In this, the third week of the Metropolitan Division Snapshot, there is a surprise at the top. The Philadelphia Flyers. The team thought to be in the basement. The team whose “aggressive retool” was mocked and lamented. The team has caught fire to start the season - namely Carter Hart - and they are leaders in this division. Somewhat fitting right before Halloween that the Orange and Black are featured. Will it last? I would not hold my breath. They are in first place thanks to the Regulation Win tiebreaker over the Carolina Hurricanes, who just beat them last night. Further, there are six teams within two points of them. Check out the standings.
That is a lot of teams within two points of each other! What this means is that there will be a lot of shuffling from night to night from here on out. Even the last-place Columbus Blue Jackets are not out of anything. This week’s schedule coming up does not have a lot of inter-division games. There are just three and all are early in the week. Yet, points are points and much will change as the Metropolitan Division gets familiar with others. Here is the upcoming schedule with those three inter-division games highlighted and in bold:
Here is the week that was and week that will be for all eight teams.
What Happened Last Week: The Philadelphia Flyers have been feeling real good about their play. They went into this past week on the heels of a 3-1 win in Nashville and a 2-1-0 record from the road. Surely, the Flyers would enjoy their day with San Jose on Sunday. Nope. The Sharks blanked the Flyers, scorer James van Reimsdyk left the game with an injury, and the Flyers at home lost 3-0. After three days off, the Flyers hosted Florida, who beat them the prior week. Philly would get revenge, even without van Reimsdyk. Florida flooded Hart with 51 shots. While a couple got past him, the Flyers had an answer for the first two. Gustav Forsling’s goal was answered by Anthony DeAngelo. Josh Mahura’s goal after that one was answered by a PPG from Scott Laughton. Zack MacEwen and Joel Farabee put the home team up 4-2. While things got nervy when Brandon Montour scored 36 seconds into the third with a PPG, Hart denied the Panthers the rest of the way. The Flyers beat Florida 4-3 and had the chance to win the week on Saturday against Carolina. A Carolina team that was bounced by the Isles the night before. The Flyers went down early to goals from a pair of Jordans: Staal and Martinook. The Flyers, as they have this season, came back. Nicolas Deslauriers and Owen Tippett each scored their first goals of the season to tie it up in the second. The Flyers even took the lead in the third when Wade Allison put home a go-ahead goal. Martin Necas scored late with just over two minutes left to tie it up and send the game to overtime. Brent Burns was the hero of the night with a goal within the final minute. The Flyers lost 4-3 in OT, but they picked up a point. Thanks to having five regulation wins to Carolina’s four, the Flyers are in first. Even with a split week in points. It is a Thing. May not be for a long time but they are at the top for the moment.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Philadelphia will be away from home this week, although they will be a bit closer to Pennsylvania as they do so. On Tuesday, the Flyers will visit the New York Rangers. The game will certainly cause some movement in the standings. It is a rivalry of sorts and the Flyers can continue making statements by winning that one. But it will be a tricky one to manage as Philadelphia heads to Toronto the very next night. Dealing with the high powered Leafs is always a challenge; it is more of one on less than 24 hours rest. Philly will be off for two days before visiting Ottawa, which is no easy opponent, on Saturday.
