Change was coming and now it is here in this week’s edition of the Metropolitan Division Snapshot. There’s a new team in the top three and it is a team that got plenty of buzz earlier in the season for knocking off some “top tier” opponents in a big way. Now, they’re actually close to being top tier in the Metropolitan Division now. They are, yes, the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Yes, Columbus jumped past the Washington Capitals with another big week of wins for the Ohio squad. Their sweep gave them a three-point gap on the Caps. They’re in a great position when you consider the number of games played. They’re one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins, who did have a good week of their own except for who they lost to, with two games in hand. The New York Rangers, who split the week between beating Carolina and losing games, are only three points ahead with three more games played than the Blue Jackets. It may only be the start of December, but the Blue Jackets have put themselves in position to succeed like never before. They’ve had some statement wins. This snapshot in of itself is a statement. Now, we can see how far they’re going to take it. Let it ride, Columbus.
Outside of the top three teams, two teams had great weeks and the other three, well, not so much. Let’s touch on those three first. The Capitals had two games and came away with one point. They went from a secure playoff spot to a more tenous wildcard spot. Washington has the quality to come back, but bad weeks will get punished in a tough division. The New Jersey Devils’ road trip had more than its fair share of struggles, but they pulled out a post-regulation point in Chicago and had the unlikeliest of comeback wins to defeat Nashville. The standings (and this snapshot) does not care how, it only asks how many and so the win meant the Devils earned half of last week’s points. They moved down in the standings due to the success of others, though. Lastly, the Carolina Hurricanes had an opportunity to make some other teams in the division happy with two games against the Rangers. Instead, they lost both games in regulation. The Canes won last Sunday and dropped their last three. Therefore, they’re closer to the bottom as opposed to last week, where they were just a point behind then-sixth-placed Philadelphia.
Speaking of, I do not know what is more impressive: the Philadelphia Flyers winning all four of their games last week or the New York Islanders winning all three of their games. The Flyers moved themselves up to a tie with the Caps in points with wins over Calgary, post-regulation wins over Boston and Ottawa, and then beating down Chicago. Those are some strong results to move them from the fringe to right back in the playoff picture. Flyers fans have every reason to feel good, especially given the upcoming schedule for this week. Although I would suggest them to look at their tied-for-the-division-lead games played number and ask them to slow their roll. While the Flyers’ sweep brought them up, the New York Islanders’ sweep brought them some respect. They edged Calgary in OT before beating Pittsburgh straight up and then impressively shutting out Washington. The Rangers were happy with those last two results and the Isles are now a point away from getting out of last place. That’s fantastic for a team that, for all intents and purposes, fell flat at the start and have a lot of ground to make up. Taking six out of six potential points last week is a good way to get back into the picture.
In that sense, it is important to see what’s coming up next. I know this is later than usual, but none of the Sunday games within the Metropolitan have been played yet at the time of this writing. Here’s the upcoming schedule for all eight Metropolitan Division teams. Games within the division are in bold.
Let’s start from the last place team and move up. The New York Islanders will get three straight home games with some difficult opponents before going to face Columbus. That Tuesday night game against the Rangers is a rivalry game and with the Isles playing well as of late, it should be a real good one. The Islanders are just behind the Hurricanes, who get Tampa Bay today before heading to the state of California. That road trip into California can be tricky; Carolina could find itself down after those three games. Of course, if they come from California winners, then they’ll be that closer to the middle part of the division.
The New Jersey Devils get to return home for this week. They’ll take on Vancouver before nasty back-to-back with Montreal and St. Louis, two very strong teams. In their slight favor, St. Louis will be playing the night before too. They’ll unfortunately go on another four-game road trip after this week. The Philadelphia Flyers will have another busy week of games to build off their sweep. They’re in Nashville today before three more home games with Florida, Edmonton, and Dallas. They could have another big week. It’s important that they do because the games played could easily become a burden if they start dropping these games. As for the Washington Capitals, they’ll look to battle back with two games against Buffalo and another against Boston. They can do it. Will they? We’ll see.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will start with a home game with Arizona before a back-to-back set with Detroit and the Islanders. The Canes fans would probably like it if the Jackets take down the Islanders a peg. But the Columbus faithful would want to good times to keep on rolling anyway, if only to challenge Pittsburgh and the Rangers. The Penguins will host Ottawa before going to Florida. At least the Pens won’t have to play the Panthers and Lightning back-to-back. They’re in a good position to put pressure on first place. As for those first place Rangers, they’re on the road this week. They’ll stay local and go to Brooklyn on Tuesday. Then they’ll go up to Winnipeg and then Chicago, which should prove to be difficult. The Rangers have shown some signs of struggle recently, we’ll see if those will continue in this coming week.
That was the week that was in the Metropolitan Division and now we know what lies ahead in this coming week. What are your thoughts on what happened in the division last week? Will the Rangers hold onto first place? Can the Blue Jackets move up even further? Will the Flyers stay hot and extend their winning streak? Will the Islanders continue to pull their way out of last place? Will the Devils’ tide turn with two home games coming up? Please let me know your answers and other thoughts about what the eight teams did in the division last week and what they may do this week in the comments. Thank you for reading.