There are just about three more of these snapshots this season and the playoff picture is still filled with teams. We've known for a while that the Pittsburgh Penguins would likely win the Metropolitan. It won't be long before they get that important "Y" next to their name in the standings for "clinched division." The rest of the division, well, that remains interesting as it has been all season.
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.|
Source: NHL.com - Links go to SBN Blogs
Your eyes are not deciving you, the Columbus Blue Jackets have jumped up to second place. As far as I can recall, if the Jackets were ever this high in the division, then it was a long time ago. Granted, their stay in second will not last long. They're there by virtue of playing fewer games than the New York Rangers. Something that wasn't supposed to happen as their game against Dallas was postponed due to Rich Peverley collapsing. Thankfully, Peverley is stable, OK, and recovering. That game will be made up sometime in the future. Still, the Jackets took care of business and have put themselves in a good position. It's better to be slightly ahead than having to catch up even a small lead. They could be knocked down, but provided they keep winning some games, then they could put themselves in a great position for the playoffs.
As for the Rangers, they split their week but remain ahead of the pack to stay safe. The Philadelphia Flyers had a short week of only two games. They won one of them - thanks Pittsburgh for not being total bros about it - to at least keep pace. The Flyers are in fourth in the Metropolitan but they are in a wild card spot. They have played just as many games as Detroit and have two more points. The Red Wings are still a concern for anyone wanting to make the post season.
This past week should be seen as lost opportunity for the Washington Capitals and New Jersey Devils. The Devils got a big win over the Flyers, but dropped a lead against Florida and were pathetic against Tampa Bay. At least winning the Florida game would have them kept pace with the race as it were. They would have jumped past Washington too. Washington lost both games against Pittsburgh, who we should thank for being bros then. The Capitals needed a late dramatic comeback against Vancouver to get anything in this week. While both won one out of three, a small gap has formed between them and the teams in playoff spots. Three or four points may not mean much but with about 15 or fewer games left in the season, it looks like a mountain to climb.
The Carolina Hurricanes aren't totally dead yet. They got two out of three in this past week. However, like Ottawa who choked a loss to Montreal, they have a lot of clubs in front of them. If the Devils and Caps need help, then the Canes (and Sens) need a lot more of it. It's bleak for them. Right at the bottom are the New York Islanders, who had a positive week. Good for them. They'll get a nice, long break with only one game ahead.
By the by, here's the two teams in the Atlantic to be concerned about. Detroit's not in a wild card position but they are close to one.
|W.C.||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.|
Source: NHL.com - Links go to SBN Blogs
Yes, Montreal has slipped down to a wild card spot. OK, it's more like Toronto and Tampa Bay moved up. The Lightning do have a game in hand on Montreal. So I wouldn't start hoping for a collapse from the Canadiens, as funny and helpful that may be. After all, their 79 points would still put them firmly in second place in the Metropolitan. Detroit is still one to watch as they could throw a wrench in any team's hopes of snagging that second wild card spot, should Philly lose it.
As indicated by the many '8's under Ptl. Pts. (potential points), there are a lot of games this week. Here's the week ahead, with inter-Metropolitan-division games highlighted in bold.
|PIT||vs. PHI||vs. DAL||@ DET||vs. TBL|
|CBJ||vs. CAR||@ MTL||vs. NYR|
|NYR||vs. SJS||@ OTT||@ CBJ||@ NJD|
|PHI||@ PIT||vs. CHI||vs. DAL||vs. STL|
|WSH||vs. TOR||@ ANA||@ LAK||@ SJS|
|NJD||vs. BOS||vs. MIN||vs. NYR|
|CAR||vs. EDM||@ CBJ||@ CHI||@ WPG|
|MTL||@ BUF||vs. COL||vs. CBJ||@ TOR|
|DET*||@ CHI||vs. TOR||vs. PIT||@ MIN|
There's not a lot of inter-divisional games but there are a few of importance. Today, the Pennsylvania Rivalry resumes. I should not have to tell you that we are all Penguins fans today. Especially Penguins fans within the first sixty minutes. If you believe the Canes are out of the picture, then by all means, support them in their game against Columbus on Tuesday. There are no favorable outcomes for Friday's Columbus-New York tilt. Lastly, you better believe the Devils need to beat Our Hated Rivals on Saturday.
In fact, the Devils begin a five game homestand this week. Unfortunately, they're playing a strong Boston team, a Minnesota team that's looking to make the postseason themselves, and Our Hated Rivals. That's a tough run of three games. On top of that, the teams around them are all playing an extra game. Fortunately, the Washington Capitals have an arguably tougher schedule. They get Toronto today and then a three game road trip through California. Philly gets three home games too but they're against two of the best teams in the league and a Dallas team that needs to play inspired hockey the rest of the way. Detroit gets to play four games against four teams all ahead of them in the standings. Carolina hits the road after Edmonton and that back-to-back with Chicago and Winnipeg could be nasty. The Devils could very well get some much-needed help. But it will be all for naught if they can't get on a run themselves. Something they really haven't done all season.
By the by, the Islanders get one little game. Don't worry, Isles fans, the team will get a great chance to play spoiler in the following week.
What do you think will happen in the Metropolitan Division this week? Will the Devils get back to winning ways at The Rock? Can Pittsburgh be bros today and beat Philly? Will Columbus keep it up or will they fall down? How do you think the Caps will fare in their California road trip? Who will be in the wild card spots next week? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the division and upcoming schedule in the comments. Thank you for reading.