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Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot: 12/1/2019 - 12/7/2019

For the ninth weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2019-20 season, the Washington Capitals remain on top; the Philadelphia Flyers made a surprising surge; and the New Jersey Devils were left behind See what each team did last week and what’s next in this week’s snapshot.

Washington Capitals v Detroit Red Wings
Open up and say “Aaaaaaaaaah” for victory
Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

December begins today. While you may be dreading going back to work or school on Monday after a holiday weekend, the eight teams of the Metropolitan Division are savoring this day off in their schedule. Everyone is off after a busy past few days. The Washington Capitals will feel the best among them as they have a near-commanding lead over the other seven teams in the division.

Metropolitan Division Standings as of the morning of December 1, 2019
Metropolitan Division Standings as of the morning of December 1, 2019
Standings via

Technically, the New York Islanders could jump them if they won all four of those games in hand. But that is asking a lot for any team, especially one whose had their epic point streak ended. The surprising team here is Philadelphia as their perfect run last week moved them as high as second place in the division before the Isles won last night. The action in the division will be between second all the way down to maybe even sixth.

The action in the division will be outside of it as there is only one game within the Metropolitan coming up in this week. All of the other games are against the Atlantic Division or the Western Conference. That one game is highlighted and in bold.

Team schedules for 12-01-2019 to 12-07-2019
Team schedules for 12-01-2019 to 12-07-2019
Schedules are from team sites via

Let us go over the week that was and the week that will be for each team in the division.

Washington Capitals

You cannot ask for much better than what the Capitals did in this past week. Three days after losing in a shootout two Saturdays ago, Washington rebounded in a big way. They edged Florida 4-3 at home. They prevailed over Tampa Bay 4-3 in overtime. They pulled away with a 5-2 win in Detroit. Three games, three wins, and with some help from the State of California, they are seven points ahead of second place. At this rate, Washington will only be at risk of losing first place if they hit an extended slump. One does not seem to be in the cards any time soon.

Of course, the State of California may give Washington some trouble. The Caps will be heading west to the left coast to play all three of them this week. As is common for these trips, it will be three games in four nights with a back-to-back set against San Jose and Los Angeles. Anaheim will come a day after the LA game. On paper, the Caps should get results. They’re on a roll and these three teams are hardly world-beaters. But these games can be more difficult than one would expect. Just ask the Islanders.

New York Islanders

The Islanders wrapped up their California trip last week. Two Saturdays ago, they lost in OT to San Jose to keep their point streak going to 17 games. It would be the only point they would get out of the Golden State. Anaheim ended the point streak with a 3-0 shutout loss last Monday. On Wednesday, Los Angeles handed them another decisive 4-1 loss. At least the Isles scored in that one. The Islanders returned to Brooklyn last Saturday to host Columbus. They needed a point to take back second place, which they lost due to those other two losses. They earned two by shutting out Columbus, 2-0. The Isles finished the week - and the month - in second place. But it is by no means safe anymore.

With the point streak over, it will be interesting to see whether the Isles can succeed on a consistent basis amid some losses. They will need to do it on the road as they will be away from New York City for most of this week. It starts off with a back-to-back at Detroit and then at Montreal. Both of those teams have been struggling as of late, so it could be a good way to start Islanders’ week. The Isles will go back to Nassau to play Las Vegas on Thursday. After that, they will start a three-game road trip to close their week. The trip will start in Dallas on Saturday night. The Isles faithful have had a lot of good times in November. But they and the team will quickly realize they need to keep pace in one of the tightest divisions in the NHL. Going 1-2-0 after some very successful weeks almost threw them back in the middle of the division. This week will need to be better to stay ahead of the rest.

Philadelphia Flyers

Now who would have expected to see this? The Flyers had a four-game week and they won all four them. All of them were ROWs. Three of them were in regulation. Their eight points earned had them in second place for a couple of hours yesterday. This run also gave them a small cushion ahead of Pittsburgh and Carolina. To summarize: Philly edged Vancouver 2-1 last Monday, Philly also edged Columbus on the road last Wednesday, Philly laid a 6-1 beating on Detroit, and Philly added to the current misery of Montreal by beating them in overtime 4-3. While only the Detroit game was decided by more than one goal, the standings do not really care much about that. The Flyers went 4-for-4 and earned more than a little respect in the process. This team will keep battling for a guaranteed postseason position with more weeks like that one.

