As the halfway mark of October has past, the Metropolitan Division has seen some quick changes. Some teams that stumbled out of the gate improved their stock. Two teams literally stayed in place with their record so they fell. And the top is a three-way tie led by the Pittsburgh Penguins thanks to ROW. Sweet, sweet, ROW. Here is the Metropolitan Division standings snapshot after Saturday’s games:
Here is the upcoming schedule for all eight teams. Pittsburgh and Washington fans, enjoy the television as your teams are on the road. New Jersey fans, enjoy the time off. There are only two games within the division taking place and both involve Columbus. Those two games are in bold and highlighted in yellow:
Let’s go over the week that was and the week that will be for all eight teams in the Metropolitan Division.
They were hot all the way until Saturday. The Pens took care of business in their first three games in a four-game week. They crushed Winnipeg in their building 7-2. They edged Colorado in overtime, 3-2. Friday night saw them prevail 4-2 over Dallas. Unfortunately the winning stopped when they hit a wall named Marc-Andre Fleury. The ex-Penguin legend shut out his former team as Vegas cruised to a 3-0 win in Pittsburgh last night. The Pens’ winning streak ended at five games. However, the three wins in regulation and overtime gave them the tiebreaker to lead the Metropolitan Division for this week’s snapshot.
The Penguins will be away from Pennsylvania for their games coming up this week. They will have a back-to-back in the Sunshine state with games against Florida and Tampa Bay. With both teams not being so hot at home so far in this young season, Pittsburgh could pick up some points in that set. They will end their week with a game in Dallas. As Dallas has been struggling to start this season, the Penguins may very well sweep their season set. They could very well stay atop the division unless the #2 team gets hot.
I am not entirely sure how Washington is listed as second given that Carolina has one more win than them. But it is what it is at NHL.com so it is what it is here. No matter, they both have twelve points. Washington also had the better week. After stumbling with a 6-3 defeat to Colorado in D.C., the Caps rebounded in their other two games. They edged Toronto in a 4-3 win and beat a Rangers squad that played and lost the night before, 5-2. Going 2-1-0 may not be ideal for some fans but it is a pace that wins weeks and keeps teams high up in the standings.
The following week will be a real test for the Capitals. They will go off on a five-game road trip with four of those games coming up in the next seven days. It will also take them to Western Canada, which is hardly an easy place to get results. Just ask Philadelphia. Tonight, the Capitals will visit Chicago. On Tuesday, they will head to Calgary. On Thursday and Friday, they will visit Edmonton and Vancouver back-to-back. Should Washington get hot and run through those teams, then by virtue of playing more games than anyone else this week they could take the division by next week’s snapshot. That is a lot easier said than done.
While Pittsburgh and Washington are making travel plans, the Carolina Hurricanes have been on the road. They went to California and found out that it was not going to be a surge of success. It started off well enough with 2-0 victory over Los Angeles. Then they got pantsed by a struggling San Jose squad 5-2 on the very next night. On Friday night, they went to Orange County and were handed a lemon and a 4-2 loss by Anaheim. The Canes suffered their first losing week of the season and, somehow, are in third. They are in a good place in the division but it was a stumble.
The Canes will have to make the most of their few games to avoid a gap in the standings forming between them and Washington and Pittsburgh. They will have plenty of time to prepare for those games too. They do not play again until this coming Thursday when they play Columbus, who picked it up in this past week. The Hurricanes will return to Raleigh for an afternoon game with Chicago next Saturday to close out their week.
The best cure for a start of the season where the team falls on their face is a winning streak. The New York Islanders found that out as they swept this week and ended it with four straight victories. It was dramatic at times as the three wins did involve two wins in overtime. Specifically a 3-2 OT win over the defending Stanley Cup champions, St. Louis, in Nassau and a 3-2 OT win over division-opponents Columbus in Ohio. Sandwiched in the middle is a 3-1 regulation win. Three wins, three ROW, and in a position to crack the top three. That is an excellent week no matter how you look at it.
The Isles will get some time off instead of getting to keep the good times rolling. After four days off, they will have a back-to-back set on Thursday and Friday. On Thursday, they will host Arizona - a game New Jersey fans should hope tires out the visitors. On Friday, the Islanders will head up to Ottawa and take on a hapless squad. Those back-to-back sets can be tricky but points are indeed possible. Who knows? They may break into the top three by next week. Or at least stay within striking distance.
