Welcome to the sixth week of the Metropolitan Division snapshot of the 2022-23 season. For the third straight week, the New Jersey Devils are in first. They kept winning. They kept winning as others did get points. They kept winning as others did not. Therefore, they never fell back from their first place position. Thanks to the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders failing to win their respective weeks, the Devils now have a seven point lead to go with being in first place. Along with a very healthy ROW advantage thanks to not even needing a shootout so far this season. They are in a fantastic place as of this morning.
As this is a New Jersey Devils blog, I know you love to see it. I love it too. There is starting to be some movement from the other non-Columbus teams. With the Philadelphia Flyers fading from their hot start and the Pittsburgh Penguins winning some games, there is a little order forming among fifth through seventh place. This also has yielded a small gap between the New York Rangers and those three teams. The Rangers are very much on the heels of the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders.
The state of the division makes this coming week more fascinating to follow. Everyone is playing three or four games so they are not taking a whole lot of time off. After a week with just one game within the division, there are five coming up. Four are right after Thanksgiving, including what could be a nasty Pennsylvania showdown on Black Friday. There could be further shifts in the division by the day. Here is the schedule for this coming week with the games within the Metropolitan Division highlighted and in bold:
Here is the week that was and week that will be for all eight teams.
New Jersey Devils
What Happened Last Week: The New Jersey Devils embarked on their second Canadian road trip of the month. This time, they were more local as it was through Eastern Canada. The first stop was in Montreal on Tuesday night. Vitek Vanecek returned to the lineup and was tested early as Montreal attacked early and often. The Devils took the game over from the second period onward. A PPG from Jack Hughes began the scoring. A Dougie Hamilton takeaway past the Montreal blueline turned into a Hamilton goal to make it 2-0. Evgenii Dadonov did put Montreal on the board. But the Devils would not be deterred. Hughes turned another Montreal turnover into a New Jersey goal for a 3-1 lead. In the third period, Jake Allen denied Dawson Mercer one-on-one. A rebound try was poked away from Hughes. Jesper Bratt took to the loose puck and put it in off Allen’s backside to make it 4-1. Add in an empty netter from John Marino for the 5-1 win to keep the fire burning. On Thursday, the Devils went into Toronto. The start was better even if Toronto struck first. Auston Matthews converted a power play right above the crease for an early lead. This did not last long as Erik Haula found Bratt wide open on the weakside of the Toronto defense on the next shift. Bratt beat Matt Murray to make it 1-1. Early in the second period, Nico Hischier went bar-down in a 2-on-1 to make it 2-1. The Devils pushed for a third goal and did everything but score. They killed penalties, they made Leaf skaters look silly, and only Murray and Lady Luck denied the Devils from making it 3-1. Alas, a William Nylander shot tied it up late in the third period to force overtime. In overtime, the Devils finished it quickly. Jack Hughes took a pass from John Tavares and charged hard to the net. Murray denied Hughes. He nor Toronto’s skaters would stop Yegor Sharangovich from burying the rebound. The Belarussian was the hero and real human bean of the game. That was game. 3-2. An 11th straight win and first in the division secured. Yesterday afternoon, they ended the trip in Kanata against the Senators. This one was a more comfortable game in the bigger picture. Haula scored his first of the season after a long 17 games of near-misses and how-can-you-miss-thats on a power play to put the Devils up early. Nathan Bastian put in a rebound off a Miles Wood shot from a Michael McLeod offensive zone faceoff win to make it 2-0. Early in the second period and a little bit after a Hamilton re-direction was taken off the board for a “distinct kicking motion,” Jesper Boqvist legitimately put in a rebound from a Yegor Sharangovich to make it 3-0. Ottawa switched goalies and tried to get in the game. They had a glimmer of hope late in the second. Derick Brassard beat Akira Schmid low to make it 3-1 and McLeod hooked Drake Batherson for a late Ottawa power play. This power play yielded a Tim Stützle fumble of the puck, Sharangovich playing the puck wide to Hischier, Hischier taking a shot on Cam Talbot and Sharangovich putting in the rebound for the shorthanded goal. 4-1 going into the third intermission. The Devils put the game away and McLeod put in an empty netter to seal the victory at 5-1. The Devils have now won 12 straight games. They swept three straight weeks of hockey. They are leading the division by at least six points and only Boston has a better record in the whole league. It feels like a dream, but the Division Snapshot does not sleep. This is real.