Christmas is this Friday. The NHL rosters are all frozen since midnight last night (this morning?) and will be unfrozen as of midnight next Sunday. Teams cannot make any additions or subtractions to their rosters in the meantime. Whoever is on the roster now is on the roster for this week. The coaches of most of the Metropolitan Division will be hoping they play better in this week as several teams dropped the ball last week. Only the guys at the top and one other can claim a spot on the Good List ahead of this holiday break.
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.||Weeks Won|
Source: NHL.com - Links go to SBN Blogs
The Washington Capitals absolutely took care of business last week. They were one of two teams to really have done so in the division. They had three games, they won all three, and they gave themselves the best possible gift: security. The Caps are in first place and cannot give it up this week. With the way they've been playing, I doubt they'll fall on their faces anytime soon to give one of the New York teams a chance. Even if they slip up, they have the benefit of games in hand over those two teams, even though one of them will be used up against Manhattan and two of them will be used up against Brooklyn in this coming week. Well done, Capitals.
You'll note that the rest of the division just struggled. The four teams between second and sixth combined for a whopping three wins in this past week. And one of them was within each other. Only the Philadelphia Flyers had a very good week. They were a shootout away from sweeping the week and tying the New Jersey Devils in points. Even so, their five out of six points was good enough to jump ahead of their hated rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and put them in a position for better times ahead. The rest: blegh. The New York Rangers got revenge over Edmonton before dropping their road back-to-back. The New York Islanders pasted the Devils before dropping every other game in their week. The New Jersey Devils got another win in Buffalo and lost everything else with poor performances. The Pittsburgh Penguins absolutely cratered, though. They didn't just lose, but three of their four losses were by at least three goals. Their "prize" for failure is a sixth place position with the two bottom teams in the division right at their heels. I suppose the coaching change should not be seen as an early success.
The two bottom teams in the Metropolitan Division had a better time than the middle. The Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets both split their weeks. They didn't make any changes in position, but they did take some valuable points. The Canes capped off a miserable week for Pittsburgh and are a win behind them as of this writing. The Blue Jackets provided the only damper on Philadelphia's great week. While Columbus is weighed down in part by having played more games than anyone else in the division, a split week is far better than what they have had for most of this season. Don't sleep on the last two teams in the Metropolitan just yet.
Whereas most of the division would get a lump of coal for this past week, they do have a chance to enter the Christmas break with good tidings and results. Everyone has Wednesday through Friday off, so please feel free to enjoy those days for yourselves as well. Here's the upcoming week of games, games within the division are in bold:
|WSH||@ NYR||@ CAR||vs. MTL|
|NYR||vs. WSH||vs. ANA|
|NJD||@ BOS||@ DET||@ CAR|
|PIT||vs. CBJ||@ MIN|
|CAR||vs. WSH||vs. NJD|
|CBJ||@ PIT||@ TBL|
Should the Rangers (or Islanders) want to catch the Capitals anytime soon, then they are rooting for losses to start the Capitals' week. The Caps get the Rangers first and then the Hurricanes on Monday before hosting Montreal on Saturday. Not an easy week at all, but Washington has played so well in 2015 that I think they'll come out of it just fine. The Rangers, who have not won on the road in December, get to be home for this week. They'll get the Caps tonight before hosting Anaheim on Tuesday. That second game is the second consecutive game for the Ducks, so their last game before Christmas may be easier than expected. The Islanders will also be home this week and will only play the one game against Anaheim on Monday.
The New Jersey Devils will be as busy as the Capitals with three games in this short week. Worse, they'll be on the road for all three. The Devils get Boston tonight, which is just after a Saturday loss to the Ducks. That's followed by a trip to Detroit on Tuesday and then a trip back to Raleigh to play the Hurricanes on the day after Christmas. The last game in Carolina went really well for the Devils; I think the Canes will want some revenge. At least the Devils will go back home for the holiday. Should they do well in this week of road games, then they can put some distance ahead of the two Pennsylvania teams.
Those two Pennsylvania teams have shorter weeks and that may be for the best for the Penguins. The Penguins will try to get back to winning ways against the Blue Jackets and then in Minnesota after Christmas. The Flyers will have it easier with only the one home game against St. Louis. Down at the bottom, the Hurricanes can make some noise within the division as their only games are against Metropolitan opponents. The Blue Jackets can make life worse for Pittsburgh ahead of Christmas before they travel to Tampa Bay right after the 25th.
All told, the division could stand to do a bit better in this short week, but that's on the teams to make that happen. In any case, what did you think of the past week of results? What do you think of the upcoming short week of games? We know the Caps will prevail but will they put further distance between them and the two NYC squads? Who will be where in the middle of the division? Can the Penguins win one of their games this week? Please leave your answers about the week that was and the week that will be in the comments. Thank you for reading.