The first full week of the 2017-18 NHL season is in the books and would you look at who is at the top of the Metropolitan Division? It is the team who matters most here. It is the team who is supported by the People Who Matter. Thanks to tiebreakers, it is the New Jersey Devils. Seriously.
Bask in its glory. Even if it lasts for only two days, we can say that at one point in this season the Devils were first in the division. Two days, you ask? Check out this week’s upcoming schedule.
Only the New York Islanders play today and no one in the division has a game on Monday. The Devils’ vacation in first place will be for at least 48 hours. Since they are first, let’s look at them first.
The New Jersey Devils had a big week of results. They crushed Buffalo on Columbus Day, they pulled away from Toronto in a 6-3 win in their building, and they edged the hated New York Rangers 3-2 last night. Only a decisive 5-2 loss to Washington kept it from being a perfect week. Regardless, 3-1 for the week is not bad at all. The Devils will get out of the division for a bit. They will resume play on Tuesday when they host Tampa Bay before a tricky back-to-back with a game in Ottawa on Thursday followed by a home game against San Jose. Tampa Bay and Ottawa have also enjoyed a strong start to their seasons, so it will not be an easy week. Amazingly, with the Devils as they are, it will not be easy nights for them either.
Matching the Devils in points but falling in tiebreakers for the time being are the Columbus Blue Jackets. They swept their week as they beat out Carolina and Minnesota in overtime while beating the Rangers in regulation. That’s always good to see. Columbus will head up to Manitoba to play Winnipeg before coming home for home games against Tampa Bay and Los Angeles. Columbus did not exactly get a lot of respect in the larger media after a very good 2016-17 season. As long as they get results, I do not think they mind.
The Pittsburgh Penguins followed up a not so hot first week with a better run of results in this past one. The Penguins beat Washington on national television and they beat Florida to make it a winning week. The only flaw was a 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay. Still, 2-1 for the week and third in the standings is not a bad place to be in. In this coming week, the Penguins will have one of only two inter-division games in this week’s schedule: the Rangers on Tuesday. After that game, they’ll head to the state of Florida to play both Florida and Tampa Bay in a back-to-back set. They are not to be ignored.
The Washington Capitals are another squad figured to be atop the division that are just outside of it for now. It could have been a better week since they did lose three games. They were beaten by Tampa Bay in overtime, handed a close loss by Pittsburgh, and were absolutely demolished by Philadelphia in a 8-2 loss. Their 5-2 win in New Jersey was their sole win of the week. Still, they are just a point behind the division leader so there is no real reason to be concerned. The Caps can get back to winning ways this week when they host Toronto on Tuesday, go to Detroit on Friday, and then host Florida on Saturday.
It was a short week for the Philadelphia Flyers. They had two games and they split it. Both games featured plenty of scoring. They lost 6-5 in Nashville and then they beat up Washington 8-2 in Philly. If nothing else, lamps were lit. The big win over the Capitals was the first of a five-game homestand for Philly. Their next three games are at home: Florida, Nashville, and Edmonton. They would probably enjoy some revenge against the Preds and we’ll see what they can do against the Panthers and the McDavids.
Speaking of split weeks, the New York Islanders did just that late last night in San Jose. In the second of their three-game trip through California, the Islanders did beat San Jose 3-1. It salvaged a week that began with a shootout loss at home to St. Louis and a 3-2 regulation loss to Anaheim. The California trip ends tonight in Los Angeles. Then the Islanders return back to New York to play their hated rivals, the Rangers on Thursday. They’ll host San Jose on Saturday and will hope that another game against a tired San Jose team will yield another win.
If the Carolina Hurricanes need anything, then they need games. After one game in the first half-week of the season and only two in the first full week of the season, they have games in hand on everyone in the Metropolitan. Therefore, I would not be so concerned that they only have three points in the standings. The Canes lost in overtime to Columbus and lost 2-1 in Winnipeg on Saturday. The schedule will pick up for them. Unfortunately, this week is all on the road. That loss in Winnipeg was the first in a four-game road trip that wraps up in this week. The Canes will go Edmonton on Tuesday, Calgary on Thursday, and Dallas on Saturday. Should they get a win or two, then the Canes would be in a not so bad position. Not only would they have more points, they would still have at least two games in hand on the other seven teams in the division. I do not think they need to be so concerned.
As for the New York Rangers, they should be concerned. Starting the season 1-4 in a division full of talent is not good at all. The Rangers picked up their first win last Sunday against Montreal. They proceeded to lose in regulation to St. Louis (3-1), in Columbus (3-1), and to New Jersey (3-2). The Rangers have played six games, four of them were at home, and they won just one. Things need to turn around for them and fast. Their loss to the Devils begins a six-game homestand. A bad run here means the Rangers will have to make up points on the road, which is never easy. It will not be an easy week for them as they’ll host Pittsburgh on Tuesday, play the hated Islanders on Thursday, and host Nashville for a 12:30 start on Saturday. If this week continues to sputter for the Rangers, then head coach Alain Vigneault’s seat will get hotter and/or there will be further pressure for management to make other changes. I will leave it to you as to whether that would be a bad thing or not.
That was the week that was in the Metropolitan Division and the week to come for all eight teams. What do you think will happen in this coming week? Who will lead the division by next week? Where do you think the Devils will end up? Can the Hurricanes get something out of their games to be a sneaky threat in the standings? Will the Rangers continue to suffer in last place for another week? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the division in the comments. Thank you for reading.