What Happened Last Week: The Carolina Hurricanes finished up their road trip through the Northwest on Monday night in Vancouver. Vancouver was reeling and winless at the time. Carolina would take advantage of a fragile Canucks team. Andrei Svechnikov and J.T. Miller each scored power play goals in the first period. Then in the third period, Sebastian Aho and Jesper Fast each scored 37 seconds apart to make it 3-1 for Carolina. Miller scored with just under 10 minutes left to play to make it interesting, but the Hurricanes held off the Canucks. Carolina won 3-2 and ended their trip at 3-1-1. Carolina would return to Raleigh for a game on Friday against the Isles. The Islanders were no jobbers. They put the Canes to the sword and never sheathed it. Oliver Wahlstrom scored in the first. After Martin Necas tied it up in the second period, Matt Martin provided a go-ahead goal. Brent Burns scored just over a minute later to tie it up - which did not even last a minute as Josh Bailey scored to make it 3-2 going into the third. The Isles pulled away with a brace by Brock Nelson and a shorty from Zach Parise. The Hurricanes returned home and lost 6-2 to the Isles. Ouch. Smarting from that, the Canes went to Philadelphia last night. They seemingly took out some early frustrations when Jordan Staal and Jordan Martinook put the Canes up 2-0 in the first period. However, the Canes conceded scores to Nicolas Deslauriers and Owen Tippett to see the lead go away by the second intermission. Carolina was on the brink of another loss after Wade Allison scored in the third period. However, Martin Necas emerged with an individual effort after a zone entry with just over two minutes left to tie up the game. Overtime was needed. It is there that Brent Burns finished a play from Aho and Necas to give Carolina the win. The Hurricanes won 4-3 in OT to end their week at 2-1-0. They finish second due to the RW tiebreaker for now - but they are close to ruling the Metropolitan Division once again.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The schedule will be a little lighter in terms of travel but not so in terms of quality. The Hurricanes will host Washington on Halloween night. This is a rivalry game. Given the standings, it is an important game for each. Carolina will go to Tampa Bay on Thursday night, which is never an easy time, and then return home to host a Buffalo team with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Like Pittsburgh, Carolina would be wise to return to form but their opponents will not make it easy. It’s time to flex on opponents like your coach Rod Brind’Amour would.
What Happened Last Week: The New Jersey Devils went into this week with three straight wins. Three wins! The Devils in recent seasons would only get three wins in a row every once in a long while. Could they make it four against Washington on Monday night? Absolutely not. While Nathan Bastian batted in a loose puck for the game’s first goal, Nic Dowd was left open by the left post to tie it up in the second. Then came a second period of horrors. Two instances of two goals allowed within two minutes of each other. A Damon Severson giveaway to Garnet Hathaway gave the Caps a lead. A Jesper Bratt giveaway during a power play gave Conor Sheary a shorthanded goal. Later in the period, no one had Alex Ovechkin during a power play and so he scored. And just over 30 seconds after that, Nick Jensen made it 5-1. Mackenzie Blackwood was replaced with Vitek Vanecek. Tomas Tatar and Bratt each scored to give the Devils a little hope, but the Caps held it down, Aliaksei Protas scored to make it a 6-3 stinker in Newark. Oh, the Devils also had to go to Detroit the next night. To play the team that beat them 5-2 in their home opener. Against the same goalie. What would be different? The finishing and the goaltending, really. Vanecek conceded a goal to Dylan Larkin early, but the Devils’ attack picked up from about 10 minutes in and never let up. Dawson Mercer put one home to make it 1-1 and Jack Hughes gave the Devils a lead to make it 2-1 going into the second period. In the second period, Bratt scored a PPG off a draw to make it 3-1 and Yegor Sharangovich turned a shorthanded rush into a shorthanded goal to make it 4-1. While Dominik Kubalik gave the Red Wings a little life in the third period with a one-timer, the Devils never let up and so Nico Hischier scored on a turnaround shot and Bratt scored off a rush to end it at 6-2. A very fine response after the Caps game. Friday night against Colorado would be very different. After seven straight games of heavily out-shooting the competition, the Avs and Devils played a more grind-it-out game where each team’s defense stood out to prevent shots. After two periods of penalties and a disallowed goal for New Jersey (Miles Wood scored but Wood was offside), the Devils broke through with Jack Hughes rifling a shot through Pavel Francouz to make it 1-0. Vitek Vanecek was on form, the Devils and their penalty killing units denied easy chances for the Avs, and New Jersey held on to win 1-0. Yes, 1-0 over the defending champions. The Devils won their week, they’re in third place for the moment, and hope for a better season is seemingly blossoming in Newark.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Avalanche was a measuring-stick game and the Devils measured up well. More tests are coming up for the Devils, though. Today, they will host Columbus: a team capable of scoring quite a bit and a team that has given the Devils a lot of problems for the better part of a decade. That will not be easy. Neither will be the three game road trip that will follow after that one. Just ask Pittsburgh and Carolina, those games are not fun. The Devils will play Vancouver, who now has won two straight games, on Tuesday; Edmonton on Thursday; and Calgary on Saturday. That last one will be run back in short order in the following week, too, so get familiar with the Flames. If the Devils come out of this week with a positive set of results, then that may be more meaningful than beating Colorado 1-0 with six successful penalty kills.
