Caps remain atop the Metropolitan Division for another week. In this past week, we saw one team fall flat on their face on the road and one team just lit it up. We saw a team with a short week make a big move up and another team just fall further back. We saw one team change their coach due to performance after we saw another team pull out a win to get past them. Let's sort it out in this week's Metropolitan Division snapshot:
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.||Weeks Won|
Source: NHL.com - Links go to SBN Blogs
The Washington Capitals largely took care of business in this past week. They can enjoy both the view from first place and the inherent advantages that comes with having played fewer games than most of the rest of division, leading the division in wins, and leading the division in regulation/overtime wins (ROW). They are solid even if they get bumped down to second. Even better for the Caps are the state of the New York Rangers. They won at home to start the week and then went 0-2-1 on their three game road trip to Western Canada. They salvaged a point in their last game but the record can only hide so much in Manhattan. This is a team on a slide at the moment. That's good news for both the Capitals and the New York Islanders. The Islanders won their two games beyond regulation within the division but handing points to Philadelphia and Columbus doesn't matter much to them. No, getting four out of four means they're right in striking distance of the Rangers. With a week coming up with an extra game for the Brooklyn boys, we could see them take second place in the Metropolitan sooner rather than later.
In the middle of the division, the New Jersey Devils pulled out a dramatic overtime finisher over Detroit to make it a 2-0-1 week. Despite their performances on ice, taking five out of six points in a week is a great result. It continues their status on the playoff bubble, currently within it. On the outside of the bubble are the Pittsburgh Penguins. They didn't have a bad week per se, but management was clearly unhappy with how the first thirty games went. On Saturday, the team fired head coach Mike Johnston and assistant coach Gary Agnew, naming Mike Sullivan as the interim head coach and Jacques Martin as an assistant. If things don't turn around (turn better? it's not like they're in last), then it could be it for GM Jim Rutherford. The funny thing is that the Pens aren't out of anything. A good run of games and they're easily in the postseason. We'll see if it works out.
The Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh's main rivals, also went 1-1-1 in this past week, also aren't where they'd like to be in the standings, and yet have not changed their head coach. It could have been better had they got that second point in Brooklyn - the Rangers would've liked that - but they remain in the same spot in sixth place. That may not last. The Carolina Hurricanes easily had the most impressive week within the division. The Islanders obviously had the best week results-wise by winning both of their games, but check out the Canes' past week. They beat Arizona 5-4, lost in Dallas 5-6 with a 4-goal third period comeback effort, beat Anaheim in their building 5-1, and pulled out a 5-4 overtime win in Arizona. That's four straight games of scoring five goals each and getting four out of six on their three game road trip. That loss surely wasn't as shameful as, say, losing to Edmonton 5-7. That week puts them right behind the Flyers in the standings. They could catch them in time. Meanwhile, the Columbus Blue Jackets fell back into eighth place. They won no games, though they were a kick away from stunning the Islanders last night. There's plenty of season left but it's hard to see Columbus as anything more than what they are at the moment: spoilers.
It's the last full week of the season before Christmas comes. Some teams have a particularly heavy schedule running into the holiday, others don't. Let's look at the week ahead for the division to see what's up next. Games within the Metropolitan are in bold.
|WSH||@ PIT||vs. OTT||vs. TBL|
|NYR||vs. EDM||@ MIN||@ WPG|
|NYI||vs. NJD||vs. FLA||@ COL||@ ARI|
|NJD||@ NYI||@ BUF||vs. FLA||vs. ANA|
|PIT||vs. WSH||@ BOS||vs. BOS||vs. CAR|
|PHI||vs. CAR||vs. VAN||@ CBJ|
|CAR||@ PHI||vs. FLA||@ PIT|
|CBJ||vs. TBL||@ DAL||@ ARI||vs. PHI|
Let's go by days for a change. The week kicks off today with a Devils-Islanders game at 5 PM EST. Both teams are going to be very busy with a game every other night. This game could be the one to push the Islanders ahead of the idle Rangers, or one for the Devils to stake a stronger claim in a playoff spot. Monday features the Pittsburgh coaching debut of Sullivan as the Penguins will take on the Capitals. A win for Pittsburgh would not only be a good start but it would help the two New York teams out in the standings. Columbus will try again to get their season back on track against Tampa Bay.
Tuesday is a traditionally busy night for hockey and it's no different among the Metropolitan teams. The Rangers will try to get revenge when they host Edmonton, the Islanders will host Florida, and the Devils will travel up to face the other other New York team: Buffalo. Meanwhile, Columbus follows up that Tampa Bay game with a trip to Dallas, which is easy for exactly nobody. Lastly, the Flyers and Hurricanes will face off for a game that could decide sixth place this week. Let's see if the Canes can drop a fifth-straight five-spot on a team. Wednesday is much lighter as there are only two games. The Capitals will host Ottawa as the Penguins will visit a good Boston team. Given those first two games for the Penguins; it's not going to be an easy start for Mike Sullivan, that's for sure.
The end of the week is loaded with games. The Washingtion Capitals only have the one game against Tampa Bay on Thursday and it's at home. Not too bad for them. The two NYC teams hitting the road. Unfortunately for the Rangers, Minnesota and Winnipeg on a back-to-back isn't easy enough and both are better teams than Edmonton and Calgary. Instead, the Islanders will have a day break between games in Colorado and Arizona. They can acclimate to the weather change. The Devils will come back home for their last two games of the week as they host Florida again (they hosted them last Sunday) and Anaheim. Pittsburgh gets a back-to-back set to close out their week: another game against Boston and then Carolina. Again, not an easy first week for Mike Sullivan. Philadelphia will host Vancouver and visit Columbus; the Canes will get to host Florida before heading up for a Saturday game in Pittsburgh; and the Blue Jackets will visit Arizona before hosting Philly on Saturday. It's a set of games that could change the makeup of the bottom of the division. At least for the next week.
That was the week that was and the week that will be in the Metropolitan Division. What do you think? Will the Capitals continue to reign at the top? Will the other NYC team be in second place after this week? Do you think the coaching change will help Pittsburgh or not? How will the Devils do? Can the Canes take Philadelphia's spot and can they keep scoring five goals in games? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this week's division snapshot in the comments. Thank you for reading.