The 2021-22 National Hockey League regular season has begun. It is a full 82-game season. The Metropolitan Division is back; Boston and Buffalo are out and Carolina and Columbus have returned. So has the ways of qualifying for the playoffs: finish top three in the division to guarantee a playoff spot. The two teams with the next best records outside of the top three in the Metropolitan and Atlantic Divisions will get in as wild cards. Every game counts now. Therefore, the weekly Metropolitan Division snapshot returns.
For those new to this, this is a weekly feature I post up every Sunday morning. It takes a look at the division standings - a snapshot - after the previous Saturday night’s games. Whoever is in first gets the headline photo. In division order, I go over what each team did in the last week and who they will play in this coming week. If they earned more than half of the potential points from last week’s game, then I state that they “won the week.” Every so often I will mix it up and add some other information that I think may be interesting. For the most part, this post is all about the results and where each team stands on a week-by-week basis. After the Olympic Break (or thereabouts), I will add playoff odds and #1 overall pick odds as by then those efforts will matter more. (Know this: the points a team drops in October and November will be regretted in March.) Lastly, all standings and schedule information comes from NHL.com.
Now, ahead of the first full week of the season, this is where things stand in the Metropolitan after Saturday night’s games:
This is what each team has coming up for this week for the five days of the week that actually involve the Metropolitan Division teams. Games within the division are highlighted and in bold:
Here is the team-by-team breakdown for this week’s snapshot.
What Happened Last Week: Pittsburgh visited the defending champions, Tampa Bay, in the NHL’s season opener. The Penguins were without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. How would they fare? Just fine. Goals from Danton Heinen, Brian Boyle (!), Dominik Simon, Teddy Blueger, Evan Rodrigues, and Bryan Rust made it a 6-2 beating. It was boosted by the last three being empty net goals - thanks, Tampa Bay? - but it was still a big win. On Thursday night, the Penguins stayed in the Sunshine State and visited the Florida Panthers. The Panthers went up early with two goals. Then the comeback was on with Heinen and Jeff Carter converting power plays in the second period to tie it up. A quick two goals from Jake Guentzel and Rodrigues put the Pens up 4-2. However, Aaron Ekblad had other ideas as he scored two later in that period to force overtime. Carter Verhaeghe finished it in OT for the Pens’ first loss of the season. Still, three out of four in Florida was earned. They returned to Pittsburgh last night to host Chicago, who played in New Jersey the night before. Pittsburgh welcomed back Marc-Andre Fleury and the Penguins proceeded to score four straight in the first period, starting with a goal 15 seconds in. Fluery was replaced after the fourth goal by the pictured Heinen. At that point, Chicago was playing for consolation as the Penguins cruised to a 5-2 win. Congratulations to head coach Mike Sullivan for setting the record for wins by Penguins coaches.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Last night’s game sure was welcomed by the locals. They should gear up to have the Penguins around for a while. That game against Chicago begins a seven game homestand that ends on November 6. Not only that, but the Pens have a relatively light week with just two games. They will host Dallas on Tuesday and Toronto on Saturday. The Penguins have put themselves in a good position to start this season. As they know all too well, it is all about maintaining form.
SBN Blog: PensBurgh
What Happened Last Week: Carolina began their season at home last Thursday against the Islanders. It was close! Until it wasn’t. The Canes responded to each Islanders goal with two of their own. Eventually, the Isles could not keep up and so Carolina won 6-3 at home. Against Nashville last night, shots were all over the place. Both teams combined for over 70 on net. But the goalies were up for this one as the scoring was relatively low. Jesper Fast scored first to put the Canes up 1-0. But Ryan Johansen responded in the second to tie it up at one. The deadlock continued until Andrei Svechnikov finished a feed from Martin Necas with six minutes left in regulation. Tuevo Teravainen seemingly secured the win with an empty net goal. However, Nashville provided some doubt with a late goal by Filip Forsberg to pull the home team back within one. But the Hurricanes survived the remaining 45 seconds in regulation to win in Nashville 3-2. They remain perfect in the standings for their season.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Carolina ended last week in Nashville. They may return home but they will not play there until the following week. The Canes will have four days without a game before heading up to Montreal on Thursday night. Then Carolina will head South and a bit West to Ohio to visit Columbus. Carolina should be able to get results out of both games. They are among the contenders to take this division, so that should not surprise many of you. The 2-0 start only helps their effort to do so. However, they still have to actually do it. And given Columbus’ also-perfect start to their season, that game may be a bit trickier than it would have seemed prior to the season starting.