The Flyers will have three home games coming up to extend that winning streak. They are not all easy games. First, they will host Toronto on Tuesday. With a new head coach and a new motivation to be better, that could be a really challenging contest. Second, they will host Arizona. They enter this week second in the Pacific and have a good 8-3-3 road record. Do not sleep on the Yotes. The final game of the week is a potential trap game with Ottawa. They have pulled off some surprising wins. This week is effectively a heat check. If the Flyers are hot and will keep finding ways to get that extra save and extra goal, then they will pass it - and maybe even take second place for next week’s snapshot.

Carolina Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes entered this past week in third and fell to fourth with a split week of results. It started off well enough with a 2-0 win in Detroit. However, the Canes suffered a big set back within the division with a 3-2 loss against the Rangers. In their only home game of the week, they hosted Nashville. Nashville gave them the “gift” of a 3-0 shutout loss. Losing to a lesser Rangers team and then being blanked at home? That made Saturday’s game in Tampa Bay that much more important - and that is not at all an easy game. However, the Canes salvaged their week and soothed some of the fans’ concerns with a 3-2 regulation win over the Bolts. The four points earned kept them from falling down further, but Philly’s hot streak jumped them past the Canes.

The Canes will try to do a little better in this coming week of three games. The first one is a doozy: a road game in Boston. Boston is the king of the Atlantic and they have not lost at home in regulation this season. Good luck to anyone trying to get points from the B’s in Massachusetts. Carolina will be at home for the following two games in this week. On Thursday, they will host a San Jose team that has seemingly righted the ship after a terrible start to this season. On Saturday, Minnesota will visit Raleigh in a game that may be more to the Canes’ speed. In that the Canes’ speed could give them fits. As ever in this season, the Canes will need to battle just to keep pace with the teams around them.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Like Carolina, Pittsburgh split their past week in terms of points by going 2-2-0. Unlike Carolina, they won their home games and lost on the road. The week started in Pittsburgh. The Pens beat Calgary 3-2 in overtime last Monday. They won a very high-scoring affair against Vancouver on Wednesday. A total of 14 goals were scored and the Penguins prevailed 8-6. So far, two wins. That would be it for the week. After Thanksgiving, the Penguins had a road back-to-back. They lost each of them by a score of 5-2. First at Columbus and second at St. Louis. That is not a good way to end any week and so they stayed behind Carolina for another week. With Philly’s success - which I’m sure the Pittsburgh fans have totally noticed - the team is bumped back down to fifth place. They (and Carolina) still have the wild card spots. But it a tight one in the middle of the division.

Pittsburgh will look to perform better with three games coming up. After three days off, the Penguins will have a runback with St. Louis in Pittsburgh. Maybe they will do better in that one. A back-to-back set ends their week. They’ll host Arizona, who would have been in Philly the night before; and they will visit Detroit. The Penguins should be able to beat Detroit. Arizona, again, will be a tougher competitor but the Penguins would have the advantage of not having played a game the night before. Will they make a move up in the standings? Maybe. Will it make them safe? Not likely. Do they need to worry about sixth place? They may want to look a little bit behind them.

New York Rangers

The New York Rangers made it clear last season that they were re-building. After a 3-0-1 week in this past week, the Rangers are sitting three points back of Pittsburgh in the East with two games in hand on them. Yes, the Rangers are currently in the wild card picture. Yes, the Rangers are ahead of Buffalo on tiebreakers and ahead of Montreal and Tampa Bay on points. It was tight but they were an overtime period from sweeping their past week. The Rangers beat Minnesota 3-2 in overtime; they beat Carolina 3-2 in regulation; they took a point against Boston on the road, which is no easy feat; and they embarrassed the Devils 4-0. A win over a rival, two wins within the division, and three wins overall. That is a mighty fine week for a team that may want to feel more ambitious.

