Welcome to 2022. The National Hockey League schedule is still beset by postponements due to COVID and COVID-related issues. However, the season continues onward. This past week was shortened to five days of activity, but there was plenty of it within those five days for seven Metropolitan Division teams. The Pittsburgh Penguins ended up being idle due to the aforementioned postponements. The year is a day old and the Carolina Hurricanes remain in first due to tiebreakers after serving Columbus so hard, the Blue Jackets may still be wondering what even happened. In any case, here is a snapshot of the standings ahead of today’s games.
The postponements did continue into this week for a few teams. Mostly games in Canada. The New York Islanders end up having their week of games postponed, so they will be idle and continue to bank games in hand on the bottom half of the division. Still, you can see some teams heading out West. There are also four games within the division, which are highlighted and in bold.
What follows is the team-by-team breakdown for this week’s snapshot.
What Happened Last Week: Carolina ended up having two games: home to Montreal and visiting Columbus. The return of the Hurricanes against Montreal was straight forward. Carolina crushed them in a 4-0 win. Of note: three of the goals were power play goals and the other one was a shorthanded goal. Talk about special teams. Yesterday’s game at Columbus was far more interesting. Columbus seemingly put the Canes into a deep hole with four goals scored in the first half of the game. Down four, you figure the game is over. Carolina decided otherwise. Steve Lorentz scored just before the halfway mark. Brady Skjei made it 4-2. Then came the third period. Skjei put them within one at 6:53. Nino Niederreiter tied it up at 10:34. Ethan Bear put the Canes up 5-4 at 10:50. Lorentz completed his own brace to make it 6-4 at 11:59. Andrei Svechnikov put home an ENG to for a 7-4 final score. 90 shooting attempts, 49 shots on net, and seven straight goals on the road for the win. Carolina Hurricanes secured first for another snapshot and arguably completed the most impressive comeback of the NHL season.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Due to the NHL postponing a Canes game at Toronto, they only have two games to prepare for at home. They will host Calgary on Friday and host Florida on Saturday. Calgary may have cooled off a bit but they have remained a very good road team who has been impressive against the Metropolitan Division. Florida has not been so good on the road but doubting their talent is a bad, bad, bad idea. This is a tough back-to-back set. But Carolina will be home and if nothing else, they are resilient enough to come back from four goals down on the road on a holiday. They can handle this.
SBN Blog: Canes Country
What Happened Last Week: Washington continued to chase Carolina, who still has an edge on first due to tiebreakers. If nothing else, they are securing their playoff future and staying a little bit ahead of the New York Rangers. With their game against Ottawa pushed back, the Capitals just had to host Nashville on Wednesday and visit Detroit on Friday. Against Nashville, Washington went up 3-0 early in the first period. Then the Caps collapsed in the second period, leading to a tie game going into the third. Evgeny Kuznetsov scored a shorty to break the tie and Washington went on to win 5-3. On New Year’s Eve, the Caps spoiled any party Detroit may have hoped for. While Pius Suter scored first, Kuznetsov tied it up, and Alex Ovechkin set the all-time record for PPGs with his 275th career PPG to put the Caps up 2-1. Another Ovechkin score made it a 3-1 win for a 2-0-0 week. They continue to breathe down the necks of the Canes. They hold no tiebreakers so their only way is to pass the Canes. It is a high-pressure situation as they need to keep on winning, hope the Canes falter, and hope the Rangers do not jump up if/when the Caps slip up.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Capitals will begin 2022 by hosting the New Jersey Devils this afternoon. Washington has done quite well against the Devils, so they may start off their week with another win. A postponed game in Montreal means the Capitals will wait until later this week to play again. They will have a back-to-back on the road in St. Louis and Minnesota. Both teams are both good and very good at home this season. Those two will be more of a challenge for Washington. But they have the quality to make something happen. Their quest for first will continue.
