Over their 50 seasons in the NHL, the Vancouver Canucks have developed quite a few rivalries with teams around the league. Divisions and the playoffs created these rivalries, which keep fans interested in certain matchups and create hate between the two teams and their supporters.
The Canucks have played the most games against the Calgary Flames since the teams have been in the league. They have played in 281 regular-season games against each other, with the Canucks holding a 110-132-33-6 record. The two teams have played seven times against each other in the playoffs, which is the most amount of series against another team for Vancouver as well.
The Canucks won the first-ever meeting between the two teams in the playoffs in 1982, sweeping the Flames 3-0 in the first round and they went to the Stanley Cup Final that season. They lost the next three series against their division rivals, though, but finally won a series in 1994. The underdog Canucks team that scrapped their way into a playoff spot beat the Flames in seven games. In 2004, the two teams played another thrilling seven-game series, which ended with former Canuck Martin Gelinas scoring in overtime.
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The last time these two teams met was in the 2014-15 postseason, where a young, up-and-coming Flames team took on a veteran Canucks team. The Flames won that series in six games before being swept by the Anaheim Ducks. The season before the series, the two teams were involved in one of the biggest line brawls in recent memory. The brawl extended to the locker room area, as then-head coach John Tortorella attempted to confront opposing head coach Bob Hartley for the lineup he had started the game with.
The rivalry between the Canucks and Boston Bruins is a recent one. It started in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final as the two teams faced off in a grueling seven-game series, which the Bruins won. The series created bad blood between the two teams and their fans through on and off ice incidents. The Alex Burrows finger biting incident, the Maxime Lapierre taunting, and the Luongo and Thomas tire pumping drama, among other moments, ignited a fire between the two teams.
After the series ended the rivalry remained strong. In the 2013-14 season, the first time the Bruins played in Vancouver since the Cup Final in 2011, Brad Marchand taunted fans after an altercation by pretending to raise the Stanley Cup and showing his Stanley Cup ring finger. The rivalry is still fresh between the players, which is evident through a recent twitter interaction between Ryan Kesler and Milan Lucic.
Two teams who are considered Cup contenders facing off in three playoffs series in three seasons helps build a strong rivalry. That’s what we have with the Canucks and the Chicago Blackhawks. The rivalry started in the 2008-09 season, weeks before their playoff series, as the two teams were involved in a line brawl during a regular-season game. The teams met in the Western Conference Semifinals, where the Blackhawks won in six games. This was the first time the new cores for both teams made the playoffs, and a heated rivalry began.
The following season, the teams met up for a second time and the results were the same. The Hawks won in six games once again and went on to beat the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup Final. In the 2010-11 postseason, the teams met once again but things were different. The Canucks entered the postseason with the league’s best record and they were strong favorites to win the Stanley Cup. The Blackhawks, on the other hand, barely made the playoffs as the West’s No. 8 seed.
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They entered the series without key players from the past two series. The Blackhawks traded Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, and Kris Versteeg before the season for cap relief. The Canucks took a 3-0 series lead but the Blackhawks fought back and forced a Game 7, where Burrows scored the game-winner in overtime and helped his team finally slay the dragon.
The following season, Duncan Keith elbowed Daniel Sedin in the head late in the regular season, which resulted in him being suspended for five games, and Daniel did not return until Game 4 of the first round. Canucks fans still despise Keith for the incident to this day, which was evident at the Sedins’ jersey retirement night.
Old Rivalries Returning
The Canucks have played the Edmonton Oilers 248 times in their franchise history, which is the third-most behind the Flames and Los Angeles Kings. They have a record of 104-113-19-12 against their division rival. The rivalry hasn’t had as many moments as the Flames rivalry but there have been a few incidents.
In recent memory, Zack Kassian broke Sam Gagner’s jaw by recklessly swinging his stick and was suspended for three preseason games and five regular-season games. The next time the two teams played, Kassian taunted Gagner over the faceguard he was wearing due to the injury. That was in 2013-14, so the rivalry hasn’t been intense but with both the teams coming up with young cores, fans of both teams will likely see the rivalry take off in the next decade.
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In the early 2000s, the Colorado Avalanche were one of the best teams in the NHL. From 2001-02 to 2003-04, both teams were at the top of the Northwest Division. The two teams only played once in the playoffs and that was in the 2000-01 postseason, the year Colorado won the Stanley Cup. The rivalry peaked in 2003-04 after Markus Naslund was hit by Steve Moore, which resulted in Todd Bertuzzi sucker-punching the rookie and getting suspended for the rest of the season.
The rivalry died out after the season, though, with both teams losing most of their core pieces. These two teams will likely start up a new rivalry in the next decade as well, one that may not be as ugly as the last one but a competitive one on the ice. With the Canucks’ young core and the other up-and-coming teams in the Western Conference, there will be a lot of new rivalries in the next decade. This will prove to create exciting hockey in Vancouver, something the city hasn’t seen in a few years.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.