In order to be a more serious player in the playoff picture, the Rangers will need to keep getting good results week after week. For this week coming up, they will host Las Vegas on Tuesday; visit Columbus on Thursday; and host Montreal on Friday. Montreal has been struggling so who knows how they will be by the time Friday comes around. That Columbus game could be bigger than you think. It is the only one within the division this week and if the Jackets have any designs on moving on up in the Metropolitan, then it is a big, big game for them. Of course, if the Rangers beat them - especially in regulation - then it could be another stepping stone towards joining the meaty middle of the division. That would be far better than accepting that they will be bad this season and just play for lottery balls from December onward.

Columbus Blue Jackets

In this past week, the Blue Jackets took a step forward and then took a step back with each game. They had four games, so they went 2-2-0. The week started off well with a 1-0 at home over Ottawa. Then they took a step back by suffering a 3-2 loss to the Rangers. That loss directly hurt as it made space between the two teams in the standings. Columbus responded to that with 5-2 win over Pittsburgh at home. A division win is always a plus. Not when it is followed up by a division loss, much less a 2-0 shutout loss against the Islanders in Brooklyn. The split week kept Columbus where they started last Sunday: seventh place and only ahead of the very worst in the East.

Columbus will try to make this coming week better with their three games coming up. They will be hosting Arizona on Tuesday. Again, Arizona is one of the better road teams in the NHL by record. It will not be an easy time for Columbus, but at least they will be at home. They will have a runback with the Rangers on Thursday in Ohio. Perhaps they will be on the right side of a tight game. On Saturday, the team will start a four-game road trip in Sunrise as they will play Florida. This trip will keep them in the East; but it is a trip all of the same. More on that in next week’s snapshot. Should Columbus stay in place for another week, then the fans there may need to start accepting that this could really be their fate for 2019-20.

New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils join the Islanders as one of two teams to not even split their week of results. The Devils took on Minnesota, who played the night prior to their game. They not only lost but they also had a goal scored that should not have counted and the NHL apologized for it. All the same, a 3-2 score that should have been 3-1 is still a loss in the standings. The Devils did rebound on Thanksgiving when they headed up to Montreal. In a game bereft of defense, the offense flexed its muscle by putting up five past a goalie and tacked on empty netter for a feel-good 6-4 win. On the final day of the month, the Devils hosted their hated rivals, the New York Rangers. The day ended with chants for coach John Hynes to be fired, all kinds of booing, and the Devils getting embarrassed in a 4-0 loss. The defeat not only hurt from a pride perspective but also in the standings. The Devils are now four points behind Columbus so it will take a run from them to even get out of last in the division. So it goes.

The Devils will be very busy in this coming week. They have two back-to-back sets where they will travel for half of each. On Monday, they will go up to Buffalo for the second time this season. On Tuesday, they return home to host Las Vegas. After two days off, the Devils will host Chicago on Friday and then begin a four-game road trip on Saturday night in Nashville. These are not easy games. Three of the four teams are in a playoff position and the Devils have proven multiple times this season that they can fall apart to anyone. Time has been running out for the Devils to make a push to get into the outskirts of the playoff picture. With each week, it gets even less and less likely.

That closes the ninth Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2019-20 season. While the Isles could mathematically catch Washington, that is very unlikely. Plus, Washington keeps on rolling. Philadelphia has definitely made a push up the division such that the Isles faithful will need to worry about them. It is not just Pittsburgh and Carolina that need to do so. And should the Rangers have another good week of results, you may see them sneak into fifth place provided Pittsburgh or Carolina falter. The bottom two teams are more stuck at the bottom. They should be desperate. Although they maybe should have been desperate weeks earlier.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts on the Metropolitan Division? Who will stay hot longer, Washington or Philadelphia? Can the Islanders rebound from a poor week? Can the Rangers make a push for fifth place? Can the Devils or Columbus sort themselves out 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.