Just this past weekend, a snowstorm socked Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New Jersey, and the greater New York City area. As a result, the National Hockey League was forced to postpone three games. Specifically, the 1/22 game where Washington would have hosted Anaheim, a Philadelphia-Islanders game in Brookyln on 1/23, and 1/24 game where Washington would have hosted Pittsburgh. It was absolutely the right call to make as the inclement weather was too much for players and officials to travel in - assuming it was even possible. Nevertheless, the eight teams in the Metropolitan Division all did get to play last week and this is how the division looks right before the All Star Game break.
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.||Weeks Won|
Source: NHL.com - Links go to SBN Blogs
The postponed games mean that there will be games made up later. When that will be is not known at this time. Still, it was a mostly good week for the top five teams in the division. The Washington Capitals continued to strengthen their reign on the division lead. They beat up the Rangers and the Blue Jackets to secure yet another winning week of results. They lost two games to weather, but suffice it to say, they'll remain in first for quite some time.
The New York Rangers managed to stay ahead of the New York Islanders for another week. While the Islanders didn't have a bad week at all with three out of four points earned, the Rangers got two wins and so that point gives them an edge. The Isles-Flyers game that was supposed to happen yesterday was postponed. So Rangers fans shouldn't breathe so easily about being ahead of their cross-city rivals.
Likewise, they shouldn't breathe so easily because their other hated rivals, the New Jersey Devils, are suddenly right behind them. The Devils are a mere two points behind the Rangers in points. They swept last week and have matched their season-high for wins in a row with four in the process. It appears that the Devils could be battling for an automatic playoff spot instead of just a wild card. However, Devils fans shouldn't start making plans in April and buying playoff tickets just yet. The Devils have played more games than most of the teams around them in the division. What this means is that the two New York teams or even the teams behind them can keep the Devils back if they take care of business. That's not guaranteed, but I wouldn't pencil in 'L's for all of the games in hand. If the Devils are serious about a playoff push, then they need to keep on earning points. A slump is a quick way back to sixth or seventh place.
Speaking of teams taking care of business, the Pittsburgh Penguins are also not to be ignored. They have two games in hand on New Jersey and their performances have improved. They won three out of four games, they don't have to play Washington next due to weather, and they are within reach of a playoff spot. News of the Pens demise were early to say the least. The Devils, Bruins (the two current wild card teams), and Canadiens (right behind them) cannot ignore them for the time being.
The bottom three teams in the Metropolitan all struggled in this past week. The Carolina Hurricanes took a step back by winning only one out of three games. They're not a bad team but the poor results are holding them back from making any noise. They'll have to jump right out of the gate soon to get back into the playoff picture. The Philadelphia Flyers would be wise to do the same. While they missed out of a game due to weather, they still only won one out of three games last week too. They made up no ground on the Canes and they are slipping further behind in the East. Lastly, the hits keep on coming to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Head coach John Tortorella got hurt in an outdoor practice and the team picked up one mere point - a shootout loss to Boston. Like the Capitals have an iron grip on first, nobody's going to take eighth place from Columbus at this rate.
The upcoming week is a short one for the entire National Hockey League. Games will be played from today through Wednesday and then everything shuts down for the All Star Game. The regular season will be back in action on Tuesday, February 2. I don't know if there will be any more postponed games or whether the already postponed games will be played in this week. Here is the schedule as it is known now; games within the division are in bold.
|NYR||@ OTT||vs. BUF|
|CAR||vs. CGY||vs. CHI|
|PHI||vs. BOS||@ WSH|
|CBJ||vs. MTL||@ MTL|
Since the Caps and Penguins game for today was postponed, there are only two games happening on Sunday. The Rangers will be in Ottawa while the Canes look to get back to winning ways when they host Calgary. Monday is a bit busier. The Blue Jackets will start a home-and-home set with Montreal, who just ended their losing streak. The Flyers will host Boston in a game that should take place. Likewise, the Islanders should be able to get their home game against Detroit in. The Rangers will wrap up their pre-All Star Game games with a home game against Buffalo. Tuesday features the only game of the week for the Devils and the Penguins. They will play each other. Meanwhile, Carolina will host Chicago and Columbus wraps up their home-and-home set with Montreal. Lastly, the Capitals will get a game in this week when they host Philadelphia on national television this Wednesday.
It's a short week of games, but they count all the same. With second place not being too far ahead of fifth place, there could be some movement before the five day break in the season. After that break, everyone gets to be a whole lot busier and under a lot more pressure. Teams deciding whether to go for it, what playoff position they should shoot for, and what they need to improve themselves - and what they're willing to give up for it. Except for the Caps. I think they'll be fine keeping on keeping on into February.
Anyway, that was the week that was and the week that will be in the Metropolitan Division. Will the Devils be able to catch either New York team before the break, or will Pittsburgh surprise them? Will the Hurricanes and Flyers claw their way back into the picture? Will we see any more postponements? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this week's snapshot of the Metropolitan Division in the comments. Thank you for reading.