Welcome back for the another edition of the All About the Jersey Metropolitan Division Weekly Snapshot. While the same four teams as last week sit in playoff position, there’s been quite a bit of position shuffling from the prior week’s games. Here are the standings entering this week:
The New York Islanders are at the top of the division by a mere point, followed by the Washington Capitals, Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins. All of these teams are at most within two points of the team ahead of them; depending on how things shake out over the next couple of weeks, we could be looking at an entirely different order of teams after bye weeks are said and done.
The schedule for this week is below; there are no division games, so none are highlighted. Additionally, all teams are off after Wednesday for the All-Star Break.
As I mentioned at the start, it looks to be a fairly boring week coming up for the Metro due to five teams being inactive and next weekend’s festivities. With that in mind, only three teams below will have forecasts for the upcoming week; the other five, we will simply be recapping the week that was.
New York Islanders
Okay, survey time, who had the Islanders pegged to be leading the division at any point this year? It’s incredible what good coaching and a system that plays to the strengths of its players can do. The Isles had four games this week and they won them all; the week started with three straight at home, beating Tampa Bay, the St. Louis Blues (in overtime) and the Devils before rolling into Washington and beating the Caps to earn all eight possible points from the week.
The Islanders have a mere pair of games this week, first an early game today against the Anaheim Ducks and then a visit to Chicago on Tuesday to play the Blackhawks. With how hot the Isles are, and how mediocre both of those teams have been this season, New York could pick up four more points before going into an extended break.
The Capitals are slumping at the wrong time of year, as this is two out of the last three weeks where they’ve dropped a bunch of games. They had a particularly awful week where they went without a win, dropping a home game to St. Louis, a road game to the Nashville Predators and the aforementioned Islanders game. Washington needs to get their act together, as another slump could push them out of playoff position.
Fortunately for them, they have a chance to turn their fortunes around, playing in Chicago tonight before back to back games against San Jose (home) on Tuesday and Toronto (away) on Wednesday. With three games in four days and the way the team is trending, no wonder Alex Ovechkin wants to rest instead of participating in the All Star activities!
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets were the definition of mediocre this week, going 2-2-0; they started the week off right by beating the Rangers and the Devils. They then proceeded to drop their past two to the Montreal Canadiens and the Minnesota Wild. The good news for Columbus and their fans? Getting half of the possible points for the week was good enough to elevate them above the Pittsburgh Penguins in the standings. Speaking of...
A 1-2-0 week saw the Pens slip into a wild card spot, yet still maintain playoff positioning. Their only win of the week came courtesy of an overtime victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Friday, bookended by losses to San Jose on Tuesday and the Vegas Golden Knights late last night. The Penguins will have to evaluate themselves as the push for the playoffs continues and the bye week is as good a time as any to do so.
Carolina was doing such a good job pushing closer to the upper half of the division over the past two weeks; unfortunately for them, they had a down week as well of 1-2-0 and failed to gain any ground on those ahead of them. They started off really strong by beating Nashville last Sunday, but followed up by dropping games to the Rangers and Ottawa.
The Canes will have a chance to rectify the mistakes of last week with their trio of games. They’ll be out west, facing Edmonton (today), Calgary (Tuesday) and Vancouver (Wednesday) all on the road before they reach their break. While some may argue a couple of the teams are easy to face, nothing is guaranteed in the NHL and a road trip being that condensed could be difficult.
New York Rangers
The Rangers sadly put together a very solid week, going 3-1-0 to take some momentum into the break. While they started off the week with a loss to Columbus, they rattled off three straight, beating the Canes, Blackhawks, and Bruins to take six out of eight possible points on the week. While the Rangers have appeared to have slipped outside of the playoff picture, it remains to be seen what mindset their management has about the standings situation.
Another team that sadly put together a good week (second best in the division) is the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers taking all six points this week, coupled with the Devils futility was enough to push Philadelphia out of the Metro basement. Minnesota, Montreal and Boston all fell to the Flyers this week and again, another team goes into a bye week with a fair bit of momentum for when they come back.
New Jersey Devils
Another miserable week for our New Jersey Devils, in which they repeated last week’s dismal 1-3-0 record. I feel like I’ve written enough about these games this week, hopeful prior to them, and down on them after the losses, so I’m not going to say much more. One win against Chicago while dropping games to the Jackets, Isles and Ducks is unacceptable. Taylor Hall can’t return soon enough.
It’s an interesting week to ask for your predictions due to the small numbers of teams actually in action, so instead I’ll ask who has surprised you the most (either good or bad) in the Metro now as approach the All Star break? Which of these teams will be buying in the next month and which will be selling? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below and thanks as always for reading!