There are two new hot teams in the Metropolitan Division and both have improved their positions greatly as others struggled. One is angling for the top and the other is now back in the playoff picture after being on the outside.
The Washington Capitals have crushed everyone since slamming down the New Jersey Devils on New Year’s Eve. They have won all seven of their games so far in 2017 and decisively won all three of their games last week. They beat Montreal 4-1, beat Pittsburgh 5-2, and shut down Chicago 6-0. Those aren’t scrub teams. Their eight game winning streak has propelled them up to second in the division and right behind the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets split their week and it turned out to be the best non-Washington result among the other top teams in the Metropolitan. They will have to battle hard and hope the Caps falter soon or they will be overtaken. As for the teams the Capitals jumped, the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers did not have good weeks. The Penguins returned from their bye week, won a game, and then lost three in a row - including one to the Capitals. They’re in third place by way of having played fewer games than the Rangers. The Rangers came back from their long break and lost both games they had last week. The combination of inactivity and lack of results is never good in the standings and so they sit in fourth. Fortunately for them, their wild card spot is secure.
The other wild card spot in the East is less secure. The Philadelphia Flyers picked up three out of eight points last week. The Carolina Hurricanes went a perfect eight-for-eight to charge up the standings and stand right behind the Flyers. Remember how I kept pointing out how many games the Flyers have played? Well, it’s now an issue as the Canes have two games in hand in addition to riding a four game winning streak and being behind the Flyers by a single, solitary point. We could see someone else occupy that fifth place position soon and it could be Carolina. The Flyers’ recent faltering has also opened the door more for the Atlantic Division teams to catch up too. The NHL regular season is a marathon, not a sprint.
Down in the bottom end of the division, the New Jersey Devils managed to split their previous week. It began with a lame shutout loss and it ended with a solid win. Even if two-thirds of that week was poor, dragging the game into OT in Edmonton was enough to stay ahead of the New York Islanders. The Isles lost to Florida, got revenge in a win over Florida, and then lost 4-7 to Carolina. Therefore, the Isles stay down in eighth place and, as of this morning, the bottom of the Eastern Conference. So it goes for the Brooklyn Islanders.
That was the week that was. Here’s the week ahead for all eight teams in the Metropolitan Division. All games within the division are highlighted in bold.
Let’s go day by day for a change. Today, the Flyers and Capitals will play each other at 1 PM. Inclement weather has driven a football game back so NBC decided to fill in the original timeslot with this game. Let’s see if the Capitals will make it nine in a row on a now national stage. More relevant to this site, the Devils will be visiting Vancouver later that evening, which would be an afternoon start time for their opponents.
Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. As is tradition, the New York Islanders will have a matinee game on this day. They’ll be visiting Boston. In the evening is a more tantalizing matchup within the division. The Capitals and Penguins will face off again in Pittsburgh. The Caps dumped on the Pens last week; we’ll see if there is any revenge.
Tuesday has the Rangers, Blue Jackets, and Hurricanes begin their week. The Canes will take their winning streak to Columbus. Carolina took down the Blue Jackets last week as part of the streak, we’ll see whether they can do it again. Meanwhile, the Rangers will look to get back to winning ways when they host Dallas. Lastly and certainly not least, the Devils will wrap up a road trip in Minnesota. The Devils beat the Wild once already, let’s hope they go 2-for-2.
Wednesday has only one game: Pittsburgh at Montreal. That’s not at all an easy game. By then, the Penguins may need a result to keep or get closer to the Capitals. It should be a fun one for neutral fans to watch.
Thursday night has more hockey. Columbus will host Ottawa, a game that Philadelphia will probably hope the Blue Jackets will win since the Sens aren’t too far from their wild card spot either. Washington will visit St. Louis while the Rangers end their short week by going to play a offensively-charged Toronto squad. The Islanders will host Dallas as they try to claw their way out from the bottom.
Friday features Carolina taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins. This is a game where, again, Philadelphia should be hoping their hated rivals prevail if only to keep Carolina back. They’ll also want to pay attention to the Devils hosting Montreal if only because they’ll play each other on Saturday.
Saturday has the most action. The Devils will visit Philadelphia. I’m sure the Flyers have completely forgot about the 4-0 embarrassment the Devils dropped on them back in December. Carolina will take on Columbus again in Columbus again and we’ll see if they can get a result against them again. Washington will visit Dallas. The Islanders will host Los Angeles, who apparently will be in the area in this time of the month. But you’ll see that in next week’s snapshot.
That was the week that was in the Metropolitan Division and now we know what is coming up next. Can Columbus stay in first for another week or will the Washington Capitals dethrone them? Will the Capitals or Hurricanes be stopped this week? Will the Flyers even remain in a playoff spot by next week’s snapshot? Can the Devils pull themselves a little further away from the Islanders? 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.