For the first time since the first Metropolitan Division snapshot of the season, there is a team in this division with fewer than 50% of points earned. Yes, it took about a month since a team in this division had more non-wins than wins. That first snapshot had the New York Islanders at 0% with a 0-2-0 record. The Islanders return to this zone and so finish bottom of the division. Of course, they are not far at all from getting back to 50% and upward because this division has no scrubs in it. Islanders included.
At the top of the division is a Carolina Hurricanes team with just two marks against them in sixteen games. If any one of the eight fanbases in the Metropolitan has to be thankful, the Canes supporters have the most to be thankful for. Even if the Thanksgiving Rule of Thumb is not entirely true, a lot would have to go wrong for the Hurricanes to fall out of a playoff position. Everyone else, well, there are some haves and have nots. The gap between them is still not very large, but there is a gap. Here is what the standings look like as of now:
Thursday is Thanksgiving in America and so the NHL is off for the whole day. But they will be very active on Thanksgiving Eve and Black Friday. In fact, the New York Rangers’ game against Boston will be on ABC on Friday afternoon as the 2021 NHL Thanksgiving Showdown. There are also some tantalizing intra-division games, which are highlighted in bold and yellow:
What follows is the team-by-team breakdown for this week’s snapshot.
What Happened Last Week: Carolina began a six-game road trip to the Western side of the country this week. This half of the trip went quite well for the Canes, even if the games were close. On Tuesday night, Carolina would prevail in Las Vegas as rookie Seth Jarvis broke a 2-2 tie early in the third and Vincent Trocheck provided insurance for a 4-2 win. On Thursday, Carolina took on a very hot Anaheim team that won its eight previous games. While Troy Terry managed to put up another point (16 games!), the Canes edged the Ducks with a 2-1 win thanks to Ethan Bear’s first goal and another from the rookie Jarvis. Yesterday, Carolina engaged in a goal fest for the first two periods against Los Angeles. The two teams traded two goals each in the first period. The same happened in the second period until Martin Necas provided a difference maker with 34 seconds left in the second to put the Canes up 5-4. Frederik Andersen stopped all 20 shots (and the Canes were held to just 2?!) in the third period to maintain the score. The Canes swept the first half of their trip, this week, and will continue on with a four-game winning streak. That is why they remain at the top of the Metropolitan Division.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Carolina’s road trip will continue on through to its end. The Western swing of the trip will be wrapped up before Thanksgiving. On Monday night, the Canes will visit San Jose, who have seemingly cooled off from their warm start this season. On Wednesday, Carolina will visit Seattle for the first time. The Kraken are very much an expansion team and so the Canes should be able to dispatch them. The six-game trip will end closer to Raleigh on Friday. They will be in Philadelphia for a 3:30 PM game that could help change the nature of next week’s snapshot. Philly beat them earlier this month in a close one; the Canes may seek some revenge. And they could very well go into it with a six game winning streak as they can definitely beat San Jose and Seattle. Again, Canes fans should be grateful that their team is so dominant so far this season.
SBN Blog: Canes Country
What Happened Last Week: Results. The Capitals got them in all four games last week. Last Sunday, they hosted Pittsburgh and just beat them down. Sidney Crosby returned and the Capitals greeted his return with six goals in a 6-1 win. Crushing. After that, the Capitals went to California for the remainder of the week. On Tuesday, they nearly took down a hot Anaheim team before Carolina did. Tom Wilson provided an equalizer within the final three minutes of regulation to force overtime at 2-2. However, Trevor Zegras took it in OT and so the Capitals left Orange County with a point. In Los Angeles, they would get two. Garnet Hathaway scored two goals, which were the only two goals for Washington and the whole game. Ilya Samsonov shut out the Kings for the 2-0 win. Last night, the Capitals were in the Bay Area to play San Jose. Samsonov was perfect again. He stopped all 22 shots as the Capitals put four up on the Sharks - led by a brace from Alexander Ovechkin. He is now, coincidentally, 22 goals away from Jaromir Jagr on the all-time list. With last night’s win, the Capitals took 7 out of a potential 8 points this week and remain hot on Carolina’s tail in the standings. Yes, the Capitals are still very, very good.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Washington will return home after ending their road trip tonight. Fresh off that game in San Jose, they will head up North to visit Seattle. On paper, the Capitals should prevail. The game is played on ice, though. After that one, Washington will return to D.C. for their next two games. Before Thanksgiving, they will play a Montreal team that has been horrid this season. After Thanksgiving, they will play one of the best teams in the league in Florida. The Capitals could very well win this coming week before Friday’s game. They may have to because the Panthers can hang with just about anyone. But if any team can make it happen, it is this one.
