At about this time last year, the story was that the Metropolitan Division was a mess behind Pittsburgh in the standings. The New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers both had terrible starts to their respective seasons but they were never entirely out of the picture. With the exception of the New York Islanders, this continued for much of the season. This season is a bit different. The Islanders aren't buried in the basement and division is very much up for grabs for seven teams by way of those teams continuing to get results early this season.
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.||Weeks Won|
Standings Source: NHL.com - Links go to SBN Blogs
I decided to add a new column: Weeks Won. I want to track how many weeks where a team has earned at least half of the potential points. For now, it's not going to mean much but it could expose how a team got successful or how a team keeps faltering. It may ultimately be just information but let's see how it goes. Hopefully, I didn't make an error for this debut, but it's something easily fixed.
In any case, the Islanders remain at the top. They won two out of three, including a wild 7-5 win at home over Dallas. That offensive blast puts the Islanders at 32 goals for, the most in the entire Eastern Conference. And to think, John Tavares didn't get a point in that one. They enjoy another week in first place in the Metropolitan Division and another division snapshot where Islanders players celebrating is on the front page of a Devils blog. I think they would truly appreciate the former over the latter, if at all.
Below them are six teams who are very much in the mix by only being behind as much as four points. The Washington Capitals did lose to Edmonton, but they split the week by beating Calgary. By way of fewer games played, they are in second place. The New Jersey Devils didn't win two of their three games, but they got a point in each of those games. The win in Ottawa on Saturday made it four for the week - a week won - and puts them in third for the moment. Pittsburgh Penguins split the week in a more traditional way, but they remain solidly in fourth. They can't be counted out, though I don't think anyone really has. The Columbus Blue Jackets, Philadelphia Flyers, and New York Rangers are all tied with eight points apiece. While the Jackets split their two games; the Flyers and Rangers each went 2-1 so they remain solidly in the mix. Their success makes the division more compact.
The outsiders are the Carolina Hurricanes. The good news is that it appears they'll be getting Eric Staal back soon. The bad news is that they were winless in regulation in their previous week. 3-1 to Winnipeg, 5-0 to Calgary, and 6-3 to Edmonton were all just further reminders that it's going to be a long season in Raleigh. It's still way too early to write any team off. But their focus for now just needs to be getting a win before trying to claw their way up from eighth in the division.
Western Conference games are still littered throughout the schedule, but Devils fans should know that their favorite team has a couple within the division. Those games will be listed here in bold:
|NYI||vs. WPG||@ COL||@ SJS|
|WSH||@ VAN||vs. DET||@ TBL|
|NJD||@ PIT||vs. WPG||vs. CBJ|
|PIT||vs. NJD||vs. LAK||vs. BUF|
|CBJ||@ LAK||vs. OTT||vs. TOR||@ NJD|
|PHI||vs. LAK||@ TBL||@ FLA|
|NYR||vs. MIN||vs. WPG|
|CAR||@ VAN||vs. ARI|
The name of the game for the Devils is to get results, but it will not be easy. They have two games within the division bookending a home game against Winnipeg. Not to disrespect the Jets, but that's their best chance at a home win in this week. As a season ticket holder, I really would like to see a win on that night. If they can get something out of Pittsburgh and take a win from Columbus, then I think most should be pleased with that.
Washington, Columbus, and Carolina will finish up their west coast trips in the first of this coming week, while the Islanders will begin one of their own. Those three teams may be happy to return home, but they have different circumstances. Washington will get breaks in between their games, but tough games after coming home against Detroit and Tampa Bay. Columbus has a really busy schedule; a tough game in L.A. to start the week, followed be three games that aren't at all gimmies. At least Carolina has more time to have players heal up and prepare to try to get that first win of the season. The Isles first get Winnipeg, who's traveling through the division, before going out for some tough games in Denver and San Jose - the latter may want revenge.
With the exception of Carolina, it's hard to get a real read on what the division will look like next week. In addition to the other six teams mentioned, Philadelphia has two tough games on paper and the Rangers get a relatively long layoff after a difficult Minnesota team. It's entirely possible the division remains a mess. Or the Devils make a big statement - good or bad - in conjunction with other results that helps create space among teams. Fortunately, that's the fun of a season.
While I may not have a real good idea, what do you think will happen in this coming week? Will the Isles remain on top? Can the Caps or Penguins move up? How about the Devils, will they get something out of their two games within the Metropolitan? Will they win a home game before October ends? When will Carolina win a game? Please feel free to answer those questions along with other thoughts about the division and the schedule for this week in the comments. Thank you for reading.