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Pick The Rival: The Southeast Division

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Vinny? Pudge. Pudge? Vinny.
Vinny? Pudge. Pudge? Vinny.

Fellow SBN'er Five For Howling is busy trying to figure out who the rivals are for Phoenix in each NHL division. And it got me thinking that I have no clue not only who Phoenix's divisional rivals are, but Vancouver's either.

It's a safe bet we can all make a case for who gets the bullseye on the heart of a Northwest team, but other divisions? I'm not so sure. I hate the Rangers to the fiber of my being, but maybe one of you out there likes them (hang you head in shame peasant). Or maybe you're a closet Habs fan while others would willingly accept a jackhammer to the groin instead of pulling their sweater on. Les marteau-piqueurs à l'aine sont mauvais vous savez!

(I have no idea if that translated correctly)

So, with a tip of my helmet in FFH's direction, I present you guys and gals with the same option: Who is Vancouver's biggest divisional rival and why?

We'll kick it off with the Southeast. Follow along for a look at the contestants.

Atlanta Thrashers

Franchise Record: 9GP, 5W, 2L, 1T, 1OTL, 12pts

You read that correctly: 9 games played between the two, by far the least amount of games Vancouver has seen against any other franchise. I honestly can't remember too much of any game against Atlanta. Ever. Though I do recall this past season when the Canucks shit the bed against them, letting Joseph Crabb (what?) open the game with a shorthanded goal, Kovalchuk would pot one in the second and Eric Christensen scored the winner in the shootout. The Sedins provided all the offense in regulation while Demitra remained healthy enough to score in the shootout. Mats Sundin didn't make the road trip for this one. Ass.

And the longer Kovalchuk remains a potential UFA next summer, expect the CDC to go out of their minds with trade proposals to bring him West. In fact, a new drinking game: go google "Kovalchuk canucks trade" and take a shot for every "Sedins for Kovalchuk" rumor you see. We'll send you flowers as you recoop in the hospital. Lillies ok?

Fun fact: Not surprisingly, Vancouver's 30 goals against Atlanta in nine games, and 23 against in the same time frame, both rank dead last for GF/GA in Vancouver franchise history.

Carolina Hurricanes

Franchise Record: 62GP, 28W, 23L, 11T, 0OTL, 67pts

We stole their old Whaler colors on the new uni's, they stole Bret Hedican. Then again we stole Dave Babych before they absconded from Hartford. In turn they sent us Enrico Ciccone, Sean Burke and Geoff Sanderson for Kirk McLean and Martin Gelinas in 1998. We got their Andrew Cassels for a few years, they got our Matt Walker. Noted nothing players Darren Langden and Trevor Letowski both played for each squad. More recently (around the time Burke finished up his domestic disputing) the Hurricanes snatched up old Canuck enforcer Wade Brookbank (shown here telling Sundin he's an ass). So...yeah, a rich history indeed.

Fun fact: Remember when the Canucks were absolutely in the tank last January? Guess who pulled out a late shorty to right the ship and start the path towards the division title?

Florida Panthers

Franchise Record: 20GP, 9W, 4L, 6T, 1OTL, 25pts

When Pavel Bure had enough of Vancouver, Florida welcomed him and he reciprocated with two consecutive Rocket Richard Trophies but little long term success. Vancouver netted Ed Jovanovski, Dave Gagner, Mike Brown, Kevin Weekes, and Florida's first-rounder in 2000 (hello there Nathan Smith) and, as the Canucks were rebuilding, Gagner provided mild relief at center, Weekes eventually became Felix Potvin and Jovanovski played seven seasons for Vancouver, becoming at the time one of the premier offensive defensemen in the league. All in all the move, or subsequent moves based on the assets, helped the Canucks get back into the post season as well as win the Northwest titlea few seasons later. Gagner is still around as director of player development (and even Scott Mellanby is a special consultant to Mike Gillis).

In 2006 Todd Bertuzzi was moved to Florida with Alex Auld and Bryan Allen for Roberto Luongo, Lukas Krajicek and a sixth round pick. Bertuzzi would score just one goal (though in front of a nice Florida audience) and play seven games for Florida before being dealt to Detroit. Meanwhile, Luongo now holds the Vancouver franchise records for wins in a season (47), save percentage in a season (.921), saves in a single game (72), longest shutout streak (242:36), most shutouts in a season (9) and is tied with Kirk McLean for franchise shutouts (20). Just writing that feels cruel.

So maybe the better question is: does Florida hate Bure, Bertuzzi, Vancouver or Mike Keenan more?

Fun fact: This February Vancouver will play in Florida for the second time in Luongo's tenure as Canuck netminder (assuming he's still around by then of course). If you remember the last time, Vancouver not only lost but the Panthers gave away flat screens for every goal scored on Luongo. Said Puck Daddy at the time, "Incedently, Luongo lost the game, 4-3, giving Florida fans plenty of shiny new televisions to watch their DVD copies of "John Tucker Must Die" and have a good cry. Pussies."

Tampa Bay Lightning

Franchise Record: 21GP, 15W, 4L, 2T, 0OTL, 32pts

Prepare yourself for some media fluffiness when Vancouver visits Ohlund in his new Tampa digs in February. Ohlund and Krajicek are one of about 100 defenders that Tampa now has (and yet Vancouver still has holes on the blueline...sigh) but Matty should get plenty of face time up against the Sedins or the Kesler line. Oh to watch Burrows go after Ohlund now...

Vancouver holds a ridiculous .792 points percentage over Tampa in 21 total games, making the Lightning far and away the easiest team the Canucks have yanked two points away from in modern history. Last year SOB wanted to beat his former squad 10-0, but they could barely get by Kari Ramo with a 2-1 win. Maybe this year SOB tempers his pre-game comments accordingly. Besides, we shouldn't forget that Tampa's best moment was stopping Iginla from hoisting the Stanley Cup in 2003-04.

Fun fact: Luc Bourdon's last NHL goal came on January 31, 2008 against the Lightning in Tampa. He opened the scoring but Vancouver ultimately lost 4-3.

Washington Capitals

Franchise Record: 82GP, 34W, 37L, 9T, 2OTL, 79pts

It's often tough to look past Ovechkin when considering Washington, but up and down they have a solid roster (except in net) and I'm damned jealous of any team that can roll out Ovechkin along with Semin and Green. It helps explain last year's Vancouver/Washington game which was memorable because (a) Sergei Federov was playing defense for some reason, (b) it Wellwood's first game as a Canuck and (c) Vancouver had the least amount of shots by an opponent in Washington's history. A piss poor evening if ever there was one.

Also there was the Cooke for Pettinger deal that didn't end well. Pettinger played 20 games before being lost on waivers and is now with Ohlund in Tampa. The popular Cooke got to taste the playoffs that year with Washington and won a Cup this past season with Pittsburgh.

Fun fact: This REALLY stretches the definition of 'fun', but three seasons ago, guess who got his first goal on home ice against the Caps?