SBN Blog: Japers’ Rink
New York Rangers
What Happened Last Week: The Rangers were originally set to play four games this week. They would play three. Ottawa has suffered from an apparent COVID-19 outbreak that had up to 10 players and a coach on protocol. The NHL stepped in and postponed their games this week. This meant the Rangers-Senators game for November 20 will be re-scheduled. For the games they did play, the Rangers had a winning week. Against the New Jersey Devils, they would blow a 3-2 lead late in the third period that saw a rival team get a point. But in a seven-round shootout, the Rangers ended up victors for a 4-3 final. On Tuesday, the Rangers held on at home to a one-goal lead against Montreal. And it worked for a 3-2 victory. With the Ottawa postponement, the Rangers’ week ended on Thursday in Toronto. Morgan Reilly scored two and that would be enough to hold off the Rangers. Dryden Hunt scored his first of the season but that would be it for New York in a 2-1 loss. Still, the Rangers went 2-1-0 and remain in third place in the division with a bit of a cushion. Had they played and beat Ottawa, it would be an even bigger lead. But it is still a lead for now.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Rangers will have an interesting week of three games coming up. Tonight, they will host Buffalo. Buffalo has not been all that bad and can put up a game against many teams. It will not be an easy one. Wednesday night will absolutely not be an easy game. Not only will the Rangers play their hated rivals in the New York Islanders, it is the first Rangers-Islanders game at the new UBS Arena. The new arena will be packed and incredibly loud. It will be a hostile environment for the Manhattan team. On Friday, the Rangers will be on network television for a 1 PM game in Boston as the 2021 NHL Thanksgiving Showdown. Boston is a good team and they have been especially good at home this season. It is a tough pair of games following their lone home game. If they are not careful, that cushion could go away if they fall apart. Of course, nothing says “We’re legit” like a win over a rival and a win on network TV, both on the road.
SBN Blog: Blueshirt Banter
What Happened Last Week: The Flyers were at home all week. It was not perfect, or even positive in terms of results. They did something no one else had done among the Metropolitan Division teams last Tuesday. They beat the Calgary Flames. Kevin Hayes scored an equalizer in the second period and both goaltenders, Jacob Markstrom and Carter Hart, were perfect from then on. Overtime was needed and Cam Atkinson provided the game winner 45 seconds in for a 2-1 win. Yes, a win over the Flames by a Metropolitan team. Alas, the good times would not last. On Thursday, the Flyers hosted Tampa Bay. This one was dramatic as the Flyers blew an early 2-0 lead in the second period. With less than two minutes left, Steven Stamkos scored to make it 3-2 Tampa Bay. With 9 seconds left in regulation, Claude Giroux made it 3-3. The drama. Overtime solved nothing, but a shootout did - and Tampa Bay won that. The Flyers lost 4-3, but still got a point instead of nothing. Last night, the Flyers hosted Boston. This game was less dramatic. While Philly evened up an early 2-0 lead by Boston, the B’s broke the deadlock late in the second period, extended their lead early in the third, and secured the win with another score in the third. The Flyers lost 5-2 to end their week at 1-1-1. Instead of gaining ground on New York, they remain in the middle of the division with New Jersey. The competition was tough but the standings do not care. Results are all that matters and Philly took 3 out of 6.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Flyers’ schedule will arguably get tougher for this week. They may be pleased to take 3 out of 6 with this lineup. The Flyers will get to play in Tampa Bay and in Florida and then host Carolina. This will all happen within four days, with the only break being on Thanksgiving. Yes, the Flyers will have a back-to-back on the road before Thanksgiving (Tampa Bay on Tuesday, Florida on Wednesday) before hosting the best team in the division. Philly does have a win over Carolina and did take Tampa Bay to a shootout last week. That may not matter as those three teams could just as easily style on the Flyers. Gear up, fans of the Orange and Black, it is going to be a tough one.
