Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Examining the tiers of Calgary Flames team rivalries
By Ryan Pike1 month ago
In hockey, not all rivalries are created equally. There’s a bit more fan – and player – emotion when playing some teams than others. For the Calgary Flames, there are a few teams that get everybody a bit more riled up.
Here’s a quick snapshot of the tiers of Flames team rivalries.
Tier One: Lifelong hatred
Okay, duh. Regular season games between these two teams are often events, and for fans (and players), wins over each other just mean something more than just two standings points. These teams have met six times in the post-season, and each of their meetings have created some defining moments for these two franchises.
Tier Two: Simmering hate
In both the regular season and the playoffs, the Flames have played the Canucks more than any other team. And their series are often super-intense battles – in the last one, Deryk Engelland famously fought two Canucks players simultaneously – and they’ve been super-important for the teams that won them. Calgary’s trips to the Cup Final in 1989 and 2004, and Vancouver’s in 1982 and 1994, began with a series against each other.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ask any Flames fan if Martin Gelinas’ goal was in back in 2004 and see how they feel about the Lightning.
Los Angeles Kings
The Flames haven’t played the Kings in the playoffs since 1993, but the Kings are this high up on the list based on the strength of their regular season meetings in recent years. The Flames’ progression and march to the playoffs in 2015 was largely bench-marked in terms of their meetings with the Kings. And these teams do not like each other.
Tier Three: Healthy Disrespect
There’s probably a healthy respect between fans of the Flames and Habs, based on them trading Stanley Cup wins in the 1980s. These fanbases don’t really hate each other, but they probably also don’t really like each other very much.
The Flames have played Dallas twice in the playoffs in recent years – and once immediately upon arriving in Calgary in 1980-81, losing to them in the third round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Their series in the bubble was very physical and saw the Stars win. Their series in 2022 was the Flames somehow find a way to beat Jake Oettinger in a dramatic, emotional seven-game series.
The Avalanche have been the measuring stick in the Western Conference for awhile, and they’re well-remembered by Flames fans for throwing the brakes on a potential Stanley Cup run by a very good Flames team in 2019 via a gentleman’s sweep in the opening round, powered by a strong Colorado group bolstered by the arrival of obscure college player Cale Makar.
This one is fading a bit, but there’s still the ghosts of the Honda Center Curse in the back of the minds of Flames fans. They’ve met three times in the playoffs and the Flames have never beaten them.
There’s no playoff history here, but the Predators reach this level on the strength of a few very scrappy regular season games in recent years.
Tier Four: Faint disrespect (or player-specific disrespect)
Flames fans often boo the New York Rangers due to Adam Fox, the Florida Panthers due to Matthew Tkachuk, and the Columbus Blue Jackets due to Johnny Gaudreau.
They also boo the Toronto Maple Leafs because they’re, well, the Leafs.
Tier Five: Everybody else
Finally, we have two sub-tiers of teams within Tier Five, the lowest team.
The Flames have minor playoff history with Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis, San Jose and Winnipeg. The emotional wounds of those series have long healed.
And the Flames don’t have much of a history against Arizona, Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, Minnesota, New Jersey, the NY Islanders, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Vegas and Washington.
Which NHL franchises do you think are the Flames’ biggest rivals? What teams are too high or too low in our rankings? Let us know in the comments!
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