a reason hardly anyone sees this – hardly anyone wants to! Hockey is a throwback to the Colleseum, and needs to move at least into the 20th Century if it doesn’t feel comfortable in the 21st. It is as much about sports as fox hunting is about horseback riding. I played hockey and the real fun is in the skill of the shot and the pass, not how big each guy’s d*€£ is.

    March 20, 2012 at 8:55 PM

    • While I can’t argue that many people don’t see hockey these days, as I brought that up in the article, I have to disagree with your analysis about hockey not being a sport in decades. As someone who used to play, if you can get by the hits and fights, which are a part of the sport and were when you played it, there is an unbelievable amount of stick work, precision passing, shooting and unbelievable goaltending. I highlighted the triple fight as evidence about the hatred the two organizations have for each other, not as an example of the best athletic aspect of the sport. Also, ask a Ranger or Devil fan if there is a rivalry between the two clubs and I know for a fact that they would be inclined to agree with my take. Enough people aren’t watching it, but those who are are incredibly knowledgable, loyal and passionate about a game that has been about “sports”. Ask fans in Boston, Detroit, Canada, Philly, New York and other real sports towns, and hockey ranks up in the sports world with the other 4, including first in some of these places.

      March 20, 2012 at 9:51 PM

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