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Devils will play their busiest and arguably toughest week on-paper in November this week. It could be argued this is their toughest for the 2022 portion of this season, although I think there’s a week in December that is more challenging on paper. The Devils will play four games in six nights. They will return home on Monday night to play Edmonton. The Devils did beat them earlier this season on the back of the fastest pair of goals in franchise history. I would think Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl would want a measure of revenge. The Devils will play their final Canadian team until February 2023 on Wednesday when they host Toronto. The Devils prevailed over the Leafs in overtime and their big five skaters are more than a handful to deal with. After Thanksgiving, the Devils will get a tricky back-to-back set. They will go up to Buffalo. The Sabres have fallen off hard from their hot start. However, they are not doormats and a great way to lose to a hapless team is to look past them. It may be tempting to look past them. On Saturday, the Devils will host Washington - the team whom lit up the Devils 6-3 before the Devils went on an absolute wagon of a heater. The Devils should seek revenge. We shall see whether they have anything left in the tank for that one, though. At least Washington is also playing the day before. Still, it is a lot of action in a relatively short amount of time. The team has been hot. They are in a great place in the standings. Maintaining it is the goal. Just know it is not an easy thing to do and this week is far from easy. With the way they are playing, well, I would not recommend betting against them at this moment.
What Happened Last Week: The Carolina Hurricanes began the week in Illinois as they visited the Blackhawks. Would they respond from the 4-1 loss that ended their previous week? Absolutely. Goaltender Pytor Kochekov was perfect as he stopped all 27 shots from Chicago. Jordan Martinook and Jordan Staal each scored in the first period to really put the B-Hawks in a hole. A second period goal from Andrei Svechnikov made it 3-0. That score held up for a shutout win to start the week. Carolina returned home on Thursday night to play Colorado, whom they lost to 4-1 in the prior Saturday. The Hurricanes stormed the Avs with shot after shot after shot. 48 in total, to be exact. They kept Colorado to just 15 all game! Alas, the score did not go the way of the shots. Evan Rodrigues put home a PPG in the first period to put the Canes down and give them more incentive to shoot. Sebastian Aho tied up the game in the second period. Only that lasted about seven minutes; Alex Newhook made it 2-1 for Colorado. The desperation picked up for the home team. Martin Necas did provide an equalizer in the third period. They tried their best to put away the Avs, but Pavel Francouz would not let that happen. In overtime, Artturi Lehoknen was the hero and the hero and real human bean in Raleigh. Despite the Canes controlling the game, they just got a point in a 3-2 OT loss to Colorado. Still, they had a chance to win the week at Minnesota last night. They did not get it. Like the Colorado game, it was a close one. It was also a very low-attacking game with both teams registering 21 shots on net. Aho scored in the first period and the Canes were able to sit on that for most of the game. Alas, Minnesota would tie it up with a goal by Sam Steel with 2:37 left in regulation. In overtime, the Wild took the game and Alex Goligoski scored his first of the season to end it. The defenseman was indeed the hero and real human bean of the game. The Canes lost 2-1 in overtime. The point was enough to take second place from the Islanders. The 1-0-2 week was not enough to stick with the Devils, who are now seven points ahead; or break away from the New York teams, who are a point behind Carolina each. But, hey, points in every game is still not bad.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Carolina will play, you guessed it, four games in six nights this week. The Hurricanes will go to Manitoba on Monday to play Winnipeg. The Jets are good this season and very good at home. They just lost their second home game of the season and I would think they would rather not want to be shut out again. It is not an easy start to the week for the Canes. They will get an easier-on-paper matchup on Wednesday. Carolina will return home to host Arizona. They just need to not be tripped up by them. After Thanksgiving, the schedule becomes a whole lot tougher. The Hurricanes will first visit Boston, a place where no one has yet to win a game other than Boston this season. On Saturday, they will return to Raleigh to play a Calgary team who beat them in overtime earlier this season and can be a dirty, heavy, and annoying team to play against. The Hurricanes absolutely have the quality to make this week a winning one. It will be a difficult one all the same. They could close the gap on the Devils. They could also fall to fourth place. I can see either or something in between happening. It is that tough.
