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Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot: 12/14 - 12/20

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Believe it or not but the Columbus Blue Jackets are hot, the New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes are not, the Washington Capitals have third with a lead, and the Pittsburgh Penguins remain divisional kings. This is the weekly division snapshot.

Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

It was a largely successful week in the Metropolitan Division.   Half of the division had a winning week.  One team split the points.  Only one team was winless.  Due to how it broke down, there was only change in positioning.  Nevertheless, those who needed to keep up did so.  Two teams are priming themselves for moving up, including the second-hottest team in the NHL right now.

Team GP W L OT ROW Pts. Last Week Ptl. Pts. Weeks Won
PIT 29 19 6 4 17 42 1-0-2 6 6
NYI 30 20 10 0 15 40 1-2-0 6 8
WSH 29 14 10 5 13 33 2-0-1 6 6
NYR 27 13 10 4 12 30 2-0-0 6 5
PHI 29 11 13 5 11 27 2-0-1 6 4
NJD 31 11 15 5 10 27 1-2-1 8 3
CBJ 29 12 15 2 10 26 3-0-0 6 4
CAR 29 8 18 3 8 19 0-4-0 6 1

Source: NHL.com - Links go to SBN Blogs

Yes, the Columbus Blue Jackets are the second hottest team in the NHL right now.  They've won six in a row.  They may have needed additional activities to get to those wins.  Considering how banged up they are and where they were earlier this season, there should be no complaints on how they've got the wins.  Especially over a team like Pittsburgh.  At one point this season, Columbus was dead last in the NHL.  Now, it appears that they're climbing their way back into the murky third-place-in-the-division playoff picture.  The problem is that they still have ground to make up.  When they don't keep on stringing wins, we'll see whether they can stay up.  But this is a far better spot to be in than where they were weeks ago.

The rest of the middle of the division was mostly good.  The Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers won two games before getting beaten in post-regulation play by Columbus.  Both have seen positive movement from it. The Caps put up a small cushion to hold onto third place. The Flyers have moved up to fifth place. They're tied with New Jersey in points, but their two games in hand plus their regulation/overtime win total gives them the edge.  Unfortunately for both, the New York Rangers took care of business by winning both of their games.  Their relatively light schedule - they have played the fewest games in the league as of this posting - means that they'll have additional opportunities to catch up.  That's bad news for the teams that are around them, presuming the Rangers don't blow those games.

The top of the division has not changed.  The New York Islanders were close to going winless before knocking off the league's formerly hottest team, Chicago.  The Pittsburgh Penguins didn't lose in regulation, so they made a little space from the Islanders.  Still, both teams have done so well over the first two-and-a-half months that this isn't all that a big deal with respect to the other six teams in the division.  They'd have to be bad for a multiple weeks in a row for Washington and New York to threaten their spots.   So continue to enjoy seeing a Pittsburgh-related picture or prepare for an Islander for coming weeks for this post.

As for the teams that did not do well, they are clear as day.  The New Jersey Devils are not a good hockey team and they are close to being jumped by Columbus.  The team has played a lot of games and so their lack of results is especially damaging as teams around them just have to make up the games in hand they have to get ahead. At least they won a game last week, but confidence in team among the fanbase keeps dropping to new lows.   It could be worse.  Look at the Carolina Hurricanes.  They didn't even win a single game.  As a result, they're now entrenched in the bottom.  Maybe they'll go on a run like the Blue Jackets are on now to move closer.  But that's got to happen soon.

This coming week is the last full week of the month before Christmas.   Here's this week's schedule so you can plan around what to pay attention to while doing other things.  All games within the Metropolitan Division are in bold:

Team 12/14 12/15 12/16 12/17 12/18 12/19 12/20
PIT vs. TBL vs. COL vs. FLA
NYI vs. NJD @ DET vs. TBL
WSH @ FLA @ CBJ @ NJD
NYR @ EDM @ CGY @ CAR
PHI vs. TBL vs. FLA @ TOR
NJD @ NYI vs. OTT vs. TBL vs. WSH
CBJ @ DET vs. WSH vs. CHI
CAR @ MTL vs. TOR vs. NYR

Most teams will be playing outside of the division in this week.  The Pittsburgh Penguins get three straight home games of varying difficulty: a tough Tampa Bay team, a not-as-tough Colorado team, and a Florida team that has been doing a bit better than you might think.  The Philadelphia Flyers have a similar schedule, only they'll be traveling to Toronto at the end of the week.

There are four games within the division.  The Rangers get Carolina at the end of their road trip, which will take them through Alberta over the next three days.  Carolina gets Toronto and Montreal before their Saturday match-up against the second best team in New York.  The best team in New York, the Islanders, host the Devils before a back-to-back at the end of the week with Detroit and Tampa Bay.  It's a tough way to end of the week.  In contrast, the Devils have struggled against all kinds of opponents, so it doesn't mean much to say that Tampa Bay-Washington at the end of their week is really a little better.  Ottawa in the middle of that makes the Devils' week more busy - which also means another game their divisional neighbors they'll gain in hand on New Jersey.   Fun.

Washington gets Columbus before the Devils and Florida before them, all on the road.  Rangers and Flyers fans will be keeping an eye on them as a slip up from them gives their teams a chance to move on up.  Columbus can enter that picture if they can keep up their winning streak.  With a game at Detroit followed by two home games against Washington and Chicago coming up, I'm doubtful they'll extend it to nine.  But that's why they play the games.

What do you make of the Metropolitan Division from this past week?  What do you think will happen in this coming week?  Will Columbus keep winning?  Can the Penguins create a lead over the Isles, or will the team from Long Island push back for first?  Will Washington create a tighter hold on third place or will they cede it?  Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the week that was and the week that will be in the division. Thank you for reading.