The top of the mountain continues to soar above the rest of the land. That's a clumsy metaphor but how else to describe the Pittsburgh Penguins with respect to the other seven teams in the Metropolitan Division? The Penguins are not only well ahead of everyone else, but they're scorching hot. They are on a seven game winning streak. While there's plenty of hockey left, it's going to take a massive collapse for them to fall out of the playoffs. I don't think that will happen. But until they have that collapse, they'll continue to come in first for this weekly post.
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.|
Source: NHL.com - Links go to SBNation Blogs
Now, this is a new sight: the New Jersey Devils are in third place. Yes, they had the best week among the non-Penguins teams with five out of six points. Combined with some missteps by the teams around them, and they're up in third place. However, this will not likely last for long. Not only are the Philadelphia Flyers and Carolina Hurricanes right behind them in points, but they each have a game in hand on them. After this week, they'll have two. Still, it's a position Devils fans can and should appreciate given their awful, winless start to this season. They've come a long way to NHL .500. Now if they can stay up there and go on some runs, then they can most definitely finish in the top three. But it'll be a battle.
Elsewhere was a mixture of results. The Washington Capitals did pretty well and only went one game without getting something out of the game. They have a small lead in second place, but a lead nonetheless. The Flyers had a similar week and remain right in it. The Canes only picked up one out of four points so they slipped. The New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets each got a win to not lose too much ground, though I'm sure both fanbases were hoping for better. Especially for the Rangers considering their long homestand is about over. While the New York Islanders technically took a step forward with three out of six points, dropping their most recent game from 3-1 to 4-5 in the third period alone is a further sign that this may not be their season. So it goes for the Isles.
With Christmas coming up, everyone has a fairly short schedule in this coming week. There will be no games on Christmas, Boxing Day, or Christmas Eve. There will be plenty of games at the end of it as well as on Christmas Eve's Eve. Since that's not an actual day, you may want to consider just watching hockey all day. (As usual, inter-division games are in bold.)
|PIT||@ OTT||@ CAR|
|WSH||vs. ANA||vs. NYR|
|NJD||@ CHI||vs. CBJ||@ NYI|
|PHI||vs. MIN||@ EDM|
|CAR||vs. CBJ||vs. PIT|
|NYR||vs. MIN||vs. TOR||@ WSH|
|CBJ||@ CAR||@ NJD|
|NYI||@ DET||vs. NJD|
There is no shortage of games that could change things within the Metropolitan. The two games that Carolina and Columbus will play are within the division and the first are against each other. Friday features nothing but divisional match-ups with the exception of Philadelphia (traveling to Canada to start a Canadian road trip) and the Islanders. We could see plenty of movement by next Sunday from those three games alone. Except in first and last place. Mathematically, those positions won't change. Moreover, it's entirely possible the Pens win nine straight by next week. Though the Canes would love nothing more to send a message with a win on Friday.
Only the Rangers and Devils play three games. It depends on how you view the opponents as to who has it harder. On paper, the Rangers play opponents with better records. But the Devils get arguably the best team in the league before the holiday. That's followed by a back-to-back against two teams they should be beat but haven't done so this season. It'll be tricky for either squad as it has been all season.
All the same, what do you expect from the Devils in this coming week? Where will they finish? Who will finish in third by next Sunday? Can the Pens really fall in the second half of the season? Can the Isles rise from their grave? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the upcoming week in the Metropolitan Division in the comments. Thank you for reading.