Thanksgiving is upon us. This holiday week brings plans of family, food, more family, more food, and a shortened work week for many. The latter doesn't really apply to the eight teams in the Metropolitan Division. While everyone will get Thursday off, nearly the entire division has four games this week. By the end of it, the New York Rangers will probably be at the top as they are now. Provided they don't blow it.
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.||Weeks Won|
Source: NHL.com - Links go to SBN Blogs
The New York Rangers saw their big winning streak snap last Thursday. No matter, they went back to earning points in their next one and made it a 2-1-0 week. What was bad news for anyone who hates seeing the Rangers succeed was that the two teams close to the Rangers also went 2-1-0 last week. Those are normally good weeks. Yet, the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins made up no ground as the Rangers slipped. They remain in first place and with a secure five point lead. There's plenty of season left, though.
It would be better to win two out of three than not, though. The New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils couldn't do that last week as they only played two games each. Either way, they remain in the middle of the division. The Isles kept it .500 by splitting their games. The Devils slipped as they won none of them. The Isles are in a striking distance of the Penguins and some wins for the Devils could continue their "surprising" run so far this season. Though they can't make weeks like their last ones a habit. The others below them could catch them in theory.
In actual reality, not quite yet. The Philadelphia Flyers continue to struggle, stumble, and other words that begin with "s" when it comes to getting results. They didn't win any of their games last week, though they took two of their losses beyond regulation. That's two points and it's enough to keep them in sixth for now. It may not last as the Columbus Blue Jackets have become more successful these days. They went 2-1-0 last week and are now breathing down the Flyers' neck. Their larger number of games played is a hindrance, but if the Jackets are rising and the Flyers continue running in place, then it won't matter in time. The Jackets' success means we have a new team at the bottom: the Carolina Hurricanes. The Canes only picked up one point out of four and that wasn't enough to drop to the basement. I don't think they are as bad as that record suggests, but their goaltending isn't doing them any favors.
As mentioned earlier, this Thanksgiving week is a busy one for the division. Seven teams have four games with seven of them playing a back-to-back set at the end of the week. There are even some games within the division, which can make for some fun swings in points. Here's the upcoming schedule, those games within the Metropolitan are in bold:
|NYR||vs. NSH||vs. MTL||@ BOS||vs. PHI|
|WSH||vs. EDM||vs. WPG||vs. TBL||@ TOR|
|PIT||vs. STL||@ CBJ||vs. EDM|
|NYI||@ MTL||vs. PHI||@ FLA||@ TBL|
|NJD||@ VAN||vs. CBJ||vs. MTL||@ MTL|
|PHI||vs. CAR||@ NYI||vs. NSH||@ NYR|
|CBJ||vs. SJS||@ NJD||vs. PIT||@ STL|
|CAR||vs. LAK||@ PHI||vs. EDM||@ BUF|
Let's start from the bottom. The Hurricanes have a shot of getting themselves out of eighth place but it certainly won't be easy. Instead of having a back-to-back to end this week, they'll have one to start it. They get L.A. and the Flyers; beating the Flyers would be a big help to themselves as well as Columbus. Later on, they'll host the Oilers and then visit Buffalo. They're no pushovers but successes in those games only help their case to stay out of eighth for another week. The Blue Jackets also play today, they have San Jose. Then they can help ruin the holidays for the the Devils and the Penguins before visiting St. Louis. It's not at all an easy week for Columbus, but if they are playing better, then they could come out of it with points. The Philadelphia Flyers can have the biggest effect on the division standings. They can defend their spot against the Canes, upset any hopes for the Islanders to move on up, and spoil the Rangers on Saturday. They also host Nashville for an afternoon special. If they want to start meeting whatever expectations they had for this season, then this week is a good on as any to try and meet them seeing that they only have two wins this month.
In the middle of the division, our favorite team the New Jersey Devils have a tough one. They will try to salvage something from their road trip through Western Canada tonight against Vancouver. Then they'll host Columbus, who beat them the last time they were at the Rock, followed by a really tough home-and-away with Montreal. With a 15-4-2 record and a +26 goal differential, I'd say Montreal is still a really good team. The Islanders will find that out soon enough. They play Montreal today followed by hosting the Flyers and then going to Florida after Thanksgiving. Not an easy week, but easier on paper than what the Devils have. Should the Islanders take care of at least some of their business, then they may find themselves moving up provided the three teams above them have some issues.
The Penguins have the shortest week among all eight teams with only three games. They also get three days off before their first game. Not that it's an envious one: St. Louis is a rather good team. Their back-to-back is easier than the Blues on paper: Columbus and then the Oilers. They're no doormats, though so the Pens do need to approach those two games with caution. The Washington Capitals will be home for most of this holiday weekend as they host Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Tampa Bay. They will travel up to Toronto on Saturday, hopefully with points earned from their homestand. At the very top, the Rangers will seek to maintain control of first place. To do that, they will have to get results out of home games with Nashville and Montreal and a back-to-back at Boston and at home against the Flyers. Given their recent form, they should. Will they? Well, they play the games for a reason.
That was the week that was and this is now the week that could be in the Metropolitan Division. What do you think will happen next? Will anyone get closer to the Rangers? Will the Devils continue to fade? Will the Blue Jackets keep moving up? Will the Flyers and Hurricanes remain in place? Please leave your thoughts about the division and what this snapshot shows in the comments. Thank you for reading.