The previous week was a largely successful one for the Metropolitan Division. All eight teams picked up points. Though combined with how tight things were last week, there have been a few changes for this week's snapshot. Not at the top. No. The Washington Capitals continue to reign with a very strong sixteen point lead. I'm referring to the spots below the two New York teams. See anything different?
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.||Weeks Won|
Source: NHL.com - Links go to SBN Blogs
Yes. The Carolina Hurricanes are in fifth place. This is kind of a big deal as they've been as low as eighth at points of this season. They're a perfect example that with just putting good weeks together, a team can get back into the mix. Of course, it helps when none of the non-New York and Washington teams really pull away. And that two of the teams previously ahead of them had one fewer game to play. The Pittsburgh Penguins got points in both of their games but no wins. The Philadelphia Flyers got a win and a post-regulation loss; but three out of four is still just three points. The Canes faithful will look at the New Jersey Devils and their recently split road trip and think their spot is for the taking. That said, they should be a bit more cautious. Carolina's large number of games played will catch up to them (and New Jersey as well) in time. It'll actually start this week.
That being said, the Canes took care of business like no other in the Metropolitan. The New York Islanders had two games and won both, including a win over their hated rivals, the New York Rangers. Yet, four out of four is just four points and the Canes got five. Those are both impressive marks within a division that had three other teams go 2-1-0. The first of those three are the Washington Capitals. Surprisingly, they lost a game in regulation. We'll see if they can keep that 'L' number below ten before the All Star break. The second of those three are the Rangers. While they lost to the Isles, they got wins within the division and ultimately stay ahead of the Isles for the moment on ROW alone. The third team: Columbus. Yes, the Columbus Blue Jackets. It may be too little, too late for them, but it had to feel good to come out of a week with more wins than losses for a change.
It'll be the final full week before the NHL All Star game and the requisite All Star break in the season. While the Rangers and Islanders have a solid gap over fourth through seventh, plenty can still change within the division in this week. Except for the very top and very bottom, of course. Here's the upcoming week of games; games within the Metropolitan are in bold.
|WSH||vs. NYR||@ CBJ||vs. ANA|
|NYR||@ WSH||vs. VAN||@ CAR|
|NYI||vs. VAN||@ OTT||vs. PHI|
|NJD||vs. CGY||vs. OTT||@ WPG|
|CAR||@ PIT||@ TOR||vs. NYR|
|PIT||vs. CAR||@ STL||vs. PHI||vs. VAN|
|PHI||@ DET||vs. TOR||@ PIT||@ NYI|
|CBJ||vs. WSH||vs. CGY||@ BOS|
Starting with today, there's plenty of action to be had this afternoon. The Hurricanes and Penguins can decide the makeup of the bottom half for a little bit today. The Capitals have a chance to keep the Rangers further back in the standings. The Islanders fans will be hoping for that in addition for their favorite team to beat the Canucks for a short time in second place. Meanwhile, the Flyers start their week on the road in Detroit.
On Monday, there's only game involving these eight teams and it's Pittsburgh going to St. Louis. The Blues are not an easy team to play against - just ask the Devils - so it's a tough back-to-back set for the Pens. Tuesday features more games. Both the Devils and Blue Jackets begin their week of games on this day. The Devils will host Calgary while the Blue Jackets will host the Capitals. I'd say the Jackets have the tougher of those two games. At the same time, the Rangers will play the Canucks and the Flyers get their easiest game of this week (on paper): Toronto in Philly. They may need that game considering what's coming up next.
Nobody in the division will play on Wednesday and the top three teams are also off on Thursday. The other five have games. The Devils will play their final home game of the month against Ottawa. Calgary will head to Ohio to play the Blue Jackets. Carolina will go to Toronto to start a back-to-back set. Then there's the latest edition of the Battle of Pennsylvania. It can go a long way to deciding a position in the standings. However, what spot that will be remains to be seen. Though, both teams could be battling for last place and it would still be an intense contest. That's how rivalries are. Friday will include the top three teams in action. The Caps will host Anaheim to close their week; the Islanders will go to Ottawa to play a Sens team that was just in New Jersey; and the Rangers and Canes will face off. It'll be a tough one for Carolina but a win here would make a pretty nice statement. Lastly, on this coming Saturday, the Isles and Flyers will faceoff to end a busy week for Philadelphia; the Devils will travel up to Manitoba to play Winnipeg; the Pens will get the Canucks (it's a road trip for them, clearly); and Columbus heads up to Boston.
It'll be a week full of games and it could create some more changes within the middle of the division. The Capitals will still be in first and the Blue Jackets will still be in last by next week's snapshot. What do you think will change within this week? Will anyone move at all? Will the Devils get closer to the New York teams or possibly sink further? Can the Canes keep it up? Who will prevail out of Pennsylvania? Why can't the Islanders just jump the Rangers and be done with it? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the week that was and the week that will be within the Metropolitan Division in the comments. Thank you for reading.