The National Hockey League (NHL) is packed full of intense rivalries that span many decades.
As new talent enters the league, new rivalries are continuously being born, and older ones are reignited every year on the quest to win the Stanley Cup.
Although the Philadelphia Flyers vs the Pittsburgh Penguins may not be the longest rivalry in NHL history, it’s one for the history books.
Both teams compete in the Eastern Conference Metropolitan Division of the NHL. So far, they’ve faced off 345 times in the regular season, where Philadelphia leads with an impressive 184-118-30-13.
This rivalry is often regarded as the most intense in the league. Because of this, it’s generally the most anticipated matchup of each NHL season with many bettors using NHL betting odds to make predictions about the fiery teams and aggressive playing style.
Let’s jump straight in!
How the Rivalry Began
The Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins are rivals because of their location in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and also due to their divisional alignment. However, it als has a lot to do with the steadfast loyalty of the two fan bases.
Today, the teams regularly sell out arenas packed full of the most enthusiastic fans in existence. At any of these games, you can expect to hear derogatory chants from fans of both teams toward the players of the opposite side, and witness some of the most intense hockey playing in the HL.
Key Moments In Team Rivalry History
Their rivalry, nicknamed the “Battle of Pennsylvania,” has existed since October 1967 when the teams were first introduced to the “Next Six” expansion of the NHL at the Philadelphia Stadium. The Flyers achieved a 1-0 win in the first game.
The rivalry initially wasn’t too intense as the Penguins lacked a lot in terms of strength and the Flyers were consistently exceptional performers, man, aging to win consecutive Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975.
Yet it wasn’t until the teams met for the first time in the playoffs in the Patrick Division Finals during the 1988-89 season that the rivalry truly began. Here, the Penguins lost the series in just seven games after blowing a 3-game to 2 lead, resulting in a strong fan reaction and the beginning of the rivalry that hockey fans know today.
The Flyers’ Consecutive Winning Streak
The Philadelphia Flyers maintained a very impressive home winning streak after playing 42 straight games against the Penguins without losing once (39-0-3).
This streak began in February 1974 on Philadelphia’s run to their first-ever Stanley Cup and ended in February 1989 when the Penguins finally defeated the Flyers. During this time, the Flyers had five different head coaches compared to the Penguins’ eight. They also withstood the tenure of five US presidents.
The arrival of Mario Lemieux to Pittsburgh in 1984 revitalized and strengthened the Penguins and helped to shake the foundations of the rivalry. They’d go on to win the 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup Finals.
21st Century Rivalry
The Early 2000s
Generally, the rivalry between both teams lost its fire heading into the 2004-05 season, largely due to the Penguins struggling on and off the ice. This saw them drop to the bottom of attendance rankings and standings in the league, putting them in a pretty bad position.
In 2006–07, the Penguins defeated the Flyers in the eight matchups between the two teams. After facing off in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2008, the Penguins won in five games to achieve their first-ever playoff game against the Flyers.
Pittsburgh continued to play well during the 2008-09 season, winning the series 4-2 against the Flyers.
2011 to 2012
The rivalry briefly became an alliance in late 2011. However, members from both organizations spoke out against breaking up the teams, emphasizing the importance of the rivalry to fans, players, and the state of Pennsylvania.
Things returned to normal in 2012 when the teams met for the third time in five seasons. In just six games, the Flyers won the series. This came as a huge shock because the Penguins were the favorites to lift the Stanley Cup that year!
Both sides also contributed to an NHL record of 45 goals within the first four games. With the rivalry at full intensity, and the encouragement of enthusiastic fans, the teams also combined for 309 penalty minutes.
2017 – Present
The rivalry received significant attention at the end of the 2010s, with two Stadium Series matches in 2017 and 2019 to mark the 50th anniversary of both teams. They also battled in the playoffs during the first round of the 2018 Eastern Conference, with the Penguins clinching victory.
As of writing, the Pittsburgh Penguins have five Stanley Cup wins versus the Philadelphia Flyers’ two.
They have also faced off seven times in the playoffs – except here; the Flyers currently lead the postseason with an impressive record of 21-20.
Both teams have performed well recently which has resulted in their rivalry gradually escalating and, recently, reaching its peak.
With talented players continuously joining the NHL roster, we cannot wait to see what happens next!
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