SBN Blog: Canes Country
What Happened Last Week: Columbus honored the late Matiss Kivlenieks in their home opener on Thursday. They followed the ceremony by beating the ever living snot out of Arizona. Specifically, their goaltender Carter Hutton as the Blue Jackets scored a touchdown and made the two-point conversion. Alexandre Texier scored 40 seconds in, Oliver Bjorkstand scored two of his own, Boone Jenner scored 35 seconds into the second period, Jake Bean scored his first as a Blue Jacket, Zach Werenski converted a power play in the third, Max Domi scored, and Gustav Nyquist put in the eighth goal of the game for Columbus. 8 goals, 26 shots, an 8-2 win. Goodness. Last night, the Blue Jackets hosted Seattle for the first time ever. This one was a closer affair with just 45 shots between both teams and two goals in regulation. Eric Robinson scored with a little fewer than 10 minutes left in regulation to tie it up at 1. In OT, Patrik Laine scored his first of the season to make it a 2-1 win for the Blue Jackets. The 2-0-0 week places Columbus high up in the standings; a good start to the season for sure.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Columbus’ schedule will get a bit tougher in this coming week. They will visit a re-building Detroit team on Tuesday. That may go well. The following two games will be harder. On Thursday, they will host an Islanders team that may be desperate for results and to re-establish that vaunted identity. On Saturday, they will host a Carolina team that could contend to take this division. Columbus can quell some of doubts about how their season may go if they can get results out of those three games. It may be a rough season, but they are at least showing they may not be the doormats most have predicted them to be.
SBN Blog: The Cannon
What Happened Last Week: The Capitals opened up their season on TNT against the New York Rangers. Some expected Tom Wilson shenanigans. Some wanted blood. What they got was 60 minutes of Washington out-playing the Rangers featuring Alex Ovechkin scoring two goals to pass Marcel Dionne in all-time goals, Hendrik Lapierre scoring his first goal, and the Rangers giving up six power plays - and three power play goals. After the 5-1 win, the Caps had a tougher match-up last night: Tampa Bay. Against the defending champs, it was a more difficult night. Both goaltenders put in their work. Ovechkin scored to open up the scoring late in the second period. However, Tampa Bay tied it up early in the third. With just 15 seconds left in OT, Steven Stamkos beat Vitek Vanecek to hand the Capitals a 2-1 loss in OT. It is still 3 out of 4 points to start the season.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Capitals will be a bit busier this week with three games in five nights starting on Tuesday. The good news is that they will be at home or close to it. On Tuesday, they will host a dangerous Colorado team that has shown they can take care of business without key personnel. On Saturday afternoon, they will host a Calgary team that is making its way through the area. In between, they will visit the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night. The Capitals dominated the season series against the Devils last season. Given that they could start this season a roll, extending the winning streak over New Jersey would help make that possible.
SBN Blog: Japers’ Rink
New York Rangers
What Happened Last Week: Tom Wilson, the Islanders, and the will of James Dolan saw an upheaval in the front office and a roster now infused with character, grit, toughness, and intimidation. This meant absolutely nothing in their season opener in Washington D.C. They did not get any “revenge” for Tom Wilson. They did not play a game that really challenged the Caps as they sank in a 5-1 defeat. In their home opener on Thursday night, the Dallas Stars took it to the Rangers as they put up two goals and held the home team to just a handful of shots. This changed after that second goal, though. Adam Fox scored to get the Rangers within one and Chris Kreider tied it up later in the second period. The Rangers were pushing the play more. However, a Artemi Panarin turnover and a lackadaisical Jacob Trouba allowed Miro Heiskanen to go all three zones to score in OT. The Rangers lost 3-2 to Dallas, but did get a point. New York headed up to Quebec to play Montreal last night. There, things started to click a bit more for the Blueshirts. Amid a penalty-filled period for Montreal, Kreider converted one power play to put the Rangers up first. Within a minute of Jonathan Drouin tying it up, Alexis Lafreniere put the Rangers back ahead 2-1 led by a charge from Adam Fox. Kevin Rooney sealed the a 3-1 win for the Rangers, salvaging what could have been a terrible start to their season.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Rangers will stay on the road for this coming week. They will remain in Canada for a Monday night game against an offensively charged Toronto team. The Rangers will head down South across the border all the way to Tennessee to play the Predators on Thursday night. After that, they will make a quick turnaround back to Ontario as they will visit Ottawa for a 1 PM start on Saturday. The win in Montreal salvaged what could have been a rough start to the season. They still need to be mindful. The Rangers fell behind early last season and never could recover. It could happen again.