New York Islanders
What Happened Last Week: The Islanders were on the road all week. They played three games of a four game road trip. It started off well enough. On Monday night, they went to Ottawa and left with two points. Oliver Wahlstrom opened the scoring with a power play goal. Drake Batherson answered back with a PPG of his own in the second period. When Noah Dobson broke the tie later in the second, the Isles never looked back. A Justin-Gabriel Pageau PPG extended the lead. Claude Giroux put the Sens within one but they could not beat Seymon Varlamov a third time. Brock Nelson sealed the victory with an ENG for a 4-2 final score. On Thursday night, the Isles visited Nashville. They did not leave with two points. They were down early with an early goal allowed to Filip Forsberg. While Adam Pelech tied it up a little later; a quick pair of goals from Colton Sissons and Nino Niederreiter put the Isles down 3-1. Nashville made it 4-1 thanks to Juuso Parssinen in the second period. The Isles would try to come back. Cal Clutterbuck made it 4-2 in the second period. Kyle Palmieri put the Isles within one early in the third. Alas, Parssinen put in a PPG near the halfway mark of the third to restore the two-goal lead for Nashville. A PPG from Pageau with less than five minutes made it dramatic. But Nashville held on. The Islanders lost 5-4. The state of this week for the Islanders was on the line in Dallas last night. It seemed like it would be a good ending when Mat Barzal finally scored his first goal of the season early in the second period. Given his 19 assists, it was not like he was struggling but good to see him score a goal on the same day Erik Haula did so. Radek Faksa tied it up, but then something great happened. Barzal scored again on a power play to put the Isles up 2-1. This good feeling lasted for 50 seconds as Mason Marchment tied up the game at 2-2. However, the night went south for the Isles in the third period. Jamie Benn broke the tie a bit over eight minutes into the third period. Jason Robertson put the game further in Dallas’ hands with a late goal. Jani Hakanpaa tacked on an empty netter to send the Isles packing with a 5-2 loss. The Isles end the week at 1-2-0 and fell to third place. Fortunately for them, the Hurricanes did not fare a whole lot better and are just a point ahead. Unfortunately for them, their hated rivals, the Rangers, are now tied with them in points.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Islanders will come home for a bit in a busy four-games-in-six-night week. The Isles will first wrap up their road trip in Toronto on Monday night. Toronto is good at home, a team that attacks and defends well, and has the capability of hanging with anyone. It is not an easy opponent to end a trip against. When the Isles return to Belmont on Wednesday, they will host Edmonton. The Oilers are an offensive force and containing McDavid and Draisaitl is a feat in of itself. The Isles’ stinginess and goaltending will certainly be tested. After Thanksgiving, the Islanders will have a pair of divisional opponents back-to-back. Teams they should get results against if they want to show they are for real this season. On Friday, the Islanders will visit Columbus, who is recovering from a bad, bad run of games. It will not be an easy contest as injured as the Jackets are. On Saturday, the Isles will host Philadelphia - who will be coming off a big rivalry game. The Flyers have trended down but they are not out of anything. The Isles need to take care of business in those two games, especially if Toronto and Edmonton take care of them. If only to avoid another potential fall down in the standings. Who wants to be behind the Rangers if you can help it, right?