What Happened Last Week: The New York Islanders did not have a good week going into this past one. And the struggles continued going into Sunday night’s game in Sunrise. The Isles gave up a goal to Anton Lundell just 39 seconds into the game. Then went down further to Eeto Luostarinen just before 10 minutes into the game. The Isles did try to respond; Anders Lee scored a PPG to pull within one. Ryan Lomberg pulled the game away early in the third; Lee pulled the Isles within one. But that would be it. The Isles lost 3-2 to the Panthers for their third straight loss. I would like to think the Islanders decided to take any frustrations out on their next opponent. And their hated rivals, the New York Rangers, were next. Perfect. At least Ilya Sorokin was as he denied everything from the Blueshirts. Kyle Palmieri scored twice with Josh Bailey scoring in between in the 3-0 shutout of their rivals. Surely, that made the home crowd feel good. The watch parties were probably jubilant as the Isles took on and put down the Hurricanes. Oliver Wahlstrom scored first and the Isles never had a deficit again in the game. While Necas scored, the Identity Line’s Matt Martin put the Isles back up. Brent Burns scored right after? No matter; Bailey would put the Isles back on top (and give Barzal his 9th assist already). In the third period, the Isles just blew away the Hurricanes. Brock Nelson scored his first and second of the season and Parise capped it off with a shorthanded goal for the strong 6-2 win. The Islanders played host to Colorado on Saturday night. Both teams played on Friday night. Who would prevail? It seemed that it would be the visitors. Colorado ran up a 3-0 lead within the first 9 minutes of the second period with goals from Evan Rodrigues (twice) and Mikko Rantanen. But Noah Dobson gave the Isles some hope with a goal just before the 10-minute mark. This hope would blossom in the third period. Zach Parise scored early in the third to cut the lead to one. Scott Mayfield scored to tie it up. On the next shift, Anthony Beauvillier scored to take the lead. And Brock Nelson put an empty netter to complete a five-goal rally. Alex Newhook scored with 30 seconds left to provide a more dramatic finish, but it would come to nothing. The Isles prevailed with a stunning comeback win over the defending champions, 5-4. The scenes at UBS Arena were of jubilation. The Isles went 3-1-0 and are now sitting fourth in a very crowded division.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Islanders will be on the road all week and heading to the Midwest. The Islanders will stop in the Windy City to play a Chicago team that, like Philadelphia, is not performing as terribly as people may have expected. On Thursday, the Isles will play a St. Louis team that could be having a better start to their season but plenty expect to pull themselves up soon. On Saturday, the Islanders will visit Detroit, a team that has been hit or miss in their season’s goal of taking of a step forward. Should the Isles want to show they can contend for a playoff position, then this is a week that they should come away with something in terms of results. It may not be as impressive as a game against Carolina or New York or Colorado, but it is a measuring stick of a different sort. We shall see how the Isles measure up.
What Happened Last Week: Washington began their road trip with a local stop in New Jersey on Monday night. While they witnessed the Devils’ speed and penchant for taking a boatload of shots on net, the Caps picked apart New Jersey’s errors. After Bastian and Dowd tied it up in the first period, Washington broke through in the second period. A giveaway to Hathaway? Goal. A giveaway to Sheary? Shorthanded goal. Taking calls and leaving Ovechkin and a lane to him open? Power play goal. Being unaware of Nic Jensen? Goal. The Caps took a 5-1 lead into the third period. While Tatar and Bratt scored, Peter Laviolette took a timeout to calm his team down - and it worked. The Caps stayed resolute and Protas scored his first NHL goal to make it a 6-3 win. Very nice start to the trip. First result on the road this season for Washington, too. The stop in Dallas on Thursday was far from nice. They had no answers for Jake Oettinger. They could not solve the goaltender. While he was frustrating them, Jason Robertson scored in the first and Joel Kiviranta scored a shorty in the third. The Caps were shut out in a 2-0 loss to Dallas. Last night, they visited Nashville. After a shutout loss, they decided to hand out a shutout win. As if it can be decided. Nevertheless, Darcy Kuemper was perfect for Washington with 34 saves on 34 shots. Meanwhile, Beck Malenstyn’s first goal of the season was enough to secure the win with goals from Protas and Ovechkin to make it a 3-0 win. The Capitals won their week and sit in fifth for this morning thanks to the Islanders’ superior goal differential. A good week all the same, if only for getting some wins on the road.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Capitals will wrap up their four-game road trip in North Carolina on Monday night. They will play the Hurricanes, a rival and someone looking to rebound from this past week. It should be a very good contest. The Caps have to leave something left in the tank for their next game as they will host Las Vegas on Tuesday night. A team with something to prove. The Caps’ strong record at home should still make them favorites. The week will get a little easier on paper after that back-to-back set. The Capitals will go to Detroit on Thursday and then host Arizona on Saturday. It will be a tiring week with four games in six nights; but should Washington want to show they are still contenders, they will find away to come away with it all with results.
