It is early but I am deciding to kick off the Sunday tradition with the Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot today. Normally, I like to wait for a full week of games. But with the division projected to be a dogfight for all eight teams, there is no time like the present to have a regular reminder of where everyone is at and what is coming up next for them.
As is also tradition for the snapshot, the headline photo is for the team that is leading the division at the time of the snapshot. That is why you see Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals in the headline photo. Yes, this is a New Jersey Devils blog. But for the purposes of the snapshot, this is a Metropolitan Division based post. By the way, there is no rule saying I have to pick a flattering photo. I decided to be nice for the first snapshot this season.
Anyway, the Capitals played the most games out of all eight teams in the division and nearly swept the week. So in this rather short week to start the season, they are the early leaders. Expect plenty of movement as everyone plays more games. Here is how the division looks after last night’s games:
Here is the upcoming schedule for all eight teams. With two exceptions, everyone will be considerably busier in this coming week. Games in bold and in yellow are games within the Metropolitan Division:
Let’s go over the week that was and the week that will be for all eight teams in the Metropolitan Division. For this week, I will include a link to each team’s blog on SB Nation. As it is a new season, it is important to re-acquaint ourselves of places where the team is discussed online. Of course, you know this is the site to keep on visiting throughout the year. We are indeed all about the Devils.
SB Nation Blog: Japers’ Rink
What They Did in the Last Week: Washington had the busiest start to the season. They were the visitors in St. Louis as the Blues raised their first ever Stanley Cup banner. They had to go to Long Island to visit the Islanders and then host Carolina in their home opener. The good news for the Caps is that they were nearly perfect. They spoiled the Blues’ banner raising with an overtime win. They edged the Isles 2-1 at Nassau. The only downside was dropping their home opener in overtime to the Canes with a little less than a minute left. The Caps had a power play in OT but could not convert. Still, five out of six points is an excellent way to start the season. So is standing atop of the division in the first snapshot of the season.
What is Coming Up This Week: The Capitals will get familiar with Dallas. They will take care of their two games with the Stars this week. First, they’ll host them on Tuesday. Second, they will visit them on Saturday. Right in the middle, on Thursday, is a trip to Nashville. These games are not easy ones as the Central Division squads are likely scratching their way towards any points right now. That division could be as tight as the Metropolitan. Fortunately for Washington, the two road games are it for this week. They’ll go back home in the following week for a short homestand.
New York Rangers
SB Nation Blog: Blueshirt Banter
What They Did in the Last Week: The New York Rangers sent their new-look roster on home ice on Thursday night to host Winnipeg in their home opener. In a game where defense was seemingly optional, the Rangers came on top of a goal-fest with a 6-4 victory. The Rangers then traveled up to Ottawa for their home opener. The Blueshirts spoiled that with a decisive 4-1 win. With 2 regulation/overtime wins (ROW) plus a +5 goal differential, the tie-breaker system has them sitting at second place in the Metropolitan. Any Rangers fan could not ask for a better start to the season than this.
What is Coming Up This Week: A lot of downtime. The Rangers do not play again until next Saturday when they host Edmonton in an afternoon game. I did a double-take when I saw their schedule. They seriously have six days off in the second week of the regular season. And the Rangers will get another four days off after that one. Their schedule does not pick up until the 17th. I would enjoy the time off and extra practice time now. Everyone plays 82 games, so a light start means the schedule gets much heavier somewhere else. It also means they will have plenty of games in hand on the rest of the division in the short term. There is that at least.
SB Nation Blog: Canes Country
What They Did in the Last Week: The Carolina Hurricanes took care of business in their two games last week. They needed to go beyond regulation in both of them. In their home opener, they beat out Montreal in a shootout. Given that Montreal may challenge for a wild card spot, Metropolitan teams should try to avoid giving Montreal, Florida, and Buffalo extra points to help them. But, hey, the Canes won it so they got two. The Canes took Washington to overtime in their home opener and won with less than minute remaining in the five-minute period. The 3-2 win is their first ROW of the season and puts them right near the top. The next goal is to win a game entirely in regulation.
What is Coming Up This Week: Carolina cannot fully enjoy their overtime victory over Washington. They have to host Tampa Bay at 5 PM today. Yes, their first weekend is a back-to-back at Washington and versus Tampa Bay. Talk about a tough start. But a result against the Bolts today would make an early and strong statement that the Canes are no fluke. After that, they’ll go visit another old Southeastern Division foe in Florida on Tuesday. Carolina will return to Raleigh for a home back-to-back within the division: the Islanders on Friday and Columbus on Saturday. Of the four games, the last two could help themselves - and some other teams in the division - the most. It is telling that I think they could win three of these games and maybe even four if things go their way. It remains exciting to be a Canes fan these days.
