The 2021-22 regular season is still in its early stages. However, it is tough to catch up in the standings given the existence of three-point games and that reality that it is not enough for teams down in the standings to win, but they need teams ahead of them to lose. This is why it is very good to be a Carolina Hurricanes supporter as the Canes remain perfect. It is also why it this season may soon become a tough campaign for the New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins. Sure, they are both doing OK on their own. Yet, in this division so far, even a team earning 60% of the points is not enough to guarantee a top-three spot. Look at the division as it stands this morning:
This is a very tough division for at least this moment. This month may start normalizing some of these teams with hot starts. Inter-division games will have an impact. Yet, the pressure for those near bottom of the standings is real from a standings-perspective. Please keep this in mind for this and future Metropolitan Division snapshots.
Here is the schedule for all eight teams in the division for this coming week. There are four games within the division coming up, all towards the end of the week. They are highlighted and in bold for your convenience.
What follows is the team-by-team breakdown for this week’s snapshot.
What Happened Last Week: Winning until last night. The Canes just keep winning. It was not particularly easy. It was a nervy affair in Raleigh against Arizona. Christian Fischer (no relation) scored first and it took a while before an equalizer came from Martin Necas. A Brett Pesce power play goal was the difference maker with fewer than three minutes in regulation. On Wednesday, the Canes traveled to Chicago. Hapless as they may be, the Blackhawks put the Canes in a 1-3 hole by midway through the game. But Carolina climbed their way back in the game thanks to Seth Jarvis’ first NHL goal, Jesper Fast’s goal 17 seconds into the third period, and another important goal by Necas. The Canes won 4-3. Last night, the Canes took on a similarly hot Florida Panthers team. In the battle between teams that did not lose in regulation, the Panthers roared to a huge start by scoring four goals - three on the power play - in the first period. The Canes provided two in the second period but they were ultimately consolation goals. Anthony Duclair completed his brace to hand the Canes their first loss this season, 5-2.
What’s Coming Up This Week: More winning after seeing their streak end? It will not be easy. On Tuesday, the Hurricanes will be in Tampa Bay to play the defending Cup champions. That is never an easy game. Carolina will return home for the end of the week for a back-to-back set with Philadelphia and St. Louis. The former is a divisional game against a team that can attack. The latter is one of the best in the Central Division. They are hot and nothing lasts forever. But the Canes have the quality to get something out of these three games. It may not be three straight wins to start another streak, but at this point, who knows? Doubting this team is still unwise seeing that it took ten games for them to lose one.
SBN Blog: Canes Country
What Happened Last Week: The Rangers headed out to the Northwest for this week’s games. On Halloween, the Rangers visited Seattle for the first time. Adam Fox pulled ahead to make it 2-1 in the third and an insurance goal from Barclay Gooderow made it a 3-1 win. From then on, it got tougher. Against Vancouver on Tuesday, the Rangers blew a 2-0 lead in the third period and J.T. Miller took the game for the Canucks in OT for the 3-2 OT loss. Against Edmonton on Friday, the Rangers went up as much as 4-1 before halfway through the game. But the Oilers rallied back to tie it up - and did so again after a Mika Zibanejad goal thanks to a Connor McDavid that schooled three Rangers and Alexandar Georgiev. Once again, the Rangers fell in OT when Leon Draisaitl finished the game. Last night, the Rangers’ finished up their road trip by playing Calgary. The same Calgary team that has bodied Metropolitan teams so far this season. The Flames did it again as they trounced the Rangers 6-0 last evening. The Rangers were dominated. Their week on the road went worse as it went on. Still, they managed to take four out of eight for the week and stay ahead of the pack in second place for the moment. The trip can now be put in their collective rear view mirror.
What’s Coming Up This Week: After all that travel, the Rangers only have two games to play this week. They will return to Manhattan on Monday to play the Florida Panthers. Hardly an easy game given how good the Panthers have been this season. Four days afterwards, the Rangers will start a back-to-back set that weekend by visiting Columbus. Columbus may have that 4-0 loss they suffered to the Rangers back in October on their mind. They may seek some revenge. Still, the Rangers are in a good position despite throwing some points away. That is the result of their earlier winning as well as getting something out of those games in Vancouver and Edmonton. If they slip, it will not be by much. Their goal is to avoid any sustained losing for this week.
