The Boston Bruins' 3 greatest rivals

Steve Babineau / National Hockey League / Getty

The Boston Bruins are no strangers to enmity around the National Hockey League, having drawn the ire of many a foe over the decades as an Original Six franchise.

While Boston's premier rivalry is a foregone conclusion, and will be on full display at the 2016 Winter Classic on Jan. 1, naming their next fiercest adversaries is a bit of a question mark, especially since the move south by the Hartford Whalers in 1997.

Here are three teams that circle matchups with Boston on their calendars.

Montreal Canadiens

Boston's rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens ranks not only as one of the hottest and deepest in hockey, but across the sports world in general.

The two clubs have met 732 times in the regular season and have had 34 playoff series meetings - including a record nine Game 7 showdowns - with Montreal holding the all-time advantage in both formats.

Related: The Montreal Canadiens' 3 greatest rivals

But it's not simply the sheer volume of games played that makes this a classic rivalry. It's a passion that sparked a major riot, Montreal's ability to hold off a potential dynasty led by Bobby Orr, Don Cherry and the too many men penalty, and, more recently, Zdeno Chara's controversial hit on Max Pacioretty and death threats uttered by Milan Lucic in the playoff handshake line.

And that's only scratching the surface, with a football stadium set to be the next main stage.

Philadelphia Flyers

This rivalry dates back to the 1974, when the Philadelphia Flyers knocked off Orr and the Bruins en route to becoming the first NHL expansion team to win the Stanley Cup.

That was when the Flyers were known as the Broad Street Bullies, making the regular-season meetings and four playoff series in five years against the Big Bad Bruins during that era all the more combustible.

This rivalry experienced a resurgence in recent years, sparked by a Randy Jones hit on Patrice Bergeron, and fueled by a historic comeback by the Flyers in the 2010 playoffs that was avenged the following year by a Bruins team that went on to win the Cup.

The Flyers were also chosen as Boston's Winter Classic opponent back in 2010, which, of course, featured the event's first fight.

Vancouver Canucks

This one kind of came out of nowhere, but escalated quickly.

Matched up in the 2011 Cup Final, the rivalry between the Bruins and Vancouver Canucks became an instant classic.

The series featured an apparent finger-biting incident, the first multi-game suspension in NHL final history, the most combined penalty minutes in a single game (143) since 1990, incredible banter between the two goalies, and, ultimately, the Bruins' first championship since 1972.

The way the series unfolded was captivating, with the Presidents' Trophy-winning Canucks jumping out to a 2-0 lead, only to fall apart in all three games played in Boston and drop a Game 7 on home ice, sparking a riot in the streets of Vancouver.

Despite the fact these teams play only twice a year, each and every meeting is an event, with neither city soon to forget one of the great finals in recent memory.

The Boston Bruins' 3 greatest rivals
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