SB Nation Blog: Broad Street Hockey
What They Did in the Last Week: Philadelphia “hosted” Chicago in their first game of this season. As part of the 2019 Global Series, this game was played in Prague. It was not a traditional home game for the Flyers. Nevertheless, they held on late to win 4-3. One game, one win, and maybe some new fans made in the Czech Republic.
What is Coming Up This Week: Philadelphia will have their actual home opener on Wednesday when they host New Jersey. That is a rivalry game and at the least it will be a heated one. It will also be their last home game for the next ten days. Philadelphia begins a road trip through Western Canada on Saturday when they visit Vancouver. The trip through British Columbia and Alberta is always a tough one. At least Philly will get it out of their way early in their schedule.
SB Nation Blog: PensBurgh
What They Did in the Last Week: Pittsburgh started their season at home. They hosted Buffalo and lost 3-1 in regulation. That was not an ideal way to start the season. The fans on opening night were surely unhappy. The Penguins did find a way to make up for it. Last night, they hosted Columbus and absolutely pasted them in a 7-2 rout. The Penguins are now sitting at 1-1-0 and behind Philly due to the games played tie-breaker. Better to be at 1-1-0 than, say, 0-1-1.
What is Coming Up This Week: Pittsburgh will continue and finish a four-game homestand that begins their schedule. On Tuesday, they will host Winnipeg and on Thursday, they will host Anaheim. The Penguins will play in their first road game on Saturday when they visit Minnesota. They need to be careful. Not only is it their first time away from home this season, but they have to go to Winnipeg next Sunday. It is a back-to-back weekend on the road. For their sake, they should try to bank whatever they can at home.
New Jersey Devils
SB Nation Blog: You are already here. Thank you for being here.
What They Did in the Last Week: The New Jersey Devils fans were extremely hyped and excited when they hosted Winnipeg on Friday. They knew they played the night before and the Devils had a lot of new faces in the lineup to make the offense at least that much better. They did so with four goals - in the first two periods. Then the Devils slowly but surely collapsed. Before the third period was close to over, they lost the four-goal lead. Which is a rare and terrible occurrence. They could not salvage the game late or in overtime and the Devils lost in a shootout. It was a heartbreaking disappointment of a home opener. It was also a lot better than their first road game on Saturday, which was in Buffalo. The Devils got creamed in a 7-2 loss. They are outside of the basement due to the post-regulation point. One could argue that is better to be at 0-1-1 than, say, 0-2-0.
What is Coming Up This Week: The Devils will have three days off before another back-to-back set of games. They will head to Philadelphia on Wednesday for Philly’s actual home opener. Rivalry games are always heated and they mean more than just the two points. No matter how it goes, the Devils will need to re-focus on Edmonton on Thursday night. Hopefully, they can redeem themselves in front of the home fans. After that, the Devils will head up to Boston for a Saturday night affair. Playing three games in four nights is never easy. It is harder when the team is still looking for their first win.
New York Islanders
SB Nation Blog: Lighthouse Hockey
What They Did in the Last Week: The New York Islanders had only one game last week: they hosted Washington at Nassau Coliseum. They lost to Washington, 2-1. That is not a bad score on paper. It could be argued as a respectable defeat. It is still a defeat so they open the season at 0-1-0.
What is Coming Up This Week: Unlike their cross-city rivals, the Islanders will be busy with four games this week. They will host Winnipeg tonight and then host Edmonton on Tuesday. They will have two days off before they head to Carolina on Friday night for the first half of a back-to-back set. The second half is back at Nassau for a Saturday night game with Florida. I would expect them to pick up a win somewhere in this coming week. They will not be short on chances.
Columbus Blue Jackets
SB Nation Blog: The Cannon
What They Did in the Last Week: The Columbus Blue Jackets opened their season with a back-to-back set, like New Jersey. They had their home opener on Friday and their first road game on Saturday, like New Jersey. They got beaten decisively in their home opener 4-1 by Toronto, unlike New Jersey. They were destroyed 7-2 by Pittsburgh last night, similar to New Jersey. The Blue Jackets are the last place team in the first snapshot of the season - also unlike New Jersey.
What is Coming Up This Week: The Blue Jackets will have to dust themselves off and try again on Monday night. They will host Buffalo in an effort to get their first win. If that does not work, then they will have another home game on Friday as they host Anaheim. Columbus will go to Carolina on the very next night. At least Columbus will have three days off to prepare for the back-to-back set after the Buffalo game. However, they will be battling to get their first win.
That closes the first Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2019-20 season. This coming week will be the first full week of games for just about everyone - Rangers excepted since they only have the one - so there will be more to look at next Sunday. Still, the season has begun. What are your thoughts on the Metropolitan Division? Who will lead the Metropolitan Division next week? Who has the most to prove in this week coming up? 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.