Ranking the NHL’s best current rivalries: Where does Lightning-Panthers fit in?

    Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.

Milan Lucic has lived many NHL lifetimes when it comes to rivalries.

He was there in Boston, for the most recent apex of the Bruins’ feud with the Montreal Canadiens. He was there in 2011, when the Bruins sparked a brief but blazing animosity with the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Final. He was there with the Los Angeles Kings in 2016, for a taste of their rivalry with the San Jose Sharks. He went to Edmonton to experience the Battle of Alberta. He went to Calgary to experience the other side of it, including in the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs.

The man loves him some rivalries.

“I think they just add to it. The history. The rivalry. All the type of stuff. Everything is just magnified,” said Lucic recently. “Everyone’s just more into it. The fans are just more into it. The emotions are more into it. The media and the storylines are that much more into it. As an athlete it’s something to look forward to.”

If there’s one thing the NHL has consistently known how to market through the years, it’s not stars or highlights or personalities — it’s rivalries. Heck, it even redesigned the playoff format to increase the chances that it will get more rivalry matchups early on in the postseason.

What are the best current rivalries in the NHL? Glad you asked. Here’s my top five, and some tiered levels for the rest of the relevant ones.

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