SBN Blog: Japers’ Rink
New York Rangers
What Happened Last Week: The Rangers returned to the season on Wednesday with their home game against Detroit postponed. They visited Florida. Things seemingly gone well enough with Artemi Panarin scoring in the first period and Mika Zibanejad making it 2-1 in the second period. However, Florida pulled away with three goals in the third. A late Chris Kreider goal put them within one but it was too little, too late and the Rangers lost 4-3. On New Year’s Eve, the Rangers visited Tampa Bay. This one went a bit off the rails as errors by Lightning goaltender Brian Elliott led to two goals for New York. It looked like a Barclay Goodrow brace would lead to a 3-2 win, but Corey Perry scored late to force extra time. Overtime solved nothing, but Zibanejad scored the lone goal in the shootout to give the Rangers a 4-3 shootout win. The 1-1-0 result puts them a bit behind Washington, but they are still very much in the mix for the top three. Although, I would caution them to at least be a little aware about Pittsburgh going forward.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Rangers will be quite busy this week with four games this week. They are not particularly easy games either. They will be at home for a back-to-back set today and tomorrow with Tampa Bay and Edmonton. Tampa Bay may want some revenge and they are a very good team in their own right. Edmonton has the best player in the world and want to end their own struggles as soon as they can. After those two games, the Rangers will head out West for their California trip. It will begin in Las Vegas on Thursday and then onto Anaheim on Saturday night. Those trips are not easy ones. If only to keep staying in third, the Rangers would be wise to keep getting results.
SBN Blog: Blueshirt Banter
What Happened Last Week: Postponements. They were to play in Boston, Toronto, and Ottawa. They will happen later.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Penguins will have four games to play and should expect to play them. They will host San Jose today. On Wednesday, they will host St. Louis before heading to Philadelphia for a rivalry game. Those are always a challenge. And, again, St. Louis is a good team. Their week ends with a game in Dallas, which is a precursor to a trip through California in the following week. The Pens are still chasing the Rangers but are keeping well ahead of the bottom half of the division. Keep on going, and we shall see if they make up any more ground this week.
SBN Blog: PensBurgh
What Happened Last Week: The Flyers have been on the road with a back-to-back in Seattle and San Jose in the middle of this past week. Both games went the distance in regulation. In Seattle, James Van Reimsdyk tied it up 2-2 on the shift after Jeremy Lauzon made it 2-1. Ivan Provorov proved to be the hero in OT to give Philly the 3-2 win. In San Jose the next night, Felix Sanderson made his NHL debut in net. A two-goal second period for San Jose put them down 2-1. But Joel Farabee emerged in the third to tie it up and force overtime. Alas, San Jose’s 46th shot of the game came from Tomas Hertl with less than a minute left in the fourth period. It went in to give the Flyers a point in a 3-2 loss. Last night in Los Angeles, the Flyers had a chance to make it a winning week and help their own cause in a wild card race. Twelve seconds into the game, LA scored. While the Flyers tied that up, the Kings responded with another goal shortly thereafter. And then scored two more in the third period. And then responded to any Flyer goal in the third period (two). The Flyers lost 6-3 to end their week at 1-1-1. Not the worst for a road trip, but not ideal for where they are in the standings if they have any designs on being in the mix from here on out in 2022.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Flyers will finish their road trip in California on Tuesday night in Anaheim. They will return home on Thursday night to host Pittsburgh. Philly will have the advantage of not having played the night before. It may be a factor in what happens. Rivalry games have a way of going their own way. Philly will end their week with a home game against San Jose. They can seek out some revenge in familiar confines and try to end their week on a high note.
Special Standings Note: While their results in California plus Columbus’ lack of them moved them up to fifth place, the Flyers are still fighting an uphill battle in the wild card race. How? It is true they are a point behind Detroit for the final wild card spot in the East. However, Columbus is just a point behind them with two games in hand. More importantly, Boston also has 32 points in the standings and a whopping five games in hand on Philly. The B’s can jump past Philly just by taking care of their own business. Do not be misled by the surface distance in points in the standings. Look at the games played as well; that matters quite a bit when it comes to catching up. This is something that Columbus, New Jersey, and NY Islanders fans also need to understand if/when fans/broadcasters/teams hype up how “close they are to the playoffs” for the next month to three months.
SBN Blog: Broad Street Hockey
What Happened Last Week: It has not been a good month for Columbus. But after the postponements and the holidays, the Blue Jackets won a game in December. Their third, to be exact. Boone Jenner scored to tie it up early, and the returning Patrik Laine made it 2-1 early in the second. Then Nashville roared back with two quick goals in the second period. But Alexandre Texier tied it up in the third. It took a five-round shootout, but Texier and Gustav Nyquist scored to give Columbus the 4-3 win. It looked like the Blue Jackets would begin 2022 with a win over Carolina of all teams. They went up 4-0. Most of the time, that’s game. The Hurricanes proceeded to flood the Blue Jackets with more shots, attempts, and goals. Seven straight goals for a 7-4 loss. A heinous defeat. Combined with Philly’s results, Columbus fell to sixth place.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Blue Jackets will have a little time to collect themselves and try for something better in their three games coming up. The bad news is that their first game is against Tampa Bay on Tuesday. A truly good team. The better news is that they have a home-and-home with New Jersey on Thursday and Saturday. Columbus has given the Devils fits for years and already have one win over them this season. It may not be the cure for what ails the Blue Jackets, but it can provide some comfort.