New York Rangers
What Happened Last Week: The Rangers returned home from a 2-1 loss in Nashville last Sunday to host Arizona. There was no time to dwell on the loss. After a scoreless first and being outshot 17-4 by Arizona (what), the Rangers decided to make things right for themselves. The shots went in their favor in the second period. The play was better. The goals came: Barclay Goodrow started it off and a little over a minute later Adam Fox doubled the lead for the Rangers. A PPG from Chris Kreider made it 3-0 early in the third. Clayton Keller’s PPG denied Igor Shesterkin from a shutout but it did not make the game any closer beyond 3-1. Ryan Carpenter scored his first of the season to make it 4-1 and the score stood. Two good periods for the decisive win and two points. The Rangers then prepared and went out to the other side of the country for a West Coast trip. The first stop was in Seattle on Thursday night. The Kraken bit first when Jared McCann opened the scoring with an early goal. A response would come later in the first period when Mika Zibanejad converted a power play to make it 1-1. After a scoreless second period, Justin Schultz made it 2-1 Seattle with a bit over 10 minutes left in regulation. A late penalty by Carson Soucy opened the door for a Rangers team scrambling for an equalizer. They got one from Vincent Trocheck on the power play to make it 2-2. Overtime would be needed. It ended when Jordan Eberle charged in, made a pass across bodies, and Schultz hammered the puck in from the left side off Igor Shesterkin’s glove to be the hero and real human bean of the game. The Rangers lost 3-2, but still got a point. New York had a chance to win the week in San Jose on Saturday night. It was a close one. Both goaltenders, Igor Shesterkin and James Reimer, stopped everything for two and a half periods. The Rangers would get the break-through late from Julien Gauthier. Fox added to the lead late with an empty net goal. San Jose still went for it after and Logan Couture scored with 17 seconds left in the game. It was too little, too late, and the Rangers left the Bay with a 2-1 win. They went 2-0-1 in the week, which is quite good. They are now three points ahead of fifth-place Pittsburgh and right in a tie in points with the Islanders, who have more regulation wins than them. The Rangers could crack the top three soon.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The New York Rangers remain on the road to begin this week. They started a four-game road trip last week out on the West Coast. They will finish that up with a back-to-back in Los Angeles and Anaheim on Wednesday. These long trips can catch teams slipping. The Rangers already dropped a point in Seattle. Los Angeles has been quite good at home and Anaheim could surprise a potentially tired Rangers team. Step lively, Rangers. Unlike the rest of the division, the Rangers will be off on Black Friday. They will play on Saturday and it will not be an easy time at MSG. The Rangers will host Edmonton in an afternoon game. McDavid, Draisaitl, and a non-traditional start time? The Rangers are in a position to keep up with the Islanders and Hurricanes from fourth place. Maybe they can even pass them soon if they struggle. Yet, I can also see the Rangers struggling with this week all the same. It may be a “lighter” week but it is by no means a favorable one on paper. Still, a third or even second place spot in next week’s snapshot is possible. They just have to go and get it and get some help.
What Happened Last Week: The Penguins returned home from a three-game road trip wherein they ended their winless streak. This did not mean it was a successful return home. The Penguins hosted Toronto. The Leafs got revenge for the prior Friday and returned Matt Murray, ex Penguins goaltender, to the net. John Tavares and Mitch Marner put the Pens down two goals. Michael Bunting made it 3-0 just 11 seconds into the second period. Pittsburgh would have some life when Rickard Rakell scored on the next shift and Sidney Crosby turned a horrible turnover by Rasmus Sandin into a 3-2 game. Yet, the Leafs kept coming and Murray kept stopping the Penguins. Bunting scored late in the second to make it 4-2. William Nylander secured a 5-2 loss for the Penguins with an ENG. The Penguins would have to go back on the road to return to winning ways. This happened on Thursday night in Minnesota in what would be a goal-fest. Crosby and Ryan Poehling each scored a goal in the first period to open the game. The Wild would respond with goals from Brandon Duhaime and Joel Eriksson Ek just 11 seconds apart. The Penguins would re-take the lead late in the second period with a power play strike from Kris Letang, his first of the season. Crosby converted a power play in the third period to make it 4-2. Eriksson Ek scored a shorthanded goal within the final 10 minutes to make it 4-3. But the Penguins would not give up the lead. Brock McGinn added to it later. Jake Guentzel made it 6-3 with an ENG. Matt Dumba did get a consolation goal with eight seconds left. No matter, the Penguins won, 6-4, and could win the week with a winning result in Winnipeg. Manitoba has been a tough place for visiting teams and the Jets are not a bad team at all. The Penguins, in a way, made it look easy though. It was tense as there were no goals in the first two periods. Tristan Jarry and Connor Hellebuyck were perfect. Then, 53 seconds into the third period, Jason Zucker broke the 0-0 tie for Pittsburgh. More tense hockey ensued at 1-0 for Pittsburgh. With about 90 seconds left, Bryan Rust beat Hellebuyck to make it 2-0. A Jake Guentzel ENG sealed up a 3-0 win. The Penguins won in a place where few have won (Winnipeg’s second home loss this season) to end their week at 2-1-0. They won their week, they took fifth place, and they are three points behind the Rangers. A good bounce back after a winless run.