The first full of week of November is now in the books and changes have taken place with the Metropolitan Division. There’s a new leader, a new team that’s hot, and only one team unfortunately on the outside looking in already. Here are the standings after Saturday’s games:
The new leader is the Columbus Blue Jackets. However, they should not get too comfortable. It is very tight from spots one through seven. Alas, the New Jersey Devils have a gap to make up to get into this logjam.
Here is this week’s upcoming schedule. There are five games within the division with only Washington traveling quite a bit. Games within the division are highlighted in yellow:
Here is a summary of how each team performed last week, in order of the standings:
Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus was in third last week’s snapshot and moved on up to first with six points out of possible eight in this past week. They got those six the hard way as they lost in Anaheim 3-2 in overtime last Sunday and lost in a shootout to the New York Rangers last night. But those wins over Washington and Dallas provided the base for their winning week. Still, the goal is to better than your opponents and they surpassed the Isles for the top spot. They were able to stay ahead of Philly thanks to banking more points earlier. It is not safe at the top, but they can say they were there for the moment.
The Blue Jackets will head down to Texas to play Dallas on Monday night. They will then come home to take on Florida and then visit North Carolina for an inter-division game on Saturday night. It’s a bit of trip in this way and Dallas is one of the better home teams in the Western Conference, so it will not be easy. But Columbus does not do things easy and they certainly are not easy opponents.
The Flyers had a good showing in last week’s snapshot. They improved upon it with a perfect week: three games, three wins. They won the separated home-and-home with Arizona and trounced Chicago yesterday. They are now just ahead of everybody not named Columbus. They could take the top spot by next Sunday. Of course, if they slip and teams behind them do not, then they could just as easily crash out of the top three. It’s that tight in the Metropolitan, but the Flyers have earned their slight advantage.
The Flyers will be at home all of this week. While their 4-4-0 record at home scares nobody, they could make some improvements in this week. They’ll take on Florida, New Jersey, and Tampa Bay in the next seven days. The Flyers already have home wins over Florida and New Jersey; Tampa Bay will be their biggest challenge. We’ll see if they’ll keep just ahead of the division for another week.
The Isles were first in last week’s snapshot on the strength of a 4-0-0 week. The Isles followed that up by earning one little point out of six. That helps nobody in royal blue and orange. The Isles lost in a shootout at home to Montreal, 4-3, to get that point last Monday. They went to the state of Florida and received a pair of 4-2 losses from Tampa Bay and Florida. After rising so high, they have fallen down a bit. If they’re not careful, it could get worse.
It may get worse just by doing nothing. The NHL schedule has them only playing twice in this week. With four teams with as many or just one fewer point than the Isles, being idle could be why they may be lower in next week’s snapshot. The mitigating news is that they’ll host Vancouver on Tuesday after they have played on Monday; and they’ll host their hated rivals on Thursday in what could shift some things around in the division. Biased as I am for writing this, go Isles on Thursday.
New York Rangers
The Rangers are hot right now. They’ve picked up a point in every game in November so far with a 4-0-1 monthly record. They beat Buffalo, 3-1; they beat Montreal, 5-3; they lost late in OT in Detroit, 2-3; and they beat Columbus in a shootout for a final score of 5-4. As a result, they’re now in the mix for the top three spots in the division. They’re not spoilers; they’ve just crashed the party and hoping to stay for a while. They are lacking in ROWs; but for now, that’s not a super-huge concern.
The Rangers will get three games to do that in this week. They’ll host Vancouver on Monday, visit Brooklyn to play the Isles on Thursday, and host Florida on Saturday. They could very well jump the Isles and, depending on other results, move on up in the Metro. They’re hot right now. But as the Isles faithful can tell the Rangers fans, the hotness can go away very quickly.