What Happened Last Week: The New York Rangers had four games to play and it all went pear-shaped right from the start. Last Sunday, the Rangers hosted Columbus. They faced the fury of the Blue Jackets. They went down 3-0 by the halfway mark to goals by Zach Werenski, Andrew Peeke, and Yegor Chinakhov. While Artemi Panarin put something past Daniil Tarasov by the end of the second, no other Ranger would do it again. Eric Robinson and Kent Johnson put up a quick double to make it a 5-1 loss. On Tuesday, the Rangers hosted Colorado and faced their former goaltender, Alexandar Georgiev. Georgiev made a ton of saves: 44 to be exact. Valeri Nichushkin converted a PP to put the visitors up 1-0. Barclay Goodrow scored late in the second to get NY on the board. Logan O’Connor had an answer for that early in the third with a shorthanded goal. Adam Fox would tie up the game with just under 6 minutes left and the game would go to overtime and a shootout. Only Panarin scored for New York. Mikko Rantanen and Evan Rodrigues scored for Colorado. Georgiev got a shootout win, meaning the Rangers lost 3-2 through the shootout. No matter, a trip against their hated rivals the next night would rejuvenate things, right? Nope. The Islanders denied the Rangers anything. Ilya Sorokin was the better goaltender and stopped all 41 shots. Kyle Palmieri scored twice and Josh Bailey scored once in a 3-0 shutout loss for the Rangers. The Rangers went into Dallas yesterday afternoon with just one point earned this week. It was iffy as to whether they would get more. Dallas had an answer for everything New York did for two periods. Jason Robertson scored twice; Roope Hintz scored; and the score was tied 3-3 as Chris Kreider, Vincent Trocheck, and Mika Zibanejad all got on the board but - again - Dallas matched. In the third period, a quick run of goals gave New York the edge they missed all week. Goals from back-to-back shifts from Zac Jones and Julien Gauthier pulled the Rangers away. Trocheck scoring again in the third was the exclamation point on a 6-3 win in Dallas. The Rangers avoided a winless week at 1-2-1, but they fell a bit in the standings as a result.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Rangers’ short trip will continue into tonight. They will visit Arizona at Arizona State University tonight. Arizona is a bad team and the Rangers should get this week off to a good start as a result. However, the Rangers also just got waxed by Columbus and the Islanders last week so they cannot afford to look past anyone. New York’s week will get tougher afterward. The Rangers will host a surprisingly-successful Flyers team on Tuesday in another rivalry game. On Thursday, the Rangers will host a not-so-surprisingly good Boston team - that now has Brad Marchand back in the fold. Be careful Rangers. Another bad week could be costly.
