With the first full week of the 2016-17 NHL regular season completed, it only makes sense to bring back the weekly Metropolitan Division snapshot. Do the standings mean much in late October? No. Do the games still count for the same amount of points? Yes. Through tracking where everyone in the division is and looking ahead at what each team has on their schedule, we can identify which games are important, who’s rising, who’s falling, and where our favorite team sits.
All standings and schedule information comes from NHL.com. Here are the standings in the Metropolitan Division after Saturday’s games concluded.
For the uninitiated, here’s a run down of the standings from left to right. GP stands for games played. Those in a tie for points will be broken by who has played fewer games first. W, L, and OT represent wins, losses, and overtime points (OT or shootout losses), respectively. ROW stands for Regulation/Overtime Win. This is used as a points tiebreaker as well. PTS. stands for points. A win earns a team two points, an overtime point earns a team one point, and a loss earns on points. The Last Week column is a quick W-L-OT count of how the team performed in the previous week. Ptl. Pts. lists the maximum number of points a team can earn in the coming week. Weeks Won counts how many weeks a team has earned more than half of the potential points in a week. Exactly half doesn’t count; it has to be more than half to “win” it. Now that’s explained, let’s jump into the standings themselves.
The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins have an early lead on the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals have played one fewer game than the Penguins (in addition to having one more ROW), so they’re in first. Teams in first get the headline picture for these posts, by the way. That’s why you see The Caps had a positive week by winning two out of three. The Penguins stumbled and only won one game. The Penguins will continue to lead in games played, which isn’t exactly ideal - especially if they don’t gain more points now. Games in hand are something to track from week-to-week as they give other teams in the division a chance to surpass them later.
It’s early in the season so the points-lead isn’t safe at all. The New York Rangers are one point behind both the Caps and Pens. The Rangers did well to sandwich their loss last week with two wins. Keeping pace would be just fine for them. The New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers are two points behind. Goal differential is the third tiebreaker and so the Flyers are technically in fourth. The Flyers didn’t have such a good week while the Devils earned two wins while keeping their games low-scoring. The Flyers will get to play an extra game in this coming week. It may be good to bounce back from, but it’ll give others - like the Devils - a game in hand on them.
There’s a three-way tie for last in points and that’s still only three points behind the leaders. The Columbus Blue Jackets are the most interesting. They won both of their games last week and have played the fewest amount of games in the division. Columbus fell flat on their face to start last season. Clearly, they’re off to a better start in 2016-17. The New York Islanders have not gone off to a flying start, but they did put up a better week than their season opener. Better times may come as soon as this week. The Carolina Hurricanes won only one game so far and it happened in this past week. If they can hold some leads, then they can pull themselves up from the bottom. It’s so early so a lot can change quickly - provided the teams mentioned perform well
What’s happening in this coming week? Here’s the upcoming schedule. All games within the division are in bold.
Both the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets are traveling this week. The Caps will go to Western Canada with plenty of days off between these games. (They’ll get Calgary next Sunday so it’s not completely spaced out). The Blue Jackets will head to the warmer climes of California to play all three teams based there. Speaking of spaced out, the Carolina Hurricanes will only play two games in this week and they’ll have time off in between to prepare. As they’ll have a shot at putting down the Rangers, they may be able to move up in the rankings despite the short week. After all, Carolina beating the Rangers means they gain two points while someone ahead of them gets nothing. That’s why the games are in bold; they’re bigger opportunities within the division.
The busiest team in this coming week is Philadelphia. The Flyers will play four games this week, ending with their cross-state and hated rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins. What’s not listed here is that Philly will faced a one-day rested Carolina squad on Sunday. That makes it five games in eight nights for Philly. They can gain more points than anyone else, but they’ll have to work hard for it.
As for those cross-state rivals, the Penguins will host Florida and the Islanders before facing said Flyers. As the Penguins are ahead of the Rangers, would the Blueshirt faithful want the Isles to win to keep the Pens from building any more of a lead? Well, do fans cheer on rivals? No. They don’t. So the Rangers fans will (and should) have to focus on their own games instead. They’ll draw Arizona - who’s traveling through part of this division - followed by Boston and Carolina. The Devils will get Arizona next before a nasty home back-to-back with Chicago and Tampa Bay. Chicago may have been struggling to start the season and the Devils did make it only a one-goal loss to Tampa Bay; but both teams are talented enough to make them long nights. Lastly, the Islanders don’t get Arizona - they played them on this past Friday - so they’ll host Minnesota (who just lost in OT to New Jersey) before a back-to-back where they host Montreal and then go to Pittsburgh. Not an easy one, although maybe more preferable than Chicago-Tampa Bay. Of course, they play the games on the ice.
That's the week that was and the week that will be. Who do you think performed the best in this past week? It’s anyone’s division; who do you think will take it? What do you think will happen in this coming week? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about what happened in the division in this past week and the games coming up in this week in the comments. Thank you for reading.