SBN Blog: Blueshirt Banter
What Happened Last Week: The Flyers returned home to host Arizona on Tuesday night. It took some time before the Flyers could score, but they rang up three in the third period to take the game. Notably, the Flyers only needed one as Carter Hart shut out the Coyotes. Thursday night saw the return of the Pennsylvanian Rivalry. Without Sidney Crosby and head coach Mike Sullivan due to COVID-19, the Penguins still made it a difficult affair. The Flyers would break through to tie it up at 2-2 late in the third period thanks to Scott Laughton. However, Kris Letang provided the game winner in OT. Still, the Flyers took a point from the rivalry game. Last night, the Flyers visited Washington. They decided to start Martin Jones. And it paid off as Jones had a very fine night. Derick Brassard and Sean Couturier scored in the second period and the two goals were enough to take the win. The Flyers took five out of a possible six points in this past week. Not only a winning week but they are now up in third place and right behind second.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Flyers will start their week of games on Wednesday. They have three, so it will be a busy three-game-in-four-night situation. The opponents will provide some challenge. On Wednesday, they will host Toronto. Toronto has not been good on the road this season, so the Flyers may relish this game. On Friday, they will visit a seriously good Carolina team that has not done a lot of losing this season. (Or any if they keep on winning.) Right after that, they will visit a Dallas team that has not played a lot at home yet this season. So far, the Flyers have risen to the challenge to continue to get results. It may be fair to expect them to continue.
SBN Blog: Broad Street Hockey
What Happened Last Week: Columbus was in Newark last Sunday to play the Devils, a team they have found a lot of success against in recent years. Thanks to a terrible turnover and shootout failings, the Blue Jackets managed to take the game 4-3 through the shootout. On Wednesday, the Blue Jackets went to Denver to play Colorado. This was a wild one as Colorado scored the first two goals, Columbus scored the next four in a row, and then Colorado scored two more within the final three minutes of regulation to force overtime. That is both good and bad from the Columbus standpoint. Fortunately for the Blue Jackets, Jakub Voracek saw Jake Bean coming over the line into space. Bean fired a laser into the net for his second of the game and the 5-4 OT win for the Jackets. Last night was the re-match: Colorado in Columbus. This one was close with a dramatic end. It was tied up 2-2, but with just over one minute left in regulation, rookie Cole Sillinger scored a go-ahead goal to make it 3-2 for the Jackets. An empty netter boosted the score to 4-2, but all the same, it was a regulation win over the Avs. The Blue Jackets won all three of their games this week and beating Colorado home and away should be a message that this Columbus team will not go quietly into the proverbial night.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Blue Jackets will be off until a back-to-back set on Friday and Saturday. The rest is almost always welcomed. The back-to-back set, well, they are both in Ohio but those are usually not welcomed. Both are within the division so these two games could play a role in at least shaping next week’s Division Snapshot. On Friday, Columbus will host the Rangers. They should seek some revenge as the Rangers crushed them 4-0 in their last match-up. On Saturday, Columbus will host the Capitals for the first time this season. Columbus has put themselves in a very good position to defy the expectations of being the worst team in the division. Keeping pace with the rest of the division will continue to do that.
SBN Blog: The Cannon
What Happened Last Week: It was not a positive week for Washington. On Monday, Tampa Bay hosted the Capitals. It was a close affair but the Bolts held off the Caps from a comeback for a 3-2 loss. It was Washington’s first regulation loss of the season. On Thursday, the Capitals went to Sunrise to play the Panthers. It was a real rough start as they fell behind 0-2 after the first period and went down as much as 1-4 with five minutes left in the second period. Then a comeback was ignited. Alex Ovechkin scored his 740th career goal and tenth of the season, and Tom Wilson scored his first of the season both before the end of the second. Connor McMichael scored his first of his career in the third period to tie it up at 4-4. Alas, the Panthers prevailed in OT. At least the Caps earned a point. Against Philadelphia last night, the visiting Flyers put up two in the second period. The Caps could only beat Martin Jones once in the third period. The 2-1 loss secured a winless week for the Caps.
What’s Coming Up This Week: On paper, this week’s coming games should be more favorable for the Capitals. On Monday, they will host Buffalo - a team that has done better than expected so far but has remained largely unsuccessful on the road. On Thursday and Friday, the Caps will be on the road at Detroit and at Columbus. Not that either should be discounted but Washington is a good enough team to get results out of both games. This should be a good week to bounce back from a losing set of results last week. If they falter, then the slump may be on in D.C.
SBN Blog: Japers’ Rink
What Happened Last Week: The Islanders’ continued to rack up the airline miles. November 20 is not that far away. Still, the Isles are making the best of it. They were in Montreal on Thursday night and continued to pour more misery on the Canadiens’ season. Brock Nelson put on a show with four goals and Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored his first of the season as they won 6-2. Last night, the Islanders started a back-to-back set in Winnipeg. They kept the home team to 24 shots and Ilya Sorokin stopped them all. An early goal by Anders Lee was enough for the win and Brock Nelson’s quick third period goal provided some insurance in the 2-0 win. If nothing else, the Isles are proving to be a competitive road team. With games in hand on the rest of the division, they are not to be counted out at this moment.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The back-to-back set will finish up in Minnesota tonight to start this week. It will be a homecoming for Zach Parise and another challenging game as the Wild have been good to start their own season. Their only game after tonight will be on Thursday night when they play the Devils. This one is in Newark and surrounded by some days without games, so they can go home for a bit. The Isles may be a bit behind the rest of the division due to another short week of games. However, if they can continue to get results every week until they start playing at home, they should be fine. The games in hand will be critical but it is better to have them than not.
