First place remains a battle in the Metropolitan Division. The Washington Capitals had it last week, but that gave way to the New York Rangers. The Pittsburgh Penguins made a late shout at it with their hot streak. But theirs ended as the Rangers' added to their own run. As a result, Manhattan is back on top for the time being. Of course, it is by no means an iron-clad spot.
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.||Weeks Won|
Source: NHL.com - Links go to SBN Blogs
Last week, the division was quite successful. Instead, it was the teams near the top that had most of the glory with the exception of the Columbus Blue Jackets. No one was held winless, at least. Those in the first three places have certainly enjoyed their hockey as of late. But the Rangers have clearly taken Pittsburgh's prize of being the hottest in the division. The Pens lost in Calgary to end a six game winning streak, while the Rangers succeeded to have five straight 'W's. Their recent weeks of play is even more impressive when you recall they haven't lost in regulation since the middle of October. Still, the Capitals and Pens took four out of six last week to stay within some kind of striking distance. They just have to hope they can keep getting points when the Rangers stumble. At least the Caps have a game in hand on first and third place.
Before going into the rest of the division, let's congratulate the last placed team in the division: the Columbus Blue Jackets. They finally won their first week of the season. And they did it on the road in a three-game road trip through California. Getting wins on Los Angeles and San Jose is pretty impressive. I'm pretty impressed. They still have quite a bit of ground to make up to get out of the basement. It certainly looks more impressive now that they're picking up some wins. In due time, they'll likely catch seventh place.
Who will be in seventh at that point? The New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils are more than safe for now. The Isles and Devils are probably hoping at the moment not to fall that far. Whereas the Devils may not be thinking postseason, the Isles absolutely are. They each got a win last week to get something out of the week. The Isles got it from the Devils before dropping their other games. The Devils did it to Chicago in a short week for them. Both will be busier. We'll see if the Isles start pulling away, the Devils keep pace, or maybe New Jersey jumps them. They're safe in the middle - for now. The Philadelphia Flyers and Carolina Hurricanes are closer to the bottom and could be sniped first. The Flyers had a rough start to their trip through Western Canada, but they got three points by the end to stay just ahead of Carolina. The Hurricanes had their winning streak snapped, but did get a victory over Ottawa to get a bit of distance from Columbus. Those two are likely to be overtaken by the Blue Jackets unless either starts getting results and/or the Blue Jackets revert to dropping games left and right.
The upcoming schedule of games features a day off for the entire division. Only two teams in the NHL are playing this Monday. After that brief respite, it's back to work for everyone - and quite a bit of traveling for the Islanders. Here's the week ahead for all eight teams in the division. Games within the division are in bold.
|NYR||vs. CAR||vs. STL||@ OTT|
|WSH||@ DET||@ PHI||vs. CGY|
|PIT||vs. MTL||vs. CBJ||@ NJD|
|NYI||vs. BOS||@ SJS||@LAK||@ANA|
|NJD||vs. VAN||vs. STL||@ CHI||vs. PIT|
|PHI||vs. COL||vs. WSH||@ CAR|
|CAR||@ NYR||vs. MIN||vs. PHI|
|CBJ||vs. VAN||@ PIT||vs. ARI|
Starting at the top, the Rangers get Carolina to start on Tuesday before hosting St. Louis and visiting Canada's capital. On paper, they should be able to win this week; but games are played and hockey isn't fair, so they could slip up. The Capitals will be hoping for that as they get three games in four days. They'll go to Detroit, go to Philly, and then host Calgary. Those are three different teams, the Caps will have to show they can dispatch them. The Penguins also have three games in four nights, but they won't be moving so much. They'll be hosting Montreal, which will be a difficult one, before a back-to-back with Columbus and the Devils - the latter being on the road. The Pens will get the benefit of three days off before those games plus the opportunity to hold down Columbus and New Jersey. The others in the division will be hoping for that.
Down at the bottom end of the division, the Blue Jackets will be hosting Vancouver before getting Pittsburgh and Arizona on consecutive nights. That's a tough slate, though getting one (or two!) wins would be a big statement. Carolina has the Rangers, a Parise-less Minnesota team, and a very interesting game with Philly on Saturday. It could very well determine where those teams are placed. Philly gets Colorado and the Capitals before that one. It's entirely possible both teams will head into that one needing a win to avoid a pointless week. It should be fun.
While hockey can be fun, it can be work and four games within seven days is definitely a lot of work. The Devils will get it spaced out, at least. They'll have Vancouver today followed by St. Louis, a game in Chicago, and then a home game with the Penguins. Those are four teams that most would consider to be good. Definitely they are four teams with a better offense. Traveling to Chicago in the middle of it could break a rhythm if they get one going by then. But the Islanders do have it harder. After hosting Boston today, they'll be hitting the road. California awaits for the Brooklynites. While the Blue Jackets took four out of six from them, they're not gimmies by any means. Especially now that Anaheim has started to have their puck luck change and win some games. Good luck, Islanders.
That's what happened last week and what will happen in this week in the Metropolitan Division. What do you make of it? Will the Rangers have their winning streak ended? Will they be topped? Can the Devils keep pace with the higher half of the division, or are they set to fall in with the Flyers and Canes in the standings? How will Columbus climb out of their deficit? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the week that was and the week that will be for the division in the comments. Thank you for reading.