Welcome back for the second Metropolitan Division Weekly Snapshot of 2019. The top four teams (Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Islanders) are all still sitting in playoff spots after another week of play. Here are the standings entering this week:
The schedule for this week is below with games within the division highlighted in yellow.
There could be some jockeying for position within each division of the division so to speak, but you never know. Last week seemed like it would be a prime week for movement, yet the ordering of the teams stayed exactly the same. Let’s take a brief look at each team for both the week they had and what’s ahead.
The Caps bounced back from a poor week last week to go 3-0-1 and take a potential seven out of eight points. They ended the week on a down note, with an OT loss to Columbus, but based on how the rest of the week went, they should be feeling pretty good.
Washington plays back to back games on Monday and Tuesday, with a home contest against St Louis before traveling to Nashville. They will be back home on Friday to face the Islanders in their only divisional match-up of the week. Based on how their last two weeks have gone, this week could go really well or really poorly for the Caps.
The Pens did not have the same good fortune as the Caps this week, going 2-2-0, including dropping a late Saturday tilt to the Los Angeles Kings. They retained second place in the division simply due to owning an extra point, though Columbus does have a game in hand and more ROWs.
Pittsburgh continues their west coast trip this week, playing in San Jose on Tuesday, in Arizona on Friday and finishing up the next night in Las Vegas. The Penguins will have to be on top of their games to have a strong week and also not to be overtaken in the Metro standings.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets were another team in the Metro to have a successful week, going 2-1-0; they started off slow losing 4-0 to Tampa Bay, but came back to win a pair of games in OT, first beating Nashville at home and then stealing an extra point in Washington.
The Jackets will be slightly busier this week, and with a pair of games within the division. They’ll play the Rangers tonight followed by the Devils on Tuesday, with both being home games. Their week will round out with Montreal visiting on Friday before they play their only road game of the week in Minnesota. The divisional games will be pivotal in seeing if Columbus can jump Pittsburgh for second place.
New York Islanders
Still trucking along in the division and in one of the wild card spots is the New York Islanders. They did have a disappointing week where they only went 1-2-0, and lost a pair of divisional games, first to the Hurricanes, and then one to the Rangers.
The Islanders will play a measly pair of divisional games this week instead of the three of last week, but they’ll be at the end of the week. They will first play Tampa Bay today and St Louis also at home on Tuesday. They will continue their homestand when New Jersey visits on Thursday before playing the latter half of a back to back in Washington on Friday; needless to say another week like the last one and the Isles could be back on the outside looking in of the playoff picture.
With another strong week in the books, the Hurricanes are making a push to have their name considered for the postseason. Going 3-1-0, they knocked off Ottawa, the Islanders and Buffalo while only losing to conference powerhouse Tampa Bay; the Canes now st only 5 points back of New York Jr.
Their upcoming week is a bit lighter, as they will host Nashville today before playing in Gotham on Tuesday. Their week ends with a Friday contest at home against Ottawa. With a couple of weaker teams matching up with them, this could be another successful week for the Canes to inch closer to playoff contention.
New York Rangers
The Rangers had about as successful of a week as I projected they would, going 1-3-0 by managing to salvage their final game of the week against the Islanders. They dropped the first half of a home and home against them prior, and also were decisively defeated by Arizona and Vegas at the start of the week.
The divisional matchups continue for the Rangers to start this week, as they will travel to Columbus tonight before hosting Carolina on Tuesday. They’ll host Chicago on Thursday and play the Bruins in Boston on Saturday. Though they’ll have a day off between each game (minus last night and tonight), hopefully Our Hated Rivals will continue their downward trend.
New Jersey Devils
What a miserable week for our New Jersey Devils; having to go back to relying on less than stellar goaltending saw them go 1-3-0. Losses on the road to Vegas and Buffalo (a blowout) were followed by a home heartbreaker against Toronto. The Devils salvaged some pride with a returning MacKenzie Blackwood to defeat Carter Hart and Philly yesterday.
With four games this week (home against Chicago, pair of road games against Columbus and the Isles followed by a home game against Anaheim) the Devils could make one final push to be a relevant team this season. Another poor week will be the final nail in the coffin, if that hasn’t already been hammered in. Blackwood’s return has given the team some hope and maybe, just maybe, the Devils have something left to prove.
It has not been a good season for a Flyers team that many projected to be better than this. While they managed to beat Dallas on Thursday night, they lost to St. Louis and Washington at the start of the week before dropping the aforementioned Devils game. Another 1-3-0 week means the Flyers weren’t able to make up any ground.
Philly may only have three games this week, but with Minnesota and Boston coming to town, they may still not have any easy points coming in. A road game in Montreal will round out their week, and again, it could be a rough one for the Flyers in their attempts to add more points to their season total.
January is roughly half over and the season marches on towards the trade deadline in February. What are your thoughts on the week ahead; which teams do you see having success and which do you see floundering? How will the Devils fare with Blackwood back, yet some tough contests on the horizon? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below and thanks as always for reading!