Jen will probably kick me off the masthead for admitting this, but I don't think that the Ducks really have a compelling rivalry with any other NHL team at the moment.
Rivalries are built upon close-fought, high-stakes games, and multiple playoff appearances. And as we all know, our recent playoff history has been spotty or nonexistent. When I think of exciting, current rivalries, I think of teams like Chicago and Vancouver. (Their 2011 quarterfinal series was incredible). Even the Pittsburgh-Philly 2012 quarterfinal/hot mess was entertaining and contentious. Other rivalries have been woven into the fabric of the NHL, and will endure despite their respective teams' rising and falling fortunes (see: Leafs/Canadiens, Canadiens/Bruins).
The Ducks-Wings rivalry belongs to an earlier era of Ducks history. Daniel hates Mike Modano, but he's retired. Nashville hates us a lot more than we hate them. And the Ducks-Kings rivalry seems very manufactured as of late (sort of like that other one back east....ahem). As much as I dislike the aura of sleaze that Drew Doughty, Mike Richards, and Jeff Carter emit, we really aren't on their level at the moment.
'AT LEAST HE'S NOT JOE THORNTON'
But if I really had to pick our biggest rival at the moment, I would say San Jose. Even though we seem to have their number, Ryan Getzlaf is basically a younger version of Joe Thornton. After you clean up the vomit on your keyboard, think about that for a moment. I've drawn the comparison before, but I can reiterate: both men are big, talented playmaking centers. Both are captains of their respective teams, and have had their leadership questioned at various points in their careers.
Yet, Getzlaf has one major advantage over Thornton: a Cup. And unless Thornton wins a Cup within the next couple of years, he will be remembered as that 'talented guy who couldn't close the deal.' Sort of like Mats Sundin or Trevor Linden. Or - as much as it pains me to say (because I really like him and it's not really his fault) - Jarome Iginla. But he will be less popular than all three of those men because he has no heart, remember? He couldn't close the deal as the captain of the Bruins (and a former first-overall pick). He was traded to San Jose, where he's played the kind of wide-open hockey that doesn't win Cups (sorry, Vancouver). And he's been denied a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in two consecutive postseasons.
The Sharks also seem to be in the midst of an identity crisis, which makes a deep postseason run less and less likely. We may complain about Ryan Getzlaf's motivation from time to time - and I may compare him to Joe Thornton - but at least he's not Joe Thornton. And at least we aren't the Sharks.
The Detroit-Ducks rivalry may not be as potent as it once was, but they still know how to humiliate us in special ways. The now famous Corey Perry-Pavel Datsyuk fight is one of those special, humiliating moments. The fight occurred during the opening game of the 2010-11 season, and took place on Detroit's home turf. Corey Perry has never been a heavyweight a la Parros, but as a player whose game is built around agitation and aggressiveness, he should have been able to hold his own around a perennial Lady Byng candidate. And if all of that wasn't humiliating enough for you - Detroit shut us out 4-0, and Datsyuk got a Gordie Howe hat trick. (Mike Modano also scored the 558th goal of his career for Detroit that night).
The 2010-11 season began with Pavel Datsyuk's fury, and ended beneath Bobby Ryan's skate blade. I'm talking about The Stomp, of course. It occurred during the third period of Game 2 of the 2011 quarterfinals, while Bobby was fighting for the puck along the boards with the Predators' Jonathan Blum. Ryan got the puck, and we won the game, 5-3. Yet, the victory was brief. Bobby got a 2 game suspension, and the Ducks missed his offensive spark. And of course, we lost the series and haven't seen the playoffs since. To add insult to injury: the way things are currently going, we may not see the playoffs until the spring of 2014 - at the earliest.
So in conclusion, I hate Joe Thornton, Pavel Datsyuk's fists, and Jonathan Blum's foot. Y'all are gonna get it. Just wait until this lockout ends.