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Penguins will continue to salvage their season after a winless streak. First, they will finish up a weekend back-to-back tonight. They are in Chicago. The Blackhawks appear to be fading after a stronger-than-expected start. The Penguins should like their chances to get a result. After that, the Penguins will return home to host Calgary on Wednesday night. Calgary has struggled on the road but they can be dirty, heavy, and a pain to play against. Especially if things go south for them (again). After a day of thanks, the Penguins will have an early evening of hate. The Penguins will visit their hated cross-state rivals, Philadelphia, on Friday in the NHL’s 2022 Thanksgiving Showdown. Both teams may not be where they want to be in the standings. Both teams still dislike each other very much. I would expect either would rather eat spoiled cranberry sauce than lose to them. It should be entertaining, if nothing else. The Penguins cannot just leave it all on the ice in Philly, though. On Saturday night, the Penguins will host Toronto. Toronto already beat them last week in Pittsburgh. The Pens may want revenge; getting it may be something else entirely. The Penguins have rose past Washington and Philadelphia in the standings in this past week. If they want to catch the New York teams, then they need to keep winning. This week will make it a bit hard, but it remains possible if they do not slump through this one. Plus, the gap is not exactly massive at just three points and the Pens having games in hand on both - which will be used up against the Rangers this week.
What Happened Last Week: The Philadelphia Flyers went 1-2-0 in the prior week and 1-1-1 in the week before that. Signs were forming of the team’s hot start fading. This continued in this past week. On Sunday, the Flyers hosted Dallas. The Stars led early and never looked back. Matej Blumel scored early in the first and Esa Lindell scored late in the first. While Travis Konecny scored within the first minute of the second period, Dallas restored the two goal lead with a PPG by the ageless Joe Pavelski about 9 minutes into the period. The Stars just pulled away in the third period with a shorthanded goal by Luke Glendening and a power play goal by Jason Robertson. The Flyers lost 5-1. On Tuesday, the Flyers visited Columbus, a team who has struggled this season. This one would be tight. Sean Kuraly scored the lone goal in the first period. Boone Jenner made it 2-0 with a PPG in the second. Then the Flyers tied it up with a pair of goals within four minutes in the second period. First from Kevin Hayes, second from Noah Cates. After those two goals allowed, Elvis Merzlikins left the game due to injury. The third period was back and forth. Jenner and Eric Robinson made it 4-2 within 13 seconds of each other in the third period. That lead did not even make it to the ten-minute mark of the third period; Nick Seeler and a PPG from Konecny tied it up. Would Philly add more misery to the Jackets and leave Ohio with two points? No. Vladislav Gavrikov was the hero and real human bean for scoring in OT and he plays for Columbus. The Flyers lost 5-4 in overtime. On Thursday, the Flyers went to Boston. Boston has been perfect at home this season. This game was no different. It was close for two periods. It took 11:25 into the second period for Tomas Nosek to make it 1-0 for Boston. Then it was no longer close. Jake DeBrusk scored a PPG in the second period. Owen Tippet putt in a PPG to make it 2-1. That lasted for not even 20 seconds as David Krejci made it 3-1 right after it. Krejci doubled his night with a PPG late in the third. The Flyers became Boston’s latest victim at home in a 4-1 loss. Can the Flyers get a win in Montreal on Saturday night? They were so close to doing so. The first period featured the Flyers going up 2-0 within the first three minutes thanks to Travis Sanheim and Tippett. Only for Montreal to tie it up before the second period thanks to Christian Dvorak and a Cole Caufield PPG. The debuting Mike Matheson broke the tie past the halfway mark of the second period. But Tippett tied it up to make it 3-3 going into the third period. Kevin Hayes broke the tie at 8:17 and the Flyers held on for dear life. It almost worked. But a play from Sean Monahan, Nick Suzuki, and Caufield tied up the game with 1.9 seconds left. Seriously. Caufield ripped a regulation win away from the Flyers in the penultimate second of regulation. Overtime solved nothing and a shootout was needed. Only one player scored in the shootout: Nick Suzuki. The Flyers lost 5-4 through a shootout to end their week at 0-2-2. They did get a point but a win would have been far nicer. Thanks to Washington’s own struggled, the Flyers fell to sixth place. At least they are a point behind Pittsburgh - which adds to an already spicy Friday evening game.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Flyers will have a four-game-in-six-night (fourth team in the division to have one!) week wherein they will try to stem their slide in the standings. Unfortunately for them, this week’s schedule is not kind to them. They will host Calgary on Monday. Calgary can be dirty, heavy, and a pain to play against. They are also unsuccessful on the road this season so the Flyers may be able to stun them. On Wednesday, the Flyers will have a big game in Washington. It is a potential four-point swing that could get the Flyers move up past the Caps - or have the Caps keep the Flyers down. After Thanksgiving, the Flyers will be able to turn up the hatred further. They are hosting Pittsburgh in the NHL’s 2022 Thanksgiving Showdown on Black Friday. Like the Capitals game, the Flyers could get a four-point swing in their favor - or against them. The fact that these two teams cannot stand each other adds to the motivation. The Flyers cannot just empty the tank on Friday, though. They will go to Long Island on Saturday to play an Islanders team who has been good this season, good at the UBS arena, and could use that game for some needed points based on how their week began. The Flyers’ strong start is increasingly in their distance. They could use some wins to remain relevant instead of falling further to seventh. Doing so will be another matter with this tough week of games coming up.
