Make it two in a row for the New Jersey Devils. Last week, they were in first in the Metropolitan Division. For this week’s snapshot, they remained in first in the Metropolitan Division. Will this last? Probably not given the upcoming schedules within the division and how close the teams still are in the standings. Is it nice to actually post another headline photo of the team that this blog is about for the weekly post about the division? Absolutely. Let’s gaze upon the standings as of October 22, 2017.
The Devils will remain in first for at least another two days. Tuesday is when others may start to pass them. Here is this week’s schedule for all eight teams, which feature no games within the division at all.
The New Jersey Devils had a tougher go last week with games against Tampa Bay, Ottawa, and San Jose. The Devils pulled out a 5-4 shootout win over Tampa Bay on national television. In Ottawa, the Devils came back from a 2-4 deficit to start the third period to force overtime - and won the game in overtime. San Jose smacked them down in a shutout loss. It was still four out of six points earned. Strangely, they are now in the middle of a six day break. This is not their bye week; they can and will practice during it. They will return to action with a back-to-back with Ottawa, who may want revenge, and Arizona, who may want something at all. At least they are at home for this short week. With only two games in the week, they could win those games and still fall in the standings.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are now the new #2 team in the division. They also picked up four out of six points last week. They edged the Rangers in OT, they beat on Florida, and then Tampa Bay rolled through them in a 7-1 defeat. That was a sour end to a productive week. They will return home to face the Edmonton McDavids and the Winnipeg Laines before visiting Minnesota. The Pens may have suffered some big losses, but they’re still 5-3-1 and ones to fear. Do not discount them at all.
Pennsylvania’s other team moved on up to third place by Saturday night. The Philadelphia Flyers were at home in this past week and it worked out well enough. A 0-1 loss to Nashville was sandwiched by a 5-1 win over Florida and a 2-1 win over Edmonton. As such, their four points moved them up. They are technically ahead of Columbus due to a superior goal differential at the moment (+10 for Philly, +4 for Columbus). The Flyers will end their five-game homestand against Anaheim on Tuesday before hitting the road to play Ottawa and Toronto. Another good week for them and the Flyers will be taking a little more respect than perhaps what they have been given.
This past week was not a good week for sports in Columbus. The 1-2 record by the Columbus Blue Jackets was preferable to the other major loss, the Columbus Crew’s owner effectively revealing he’s moving the team to Austin. For a team that has been in MLS since the start of the league in 1996, pioneered soccer-specific stadiums, and have been a good organization when the product on the field warrants it, that is a massive shock. Maybe there will be an intervention to keep the Crew in Columbus; I don’t know. Back to hockey, the Blue Jackets started off the week well with a road win in Winnipeg. Then they lost to Tampa Bay (2-0) and Los Angeles (6-4) at home. Harsh. The Blue Jackets will stay at home for two more games - Buffalo on Wednesday and a rematch against Winnipeg on Friday - before visiting St. Louis on Saturday. The Blue Jackets remain in the mix for contention; a better week helps their cause. Even if they do not perform, at least they’ll stay in Columbus.
New York’s more tolerable team, the New York Islanders, finished up their trip through California and made a stop in Manhattan before going back to Brooklyn. The California trip ended with a one-goal loss to LA. The game in MSG ended with a shootout win. Then their home game back was a 5-3 win. That’s a winning week for them, their first so far. The Isles will host Arizona before getting back on the road with games in Minnesota and Nashville.
The Washington Capitals did not have a winning week. A 1-2 week made them fall a bit in the standings. Their home game against Toronto ended with a 2-0 loss. The Caps picked up a ‘W’ in overtime over Detroit last Friday; but they held another ‘L’ in a 4-1 loss at home to Florida. Not good but they have not fallen too much behind. The Caps will be waiting for most of this week. When they do play, it will be amid a road trip through Western Canada with games against Vancouver and Edmonton this week, followed by Calgary next Sunday. A good trip will be a good boost for the Caps. A not so good trip may start raising some questions.
Only question the Carolina Hurricanes may have is, “Where were our games?” In this past week, the Canes actually played a more full week of contests - and it went well. Their road trip through Canada did not start well last Saturday but they made it a win with victories in Edmonton and Calgary. A loss to Dallas prevented a sweep for this week. The Canes will return home with games in hand on everyone and three games in four nights: Tampa Bay, at Toronto, and St. Louis. That is not easy but another good week and I think more people will notice that Carolina is anything but an easy opponent.
Lastly, the lowly New York Rangers continue to bring up the rear. This past week was not so bad for them. They took Pittsburgh and the Islanders beyond regulation. They actually won a game, beating Nashville 4-2. The Rangers have been home in this past week and picked up four out of six points. That’s big for them. They are not quite out of the woods just yet. They’ll be at home to host San Jose (tough) and Arizona (not as tough?) before visiting a Montreal team that also has struggled. The Rangers have some catching up to do and this week could see them make some progress. Otherwise, they could fall further behind.
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? Where do you think the Devils will end up as they wait for their back-to-back set? Who will prevail out of Pennsylvania this week? Can the Capitals rebound? Can the Canes continue to be a potential threat in the standings? Will the Rangers remain in last place for another week? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the division in the comments. Thank you for reading.