In last week’s Metropolitan Division Snapshot, I highlighted how the New York Islanders could make a big impact on the division standings with four games within the division. What I did not expect actually happened: the Isles won all four games. By taking down Carolina, beating Pittsburgh twice, and shutting out New Jersey, they are your current leaders in Metropolitan Division. The rest of the division is closely packed together.
Here is this week’s upcoming schedule. While no one has a week full of games within the division, there are four games between Metropolitan teams plus plenty of trips wrapping up. Except for New Jersey; they’ll be on the road until next Monday. Games within the division are highlighted in yellow.
Here is a summary of how each team performed last week, in order of the standings:
New York Islanders
What can I really write about this? 2-1 over Carolina in regulation. 6-3 over Pittsburgh in regulation in their building. 3-2 win via a shootout over the same Pens team in Brooklyn. 3-0 over New Jersey. The four wins have propelled the Isles up to first in the division. You cannot ask for a better week for a team.
The Isles are hot with five straight wins. Who’s next for them? A challenging Montreal squad will come to Brooklyn on Monday. Then the Islanders will head down south to visit the Sunshine State. They’ll take on Tampa Bay on Thursday and Florida on Saturday before returning home in the following week. If they can keep this streak going, then more and more will have to ask the question: “Are these Islanders for real?” And more and more may say, “Well, maybe, yeah.”
Whereas the Isles soared, the Penguins had the third worst week in the division. They entered the week in fist. They earned one out of six points; the one coming from a shootout loss. They took losses to the aforementioned Islanders and were planted into the ice by Toronto in a 0-5 defeat. Pittsburgh is now on a three-game winless streak and their position in the division is now up for grabs.
The Penguins will seek to make this right in the coming week. They’ll take on a slumping Devils team on Monday. Then they will go to Washington for a marquee Wednesday Night Hockey match-up that both teams would like to win given their current situations. Pittsburgh will close out their week at home against an Arizona team that are not the doormats they have been in recent years. This will not be an easy week but it is possible they can turn things around and challenge for the top (and take it?) again.
After winning two out of three after the last snapshot, the Columbus Blue Jackets went out and lost two out of three in this past week. Like the prior week, they lost their first of the week: a 5-3 home loss to Detroit. Not exactly their plan going into their California road trip, but you cannot unspill spilled milk. Anyway, the Blue Jackets rebounded with a solid 4-1 win in San Jose. Their third and final game of the week decided its fate: and it was a losing one, a 4-1 loss to Los Angeles. The Blue Jackets remain in the tight middle of the division (only 12 games played helps them stay ahead of Philly), but surely this week’s run of results was not what they wanted to do.
The Blue Jackets will play tonight in Anaheim to wrap up their California trip and they will not get much rest afterwards. They have Dallas at home on Tuesday and a back-to-back at Washington and versus New York at the end of the week. The latter set of consecutive games could mix up the standings a bit, assuming everything remains packed close together like this. Keep an eye on Columbus all the same.
After starting the season at 6-3-1, the Carolina Hurricanes have been slipping. Out of eight points, they earned one through an overtime loss. The week started with a 2-1 loss to the Isles. It continued with a 3-1 loss to Boston. After hitting the road to start a four-game road trip, the Canes lost 4-3 in OT to Arizona and lost 3-0 to Vegas in regulation. The 0-3-1 week dragged them down to the middle of the division and they are ripe to be jumped even further at this pace. They had the second worst week in the division.
The Hurricanes will try to right the ship on their trip in this coming week. They will travel to St. Louis on Tuesday and Chicago on Thursday to at least salvage something on this trip. Or at least get a win to end their slump. The Canes will at least return home on Saturday. However, Detroit has proven to not be total jobbers this season so it will not be an easy matchup. For Canes fans thinking 2018-19 is going to be different, the team has been served with a cold plate of reality in recent times. At least they are not near the basement - yet.
The Caps had four points to potentially earn and got one. On Thursday, they not only lost to Montreal 6-4, but they were the victims of the fastest two goals in NHL history when the Canadiens scored two seconds apart in the third period. Yes, the game winner and the empty-net insurance goal came two seconds apart. Washington hosted Dallas on Saturday and lost 4-3 in overtime for that mere point. Unfortunately for them, they were still jumped by Philly.
The Capitals will be a little more active in this coming week. The Fighting McDavids will be coming to town on Monday. They have a big matchup with Pittsburgh on national TV, which is usually entertaining and will have real implications on the division. Both teams will want to win this one. Washington ends their week on Friday when they host Columbus, another game within the division that could set up what the middle of it looks like next Sunday. They’ll want to do better as the defending Stanley Cup Champions have not exactly looked like contenders early in this campaign.
The Philadelphia Flyers went winless prior to last week’s snapshot. They turned that around in this past week. They embraced their road trip with points in each of their three games in California: 3-2 over Anaheim, 5-2 over Los Angeles, and a 3-4 OT loss in San Jose. Five out of six points was enough to make up plenty of ground in the division and put them back in the middle of it. Washington is only keeping them in sixth by way of games played. Had they won in San Jose, they’re up there in fourth. Give them their due; they took care of business.
The Flyers are not yet done on the road as they will go to Glendale on Monday to play Arizona. They’ll have a home game on Thursday against Arizona to complete their commitment to playing them twice this season. After that is out of the way, Philly will host Chicago. Another good week and the losses in October will become more of a memory (until they next losing streak when suddenly the fans remember them).
New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils had the worst week in the division. They had three games and lost all three. Not even a single post-regulation point. Tampa Bay crushed them in a 8-3 loss. Detroit outworked them in a 4-3 loss, where the third Devils goal happened in the final seconds of the game. They suffered their first shutout loss of the season when the Isles beat them 3-0 last night. With no points earned, the Devils sank to the near-bottom of the division. Their relatively few number of games played keep them from last. The 0-3-0 week means the Devils have won only one game in their last seven and they are the only team in the NHL without a win on the road this season. Their slump is real and it is bad.
The Devils need to turn things around and fast. It will not be easy if only because everything seems like a challenge to them as of late. They are also all away from Newark; the Devils remain winless on the road. They’ll have Pittsburgh and Ottawa in a back-to-back set on Monday and Tuesday; and they’ll go to Toronto on Friday. At this point, they need a win to stem the proverbial bleeding. Whether or not they’ll get one is up to them. And fate, I suppose.
The New York Rangers had a winning week by going 2-1-0 on their California road trip. If you feel they should tank it up, then you may not feel so good about that. At least they were not ROWs. The Rangers lost to Los Angeles, 4-3; but then beat San Jose and Anaheim through shootouts. Points in the standings but not in the ROW column? That’ll help with getting slightly better lottery odds in April should there be a log jam at the bottom. The Rangers are still bringing up the rear but if they keep on winning, they may be moving up faster than you may think.
The Rangers are at home today to play a Buffalo team that just waxed Ottawa 9-2. Good luck with that. They’ll host Montreal on Tuesday, which is favorable as Montreal would have played in Brooklyn the night before. The Rangers will go back on the road for a back-to-back set with Detroit and Columbus. As the Rangers may be “chasing” Detroit for the bottom, they may want to drop that one. But with their form last week, that may not happen.
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 the Islanders cool off in this coming week? Can Pittsburgh, Washington, or Carolina rebound? Is Philadelphia back on track or did they just have a good trip? 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.