The 2017-18 National Hockey League regular season began last week. While it was a short week, I welcome you to the weekly Metropolitan Division snapshot. Every Sunday at about this time, I present to you a quick look at the Metropolitan Division, the teams within it, and what each has coming up on their plate. This is to provide perspective on where teams are and how they do week-to-week.
Traditionally, the first place team gets the headline photo because they are the current division leaders at this time. Due to the first tiebreaker - fewer games played - it is the Washington Capitals.
The standings columns are fairly self explanatory. I add two at the end: Ptl. Pts. stands for potential points the team can earn in the coming week. In this case, the Washington Capitals can add eight more points in this coming week because they have four games to play. The second place Philadelphia Flyers have only two games so they can add only four. Therefore, it is more likely that the Caps will remain on top - but only if they take care of business. The other column is Weeks Won. This is earned when a team wins more than half of the potential points that they had in the week. It is a good measurement to understand whether a team has really been doing well or if they are just scraping up points wherever they can to stay competitive.
I also include a schedule for all eight teams in this coming week. The teams highlighted in bold are games within the division. Those are bigger games as a win by one team means someone else is held back.
This short week for the Metropolitan Division featured some very different starts. At the top are the Washington Capitals, which had their ace, Alex Ovechkin, go off on teams in their two games. He scored seven goals in these two games. Seven. That is a statement and a good start for them. The Capitals will be busier in this coming week and will get to make some early statements within the division. After going to Tampa Bay on Monday, they’ll face Pittsburgh, New Jersey, and Philadelphia in four days. Should the Caps keep on rolling - and Ovechkin keep on scoring - then the Capitals can secure a solid lead on first place.
The Philadelphia Flyers opened their schedule with a road trip out West. They went to California to play the three teams there. Getting that trip out of the way can be good and it is even better that they came away with two wins. The Flyers will get some rest with a lighter week. They’ll wrap up their trip on Tuesday in Nashville before having their home opener against a potentially-hot Caps squad on Saturday. That home opener will not be easy but at least they’ll be at home for some time after then.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are the 2017 Stanley Cup Champions. They did not have such a championship-caliber week. They lost in overtime on the night they raised their banner. They were absolutely wrecked by Chicago in a 10-1 loss. They salvaged the week by blanking Nashville. It could have been a bit better. They’ll have three days off before their three games this week. Washington on Wednesday followed directly by a game in Tampa Bay is not an easy set to come back to. They’ll host Florida on Saturday before traveling again.
The New Jersey Devils had a later start with only one game. They dropped a lot of offense on Colorado to win that one game. That is good. What is tough is their upcoming week of games as they’ll have four games in six days. They will go to Buffalo for an afternoon game, go to Toronto on Wednesday night, return to Newark for the Capitals, and then head across the river to play the New York Rangers. Tougher teams and situations are coming up fast for a Devils team. A positive week though will tell the league that perhaps these are not the same Devils as they were last season.
The Carolina Hurricanes also had one game. They won it in a shootout. Their schedule is light to start the season as they only have two games coming up. They’ll host Columbus on Tuesday before going to Winnipeg on Saturday. That game against the Jets starts their trip that takes them to Alberta and then Texas. Strangely, they will not go to Vancouver on the trip. All the same, the Canes can use the time to really prepare for these games. It will be appreciated because they will not all be spread out like this for them.
The Columbus Blue Jackets split their first two games of the season. They soundly beat the Islanders 5-0 before Chicago smacked them down 5-1. Do not worry, Jackets fans, it won’t be feast or famine all season long. The Jackets will get back at games on Tuesday by visiting Carolina. They’ll have an interesting back-to-back set that takes them home to play the Rangers before going to Minnesota to play the Wild. At least it is not from Manhattan to Minneapolis.
The New York Islanders took that big ‘L’ from Columbus and picked up a big ‘W’ over Buffalo to start the season at 1-1. Their upcoming week keeps them in Brooklyn on Monday to play St. Louis before they take their road trip to California. They’ll face Anaheim and San Jose in this week with Los Angeles coming in the week after. It is not an easy week but points here will help the Isles stay afloat in what could be a competitive division.
What you do not want to do is fall behind early in this division. The New York Rangers may be at risk of doing just that. They lost both of their games. Worse, they did so while conceding 12 goals across both games. They need to get them out of their minds as the Rangers’ week starts today. They’ll host Montreal, host St. Louis, go to Ohio on Friday to play the Jackets, and then come home to pay the Devils. The good news for them is that their early schedule has plenty of home games. Their next road game after the 13th is the 28th. If they cannot take advantage, then this could be the start of a long season.
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 now? Can the Caps stay up at the top? Will the New Jersey Devils or Carolina Hurricanes build off their one win? Do you think the Penguins sort things out in this coming week? When will the Rangers win a game? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the division in the comments. Thank you for reading.