One of the greatest things about pro sports is the rivalries.
The NHL, like all other leagues, is built on a plethora of great rivalries. One of these rivalries is continuing its epic history in this year’s Eastern Conference Finals.
Of course, this is between division rivals the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. This rivalry has produced a ton of great regular season and playoff games, goals, saves and memories.
In addition to the great parts of this rivalry, there has also been a fair share of the nasty. Dirty hits, wild fights, plenty of jawing and an overall hatred of each other makes the Rangers-Devils rivalry one of the fiercest in the NHL.
Monday night’s game at the Prudential Center brought this rivalry to the forefront of the sports world. So it only seems logical to take a look at some of the nastiest moments this great rivalry has created.
1994: Eastern Conference Finals – Game 3
The 1994 Eastern Conference Finals between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils was one of the best series in Stanley Cup Playoff history.
There were two double overtime games, great goaltending from Martin Brodeur and Mike Richter, clutch goals from players up and down the lineup and a ton of big hits.
With the great plays in this rivalry come the nasty and Devils’ forward Bernie Nichol got nasty in Game 3 of that series. Nicholls hit Rangers’ forward Alexei Kovalev with a couple of punches and a cross-check to the side of the Russian’s head after the whistle.
2008: Sean Avery vs. Martin Brodeur
When Sean Avery joined the Rangers in February of 2007, the entertainment value of their rivalry with the Devils increased tenfold.
In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in 2008, Avery did his absolute best to distract Devils’ netminder Martin Brodeur. He certainly got the job done but did so in an unconventional way, causing the league to create the Avery rule
Avery and Brodeur had a history prior to the 2008 post-season, as the two had gotten into it during a regular season game at the Prudential Center.
March 19, 2012: The Opening Line Brawl
It’s always good to come out pumped for a game in the NHL and get things going right away.
Just about two months ago, the Rangers and Devils did just that at Madison Square Garden. In fact, they did so as soon as the puck dropped.
It was a strange way to start a game. As soon as the puck dropped, three fights broke out as the following players squared off:
- Ryan Carter (Devils) vs. Stu Bickel (Rangers)
- Cam Janssen (Devils) vs. Brandon Prust (Rangers)
- Eric Boulton (Devils) vs. Michael Rupp (Rangers)
This sparked a highly contested debate throughout the hockey world that is still yet to be resolved.
One thing is certain, it was as entertaining as it was nasty.
2012: Eastern Conference Finals – Game 4
This rivalry is not limited to the players, it has recently been dominated by the head coaches.
If the current Eastern Conference Finals series between the Rangers and Devils has shown us anything, it’s that Blueshirts’ head coach John Tortorella and Devils’ bench boss Pete Deboer do not like each other. This rivalry started during that line brawl in March.
The coaches’ rivalry got even bigger in Game 4 when Tortorella and Deboer got into a war of words between the benches after Rangers’ forward Michael Rupp punched Devils’ netminder Brodeur.
1992: Patrick Division Semi-Finals
Just because the game is over doesn’t mean the rivalry takes any time off.
This was the case in the 1992 Patrick Division Semi-Finals. Going into Game 6, the first place Rangers’ had a 3-2 series lead over the fourth place Devils and were looking to close out the series.
The Devils played hard that game and won the game by a score of 5-3 to extend the series to seventh and deciding game. However, the teams didn’t go quietly into their locker rooms after the final buzzer sounded.
Time has not changed the rivalry between the two clubs nor does it look like it ever will. This only means more entertainment and more nastiness.