There is a new team in first place in the Metropolitan Division. Welcome the Columbus Blue Jackets to the top of the mountain for now. They had a very good week of results and have just edged the New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins. As such, they get the headline photo and they will be the first team to be discussed first in this week’s division snapshot. Here is how the standings look as of this morning:
Related to that, here is this week’s schedule of games. There will be some games within the division (they are in bold) and a lot less travel among all eight teams.
For this week’s snapshot, I’m going to add a statistical flair: PDO. A commenter with that name on Vic Ferrari’s old site had the idea of combining a team’s shooting percentage and save percentage as a quick, rule-of-thumb look at a team’s luck. Anything well over 1000 (or 1, if you’re using the percentages) is favorable and could go down. Anything well under it may mean the team could bounce back. We’ll see how it goes for this week; it’s just something to liven up this weekly post. These PDO values are for 5-on-5 play and they come from Natural Stat Trick’s site as of the morning of November 5, 2017.
Columbus Blue Jackets - PDO: 1.011 (13th in NHL; 8.69 Sh%, 92.46 Sv%)
The Columbus Blue Jackets had a very good week of results. Shootouts sandwiched a massive 7-3 win in Florida to make a tasty cookie of points. The difference was that the Jackets beat Boston in their shootout for that extra point. That made it a winning week and taking Tampa Bay to a shootout meant they had five. It was enough to take first place. Columbus will have four games coming up to try and maintain that lead; two back-to-back sets. The first game in each set are games within the division (New York, Carolina) followed by games outside of it (Nashville, Detroit). In theory, they should do better in the second set, but we’ll see what happens.
New Jersey Devils PDO: 1.028 (4th in NHL; 9.81 Sh%, 93.02 Sv%)
It was another short schedule for the New Jersey Devils and, this time, they were surpassed. The Devils split their two games; they rode Cory Schneider to a 2-0 win in Vancouver and they were beaten on by Edmonton in a 3-6 loss. For those watching the standings, it is not a big deal. It’s a one point deficit and the Devils have games in hand on everyone in the Metropolitan except for Carolina. This coming week is a busy one that may tell the world whether New Jersey is for real or not. They’ll wrap up their Western Canada road trip tonight in Calgary before hosting three home games: St. Louis, Edmonton, and Florida. If the Devils bust out a winning week in this four-games-in-seven-night run; then Devils fans should really feel good.
Pittsburgh Pittsburgh PDO: 0.933 (31st in NHL; 4.46 Sh%, 88.83 Sv%)
That is a frightening number. The Pittsburgh Penguins have the coldest sticks in the league and their save percentage is really low. Yet, they are third in the division and within striking distance of first place. If or when those numbers get closer to the team’s true value, then the Penguins are going to a nightmarish team to play against. As if they are not already. Anyway, the Penguins had a rough week on the road. The Pens were waxed 1-7 by Winnipeg. The province of Alberta was better as the Pens beat Edmonton 3-2 in regulation and lost to Calgary 1-2 in OT. But Vancouver defeated Pittsburgh 2-4 in regulation to make it a 1-2-1 road trip. Not ideal and the loss in Winnipeg jacked up their negative goal differential further. But, hey, still third in the division. Pittsburgh will come home on Tuesday to play Arizona before a tricky back-to-back on the road in Washington and in Nashville at the end of the week.
Philadelphia Flyers PDO: 1.012 (12th in NHL; 7.78 Sh%, 93.39 Sv%)
Philadelphia gets to be the answer to a trivia question this season: who was the first team to lose to the Arizona Coyotes. Philly did it on October 30 in a 3-4 overtime loss. Ouch. The week was starting to look worse when Chicago blanked them 0-3 on Wednesday; but the Flyers rebounded with a shutout of their own over St. Louis, 2-0. Unfortunately for the Philadelphia Flyers, they dropped a shootout loss at home to Colorado to make it a 1-1-2 week. Sure, they picked up four points but they also lost potentially winnable games over Arizona and Colorado. Therefore, they’re just outside of the top three. They will do some waiting this week as their next game is on Thursday, when they’ll host Chicago. They’ll host Minnesota on Saturday to close out a short week.
New York Islanders PDO: 1.024 (7th in NHL; 10.03 Sh%, 92.38 Sv%)
The New York Islanders had two games, scored nine goals in total, and split their results. In Brooklyn, the Isles smacked down Vegas in a 6-3 win. In Washington DC, the Isles lost to the Capitals, 3-4. A short week and only two points to show for it, so they dropped a spot. It is not something to be too concerned about since the team has games in hand on everyone except the Devils and Hurricanes. The Isles will have a heavy schedule to make up for the two-game week they just went through. The Isles will host Colorado tonight and Edmonton on Tuesday. Then the Islanders will travel to Dallas and St. Louis for a tough back-to-back set at the end of this week. It is a good chance to pick up some points this week, especially while their sticks are still hot.
Washington Capitals PDO: 1.030 (3rd in NHL; 10.33 Sh%, 92.66 Sv%)
Washington has even hotter sticks and the highest PDO in the division. That is interesting as they are in sixth place even after a 2-1-0 week. That week started with a 1-2 loss in Calgary. The two wins followed: 4-3 over the Islanders and 3-2 over Boston. Games played kept them in sixth. Could this be a sign of a rising Caps team while the percentages remain good? Maybe. They should get going this week with a home game against Arizona, a road game in Buffalo, and a big matchup against Pittsburgh on Friday. A 2-1-0 week would help them. But Caps have to be concerned that the shooting is relatively great and the team has all of seven wins out of fifteen games to show for it.
New York Rangers PDO: 0.988 (21st in NHL; 7.56 Sh%, 91.23 Sv%)
Three games, three wins. The New York Rangers swept their week of games and are no longer in the basement. What’s more is that they’re not that far behind other teams in points. Saving Alain Vigneault’s job and moving up in the standings? That’s a big week for the Rangers. It is still a concern that they’ve played more games than everyone else in the division. It remains to be seen whether their three wins means they actually turned a corner or whether they were just hot for those three games. Those wins: 6-4 over Vegas, 2-1 in OT in Tampa Bay, and 5-4 in OT in Florida. The tests will keep on coming with three home games coming up: Columbus on Monday, Boston on Wednesday, and Edmonton on Saturday. The Rangers could make this interesting if they keep on winning. A down week may put them back in their place, though. The margin of error for them is smaller than the rest due to their awful October.
Carolina Hurricanes PDO: .980 (26th in NHL; 6.71 Sh%, 91.32 Sv%)
The Carolina Hurricanes fell to last with a winless week of results. The Canes faithful must be wondering what they can sacrifice to improve that shooting percentage. In this past week, the Canes out-shot their opponents 37-25, 60-27 (!!!), and 37-24. They lost that first game to Anaheim, 3-4, in a shootout. They lost that second game to Colorado, 3-5, in regulation. They lost that third game to Arizona, 1-2, in a shootout. The process appears to be functional and they were definitely trying but it didn’t happen. As such, they fell. The Canes still have games in hand on everyone except New Jersey, but that is small solace as the team was left behind in eighth place. The Canes will be hoping their shooting improves somehow when they host Florida on Tuesday and enter a difficult back-to-back at Columbus and with Chicago at the end of the week.
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? Will Columbus be able to remain in first and perhaps take a lead? Will the New Jersey Devils get back on track with some home games coming up? How scary will Pittsburgh be if they shoot and stop pucks at the league average? Will the New York Rangers build themselves back up in the division? Can the Carolina Hurricanes avoid finding themselves deep in a hole before they get to use their games in hand? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the division in the comments. Thank you for reading.