Since the Penguins did well in October, their first win since October 27 helped propel them up to fourth place. It was looking like the Penguins were going to be mired in a slump like another team in this divsion. They entered the week winless in three games and lost big to New Jersey, 1-5; and then more closely to Washington, 1-2. The Penguins finally got back to winning ways with a decisive 4-0 win over Arizona last night. 1-2-0 isn’t a good week but, again, their earlier good work allowed that one win to get them back in contention.
The Penguins will seek to avoid another fall in this coming week. They’ll travel to New Jersey on Tuesday, return home to host Tampa Bay on Thursday, and then visit Ottawa on Saturday. They could make this week successful, but only if they are truly out of it. If they struggle again, then they could really be in a slump and start losing more ground on the other teams.
Washington dropped a spot from last week’s snapshot despite a good week. The Capitals beat Edmonton and Pittsburgh before falling to Columbus, 1-2. The last game kind of stings as it could have led to a notable swing in the standings as Columbus is just three points ahead of Washington now. Still, 2-1-0 is a good set of results and the Capitals faithful should not be discouraged by it. If they keep it up, the Caps will start placing better than sixth in time. Maybe even sooner.
They cannot go 2-1-0 in this coming week since the Capitals have four games in this coming week. Tonight, they will host an Arizona team that just got licked by the Pens last night. Washington will then pack their bags and go on a tough three-game-in-four-night trip to Minnesota, Winnipeg, and Colorado. All three of those teams are very talented and Minnesota and Winnipeg have been excellent at home so far this season. Still, the Caps will bow to nobody and if they come out ahead on this trip point-wise, then I think they’ll be in a better position next Sunday.
1-1-1 is a perfectly average week. It’s not a winning week, it’s not a losing week, and depending on your perspective on their performances, it can go either way in terms of how a fan feels about it. They lost 1-4 in St. Louis, they won 4-3 in Chicago, and they lost in a shootout to Detroit at home last night. Again, your mileage may vary on whether this is good or bad. Given this division, it may lean towards bad as one additional point would have put the Canes in the middle instead of next-to-last. Tight as it is, they’re not out of anything so beware of the Canes.
Carolina will be at home all week. Like the Isles, may be victims of their own schedule. They only play twice: Monday against Chicago, who badly needs a win for their new coach; and Saturday against Columbus in what is the first of a back-to-back set for them that weekend. The Canes will have time off to recover and look at how they are performing. But if they want to stay in the proverbial picture for the moment, then they need to win those games. Other teams may be hoping they do on Saturday.
New Jersey Devils
Sigh. You know how I wrote about how all of those points in October helped Pittsburgh move up after winning only once? Since the Devils slumped into this month and clearly are still in it, their big 5-1 win in Pittsburgh moved them nowhere. They were routed by Ottawa and Toronto to make it a 1-2-0 week and confirm their seven-game road trip, which ends tonight, to be a total mess. The Devils have the worst road record in the East and one of the worst in the NHL. Even average teams take care of some business away from home.
The Devils will end their seven-game road trip at Winnipeg tonight. They are one of the most talented teams in the NHL, so this is a big challenge. The Devils will finally return home on Tuesday to host the Penguins. Then they’ll go to Philly on Thursday before returning to the Rock to host Detroit. The Devils are outside of the rest of the division and the challenge is not so much the points as it is catching up in this league. For reference, only Florida does not have more points than New Jersey in the East - they have 13 like New Jersey. The Devils need to get results and fast to stay relevant by Thanksgiving. Getting regulation wins over Pittsburgh and Philadelphia would be huge for that. Unfortunately, the team’s performance has been so sluggish and poor that would be a very tall task. May their slump end soon. Please.
That was the week that was and the week coming up for all eight teams in the Metropolitan. Now I want to know what you think. Will Columbus keep the others away or will we see new leader next week? Can someone end the Rangers’ hot streak? Or Philadelphia’s? Will the Islanders rebound? Do you think Washington will move on up with a good week? A repeat question from last week’s snapshot: When will the Devils end their slump and can it be soon? Please leave your thoughts about all of this in the comments. Thank you all for reading.