Technically, the Columbus Blue Jackets won their week. They earned four out of a possible six points. That’s a win. They probably wished they made it six points and two of those four points came in overtime losses. After Columbus beat Dallas at home 3-2 on Wednesday night, the Jackets fell in Chicago 3-2 in OT and to the aforementioned Islanders last night. It is a step in the right direction compared to their first two weeks. Their reward is a move up to fifth place and breathing on the necks of the Isles.
The Blue Jackets will have some say in how the division shapes up for next week’s snapshot. After they visit Toronto on Monday night, they will play in the only two games within the Metropolitan Division in this week. They will host Carolina on Thursday and could take them down a peg. They will visit Philadelphia on Saturday night and be in a position to make life more miserable for them. Even if they end up in fourth or fifth by the week’s end, both are games that could have some short-term impact in terms of where teams are. Fans of other teams around them can make your claim as to what you would prefer.
It has not been good to be a Devils fan. After blowing a three-goal lead with five unanswered goals to Florida, the Devils ended up being the last winless team in the NHL. But just like the Islanders and Columbus, the best response to all of the losing is to get some wins. They finally won their game of the season on Thursday night against the hated New York Rangers. They did not blow a lead. They dropped them 5-2. The four-point swing put them in a position to move out of last place with a result over Vancouver on Saturday afternoon. They achieved that with a 1-0 shutout win. The Devils still have plenty of ground to make up. But they won their first game, won this past week, and they are sitting in sixth place after a disastrous loss to start last week. That is a good first step as any.
The Devils will get to rest as they only have one game coming up this week. They will host Arizona on Friday. Needless to say, the Devils should try their best to win that one. Not only is it their only game coming up but Arizona will play on Long Island the night before. It is a favorable match-up on paper. The Devils may slip a bit in the standings from being idle but a victory would still show the fans that the team could be heading out of their incredibly terrible start to 2019-20.
I think Philadelphia may be the most confusing team in the division. On paper, they could hang with the top teams. In practice, they find a way to underwhelm. Just as Columbus and New Jersey rose from their poor starts, the Flyers managed to enter a free fall in this past week. They went to Alberta and left with nothing. Calgary decisively beat them 3-1. Edmonton decisively beat them 6-3. Philadelphia went home on Saturday night to play Dallas and lost 4-1 to them, handing Dallas their second win of the season. That is three straight regulation losses by at least two goals after a 2-0-1 start. No one ever said supporting the Orange and Black was easy.
Philly will get back at it fairly soon and use up some of the games in hand they have on other teams in this week. They will host Vegas on Monday, which may be tricky as the same team just shut out a hot Penguins team last night. The Flyers will head to Chicago on Thursday night, which is the end of a five-game homestand for Chicago. It will not be an easy one. The Flyers will return home on Saturday night to play Columbus in a game that Philly may want to try really hard to win to move themselves up soon. We shall see soon if this past week was just a bad week or the start of a real slump.
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers have played all of three games in the last two weeks. They have lost all three of them. In this past week, they did have a back-to-back set after plenty of time to prepare. They both ended with the same result: a 5-2 loss in New Jersey and a 5-2 loss in Washington D.C. You hate to see it but it is what it is. By earning zero out of four points, the Blueshirts are now last in the Metropolitan Division for this week’s snapshot. They do have plenty of games in hand on everyone else. Will they get points out of those games in hand is another question entirely.
The good news is that the Rangers will be playing a more regular schedule in this coming week. They will have three games coming up; and they will play at least three games every week until the middle of December. They have a favorable home afternoon game with Vancouver today. Vancouver did play and lose in New Jersey yesterday afternoon, so the Rangers could end the slide there. If not, they will host Arizona on Tuesday and Buffalo on Thursday in an attempt to get results.
That closes the third Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2019-20 season. The schedules are still all over but we should see some normalcy by next week’s snapshot. What are your thoughts on the Metropolitan Division? Who will lead the Metropolitan Division by next week’s snapshot? Who has the most to prove in this week coming up? Will the Devils win their one game? Will Philadelphia or the Rangers end their losing streak? How long will the Islanders extend their winning streak? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the eight teams in the division, what they did, and what is coming up for them in the comments. Thank you for reading.