May 23, 2020

Rangers Rivalry Series: Broad Street VS Broadway

Lemieux (Getty Images)

I have a quick question for the valued and loyal readers of the Forever Blueshirts site. Out of the New York Rangers closest and fiercest divisional rivals, the New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers, which of these franchises have the Blueshirts been doing battle with the longest? As a member of the so-called “Expansion Six” group that entered the NHL prior the 1967-68 season, the Flyers are the correct answer. For over half a century, the intense Interstate 95 tussle serves as the longest continuous proximity rivalry.

Philthy Flyers

The Rangers and Flyers have a level of reciprocal hate that is the stuff of legend. The enmity goes way beyond the natural, logistical and geographical generalized rivalry of New York versus Philadelphia. These are two franchises who truly despise each other and two fan bases who absolutely abhor one another.

Some of the more notable and downright infamous examples of hostility and animosity that these organizations are known for are Dave “The Hammer” Schultz of the Flyers unsightly and gruesome beat down of Dale Rolfe of the Rangers in the 1974 playoffs.

The Garden Faithful’s full-throated serenade of Flyer goalie Ron Hextall insisting number 27 “drive a Porsche” and suffer the same tragic and fatal consequences of his predecessor in net, Pelle Lindbergh.

Flyer goon Dave Brown’s grotesque near-decapitation of Ranger forward Tomas Sandstrom in 1987 which earned Brown a 15-game suspension and should have earned Brown a trip to the “slammer.”

In 1983, then-Flyers head coach Bob McCammon labelled his Patrick Division rivals as “Smurfs” because the Flyer bench boss felt the Rangers, in their blue jerseys and red padding, resembled the soft and cuddly. happy-go-lucky cartoon characters. The Rangers went on to an extremely gratifying sweep of the Flyers in the playoffs that spring. The two embattled franchises have met in the playoffs on numerous occasions with each squad coming out victorious several times. Their last post season battle was in 2014 when the Rangers won in 7 thrilling games as they marched towards an improbable Eastern Conference Championship.

Broad St. vs Broadway

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Who could forget the 2012 Winter Classic? I am sure inhabitants from the “City of Brotherly Love” have tried. In Citizens Bank Ball Park, home of the Phillies, the Rangers and Flyers met in what would become a nationally television event for the ages. Mike Rupp scored twice, Brad Richards delivered the game winner in the third period and Henrik Lundqvist stoned Danny Briere on a penalty shot in the game’s final seconds to give the Rangers a memorable 3-2 victory.

Certainly, the final game of the 2009-10 regular season, which went to a shootout to decide the winner, with a playoff spot on the line. is a contest in which Rangerstown has tried to erase from their collective memory banks.

The Rangers and Flyer players have been mortal enemies on the ice. However, in the late spring and early summer of 1992, it was the team executives turn to don the proverbial boxing gloves and square off for the Eric Lindros sweepstakes in which the Flyers came out victorious thanks to an independent arbitrator’s ruling.

Bitter Rivals

The levels of venom and vitriol Ranger fans have towards other rivals like the Islanders, Devils, Penguins and Bruins are quite substantial. However, when it comes to the heated and hated rivals some 90 miles to the south down the New Jersey Turnpike, the snarls and growls seem to, at least in my opinion, become louder and more pronounced.

On a personal note, I have traveled to Boston on several occasions to see that historically wonderful Original Six battle known as Bruins versus Rangers. Living on Long Island for most of my life, I have made the trek out to the Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum more times than I can count to witness the Battle of New York. However, the level of stress and the amount of anxiety I had both times I ventured down to Philadelphia to see the the Broadway VS Broad Street rivalry was on a different stratosphere. Once the Covid-19 Pandemic mercifully comes to an end and fans are, again, allowed to partake in live entertainment and enter arenas and stadiums, if you consider yourself a die-hard Ranger fan with an iron constitution, make the necessary arrangements and treat yourself to the Rangers/Flyers rivalry live and in person in enemy territory.

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