Apr 4, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; New York Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo (21) celebrates with Islanders center Casey Cizikas (53) after scoring a goal against the Washington Capitals in the third period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 2-1 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking The Metropolitan Hate: #3

We’re coming down to the end of the list of whom Caps fans should hate the most in the new division, and Caps fans shouldn’t be surprised by the teams that remain. Well, (spoiler alert) I understand some confusion about the Isles being number three, but that’ll be explained soon enough. Let’s run through a quick recap of the list up to this point:

#7 Columbus Blue Jackets

#6 New Jersey Devils

#5 Carolina Hurricanes

#4 Philadelphia Flyers

So, obviously, the two New York teams and that other forgettable Pennsylvanian team remain…

#3 New York Islanders

Rivalry history: The history between these two teams is what warrants enough respect to have the Isles this high on the list, despite there not being much friction between the two teams of late. Like most of the teams on this list, the roots of the animosity between these teams are entrenched in the 1980s. The Caps and the Isles played each other in the playoffs each year from ’83-’87, with the Islanders prevailing the majority of the time. The series between the two in 1987 went to a game 7, which became known as the “Easter Epic.” It still stands as the longest game 7 in NHL history. Pat LaFontaine won it for New York after 68:47 of overtime.

The most notable highlight of animosity between these two franchises undoubtedly comes from game 6 of their playoff series in 1993. Pierre Turgeon of New York scored off a Dale Hunter turnover to essentially put the game out of reach, and Hunter immediately stalks the celebrating Turgeon down and decks him into the boards from behind. Turgeon suffered a season-ending shoulder separation, and Hunter was suspended for the first twenty-one games of the following season. This is obviously not something that fans of either team forget as it is widely known as one of the dirtiest plays in NHL history.

Reasons for future rivalry: The Caps went 1-2 against the Isles in this past year’s shortened season, and John Tavares gave Alex Ovechkin a serious run for his money for the Hart trophy. With the Isles a team on the rise and the Caps desperate to increase their playoff success, this definitely has the potential to be a rivalry reborn. It definitely doesn’t hurt that there is the standard sports animosity between New York and D.C. I’ll tell you what, I will accept this rivalry with open arms if it means that other New York team gets their thorn out of D.C.’s behind…

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