Streaks in sports go one of two ways. They are either negative or positive. The negative ones can be anger-inducing and/or saddening at first. Extended ones bring on resignation that perhaps the team you support may not be all that or even a bag of chips. The positive ones are the ideal. Everything seems to go right for the team that you support. Complaints mostly cease and the game is that more enjoyable to watch. From a standings perspective, both tend to cause big swings in the standings. But what happens when six out of eight teams in a division endure such a streak for, say, the past week? Well, the result is something like this:
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.||Weeks Won|
Standings Source: NHL.com - Links go to SBN Blogs
The Metropolitan Division saw two teams go on winless streaks. The New Jersey Devils lost all three of their games last week in regulation. They suffered further injury and their struggles in possession have led to games going awry. The Columbus Blue Jackets know that all too well. While they did get a point, they have not won in their last eight games. As a result, they are in the basement of the division. For both teams, the hope has to be that they get healthier soon and start getting results even sooner.
More impressively, the division witnessed three teams win their week straight up and a fourth team that only dropped a point in post-regulation play. That fourth team is the Carolina Hurricanes. I said last week they had plenty of catching up to do after securing their first win. Seven out of eight potential points is an excellent start. They have to keep up a similar pace to get back into the current mix, though the game in hand they have on most of the division will help them. The others are similarly impressive. The Philadelphia Flyers made the biggest jump in the standings, starting last week in sixth and now in third with a small lead with three straight wins. The New York Islanders got back on track with three wins in response to three losses last week. While they re-took second place, they're still a bit behind the continued kings of the division: the Pittsburgh Penguins. Whereas the Blue Jackets haven't found a way to win any of their last eight games, the Penguins have not lost in regulation in their last eight and won seven of those games in a row. Should things get rotten in western PA (injuries, bad luck, etc.), runs like this will insulate them from a big drop in the standings. Well done, Pittsburgh. Another week with your pict
Those three positive streaks by teams that weren't in last place last week have helped keep the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers largely in place. The Caps did earn five out of eight points and won their last two games. Should they build on that, they can be right behind the Isles in no time. As for the second best team in New York, they do have a precious game in hand over most of the division. They'll use it up; but it's more important to them that they try to win the week. Three out of six points isn't bad but it's not going to lead to any upward motion. Especially when three teams ahead of them are winning everything.
Those of you who hate games on Wednesday nights and wanted some games within the division that don't involve Carolina will be pleased with this week's schedule. Here it is, games in bold are inter-division match-ups.
|PIT||@ NYR||@ TOR||vs. NYR|
|NYI||vs. COL||@ FLA||@ TBL|
|PHI||vs. CBJ||@ MTL|
|WSH||vs. CBJ||vs. NJD||@ STL|
|NYR||vs. EDM||vs. PIT||vs. COL||@ PIT|
|NJD||@ BOS||vs. MIN||@ WSH||vs. COL|
|CAR||vs. CGY||vs. WPG||@ BOS|
|CBJ||@ WSH||@ PHI||vs. SJS|
Should the Rangers want that upward motion this week, they're going to have to get something out of their two games against the hottest team in the division: the Penguins. Results against them will be statement results. Those statements would be strengthened with results over Edmonton and Colorado prior to those Pens games. As for the Pens, they get to go to Toronto before hosting the Rangers. How long will their winning streak run? We'll know after this week. As for the Caps, they'll have to get a step up on Columbus and New Jersey before traveling to St. Louis.
As for the other teams on non-losing streaks, they're largely outside of the division. The Flyers only have two games, so it's imperative for them to stay in position to try and win both. That means continuing to pile misery on the Blue Jackets and then going to get something in Montreal. The Islanders get Colorado coming to Long Island before traveling down for a back-to-back in the Sunshine State. As for the Canes, they will continue their road of catching up in their own building against Calgary and Winnipeg before shipping up to Boston.
Speaking of Boston, the Devils will start their busy week in their building. They'll have to come back to New Jersey for the Wild. Two days later, they'll go to D.C. followed by hosting Colorado. Four games in theory is a good amount to get back to winning ways. But given how the Devils have been performing, it's going to be a struggle. Especially with a valuable game on Friday against the Caps. The other winless team, the Jackets, get to travel to the Caps and Flyers before hosting San Jose. Should they get healthier and get some breaks, they'll end their horrid run. If they can do so in either of those first two games, others in the division will be pleased.
That's what the week ahead looks like at the start. What do you think will happen? Who among the four teams that didn't lose a game in regulation last week will lose a game in regulation first? Will the Devils and Blue Jackets win a game this week? Can the Rangers and Caps move on up? Please leave your answers and other comments about the division and this week's schedule. Thank you for reading.