SBN Blog: Broad Street Hockey
New Jersey Devils
What Happened Last Week: Like the Rangers, the Devils were originally going to play four games this week with a home game against Ottawa last Tuesday. However, that game was postponed so the Devils just had three road games instead. Unlike the Rangers, the Devils-Senators game has been re-scheduled for December 6. By the way, the week started with the Devils visiting the Rangers. The game had injuries (Sammy Blais left the game, Mackenzie Blackwood also left with a potential concussion from a spotter), a controversial goal by Kaapo Kakko (who caused said potential concussion for Blackwood, a rare power play goal by the Devils, but it seemed like the Rangers would hold on. However, the Devils would end up stunning the Rangers with a Pavel Zacha goal late in regulation to force extra time. A shootout was needed and it went seven rounds. The Devils did not win in that shootout so they lost 4-3. On Thursday, the Devils went to Sunrise to play the Panthers. They had an awesome first period interrupted by a late equalizer. Then they got bodied for three goals in the second period as the Devils learned the hard way why the Cats remained perfect at home. The Devils lost 4-1. Yesterday afternoon, the Devils visited Tampa Bay. They conceded the first goal. While Yegor Sharangovich scored his first of the season, a quick PPG by the Bolts and an early second period goal had many Devils fans think it was over. Then a third period of brilliance happened. Blackwood turned into a wall, stopping everything from a 2-on-0 to a Brayden Point penalty shot (OK, he hit the post, but Blackwood forced him out of room). Dawson Mercer rounded Andrei Vasilevskiy to make it 2-3 early in the second. P.K. Subban set up a Jimmy Vesey breakaway that was finished to make it 3-3. Sharangovich scored a second goal low on Vasilevskiy from the right circle for the 4-3 lead. And the Devils held on with Tomas Tatar putting home an empty net goal to seal the 5-3 comeback win. The Devils did not win the week at 1-1-1 but they definitely ended strong. They also ended the week where they were at the start: in the middle of the division. They did not lose any real ground on Philly and they remain ahead of Pittsburgh with Columbus having a small edge. For what was expected without Jack Hughes, perhaps this shall be seen as a positive circumstance.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Devils will get a bit of a break with just two games coming up this week. Both are around the holiday. On Wednesday, the Devils will host Minnesota. The Devils have not seen the Wild in a long time. While the Wild are among the best teams in the Central, they have not been amazing on the road. On Black Friday, the Devils will head down to Nashville, who are a bit of a wildcard. They remain in the mix for a playoff spot and have had some strong performances. However, this was written just after they just lost 6-3 to Montreal, so who knows what you’ll get from John Hynes’ squad outside of Matt Duchene scoring heaps of goals. Still, the Devils have a chance to rest a bit before a busy December begins. It may not be good for the standings, but if they can keep getting points from week to week, they still have a chance to at least play meaningful games for several more months.
SBN Blog: All About the Jersey - you’re here now. Thank you for that. You matter.
What Happened Last Week: After dropping both games in the prior week, it was imperative that the Blue Jackets get back on track with some wins. The schedule was favorable for getting some wins. They were to host Detroit on Monday. While Detroit is not as bad as, say, Montreal, and they beat Columbus in October, they have been a poor road team. The Blue Jackets enacted revenge with a 5-3 victory that saw Adam Boqvist and Yegor Chinakhov score their first goals this season and Zach Werenski providing the tiebreaker with 1:19 left in regulation. On Thursday, the Blue Jackets visited Arizona. Another expected win. It was tough. It was long. It saw a 4-3 lead formed by Werenski in the third period blown up in less under a minute thanks to Jakob Chychrun. It required a shootout. But the Jackets did it with a seven-round shootout when Chinakhov provided the edge. The 5-4 win ensured a winning week. Last night, the Blue Jackets visited Las Vegas. This one would be tougher on paper. It did not seem that way in the first period when Gustav Nyquist scored first and Alexandre Texier scored a shorty. But the Golden Knights completed the comeback. Keegan Kolesar got the home team on the board, Reilly Smith scored a shorty of his own, and Mattias Janmark provided the difference maker in the third period. Columbus lost 3-2. Still, the Blue Jackets won the week by going 2-1-0 and remain very much in the mix of this division. The always valuable game(s) in hand helps them too.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Blue Jackets will be very active in this coming week with four games coming up. It begins on Monday night in Buffalo. Again, Buffalo is not a bad team and so Columbus (and anyone else) will need to be a bit careful against them. On Thanksgiving Eve, the Blue Jackets will be at home to play a talented Winnipeg team that has struggled away from home. That could bode well for the Jackets. On Black Friday, the Blue Jackets will host a struggling Vancouver team. That could be another potential result and something they should seek out. They will have a much, much tougher game on Saturday night at St. Louis. While they have not been amazing at home, their power play and offense in general has been. It will be a tough end to a busy week, but Columbus could end up taking more points than some may expect. The story of their 2021-22 season, really.
