The Islanders have made their fair share of enemies in over four decades of hockey. Which teams top the list?
Probably the most obvious answer, the Rangers and the Islanders have been battling ever since the Islanders came into existence in 1972. The Islanders have played the Rangers in the playoffs eight times, and have won five of the series’. The teams have the same number of Stanley Cup rings at four and have a near .500 record playing against each other, with the Rangers leading the overall series 146-144.
Perhaps what makes this rivarly the most unique is that the fanbases can’t be divided by a line. Living on Long Island or in New York City, your next-door-neighbor can be a Ranger fan if you are an Islander fan or vice versa. This leads to greater tension between the two fanbases.
As of recent years, the Islanders have been dominating the Rangers. Dating back since 2016, the Islanders are 13-3 against their cross town rival.
With both teams getting better by the year, and especially with Artemi Panarin signing with the Rangers over the Islanders, the rivalry is sure to grow.
When you play a team in the playoffs, chances are you become rivals. The Islanders played the Penguins twice in the playoffs in the last decade. In 2012-13, the Islanders fell to Pittsburgh in six games, but last season, the Islanders swept the Penguins.
Perhaps the biggest reason why the Islanders and the Penguins are rivals is the fact that Sidney Crosby has been so dominant aginst the Islanders. Crosby has 113 points against the Islanders, and has been the target of Islander fans for years.
But what seperates the Islanders and the Penguins has to be the 1993 Patrick Division final. The Islanders won the series in seven games thanks to David Volek’s overtime goal. The Islanders were heavy underdogs to the defending champions in the Penguins. With that being the only series win for the Islanders during 1994-2016, Islander fans always use that series as justification that they are better than the Penguins.
The Maple Leafs:
This one is not about history. It is about the present. When John Tavares left the Islanders and bolted to Toronto, a rivalry was instantly created.
Tavares’ return to the Coliseum last season on Feb. 28 was one of the most unique moments in NHL history. The arena felt more like the Roman Coliseum than the Nassau Coliseum, and fans were sure to express their frustrations with the ex-Islanders captain.
Every game between these two teams until Tavares retires will be extra special, making this one of the NHL’s best rivalries for years to come.