Mark it three in a row for the New Jersey Devils. For this week’s snapshot of the Metropolitan Division, the Devils are in first place for a third consecutive week. They only had two games, they won them both, and due to the results from others in the division, they are on top. Even if it does not last, it is fun to see the Devils in first. Let’s look at the standings as of this early morning and the upcoming schedule to see what is coming up this week for all eight teams in the division.
The Devils are not only in first place, but they have won the most weeks (four) and they have a game in hand on everyone except Carolina. That is a sweet spot to be in even if they’re only in first place by one point. Also, the top four teams all had positive weeks of results while the bottom four did not. Coincidence? Possibly. Notable? You bet. What is also notable is this week’s schedule for the division. If you love road games, then this week is for you as most of the division will be out and about in North America. (Games in bold are within the division.)
There is only one game within the Metropolitan Division and it is between the Washington Capitals and the New York Islanders This is in the middle of a week where just about everyone is going somewhere outside of the division. Let’s summarize it for each team.
First place goes first. The New Jersey Devils had a long layoff before a home back-to-back with Ottawa and Arizona. Their play in both games could use some improvement. Both games were close; but the Devils got a shootout win over Ottawa and a regulation win over Arizona. The standings only care about what you got, not how you got it. Again, due to results from others, the Devils remain in first. They will have another short week in terms of games as they will go out West and North to visit Vancouver and Edmonton. Calgary is next week to finish that road trip through Western Canada. Mathematically, the Devils could do well and still fall out of first just because they only have two games to play. But the goal for them should be get some results regardless.
Right behind New Jersey are the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens picked up two overtime 2-1 wins at home over both Edmonton and Winnipeg before embarking on a five-game road trip. Their first game of that trip was on Saturday and it was a 2-1 loss in regulation. The Pens will wrap up their trip in this week for what will be a very busy week. What’s more is that they’ll face Winnipeg (tonight) and Edmonton (Wednesday) again; the opportunity for revenge will be there. Calgary awaits right after Edmonton and the Pens will end their trip in Vancouver on Saturday. We’ll see how the Pens come out of that one. It certainly is not an easy trip.
Columbus’ travel will be a bit easier. The Columbus Blue Jackets had another good week with home wins over Buffalo and Winnipeg. Their 4-1 loss to St. Louis on Saturday denied them a sweep and a move up to first place. Still, it is positive for Columbus and that keeps them in the right end of a competitive division. The Blue Jackets will host Boston on Monday before flying down to the Sunshine State. They’ll visit Florida on Thursday and Tampa Bay on Saturday. Their road trip will end after the following Monday, but most of the travel will be for those two games. Don’t sleep on the Jackets.
The New York Islanders moved up to fourth place with a two-out-of-three winning week. The Isles’ 6-4 loss in Minnesota was sandwiched between a 5-3 home win over Arizona and an impressive 6-2 win in Nashville. The Isles will head back to Brooklyn to face a super-hot Vegas squad. Their trip is the shortest among the eight teams this week; they just have to go to D.C. on Thursday. The Isles may be passed due to their short week but they put themselves in a better position than they were last week. That is what they need to do.
While Columbus and the Isles moved up, the Philadelphia Flyers slipped into fifth place. The Flyers started off their week well enough with a 6-2 home win over Anaheim. Their away games in Ottawa and Toronto ended with losses. As such, they lost a little ground in the division. The Flyers will have four games in this week to get back up to where they want to be in the standings. The first game will be against a winless Arizona squad at home. That may be easy (on paper), but a nasty road back-to-back in Chicago and St. Louis follows that one. The Flyers will come home to face a hapless Colorado team on Saturday. Two easy games sandwiching two really tough ones. If the Flyers earn more than four points out of eight this week, then that would be impressive.
The Washington Capitals had a short week as they traveled to Western Canada for a road trip of their own. The Capitals got beaten soundly by Vancouver, 6-2. But they salvaged the week with a 5-2 win in Edmonton. Washington is in the wrong end of the standings, but their talent level is such that one cannot really count them out. Besides, they are just five points out of first place. They are not really far behind the proverbial eight-ball. They’ll be able to get some more points in this week. They’ll end their road trip in Calgary tonight, they’ll come home to host the Islanders, and then they’ll head up to Boston on Saturday night. The Caps are not to be discounted.
Games in hand is what the Carolina Hurricanes have right now. However, they do not mean much if they are not going to get points from them. The Canes had a not-so-hot week. They lost big at home to Tampa Bay, 5-1. They won big in Toronto, 6-3. They lost closely to St. Louis, 2-1. It’s up-and-down for them this season. The Canes can set things right and still have games in hand this week. They will host Anaheim tonight before going off to Colorado and Arizona by week’s end. A good week of results would do them well instead of just having games in hand in their back pockets.
In last, there are the New York Rangers. They can crawl out of last if they win some games. That continues to be their problem. The Rangers did win a game; a 5-2 win over Arizona. Yet, this was in between a 5-1 beatdown by San Jose last Monday and a 5-4 loss in Montreal last night that started off with a heinous first period. The Rangers had a busy October and only three road games. Yet, their early run of home games have not led to favorable results. They’ll have one more on Halloween, where they’ll play a Vegas team that had played the night before. Then the Rangers will go down to the state of Florida to play Tampa Bay and Florida. The Rangers need to pick up the pace. While they’re only one point behind Carolina, that they have eight points in twelve games means they are in a hole. In a competitive division like this, it is really, really, really hard to make up that kind of ground.
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 play the best on the road? Who will make some moves within the standings? Will there be a new team in first place by next Sunday? 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.