Everyone in the Metropolitan Division has at least some reason to feel good about the recent week of games. All eight teams picked up at least half of the potential points that they could have obtained. Four of them earned more than half; thus, having "won the week." Since everyone was so successful, the division in terms of standing has not changed. Yet, there's real potential for change on the horizon.
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.||Weeks Won|
Source: NHL.com - Links go to SBN Blogs
The New York Islanders remain atop of the Metropolitan Division. After stumbling in Edmonton (!) and Vancouver, they got back to winning ways in New Jersey and Columbus. It was enough to get ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who picked up three out of four points. However, one point is a slim margin. It's even slimmer knowing the Penguins have a game in hand - a potential two points - on the Isles. That will only grow with this week as the schedule will give Pittsburgh another game in hand. The top of the division remains up for grabs.
However, below the duel for the division lead, there are two hot teams. The New York Rangers had an eight game winning streak, lost a game, and then have continued a five game winning streak. They just swept California in this last week. With the games in hand they have, they could make a stab at the top. Can they keep winning enough to do that? That's always the hard question, isn't it? Before the Rangerstown Denizens start thinking about a Metropolitan Division banner and a teary-eyed, seemingly-three-hour presentation by Weepin' Mark Messier to open 2015-16, they have to be concerned with the Capitals. They nearly swept their busy week and are tied with the Rangers in points. Again, the Rangers have the advantage of two games in hand - something that will grow to three by next Sunday - but if the Caps stay hot and the Rangers cool off a little, then there will be change there.
Down in the lower half of the division, the Columbus Blue Jackets remain ahead of the pack. They started off last week well but dropped their last two games. It was enough to remained tied with the Philadelphia Flyers, who finally broke their winless streak this past week. The games in hand give the Blue Jackets the edge for that not-all-that-important fifth-place spot in the division. At least both teams won two games. The New Jersey Devils only won one where they dispatched Buffalo, got dominated by Boston, and defeated by John Tavares in OT. Somehow, I don't think Devils fans are too down about their seventh-place spot. Way at the bottom remain the Carolina Hurricanes, who had a good week of their own. They'll likely stay there for another week.
It's the final full week before the league breaks for the 2015 All-Star Game, hosted by the Columbus Blue Jackets. While most teams in the NHL have played at least 41 games, the break is seen as the unofficial halfway mark of the season. From that point on, there will be four teams in the Metropolitan Division in push for playoff position. Three definitely will and the fourth will depend on the wildcard. The other four, well, we'll see what they'll do. In any case, here's the schedule for this week. Games within the division are in bold.
|NYI||@ NYR||vs. PIT||@ MTL|
|PIT||vs. MIN||@ NYI|
|NYR||vs. NYI||@ BOS||@CBJ|
|WSH||vs. COL||vs. PHI||@ NSH||@ DAL|
|CBJ||vs. MTL||vs. NYR||@ BOS|
|PHI||vs. TBL||@ WSH||vs. VAN||@ BUF|
|NJD||@ LAK||@ ANA|
|CAR||vs. COL||vs. VAN||@ OTT|
If you were disappointed by the lack of change in the division, then this is the week for you. The New York Islanders get a big rivalry game on Tuesday and then the Penguins on Friday. Pens fans will likely be joining Rangers fans for a loss for New York's best team. The Isles' extra game is against Montreal on Saturday, which won't be easy - especially if you think Montreal plays down (or up) to their opponents. Should the Isles come out of this week with four or more points, then consider it a statement.
As for the Rangers, they'll have to try to stay hot against the Isles and then carry on with back-to-back set on the road between Boston and Columbus. Boston's not struggling and the Blue Jackets aren't an easy opponent. The Capitals fans will be hoping those home teams get points. The Caps have a busy week ahead themselves. They could jump the Rangers now, but it won't be a safe lead short of the Rangers crashing this week. The Blueshirts will join their emotional brethren in Philadelphia for Wednesday as a Flyers win helps the Rangers out with respect to holding onto third place.
The fight for fifth favors Columbus if only because they have two games in hand on Philadelphia. That will be increased to three as the Flyers have a fourth game this week. And that game is against Buffalo, which should prove to be a contest for the diehards to see who's really worse. I think the Blue Jackets still have a tougher go of it with Montreal, the Rangers, and Boston. But their goal should be to keep the results close as those games in hand still favor them. As for the Devils, this is a strange week for them. They only have two games coming up. They haven't had a two-game week in months. Unfortunately, those two games are against Los Angeles and Anaheim. So anyone hoping for a move up the standings may get disappointed. The Hurricanes can use this week to get a little closer to getting out from eighth place. Though, that Vancouver game will be tough and who knows whether the Canes are really better than Colorado (they've been doing well as of late) or Ottawa.
What do you expect to happen in this coming week? Will the Penguins take back first place? Can the Rangers crash the two-man race at the top? Perhaps the Capitals will join them or even possibly take third? Who wants fifth place in the division, anyway? What do you want the Devils to do on their trip through California? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the week that was and the week that will be in the Metropolitan Division. Thank you for reading.