Ladies and gentlemen it is that time as always on a Sunday, so welcome to the first Metropolitan Division Weekly Snapshot of 2019. The Washington Capitals continue their reign atop the division, although the Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets and new wildcard team the New York Islanders are all close on their heels. Let’s go to the standings and see where everyone is at entering play this week:
While the positions have shuffled a bit (particularly to Pittsburgh winning eight in a row and Philadelphia losing their last six) the divide between teams actively in the postseason hunt and those chasing to make up ground remains. The good news for our New Jersey Devils is that they won their week by picking up four out of six points.
It’s going to be a busy week for the Metropolitan teams with most of them playing in four games out of seven days. The schedule is below with games within the division highlighted in yellow.
While Wednesday is going to be a dull day for this division, Saturday is going to be a blood bath for the standings, as seven teams will be in action with three pairs of them playing against each other! With the number of games within the division this week, there could be some movement if some teams heat up while others cool off. Let’s take a brief look at each team.
It was a relatively poor week for the team who has been leading the Metro for some time now. With a record of 0-2-1 this week, they were not the worst team in the division (more on that later), but only picking up one point with three teams chasing behind them hurts. The Nashville Predators beat them 6-3 at home prior to the Caps dropping a pair of road games to St. Louis and to Dallas in overtime for their lone point.
Washington could have a good rebound week here though, starting today in Detroit. After that they play Philly at home on Tuesday, travel to play Boston on Thursday before ending the week with arguably their toughest match-up at home against Columbus. With said Blue Jackets on their heels, the results of that Saturday game could very well impact the standings, so Washington would be best served trying to pick up points earlier in the week if they hope to maintain the top spot.
Streaking into second in the division by way of eight straight wins are the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are the first of three Metro teams that had a perfect 3-0-0 week. They squeaked out a 3-2 victory in Minnesota before dominating the Rangers 7-2 in New York and then convincingly handling Winnipeg at home 4-0. The strong week combined with the Caps’ misfortune leaves the Penguins only a point behind them, though the Caps have a game in hand.
The Penguins, like most of the Metro, are busy with four games this week. They’ll be home today and Tuesday against Chicago and Florida respectively, which could allow Pittsburgh to keep the wins rolling. They’re inactive after that until Friday when they start a west coast trip with back to back games in Anaheim and then Los Angeles on Saturday. While the Ducks are doing well, the Kings have been struggling all season, so the Pens could see themselves with another strong week very early on in 2019.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets maintained their hold on third in the division (just barely) by compiling a 2-1-0 record. They started the week strong beating Ottawa 6-3, but fell to the Hurricanes 4-2 Friday; they rebounded with an OT victory over Florida last evening which prevented the Islanders from leaping over them.
Columbus has a couple days off now before they play again on Tuesday in Tampa Bay. They will head home to face Nashville on Thursday before traveling to our nation’s capital for a divisional game against the Caps. The Blue Jackets could be in for a very rough week due to the quality of their competition and the fact while they have a win in 2019, it wasn’t convincing. If all does not go well, they could find themselves slipping out of the top three this time next week.
New York Islanders
The second 3-0-0 team this week, the Islanders used those six points to propel themselves into a wild card slot at the end of play last night. They beat Buffalo 3-1 on Monday, Chicago 3-2 in OT Thursday and ended with a 4-3 regulation victory over St. Louis last night. While the Islanders had a lot of question marks surrounding them prior to this season, they continue to prove their critics wrong.
Along with Columbus, they’re the only other team in the division that will play three games instead of four this week. They will clash with the Canes on Tuesday prior to a home and home against the Rangers, in Manhattan on Thursday and in Brooklyn on Saturday. The Islanders could see another strong week here provided they continue their recent string of strong play. If they do, and a team above them stumbles, they could be push someone else down into the wild card while they jump into the top three.
The final 3-0-0 team somewhat surprisingly is the Carolina Hurricanes, though when taking a look back at their week, only one of those Ws is a true surprise. They amassed four of their points during a home and home against the Flyers, winning 3-1 on Monday and 5-3 on Thursday. On the tail end of a back to back, they would soundly defeat Columbus 4-2. The Hurricanes did what they were supposed to do in winning the week, and took it one step further by sweeping it.
Carolina has a chance to gain some ground, but will have to try and do so mostly on the road this week. They will visit Ottawa tonight before heading off to face the Islanders on Tuesday. A trip to Florida to face off with the Lightning awaits them on Thursday before a return home on Friday to host the Sabres. While they currently trail the Isles by nine points, they could close the gap and push themselves towards playoff contention if they stay hot.
New York Rangers
Just a mere two points above us in the standings now are Our Hated Rivals who had a rough week going 1-2-0. They ended 2018 with a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues; 2019 has not been kind to them at all however. The Penguins ran them over 7-2 on Wednesday and the Colorado Avalanche picked apart the remains in a 6-1 decimation on Friday. As such, the Rangers have dropped below Carolina in the standings.
The week ahead could be another rough one for the Rangers, as they will visit Arizona today, and then travel to Vegas on Tuesday. The end of the week sees the aforementioned home and home against the Islanders. With the Isles playing as well as they have been lately, and the Rangers playing unbelievably poorly in their past two games, the end of the week could very well see the Rangers not picking up a lot of points and continuing to fall in the standings. The opposite could occur as well, but the way things are trending right now, there could be trouble in Gotham.
New Jersey Devils
Another winning week for our New Jersey Devils, as well as their second straight 2-1-0 week. New Year’s Eve ended 2018 on a high note, as the MacKenzie Blackwood train kept rolling with a second straight shutout, this time 4-0 over Vancouver. The team fell absolutely flat in front of him, and yet thanks to some awful goals allowed by Ben Bishop, they still almost salvaged their next game, but Dallas would pull away and win in regulation 5-4. The Devils bounced back a bit on Friday and won their first shootout of the year in a 3-2 victory in Arizona.
The road trip concludes this week with stops in Vegas and Buffalo today and Tuesday respectively. Jersey’s Team will then come home for games against Toronto on Thursday and the Second Rate Rivals on Saturday. With a game every other day, the Devils could improve their standing drastically provided that they have a good week. There are a couple of tough opponents in the mix however, so it will be interesting to see where the Devils stand next week. The health of Blackwood could be the deciding factor in if the Devils have a good or bad week.
John spoke in the final snapshot of 2018 about how the Flyers had a chance to make up some ground due to the fact that they were playing four games. To the delight of Devils fans everywhere, they completely dropped the ball, losing back to backs in Carolina and Nashville before going home, getting beaten by Carolina again and finally salvaging a mere point in an OT loss to Calgary. They had the worst week of anyone in the division (0-3-1) and now sit alone at the bottom of the Metro.
The Flyers will play St. Louis at home on Monday before visiting the Caps on Tuesday. They will also host Dallas on Thursday before heading into New Jersey to get beaten up by our Devils. The middle two games will be the most difficult, but out of all five teams mentioned in this section, the Flyers have the worst record and could be in for another rough week. If that winds up being the case, then by next Sunday, there could be another division standings divide, this time between seventh and eighth place; Devils fans let’s hope this is the case!
Another week of season has come and gone and now there’s a big week coming up for the entire Metropolitan division. 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 two more road games follow by two at home? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below and thanks as always for reading!