Welcome to the last Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2014-15 regular season. Next Sunday, the National Hockey League Stanley Cup Playoffs will be set and ready to begin. It remains unclear exactly who will be taking on who, though. This final week will clear up any confusion. What is clear is that there is a team that clinched first in the division. Whether they'll take the President's Trophy is also up in the air. And who exactly among the bottom four will finish in fifth, sixth, and seventh? There is intrigue throughout the division heading into the final week of the season just as there has been all season long.
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.||Weeks Won||Playoff||% McD|
|NYR||78||50||21||7||46||107||3-1-0||8||18||Y - M1||-|
The New York Rangers had a successful week - they lost one game to start and then ran off three wins, including beating their rivals - and clinched the Metropolitan Division crown in the process. They guaranteed either the #1 or #2 seed in the Eastern Conference. As of this writing, it's the #1 seed with a three point lead over Montreal. They have the inside track to securing home ice throughout the first three rounds. As for that potential fourth round, the Rangers are tied with Anaheim for the most points in the league. Should they finish strong, they could be adding a President's Trophy banner to go with their division title.
Interestingly, there is a change behind the Rangers. A few weeks back, it was the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders seemingly set for second and third place. But the Pens have stumbled and the Washington Capitals have become hot. Not hot like, say, the Columbus Blue Jackets; but hot enough to run off some really successful weeks. Now, the Islanders earned five out of six last week to just stay ahead of the Caps, who earned seven out of eight and jumped past Pittsburgh for third place. Now the Penguins, who won only one out of three last week, are in a wild card spot and could end up finishing with the last wild card spot if they don't get their acts together and Boston picks up more points. The Penguins will obviously use their last game in hand on the Isles and Caps this week. They may need that to be a win for their own sake.
Meanwhile, no one has told the Columbus Blue Jackets to let up. I'm sure their opponents have asked them, but they're not listening. The Blue Jackets were mathematically eliminated last Monday, but they keep on winning with nine in a row. No one else in the NHL is hotter and their reward is a small lead on fifth place in the division. I'm sure the Philadelphia Flyers do not mind that positional change. Nor would it bother the New Jersey Devils. The Flyers had a successful week, but only two games on the schedule limited how much they could move. They could catch the Blue Jackets, though one wonders whether the Flyers fans want them to do so. We'll see. The Devils and Carolina Hurricanes both went 1-2-1 so they pretty much remained where they are. For the Devils, they'll need plenty of help and plenty of wins if they want to avoid seventh place. Anyone hoping for the Canes to pull themselves out from eighth place will need them to win out this week and
The final week of the regular season for all eight teams features a lot of games. All of them are within the Eastern Conference and a lot of them are within the division. Fans of teams who still have something to play for will be paying attention to games other than the ones their team supports. Those in the lower half of the division will get a few more days to see their team before the offseason begins. Here's the schedule for the last week, games within the division are in bold.
|NYR||vs. CBJ||@ NJD||vs. OTT||@ WSH|
|NYI||@ PHI||@ PIT||vs. CBJ|
|WSH||@ DET||vs. BOS||vs. NYR|
|PIT||@ PHI||@ OTT||vs. NYI||@ BUF|
|CBJ||@ NYR||vs. TOR||vs. BUF||@ NYI|
|PHI||vs. PIT||vs. NYI||vs. CAR||vs. OTT|
|NJD||vs. NYR||@ TBL||@ FLA|
|CAR||@ BUF||@ DET||@ PHI||vs. DET|
Let's start with the bottom. The Carolina Hurricanes will have their season-ender at home. In the meantime, they'll be on the road with games at Buffalo, Detroit, and Philadelphia. The Canes can at least spoil Detroit's final week somewhat. With Boston lurking right behind them in the standings, that can be a factor. The New Jersey Devils will start their final week with their final home game before hitting up the Florida teams to close out 2014-15. The Rangers game on Tuesday is for nothing more than pride in a rivalry that's become one-way this season. Montreal fans may want to support New Jersey on Thursday if their team can't escape the Lightning for the Atlantic Division crown. Saturday will see them play against Jaromir Jagr, but it will be for naught as both teams won't make the postseason.
Philadelphia will be finishing up this season in the comforts of their home building. They can annoy Pittsburgh and hold them back for kicks today. They can also spoil the Islanders on Tuesday. Needless to say, Washington fans would like to see both happen. The Flyers will close things out with Carolina and Ottawa, the latter may be moot by then but we'll see what faint hopes the Senators will still have lit by then. Columbus' hot streak will be first tested by the Rangers before taking on Toronto, Buffalo, and the Islanders. While the Rangers may end that streak, I don't think the Blue Jackets will end the season without another win. Though that Islanders game on Saturday will be a challenge.
In the upper half, the Penguins will have to get it together to pull themselves out of the wild card positions. Even though they have Buffalo at the end of the week, they have to go through a rivalry game, a game against an Ottawa team that needs every win possible (possibly to jump past the Pens?), and the Islanders. Now's the time for the Penguins to show the league and their fanbase what they're made of and whether they're limping or striding towards the postseason. As that happens, the Capitals will try to maintain their excellent recent form by shaping the picture of the Atlantic Division with games against Detroit and Boston. They'll host the Rangers to end their season, and it could make a difference between whether they'll have home ice against the Islanders, visit the Islanders, or be in a wild card spot.
The Islanders will end their long reign of Long Island for the regular season. They'll have a couple more games as they'll surely clinch a playoff spot in this week. Whatever they do will affect someone else in the division as they get Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Columbus. That game against Columbus in Uniondale will certainly be one to remember. Next season, they'll have to do it in Brooklyn. Over in Manhattan, the Rangers can just focus on preparing for the postseason. They've clinched first in the division and provided they don't fall apart, they'll clinch the conference. They'll want to do well to finish first in the regular season. They'll have to go through Columbus and the Devils in a back-to-back set before hosting Ottawa and visiting the Caps. They'll have an effect on how the final picture is painted in light of their spot being guaranteed.
I'd like to thank you all for following along all season with the weekly Metropolitan Division snapshot. Next week, I will have a post focusing on the Devils' odds in the draft lottery. Beyond that, we'll see what Sunday brings in terms of content. In any case, please leave your thoughts about what happened in the division and what you'll think will happen in the final week of the season in the comments. Thank you for reading.