Positive would be the word to describe the overall results of the Metropolitan Division last week. All eight teams had something to smile about. Yes, even the Columbus Blue Jackets. Of course, some teams are happier than others. Such as the Washington Capitals, your current rulers of the division.
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.||Weeks Won|
Source: NHL.com - Links go to SBN Blogs
The Capitals went into Western Canada for three games and came back with six points. Two of them were by sizable margins. Combined with their two wins prior to their road trip, their current five game winning streak further justifies the notion that the Caps may be for real. They have one of the best starts to this season in the NHL and they should be expected to battle for the top of the division throughout the season.
And it will be a battle. As the Caps swept their week, the New York Rangers and New York Islanders remain in striking distance. While the Rangers did not sweep their week, they got at least a point in each of their four games last week. Six out of eight is a very good week for any team, and so it was for the Rangers. The Isles did drop a game in between their wins. But again, four out of six is progress and so they are in the mix as well. Granted, the Caps have the benefit of games in hand so that distance may be further than what it appears. Both New York teams should be around the Caps all season anyhow.
Beyond those three are some surprises. The Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils follow behind the New York squads and are just ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins. All three teams slipped quite a bit to start this season. Now, they've been winning games. The Flyers had a good week and so they lodged themselves in the middle of this division. After going winless in their first four, the Devils found ways to win four in a row. They're hot for the moment. The Pens also won their week with two victories out of three. Over time, I'd like to think the Pens will jump both teams. For now, it's not so bad to see the division structured like this.
Down at the bottom are the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets. I wrote earlier that every team had something to be pleased with. You'll notice both teams won a game. For the Canes, they got a win on their current five-game road trip. It's certainly not an easy one given they are coming back from California to play Detroit and the Isles. They've had a tough month of games; it wouldn't be that big of a surprise if their November was better than their October. As for the Blue Jackets, their win on Saturday must have been a massive relief. As the last team this season to win a game, it's been a horrific start to their season. They fired their coach, their goalies can't seem to stop beach balls at times, and everything went so pear-shaped it's resembled a squash. Now with that first win, the future doesn't seem so dim. That's a positive.
For those of you who enjoy games within the Metropolitan Division, you'll be able to smile at this week's upcoming schedule. There's no shortage of games where there will be point-swings. Here's that schedule with those games within the Metropolitan highlighted in bold.
|WSH||vs. PIT||vs. CBJ||@ FLA|
|NYR||vs. CGY||vs. TOR|
|NYI||vs. CGY||vs. CAR||@ NJD|
|PHI||vs. BUF||vs. NJD||@ BUF|
|NJD||vs. CBJ||@ PHI||vs. NYI|
|PIT||@ WSH||vs. BUF||@ TOR|
|CAR||@ DET||@ NYI||vs. COL|
|CBJ||@ NJD||@ WSH||vs. WPG|
The only team without a game within the division is the team with the shortest week. The Rangers will enjoy staying in Manhattan as they host Calgary tonight and Toronto later in the week. Enjoy that break, Rangers fans, because it'll be the last four-day break until Christmas. Everyone else has at least one thing going on with division or local rivals.
The Capitals will get to play the Penguins on national TV on Wednesday. A win for the Caps would not only add to their winning streak, but strengthen how others perceive them. The Penguins winning would be a nice statement to remind the rest of the Metropolitan that they cannot be ignored. The Caps will go on to host the Blue Jackets before visiting Florida on Saturday. As for the Pens, they'll host Buffalo after their game in D.C. and then travel to Toronto for a Saturday night game.
If you want nothing but games within the division, then follow the Devils this week. They get the Blue Jackets on Tuesday, their second rate rivals Philadelphia on Thursday, and the Islanders for a matinee game on Halloween. They are hot right now, but this week may put a stop to their current streak. We'll see how they'll close their month in more detail at this very site. The Blue Jackets get road games at New Jersey and Washington before hosting Winnipeg. It won't be easy but if they can win a few of those, it'll be another step towards respectability within this season. The Flyers have a home-and-away with Buffalo sandwiching their game with New Jersey. This isn't last season's Buffalo squad so the Flyers can't take either of those games lightly. As for the Islanders, they'll get to host Calgary after the Rangers, the Hurricanes' last road game of their current trip (Detroit before the Isles, a home game with Colorado the day after the Isles), and then the Devils with breaks in between games. The Isles should be more than OK for the week.
The Capitals are atop of the Metropolitan for now, but we could see another team take the throne the day after Halloween. We could also see some movement within the middle of the division as the Devils, Flyers, and Penguins are so close to each other in points. It's still early in the season so plenty can happen. What do you think will happen? Can the Capitals stay on top? How long will New Jersey's streak last? Will the Canes and Blue Jackets take any major steps forward in the division anytime soon? Please leave your answers, reactions to the week that was, and thoughts about the week coming up for the Metropolitan Division in the comments. Thank you for reading.