November has just started and the Metropolitan Division is led by the Washington Capitals. They became the first team in the division to crack the 20-point mark and continue to look down on everyone else in the division. To that end, they know there is a new and growing threat from Nassau County. A threat that cannot be touched at the moment because they are just too hot to stop.
Both Washington and the New York Islanders swept their week to be #1 and #2 in the division. Mathematically, the Isles could catch the Caps with their games in hand. That will have to wait as everyone in the division has three games coming up in this week. The games within the division are in bold and highlighted in yellow.
This coming Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday is where the action will be as the other days of the week will be sparse. Only New Jersey will be on the road for the whole week.
Let’s go over the week that was and the week that will be for all eight teams in the Metropolitan Division.
The Washington Capitals continue to reign in the Metropolitan Division as they swept another week. It was just two games but wins are wins and the Caps earned both. Last Tuesday, they went into Toronto. It was a tough one but the Capitals pulled out a 4-3 overtime win thanks in large part to Alex Ovechkin. He had a four point night including the equalizer that led to overtime and the overtime winner itself. Their second game of the week was last Friday at home to Buffalo. This was not dramatic at all, Washington crushed Buffalo 6-1. The two wins were enough to secure first in the division for this week’s snapshot.
Washington will host Calgary today to further increase their hold on the division. After a three day break, they will visit Florida on Thursday night and then return back home to host Vegas. The Caps enter this week with three straight wins and the best road record in the NHL at 7-1-1. More than anything else, they just need to keep the good times rolling. Provided the team behind them cools off at some point.
New York Islanders
The New York Islanders were the hottest team in the NHL in last week’s snapshot. They still are. They won all three of their games to extend their winning streak to nine. They took down Philadelphia 5-3 last Sunday. In a back-to-back set with Tampa Bay at home and Buffalo on the road, they ended it 5-2 and 1-0, respectively. As with a lot of teams on a winning streak, it just all goes their way. Goaltending, scoring, defense, and probably quite a few bounces. Sweeping last week plus Carolina’s slip up last night was enough for them to pull into second place. If nothing else, they have jumped far ahead of the middle of the division for the time being with this run. Let us see if they can pressure the Capitals and keep up (or ahead) of the Hurricanes.
To do that, the Islanders will have to keep the winning going in Brooklyn. All of their home games have been at Nassau. However, they do still play some home games at Barclays Center. As I understand it, they will play their first one in Brooklyn on Tuesday when they host Ottawa. That is a fine team to get used to the home away from home. They’ll stay there all week as they will host Pittsburgh on Thursday and Florida on Saturday at Barclays as well. If it turns out poorly, then at least they will return to Nassau next week. All the same, the team is so hot that I would not expect a massive sudden drop off. At least not anytime soon.
The Carolina Hurricanes wrapped up a four-game home stand with three games in this past week. It was almost perfect for them. The Canes edged Calgary 2-1 last Tuesday. On Friday night, they hosted hapless Detroit and smashed them in a 7-3 win. Their chance to sweep the week would come last night when they hosted New Jersey, who was winless in their last three and had not won a road game this season. The Hurricanes went up first, fell behind, came back, fell behind again, and - yes - stayed behind. Carolina lost to the Devils 5-3 in their building; their second regulation home loss of the season and their first at home since Columbus did it to them on October 12. A 2-1-0 week is still quite good and enough to have won the week. But the loss last night plus the Isles’ continued winning bumped them down to third for the moment.
Carolina will not on a road trip in this coming week but they will be away from Raleigh twice in their three games coming up. On Tuesday, the Canes will visit Philadelphia. I am sure they would like to bounce back with a result within the division. If not then, they can take care of business at home on Thursday against the New York Rangers. Carolina will end their week in Kanata, Ontario when they visit Ottawa. That should at least yield one win. Taking back second place for next week’s snapshot is possible - assuming the Isles’ streak ends at some point.
Pittsburgh had a potential of four points to earn last week and they took three. They surely satisfied and pleased their fanbase last Tuesday. They hosted their hated rivals, Philadelphia, and absolutely steamrolled them. The Penguins laid a smack down on the Flyers with a 7-1 win. After some time off, the Pens went back to work at home when they hosted Edmonton yesterday afternoon. Despite putting up 52 shots on net, they could only get one. Edmonton could also only get one in regulation but scored a goal in overtime for the win. Sometimes you just run into a supremely hot goaltending performance and the Penguins were that team on Saturday. Even with the 2-1 OT loss, it was a positive week and enough for the Pens to stay ahead of Philly and Columbus while also keeping a little close to Carolina.
The Penguins will have two tough road games coming up in their three-game week. They will go to Boston on Monday night to take on the current leaders of the Atlantic Division. Boston has yet to lose in regulation at home this season. Good luck to Pittsburgh. As noted earlier, the Pens will visit the Islanders in Brooklyn on Thursday. Pittsburgh will likely be hoping that the Isles finally lose a game before Thursday as to not run into literally the hottest team in the NHL. After those two, they will have a home game on Saturday with Chicago. Not that any team is any easy opponent but it may be welcomed after those two.
The Philadelphia Flyers were kind of all over the place in this past week. They were soundly beaten by the Islanders last Sunday, 5-3. They were embarrassed by Pittsburgh in a 7-1 loss. They saved face on Friday night by ending another (small) lead by New Jersey, forcing a shootout, and winning said shootout. They had a chance to take another win against Toronto last night. That game was also taken to a shootout and it went way beyond the normal three rounds. It went eleven rounds and Toronto won it, so the Flyers lost 4-3 in that one. Their back-to-back set provided three out of four points but that followed two games where they earned nothing. Fortunately for them, Columbus stumbled more so the Flyers actually moved up to fifth.
