All they do is win. The Washington Capitals swept another week and continue to dominate the lead of the Metropolitan Division. As we enter the final full week of February, just before the trade deadline, the Capitals have ninety points. It's entirely possible they hit a hundred early in March. By then, they may have mathematically clinched the Metropolitan. That's a testament to how dominant they have been this season. Again, the real action is what's going behind the Caps.
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.||Weeks Won||Playoff||% AM|
Source: NHL.com - Playoff Spots & Auston Matthews Lottery Chances as of 2/21 Before Games Played
The New York Islanders have clawed back up to a guaranteed playoff spot in the third place position. They remain behind their hated rivals, the New York Rangers. While the Isles have a game in hand and earned an additional point than the Rangers last week, they are behind by three points. That lead can grow as the Rangers will play four games in this week while the Isles have only two on their road trip this week. It's OK, Isles fans. You do have a cushion ahead of the other teams in the division vying for position.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have captured the second wild card spot in the East. They split their week points-wise. But thanks to the New Jersey Devils falling mostly on their face last week, they just got in there. Pittsburgh has the benefit of games in hand to help them out in case the Devils overtake them. They'll still have three of them after this week, in fact. The Devils faithful should be just as cautious about the teams behind them as well as who's ahead of them. The Carolina Hurricanes are breathing down their neck and are coming off a good week. They'll use up their game in hand in this coming week. If it's a success for the Canes, then the Devils could end up dropping in the standings. Likewise, the Philadelphia Flyers - who contributed to the Devils' poor 1-3-0 week - are just two points behind the Devils now. With two games in hand that they'll keep beyond this week, it's entirely possible the Devils fall to seventh in the division by next week's snapshot. Looking at the draft lottery odds, it won't necessarily help them there. At least the Columbus Blue Jackets are holding down eighth place. They've been usurped from their last place position in the NHL by a tanking Toronto squad and Veterans of the Lottery Process, Edmonton. Maybe they can crawl back down with a four-game week coming up.
Here's the week coming up for all the teams in the Metropolitan Division and the owners of the other wild card spot: Detroit. All games within the Metropolitan Division will be in bold.
|WSH||vs. ARI||vs. MTL||vs. MIN|
|NYR||vs. DET||@ NJD||@ STL||@ DAL|
|NYI||@ MIN||@ CGY|
|PIT||@ BUF||@ BOS||vs. WPG|
|NJD||vs. NYR||@ CBJ||vs. TBL|
|CAR||vs. TBL||vs. PHI||@ TOR||vs. BOS|
|PHI||@ CAR||vs. MIN||vs. ARI|
|CBJ||@ BOS||@ DET||vs. NJD||vs. FLA|
|W1 - DET||@ NYR||vs. CBJ||@ COL|
The Washington Capitals will enjoy their road to 100 by staying home and taking on Arizona, Montreal, and Minnesota. They can hurt the playoff chances of the two Western Conference opponents and continue to rain misery on a Montreal squad that has just spiraled out of control since December. The New York Rangers will have a lot to do. They get Detroit tonight before embarking on a road trip featuring the Devils, St. Louis, and Dallas. Definitely not an easy road. Especially since the Central Division is up for grabs for St. Louis and Dallas. The Isles are also on the road but they only have Minnesota and Calgary to play. Surely those are easier matchups than Dallas or St. Louis.
The Penguins will get some two day breaks between their three games. They get Buffalo today, Boston on Wednesday, and then return home for Winnipeg on Saturday. In the meantime, the Devils will get the Rangers on Tuesday and then have a back to back where they go to Ohio to play Columbus right before going to Newark to play Tampa Bay. Not an easy week to get back into contention.
The Carolina Hurricanes will get Tampa Bay today before a big Tuesday game against Philly. That one could help determine the order in the lower half of the division. Afterwards, the Canes get a back to back where they go to Toronto and then go back to Raleigh to play Boston. With Toronto mailing it in, they should win that one surely. The Philadelphia Flyers will play their first game this week against Carolina before hosting Minnesota and Arizona. The Flyers could make some real noise this week. However, they've blown it when they had the chance to do so earlier this season, so it's not a guarantee. What is a guarantee is that the Columbus Blue Jackets will be in last place in the division. They get a nasty road back-to-back in Boston and in Detroit to start their week before hosting New Jersey on Thursday and Florida on Saturday.
That was the week that was and the week that will be in the Metropolitan Division. What do you think will happen this week? Can the Rangers pull away further from the pack? Where will New Jersey end up in the standings after this week? Will anyone else put the pressure on the Penguins? Will the Capitals reach 100 points by early March? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this week's Metropolitan Division snapshot in the comments. Thank you for reading.