SBN Blog: Lighthouse Hockey
New Jersey Devils
What Happened Last Week: The Devils spent their Halloween hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Devils put themselves in a winning position and were putting on a show on how to defend a 3-2 lead. Then Ty Smith commits one of the worst turnovers possible to botch that lead. Failed power plays and an unresolved overtime later, a shootout was needed. The Devils are Bad at shootouts and so they lost 4-3 to the Blue Jackets. Then it was off to California for the rest of the week. It did not go so well. On Tuesday, the Devils were trounced by Anaheim in a 4-0 loss that exposed their weaknesses: special teams and game preparation. That head coach Lindy Ruff highlighted travel as an issue for the team’s second road game of the season and their first outside of the Eastern Time Zone was a struggle. On Friday, the Devils went to Los Angeles. The Devils proceeded to put on a weird performance wherein they were lucky to go to overtime - a goal in the final minute from Pavel Zacha ensured it - but frustrating in that their issues kept them from winning. They lost 3-2 in OT amid one of the worst performances by Damon Severson in recent memory. Last night, the trip to California ended in San Jose. This was another slow affair featuring special teams holding the Devils’ efforts back. But the Devils did respond to a second period goal by San Jose (Ryan Graves) and a third period goal by San Jose (Janne Kuokkanen) to make it 2-2 in regulation. Overtime solved nothing and so a shootout would be needed. For the first time this season, the Devils scored in the shootout when Jesper Bratt’s shot trickled over the line after James Reimer’s skate. For the first time since 2019-20, the Devils won a shootout when Damon Severson roofed it past Reimer. The Devils ended the trip with a 3-2 shootout win. No, they did not win the week. But they salvaged the trip and split the potential points to at least stay in pace. And avoid last for another week.
What’s Coming Up This Week: This coming week starts a run of seven games in twelve days for the Devils. And the run will be difficult based on the opponents. The Devils will be at home this week but it may not matter much given the opponents. First, they will host the terrifyingly good Florida Panthers on Tuesday. While Florida would have played the night before, the Calgary experience showed that may not matter if the home team comes out flat. The Panthers are arguably the best team in the NHL right now, having decisively beaten Carolina yesterday. Second, the Devils will host the Islanders - a stingy, well-coached team. That could doom the Devils right from the start. Third, the Devils begin a back-to-back set with an afternoon game against Boston. The Devils did quite well against the B’s last season but that was last season. The Devils need to sort out their issues (special teams, preparation, getting something offensive out of more than just two lines) and fast. Like the Penguins and Islanders, they are still behind the rest of the division. While it may look close, slipping further back will only make it harder to climb back up. This week (and the following week) will not be easy. But to show that you are a competitive team in this league, it almost never is easy.
SBN Blog: All About the Jersey - you’re here and thank you for being here.
What Happened Last Week: The Penguins had the unfortunate news of Sidney Crosby, Brian Dumoulin, and head coach Mike Sullivan entering the COVID-19 protocol. The games still needed to be played and so they did. Especially against their hated rivals in Philadelphia. The Penguins went up 1-0 sixteen seconds into the game thanks to Brock McGinn. They went up 2-1 due to Jake Guentzel’s second goal of the season in the second period. While they lost that lead in the third, Kris Letang was the overtime hero to make it a 3-2 win for the Pens. Last night, they hosted Minnesota without their ace forward and arguably ace head coach. The game was competitive, but a Kasperi Kapenen hat trick put the Pens up 4-2 near midway through the third period. However, Pittsburgh conceded one to Jared Spurgeon late in the game and with 2.2 seconds left, an equalizer to Ryan Hartman. Harsh. Overtime solved nothing so a shootout was needed. The Wild took it so the Penguins lost 5-4. The Penguins still picked up three out of four points, which is remarkable given their injuries and COVID-19 concerns.
What’s Coming Up This Week: This week is a sandwich of games in that the challenging and meaty part is right in the middle. The Penguins will visit Chicago on Tuesday night. They should be able to get a result there. On Saturday, the Penguins will visit Ottawa and while that is not a simple game, points are there for the taking. The meat comes on Thursday with a home game against the Florida Panthers - a team that has been dropping many squads to start this season. It has to be done even if they are not at 100%. And they need points to not fall further behind a super-competitive Metropolitan Division. Good luck.
SBN Blog: PensBurgh
That was the fourth Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2021-22 season. What do you expect to happen in this week coming up? Will the Carolina Hurricanes stay at the top? Will the Capitals bounce back? Who will usurp the Rangers’ spot in second place, if anyone does? 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.