Philadelphia will try to get things more on track in this coming week. They will host Carolina on Tuesday, which may be a good measuring stick game for them. A game where the Flyers can see whether they can hang with one of the better teams in the division. On Thursday, the Flyers will host Montreal and on Saturday, they will travel to Toronto. Perhaps they will get some revenge on Saturday night? Who knows with the Flyers. They are talented enough to compete with most teams but they do not always get the results people expect of them.
It was not a good week for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Not at all. Three days after suffering a 7-4 loss last Saturday, Columbus had three days to prepare for a home game against Edmonton. It did not matter much as Edmonton bounced them and the Blue Jackets took a 4-1 loss. The Blue Jackets would at least get a point in a 4-3 overtime loss in St. Louis on Friday. However, that was a game where they led 3-1 and St. Louis clawed their way back with two unanswered goals in the second period and took the game in overtime. Last night, Columbus hosted Calgary and could not score a single goal. The visitors could and did so three times. The Blue Jackets lost at home 3-0 to end the week with one point earned out of a potential six. They fell to sixth and if they are not careful, they could be exposed to the bottom two teams sooner rather than later.
Columbus will need to figure it out in this week in their three games. They will host Vegas on Tuesday. That would be a good night to make some amends (and score a goal) at home. After that night, the Blue Jackets will go to Arizona on Thursday and Colorado on Saturday. While it is not part of a much larger trip - it is two out of three straight road games and the third is in Montreal next week - those are not easy games. Especially the Colorado game. It will not be an easy time for Columbus to hold onto their position, much less challenge Philly to move up. Then again, no one ever said it is easy in the NHL.
New York Rangers
After ending last week with a big win at home over Buffalo, one could wonder if it would lead to better results in the near future. The Rangers did have a much better week in this past one. It certainly did not start that way. They hosted Boston last Sunday and the B’s dropped them hard in a 7-4 loss for the Blueshirts. But the Rangers rebounded by adding to the continued confused misery of Tampa Bay with a 4-1 win. Yes, the New York Rangers beat Tampa Bay 4-1 in regulation. That would not be their biggest feat. Last night, they went to Nashville - a place where few teams have left with a win in this season. The Rangers more than held their own. They edged the Preds in their building with a 2-1 regulation win. The Rangers went 2-1-0 in this past week, they have games in hand on everyone in the division, and they are just two behind Columbus. They may still be re-building but they are in a position to stay away from the basement for a bit longer.
The Rangers will get to play three games in the next five days. On Monday, they will host Ottawa - a game the Isles may keep an eye on since they will play Ottawa on the next night. The Rangers will get the division’s sole Wednesday game of the week when they host Detroit. That is another potential result. On the very next night, they will go to Raleigh to play the Canes. That might be more difficult than Detroit and Ottawa. Still, the loss to Boston did not demoralize them and that is a win for a team that may not have much to play for later this season.
New Jersey Devils
Once again, the Devils started this week off with time off. They did not play last weekend and would not play until last Wednesday. They hosted Tampa Bay, who played and lost the night before. The game was loaded with goals. Unfortunately, the Devils built up a 5-3 lead in the third period and lost that within the same period. Fortunately, Kyle Palmieri completed a hat trick by scoring with seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Unfortunately, the Devils lost there for a final score of 7-6 and continued disappointment in the team. On Friday, the Devils hosted their second rivals Philadelphia. The Devils did not build up a large lead but did have two one-goal leads against them. Those were also spoiled. The Devils did not lose in overtime but did lose in a shootout against them for a 4-3 final result. Last night, the Devils played their road game since October 12 when they visited Carolina. The score went back and forth but a near-miracle happened: the Devils went up 4-3 in the third period and managed to hold onto it. Even better, they scored an empty net goal to seal the win at 5-3. The Devils won their first road game of the season, they broke a three-game winless streak, and they are now 3-1-2 in their last six. While it was not done ideally at all as they could have won all three games outright, the Devils did at least win the week in the standings by going 1-0-2 for four out of six points earned.
Saturday’s game in Carolina was the first of a five game road trip for the Devils. It was their only game on the trip to be in America as the team will be playing in Canada until next Sunday. These trips are never easy for anyone and the teams involved are hardly scrubs. The Devils will visit Winnipeg on Tuesday and hope for some revenge for the home opener. The Devils will have a back-to-back set in Alberta on Thursday and Friday; they’ll visit Calgary first and then visit Edmonton second. If the team still has hopes of fighting for a playoff spot, then they need to get some wins out of this week - no matter how hard it may seem. Getting that first road win out of the way is a step forward. The Devils must keep taking forward steps. Good luck to them.
That closes the fifth Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2019-20 season. Washington remains atop of the division but may need to be a little concerned with the Islanders hotness and Carolina not being entirely out of the picture. Of course, if Washington stays hot themselves, then it is all moot. Pittsburgh is a bit ahead of the others in the middle of the division as Columbus is at risk of falling in with the Rangers and Devils if they do not turn it around soon. Everyone has three games coming up but plenty could change 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 Isles keep on winning? Will the Devils try to pull themselves out of the basement for another week? 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.