What Happened Last Week: The Penguins went out North and West after defeating Columbus on the prior Saturday. It did not go well. I tend to say these trips to Western Canada are not easy ones and the Penguins are the recent example as to why. Last Monday and Tuesday, the Penguins played both of the Alberta teams back-to-back. In Edmonton, the Pens were up 3-1 in the second period only to be thwarted by the Oilers dropping five straight on them in a 6-3 loss. In Calgary, the Flames scored the first three goals - including Jonathan Huberdeau’s first goal - and never looked back in handing Pittsburgh a 4-1 defeat. On Friday and Saturday, the Penguins visited Vancouver and Seattle. Surely, a game against the winless Canucks would help salvage the trip, right? No. The Canucks won the night before and then pasted the Penguins in a 5-1 win. Yes, 5-1. Yes, the Canucks did not blow a lead and won a game. Yes, the Canucks scored goals in the third period and did not concede any. Ouch. Pittsburgh’s last chance to get anything out of this week was in Seattle last night. They did not do it. Jake Guentzel put the Pens up first. However, that did not last as Jordan Eberle scored a little over a minute later. Near the end of the second, Morgan Geekie put the Kraken up 2-1. Martin Jones denied whatever Pittsburgh threw at him, which were 16 shots in the third period. Jaden Schwartz put home an empty netter to seal up a 3-1 loss for the Penguins. Pittsburgh lost all four games in this week, ending their road trip at 1-4-0. The Penguins are just two points behind first place but they sunk down to seventh with this losing streak.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Pittsburgh returns home on Tuesday. That’s good news. The bad news is that it will be A) against a really good Boston team and B) the first of a back-to-back set as the Penguins will go to Buffalo on Wednesday. Yes, the Penguins are playing their third straight pair of back-to-back games. All while on a losing streak, which needs to end sooner rather than later for their sake. The streak of back-to-backs will end on Saturday when they will host Seattle that night. The Penguins will be wise to use this week to recover their form; but the opponents will not make it easy.
What Happened Last Week: The Columbus Blue Jackets went into this week with a 2-1-0 record and perhaps hope for a brighter set of results. I would feel that way after witnessing what they did to the Rangers. The Blue Jackets, coming off a 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh, just went off on the Blueshirts. Zach Werenski scored late in the first, Andrew Peeke scored early in the second period, and Yegor Chinakhov scored at the nine-minute mark to give C-Bus a commanding lead. While Artemi Panarin spoiled what would have been a Daniil Tarasov shutout, the Blue Jackets had the right response to that goal late in the second period: score more goals. And they would with Eric Robinson and Kent Johnson scoring 44 seconds apart in the third to pull away 5-1. Very good! On Tuesday, the Blue Jackets hosted Arizona. Surely, this would go well, right? No! It would not. Arizona scored 5 straight goals before Columbus could even get on the board. Two from Shayne Gostisbehere, one from Zack Kassian, one from Dylan Guenther, and one from Jack McBain. Goals from Johnny Gaudreau and Kent Johnson were consolation goals. Lawson Crouse and Peeke traded goals to end it at 6-3 for Arizona. A total let down after that win in Manhattan. The tough times would continue on Friday night when Boston visited the Blue Jackets. The B’s just decisively defeated Columbus. Matt Grzelcyk scored in the first and that was all that was needed as Linus Ullmark posted up a shut out. Of course, Boston did not just sit on that goal; Charlie Coyle scored a shorty, Jake DeBrusk scored later; and David Pastrnak ended the third period with his 7th of the season. The Blue Jackets lost 4-0 for their third straight loss at home. The promising start from beating the Rangers was left in the proverbial dust. As such, the Blue Jackets are once again looking up at everyone else in the Metropolitan Division.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Columbus has an interesting week coming up. Today, they will visit the Devils for an afternoon game. This may be what Columbus needs as they have some kind of nightmarish hold over the Devils in recent years. We shall see if they do so. If not, then their week could go bad later on. The Jackets will be heading to Finland to play a pair of games overseas as part of the NHL’s Global Series. Their opponents: Colorado. Yes, the Blue Jackets will play a technical-home-and-home with the Avalanche on Friday and Saturday at 2 PM ET as the game will be in the evening in Tampere. Given their now home losing streak, maybe that’s not the worse thing. Still, I would not envy anyone playing Colorado back-to-back. Even if they are probably sick of the Metropolitan Division (see: New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders) Especially with the form Columbus could be in going into that one. Oof.
That was the third Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2022-23 season. What do you expect to happen in this week coming up? Who will take first place? Will the division be as crammed with teams close together again? When will Pittsburgh win a game again? Can the Devils do better on their trip this week than Pittsburgh did last week? 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.