SBN Blog: The Cannon
What Happened Last Week: It was a week of two halves for the Penguins. The first half was bad. The Penguins got absolutely wrecked by Washington last Sunday. They lost 6-1. Their returning star, Sidney Crosby, had the highlight of ragdolling Martin Fehervary and somehow not getting punished for it. On Tuesday, the Penguins returned home to host Buffalo. They tried their best to crack Dustin Tokarksi. Out of 46 shots, only one by Jake Guentzel got past him. The Sabres scored two. Yes, the Penguins lost 2-1 at home to Buffalo. They then had a three-game losing streak. How would they bounce back? The answer was in Quebec. A game in Montreal could see the Black and Yellow get a dub. And so they did. Crosby scored his first of the season (!!) and the Penguins scored five more times. Tristan Jarry was perfect in the net. The Penguins ended their brief losing streak with a 6-0 win in Montreal. Last night, the Penguins stayed perfect in the GA department in Toronto. Jarry put up another 100% save percentage as Guentzel scored for the fourth straight game in the first period and Jeff Carter made it 2-0 in the first frame as well. It was all that was needed for the 2-0 win. The Penguins split their week in terms of results, but the second half was a lot better than the first. As such, they are the best seventh-place team in the league.
What’s Coming Up This Week: This week will be another busy one for the Penguins. Their shutout streak will be tested again on Monday when they visit Winnipeg. While Winnipeg has been less-than-good on the road, they have been fantastic at home. It will be a challenge. After that one, the Penguins will return home for a Wednesday night game against Vancouver. Vancouver has been poor this season so the Penguins may take that one. After Thanksgiving, they will have a back-to-back set. On Black Friday, the Pens will visit UBS Arena for the first time. That will be a tough one. On Saturday night, the Penguins will return to the Paintcan to play Montreal. One may expect Montreal to play a lot tougher after last week’s embarrassment. But they are real bad this season so it could be another decisive two points for the Pens. Now that Crosby is back and getting into form, this team is one to consider as a playoff threat. This will require doing well in weeks like this one, though. And they very well could.
SBN Blog: PensBurgh
New York Islanders
What Happened Last Week: Home! The Islanders finally returned to Long Island last night. The UBS Arena was opened for hockey last night. The team’s 13-game road trip to start this season ended last night. Unfortunately, the sting of losing continued in this past week. The Isles headed into this one with two losses. They ended this week with three more. Their back-to-back set in the state of Florida ended with two clear-cut losses. On Monday, they lost 4-1 to Tampa Bay. On Tuesday, they lost 6-1 to Florida. The team also lost Ryan Pulock to injury; and Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, and Ross Johnston to the COVID-19 protocol. Prior to their home opener, Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech, and Andy Greene were added to the list. Still, their new home awaited on Saturday night. It was packed with Isles fans bringing the noise like a storm brings the thunder. They played the - oh no - Calgary Flames. The Metropolitan Division Nightmare Team may have lost to one earlier in the week, but they reminded the hockey world that they are still very good. And so they were and sent the home fans disappointed with a 5-2 loss to the Isles. Yes, they were depleted. Yes, these were three hard opponents. The results remain: the Isles went 0-3-0 and now have a five-game losing streak.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Islanders are home. That is a new sentence for this season. For this whole week, the Isles will stay in Long Island (and with the 30+ year long arena drama now over, they will stay there for a long time). Given that they are on a losing streak and definitely not at 100%, the games may be tougher than they are on paper. The opponents are not at all easy ones on the paper to begin with too. Tonight, the Isles will host Toronto, who are fresh off a 2-0 loss to Pittsburgh. On Wednesday, the Isles will host their hated rivals in the Rangers. On Black Friday, the Isles will host the same Penguins team that just blanked Toronto and could be coming into this game with some more wins under their belt. The losing streak put the Isles back at the bottom of the division. They will need some wins just to end the streak and get something good at home. If they can, the impact will be beyond just the Isles - especially against the Rangers and Penguins as the division remains so competitive. At least the Isles are finally home.
SBN Blog: Lighthouse Hockey
That was the sixth Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2021-22 season. What do you expect to happen in this week coming up? Will anyone unseat the Carolina Hurricanes at the top? How long will the Capitals and Rangers hold off the remainder of the division? Who will prevail among the Flyers, Devils, Blue Jackets, and Penguins in this week? When will the Islanders get their first win at UBS Arena? 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.