Over the next couple of weeks, Five for Howling will be attempting to figure out who our possible rivals around the league could be. Does that necessarily mean that we have the level of hate and malice like Montreal - Toronto? Probably not, but hopefully it will at least generate some debate as to who the teams are that our team and fans get geared up for. In the end we'll have one top Eastern Conference rival and about three Western Conference teams. I'll give some of the recent history between the teams to get things going. I'm breaking things down by division just because it's easier. We'll start today with the Southeast Division and continue with the rest of the East during the week. Next week we'll continue with the Western Conference. Be sure to vote in the poll and tell all your friends!
Atlanta Thrashers - All time record against: 10-1-1-0
While the record shows the Coyotes' dominance over the Thrashers, they've been in a lot of close games. Of the 12 games they've played 5 have been decided by only one goal and one has ended in a tie. There aren't really any player specific rivalries to speak of and with only 12 all time meetings there hasn't been much time to relly go up against them.
Memorable Moments: In the only meeting between the two teams in the 06-07 season the Coyotes faced the Thrashers in Atlanta. Curtis Joseph was getting lit up through the first two periods and the defense wasn't helping any. The Thrashers scored 4 unanswered goals to take a 4-1 lead into the second intermission. Coming out in the third, the Coyotes quickly put another goal on the board with a Ladislav Nagy goal just 2:14 in. Shane Doan and Owen Nolan added goals to tie and send it into overtime. In the extra frame Yannik Perrault would put in the game winner on a looong pass from Zbynek Michalek.
Carolina Hurricanes - All time record against: 7-4-2-2 (Only counting CAR record)
All time we may lead the series against the Hurricanes, but the last couple of years they've absolutely blasted us when we've played. There's again, no personal connections yet (Though we'll have a Staal too. Really they're brothers?) and without them it's hard to build a long distance rivalry like this.
Memorable Moments: Last year the Hurricanes just creamed us. At one of the low points of the season, after the All-star Break, they visited Jobing.com Arena. It looked like we'd be okay halfway through the game, having come back to tie things up 2-2. Suddenly everything started going wrong though and the Canes would rattle off 5 more goals in the last 30 minutes to beat us 7-2. Not a positive for our team, but certainly something that sticks with you the next time you play.
Florida Panthers - All time record against: 8-4-3-1
Memorable Moments: Last Year's game against the Panthers. While not necessarily making a huge rivalry, was a big game for my favorite young guy Mikkel Boedker. He scored twice in the game including one with some nifty moves to make it 4-1
Tampa Bay Lightning - All time record against: 7-9-0-0
Well we just traded them David Hale and Todd Fedoruk for Radim Vrbata, which looks good to them now, but wait until they see them on the ice. Then we should have something going. The rivalry will be there simply for making them watch Hale man the blueline. They also have head coach Rick Tochett, former assistant coach here in Phoenix, also of gambling ring fame. The Lightning have actually owned the Coyotes over the last few years. Before last season They had won 6 games in a row against us dating back to 2001. Last year we finally managed to beat them 3-2.
*EDIT* jpfdeuce of Raw Charge pointed out a couple of notable Lightning-Coyotes moments that I missed (Hey I was in college doing... stuff). Most notable, a hit by SHane Doan that ended Petr Svoboda's career and the Nikolai Khabibulin trade in 2001 that gave us Mike Johnson, Paul Mara, Ruslan Zainullin and NY Islanders' 2nd round choice that turned into Matthew Spiller. Then Khabibulin stopped throwing a temper tantrum and sucking and played excelent for them. While none of the guys we have even play for us any more.
Memorable Moments: Last year when we finally beat the Bolts' streak against us. Doan got one rolling over Smith and Mueller put it in for a very NHL 09 video game feel to it.
Washington Capitals - All time record against: 8-4-4-1
According to some of the PSE attorneys in the Coyotes Bankruptcy case, we lost last season against the Capitals. No seriously. They said that in court. We won last year 2-1. Glad they were paying attention. I'm not sure we have a level of hate for the Capitals for a real rivalry, heck I was rooting for them in the playoffs until they got KOed. Alex Ovechkin though has the nasty habit of scoring great goals against us.
Memorable Moments: On Martin Luther King Day in a Matinee against the Coyotes Ovechikin scored this goal which was repeated on all major sports networks for the next year and change. I respect the hell out of the guy, but man do I hate playing against him.
So who do you think the most rival worthy team is out of the Southeast? Be sure to vote in the poll and discuss.