SBN Blog: The Cannon
New Jersey Devils
What Happened Last Week: The New Jersey Devils won a game! They finally won a game! The Devils ended a six-game losing streak on Wednesday night in Buffalo. Sure, Buffalo was less than 100% due to COVID protocol issues. Sure, Buffalo’s season has fallen on hard times. Who cares? The Devils got a three-point night from Jack Hughes, saw their shots from distance yield goals for a change, and held on to win 4-3. Any win that breaks a six-game losing streak is welcomed. On New Year’s Eve, the Devils hosted Edmonton in what would become a goal-fest with controversy. Former #1 picks Hughes, Connor McDavid, and Nico Hischier scored within the first five minutes in a five-goal first period that the Devils led in. A bad line change yielded a breakaway goal for McDavid in the second period. In the third period, the Devils went up 4-3 with a Janne Kuokkanen blast. Devin Shore finished a Ryan McLeod feed to make it 4-4. Later, during a delayed penalty call, Dougie Hamilton swept a puck away, Edmonton kept playing, Hughes touched a pass across, and Edmonton kept playing to set up Kailer Yamamoto backdoor. Somehow, there was no whistle for the penalty. Somehow, the Devils challenged it and after 10 minutes of discussion, the refs announced it could not be challenged. One of the worst decisions in the 2021-22 season. Fortunately for the Devils, Yegor Sharangovich re-directed a long shot in the final minute to make it 5-5. Hughes fired a shot that went through Mike Smith to give the Devils a 6-5 win and their first pair of consecutive wins since November. The Devils found an oasis of victory in a December desert of defeat.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Some weeks are “prove it” weeks. The Devils beat Buffalo and an Edmonton team that continues to get in its own way despite having the best player in the world. Great. This week’s schedule is at Washington today, at Boston on Tuesday, and a home-and-home with Columbus. That is a road game against a top team in this division who has done very well against the Devils in recent seasons, a Boston team that has reminded the Devils it is not last season, and Columbus, who continues to have this team’s number. If the Devils can get some wins out of this week, then we can start talking a little bit more about respectability. Playoffs? Did you not see the Special Standings Note for Philly. New Jersey is behind four teams right now. No, we’re not talking playoffs.
SBN Blog: All About the Jersey - Bemusement is still on the menu, everyone.
New York Islanders
What Happened Last Week: The Islanders played two games of their originally scheduled four. On Thursday, they hosted Buffalo - who lost to the Devils the night before. Fatigue was in the Isles’ favor. So was Seymon Varlamov who stopped 36 out of 37. So was the return of Mat Barzal, who put up three points in a 4-1 win. The Isles kept up the winning on New Year’s Day against Edmonton. While Anders Lee put the Isles up first, the Oilers scored two in the second period. Anthony Beauvillier tied it up early in the third period and the game was held all the way until overtime. Noah Dobson was fed by Barzal in the neutral zone and Dobson just carried the puck in. Without a challenge, he fired - and scored. The Isles won 3-2 for another winning week. They remain in the larger discussion for a wild card spot, but mostly because of their games in hand. And their chances are still quite low. The Isles need to turn UBS into a strong homestand and fast, and then figure out getting more wins on the road to get more into the proverbial discussion.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Nothing. Originally, the Isles were to go out to Western Canada. The league has postponed their scheduled games in Seattle, Vancouver, and Edmonton. Calgary on January 11 is still on the books. Who knows if that will happen. The Isles could be in deeper even while banking lots of games in hand. At the least, they can be well rested for that January 11 game in Calgary. Or, if that game gets postponed, January 13 against New Jersey.
SBN Blog: Lighthouse Hockey
That was the twelfth Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2021-22 season. What do you expect to happen in the first full week of the 2022 season? Can Carolina create some breathing room from Washington and the Rangers? Will Pittsburgh continue to challenge for the top three? Will Columbus and the Devils get more wins now that their slumps are over? Will there be more postponements? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the eight Metropolitan Division teams in the week that was and the week ahead in the comments. Thank you for reading.