The Thanksgiving weekend is over and the next big holiday is only a few weeks away. In the NHL, the second month of the season is just about over and we're starting to see who's for real and who's not. Those of you who have been following the weekly Metropolitan Division snapshot know that there are two teams in the division who can be called contenders: the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Islanders. Beyond them, it's not pretty, though the New York Rangers have pulled ahead with a big week.
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.||Weeks Won|
Source: NHL.com - Links go to SBN Blogs
Three teams in the division won three out of four and two of them were right at the top. Pittsburgh and the Islanders dropped one of their two back-to-back games within the division, but it's more than OK because A) they won their other games in that week and B) they won the following night. As the Islanders have one more game played, they remain technically in second place and practically ahead of the rest of the division.
As for that rest, the biggest gain was for Rangers. They too won three out of four and won both games in their back-to-back set right after Thanksgiving. Beating the Philadelphia Flyers on consecutive nights not only helped them move to third place, but it poured further misery on the Flyers. The benefit here isn't just being ahead of the pack, but they can build on it. It'll come down to some scoreboard watching as they'll play one less game than the three teams behind them, but they're not going to fade that much. They got the job done and so they have an advantage of sorts.
The rest did not fare well at all. Out of the other five teams, they won a total of two games. The Washington Capitals had the best of the bunch; they took a shootout loss to the Isles, took a game against them, and then got pasted by Toronto. Their mediocrity of results keeps them close to third yet again. The Carolina Hurricanes actually beat the Penguins on Friday. They lost the other game against them and the others ones. But they're now catching up on Philly. The Flyers, New Jersey Devils, and Columbus Blue Jackets all went winless to varying degrees of frustration. Both the Flyers and Devils got a point in one of their games, but they're both on paths that do not lead to success. The Blue Jackets hit absolute bottom and now have the worst record in the NHL right now. They all had weeks they'd like to move on from and fast.
The upcoming schedule isn't nearly as active as last week's, but there's plenty of action to be had for everyone after today. Games within the division are in bold.
|PIT||vs. NJD||vs. VAN||vs. OTT|
|NYI||vs. OTT||@ OTT||vs. STL|
|NYR||vs. TBL||@ DET|
|WSH||vs. VAN||@ CAR||@ NJD|
|NJD||@ PIT||@ TOR||vs. WSH|
|PHI||@ SJS||@ ANA||@ LAK|
|CAR||vs. NSH||vs. WSH|
|CBJ||vs. FLA||@ FLA||@ TBL|
Let's start with the winless teams. Columbus gets a week with Florida; two games against the Panthers and a road game in Tampa Bay. Maybe they get back to winning ways, but who knows at this point. The Devils don't have it easy in their week. They travel to play another top team in the East and against a team who flat out routed them in their last game: Pittsburgh. That's followed by a game against a now hot Toronto team and then a tricky one hosting Washington. The Flyers easily have the toughest schedule, though. They get to travel through California to play San Jose, Anaheim, and Los Angeles. San Jose has been struggling at home, but with the way things are going for the Winged P's, it's a bad time to go west on a road trip.
Moving on to teams who won a game in this past week, the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes will face each other on Thursday. The Caps get Vancouver and the Devils surrounding that one. A good week could at least put pressure on the third-place Rangers and keep the Devils and Canes back where they are. The Canes get a short week, but at least they can stay home. Their only other game is hosting Nashville on Tuesday. The lack of games hurts the possibilities of reaching sixth place, but their job is to just get points.
As for the teams that took three out of four, the Rangers get rewarded with a light week. They have a home game against Tampa Bay and then a long wait before traveling to Detroit. Those games won't be easy but at least they'll be well-rested. Pittsburgh and the Islanders will both see Ottawa in this coming week. The Isles get the Sens first in a home-and-away-non-consecutive-set, followed by a tough game in St. Louis. The Penguins get to host the Sens after taking on the Devils and Canucks in Pittsburgh.
What do you think of the standings as they are? Who will prevail by next Sunday at the top? Can the Caps catch the Rangers? Who among the Flyers, Blue Jackets, and Devils will break their winless streaks first? 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.