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Isles and Penguins: Bad blood still simmers

"...had the Penguins won that game, history would have remembered the Islanders as, well, the 1991-93 Pittsburgh Penguins." -

The Islanders are gearing up for the Penguins who skate into town on Jan. 23.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Islanders and Penguins have a longstanding rivalry. It may not be the magnitude of the Yankees versus the Red Sox. Nevertheless, Coliseum-goers get ready. The Penguins are coming to town, again. There’s going to be a hockey game, but bring your boxing gloves.

In the beginning

The Islanders and Penguins aversion for each other dates back to at least 1975. That’s when the orange and blue first became a force to be reckoned with in the NHL. After qualifying for the playoffs, the Islanders lost three games to Pittsburgh in the quarter-finals. But that wasn’t the end of the story. The Long Island hopefuls came back to beat the Penguins and then go on to the next round.

An article by Eric Hornick published Apr. 30, 2013, “The Skinny on Islanders-Penguins Playoff Rivalry,” states the future dynasty “became the first team since the 1942 Maple Leafs to erase a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-7 series.”

That loss left a bitter taste with Pittsburgh which still lingers today.

The hockey player who cried wolf

Remember last year’s regular season game, when Coliseum fans cheered as Penguins superstar Sydney Crosby took a stick to the head and fell to the ice. He's been known to conveniently fall down at just the right time.

But according to a Feb. 8, 2013 piece in the NY Post by Phil Mushnick, "Islanders fans cheering Crosby is disgusting," "The crowd in Nassau Coliseum instantly erupted in joy. This wasn’t the kind of gleeful, audible noise made by 10 or 20, or even 50 desensitized fools, but by hundreds, and more likely thousands."

Who, what, where, when?

The Islanders battle the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Nassau Coliseum on Thurs., Jan. 23, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.

What do you think? Is the Islanders rivalry with the Penguins still exciting? How does that compare with the Yankees and Red Sox, or the Mets? Let us know.

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