SBN Blog: Blueshirt Banter
New Jersey Devils
What Happened Last Week: The Devils hosted Chicago on Friday night. 17 seconds in, Dougie Hamilton scored. Seriously. The Blackhawks would come back with a power play goal of their own early in the second period. It was a sloppy affair from the Devils but it was salvaged by a turnaround shot by Jack Hughes to put the Devils back up a goal going into the third. Andreas Johnsson banged in a shot by Dawson Mercer that Kevin Lankinen did not quite stop to make it 3-1. All’s good, right? No. Mercer was given a double-minor for high sticking after a review. Lankinen was pulled and the Blackhawks got a PPG in the second half of that double minor. Lankinen was pulled again late and the Devils conceded an equalizer within the final minute. Disappointing? Yes. Deflating? Not for the Devils. In OT, a Chicago turnover yielded Ryan Graves making a pass up to Hughes. Hughes proceeded to deke the soul out of Erik Gustafsson, then go around an over-aggressive Lankinen, and then put a backhander past the lazy stick of Patrick Kane for the win. It was beautiful. The Devils won 4-3, avoiding the choking fate of their infamous 2019 season opener.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Devils’ homestand will continue throughout this coming week. They will get to host Seattle for the first time on Tuesday. As Seattle would be in Philly the night before, this is a good time for New Jersey to take advantage. On Thursday, the Devils will host a Washington team they have not beaten since February 2020. They are winless in eight against them; perhaps this is the time it ends. On Saturday night, they will host Buffalo - a team who gave them some issues in the shortened 2021 season, but still a team the Devils should try to prevail over because of the Sabres’ sad state of affairs. If the Devils want to show this season will be an improvement from past seasons, getting points in this coming week would really help that cause.
SBN Blog: All About the Jersey - you’re here now.
What Happened Last Week: On Friday night, the Flyers began their season at home against Vancouver. I do not think this was how the Flyers faithful wanted their season to begin. While Joel Farabee scored first and put the home team up, the Canucks lit up Carter Hart with a four-goal second period with goals by Vasili Podkolzin, Elias Pettersson, Alex Chiasson, and Vancouver’s most productive man of the night, JT Miller. The good news for Philly was that Cam Atkinson did score amid that Canuck wave of goals in the second. Travis Konecny scored a late power play goal in the third period and Claude Giroux provided a dramatic equalizer within the game’s final 100 seconds in regulation. Overtime solved nothing and so a shootout was needed. There, Vancouver took it easily 2-0, leading to the final score of 5-4. At least the Flyers got a point, even if it did nothing to quell their concerns about their goaltending or defense.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Flyers will continue to stay in Philadelphia for this week. On Monday, they will host Seattle for the first time ever. On Wednesday, they will play Boston on TNT, which should make for a good outing. Their week ends with a home game against Florida on Saturday night. Flyers fans should make a point of it to see one of these three games as the Flyers will be away from home in the following week. A sharper performance from the back end would go a long way to help make those three home games successful.
SBN Blog: Broad Street Hockey
What Happened Last Week: The Islanders began their 2021-22 campaign in Raleigh, North Carolina. They struck first against the Canes. Then gave up 2. They tied it up early in the second. Then gave up two more. They pulled within one late in the second. Then the Canes pulled away with two more scores in the third. The Isles lost their first game 6-3. It did not get any easier with a trip to Sunrise, Florida. If anything, it was far worse. The Panthers went up early and never looked back. Sam Bennett rang up a hat trick on the Isles among the five even strength goals the Cats put past Ilya Sorokin. The Isles lost 5-1 and enter this coming week winless.
What’s Coming Up This Week: As the UBS Arena will not be opened for games until November 20, the Islanders will be on the road for a long time. This could be a problem if the losing continues. This week will definitely see the Isles tack on the miles. They will go to Chicago on Tuesday, Columbus on Thursday, and then all the way to Arizona on Saturday night. That game in Arizona is the first of a back-to-back too. Should the Isles be the contenders some make them out to be, then getting results in all three games should be the goal. If only to prevent an actual losing streak at the beginning of their 2021-22 season.
SBN Blog: Lighthouse Hockey
That was the first Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2021-22 season. What do you expect to happen in this week coming up? Will Pittsburgh get passed by as they wait to play? Can Columbus hang with the upper half of the division for another week? Will the Islanders win a game in this coming week? How will the Devils do among the other teams? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the eight teams in the week that was and the week ahead in the comments. Thank you for reading.