An argument was made for a new leader in the Metropolitan Division in this past week. The New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins had a home-and-home. It could have decided a new leader. The Islanders won the back-to-back with two wins. Yet, that first win was by a shootout. That point plus a game-in-hand means the Penguins head towards Thanksgiving still at the top. However, the Isles have given notice to the league: this is not at all the Islanders of recent memory. This team has come to play.
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.||Weeks Won|
Source: NHL.com - Links go to SBN Blogs
While the Isles enter this week just behind the Penguins by tiebreakers, both teams have set themselves apart from the rest of the division. Last season, there were the Penguins ahead of everyone else and that was pretty much it for several months. Now, the Isles and Penguins have picked up the results to stay away from the mess in the middle. Pittsburgh earned three of six points to keep pace. The Isles swept their week and only lost two of their last ten games. Both teams can suffer a few bad weeks at this point and not immediately fall in the division. That's important when they have some nights where things just don't go right.
As for that mess in the middle, the New Jersey Devils could have been the holders of third place with one more point. That could've come from not stinking it up in Winnipeg and beating them. The complaint will more likely come from dropping a point in Calgary - as it should be since the Devils should've done better to avoid conceding two goals in the final few minutes of regulation than having to have gone past sixty minutes. But even if they did, they wouldn't really be safe in third. Everyone else in the division has a game in hand on them and the lead would've only been one point over Washington and two over Our Hated Rivals.
Speaking of, the Washington Capitals did have a positive week to be slightly ahead of the rest in the middle. The New York Rangers only had two games to play and split them. Their one win was over the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers would win a game to avoid an ignoble winless week. However, their struggles have them down towards the lower end. Not that there was any threat either team was going to move up. The Carolina Hurricanes had four games and only won one of them. If you thought the Devils dropping a point in Calgary was a disappointment, Colorado came back from a 3-1 deficit in the third to win 4-3 in the final minutes. The Canes didn't even get a point for their troubles. At least they are done with the Western Conference portion of their road trip. And at least they got a win last week. The Columbus Blue Jackets did not. Only one mere post-regulation point so they remain at the bottom of the Metropolitan.
Everyone will be active in this week of Thanksgiving. Do all of your shopping early on Friday and Saturday because the evening is full of hockey. Not just any hockey, but games within the division. Games within the division are in bold.
|PIT||@ BOS||vs. TOR||vs. CAR||@ CAR|
|NYI||vs. PHI||vs. WSH||@ WSH||vs. NJD|
|WSH||@ NYI||vs. NYI||@ TOR|
|NJD||@ VAN||vs. DET||@ NYI|
|NYR||vs. MTL||@ TBL||@ PHI||vs. PHI|
|PHI||@ NYI||@ DET||vs. NYR||@ NYR|
|CAR||@ FLA||@ PIT||vs. PIT|
|CBJ||vs. WPG||vs. VAN||@ NSH|
The Columbus Blue Jackets are the only team with no games against a Metropolitan Division opponent in this week. Not that their games are particularly easy. They'll host Winnipeg and then get a back-to-back with Vancouver at home and Nashville in their building. None of those teams are easy; but the Jackets will have to find some way to get a result to pull themselves out from the bottom.
The Carolina Hurricanes will visit Florida before a away-and-home with Pittsburgh to close out their road trip. They arguably have the toughest back-to-back set among all eight teams in the division. Pittsburgh is very good whereas the Canes are not. Speaking of the Penguins, they get a schedule that I think will see them bounce back. A game in Boston is followed by a game in Toronto, where fan salutes seem to be a concern for stupid reasons unknown, and then the back-to-back with Carolina. I'm not expecting a split week from them.
The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers will "enjoy" a back-to-back that could create some separation in the middle of the division. Neither team has easy games before their end of the week. The Rangers get Atlantic Division-leaders Montreal followed by second-place Tampa Bay beforehand. The Flyers get to go to Long Island and Detroit, which are not easy tasks. The New Jersey Devils have a difficult back-to-back set after finishing up their road trip in Vancouver on Tuesday. The Devils got whipped by Detroit in their previous match-up and the Isles are quite good. The Washington Capitals will understand how good with two games against them followed by a trip to Toronto on Saturday night. The New York Islanders can keep up with the Pens while making the standings more messy for the teams behind them. Or, if they surprisingly slump, make things for more interesting by next week.
What do you think of the standings as they are? Who will prevail by next Sunday at the top? Or, more interestingly, who will prevail in third place by next Sunday? Are you ready for loads of hockey for the end of the week? Please leave your answers and thoughts about the recent week within the division and the schedule for the upcoming week in the comments. Thank you for reading.