What Happened Last Week: Washington had a tough week on paper. How did it go on the ice? Not well for the Caps. First, on Sunday in Tampa Bay, the Lightning got revenge in the runback. In the first period alone, the Caps were shocked by four goals: Mikhail Sergachev, Nikita Kucherov (PP), Nick Perbix, and Sergachev again (PP). Oof. Conor Sheary got the Caps on the board in the second period but at that point, it felt like a consolation goal. The third period served to add to the score. Cole Koepke scored, which was answered by Lars Eller, which was answered by Nick Paul, which was answered by Garnet Hathaway. A final score of 6-3; yet, it did not change the result: a regulation loss. On Tuesday, the Capitals visited Sunrise to play the Panthers. Another decisive loss ensued. Aleksander Barkov made it 1-0 early in the first. Sam Reinhart put the Caps down two with a PPG early in the second. Dylan Strome got the Caps on the board later in the second. But there would be no comeback. Nick Cousins made it 3-1 in the third period. John Carlson pulled the visitors within one. But Sergei Bobrovsky would not be beaten again. Carter Verhaegae scored late in the third on Darcy Kuemper to make it 4-2. Then Verhaegae put in an ENG to make it a 5-2 loss for Washington. On Thursday night, the Capitals visited St. Louis, a team who has been driving the struggle bus to the bottom of the Central Division this season. Surely, Washington would make this right against the Blues? Not exactly. Washington conceded three goals in the first period to the Blues: Brayden Schenn, Pavel Buchnevich, and Torey Krug (PP). Oof. But the Caps would not lie down. Alex Ovechkin appeared to score a goal in the second period. John Carlson scored shorthanded to make it 3-2. Ryan O’Reilly poured more cold water on the Caps with a late second period goal to make it 4-2. But the Caps would still not lie down. Within the final five minutes, Carlson converted a power play and Conor Sheary tied it up late to make it 4-4. The Caps came from a deep hole and forced overtime. Nothing was solved there, so a shootout was needed. Alas, they would not win that. Evgeny Kuznetsov was the lone scorer for Washington. O’Reilly scored within the first three rounds to force extra rounds and Buchnevich won it for St. Louis. A 5-4 shootout loss to St. Louis. Washington was surely happy to be back home. Being 2-6-2 away from D.C. is no way to compete in the standings, after all. One problem: they went home to play Colorado. The Avalanche were not playing around. Alexandar Georgiev was perfect for the Avs. Cale Makar scored a PPG, Nathan MacKinnon scored, Andrew Cogliano scored, and Artturi Lehkonen scored. None of those players play for Washington. The Caps were shutout 4-0 by Colorado. A brutal week on paper became a 0-3-1 week on the ice. Washington fell to seventh and with everyone ahead of them having games in hand on the Caps, they are in a tough spot.
What’s Coming Up This Week: After last week’s gauntlet, the Capitals get the benefit of three days without a game to start this week. It is the longest break among the eight teams in the Metropolitan Division this week. When they resume playing, they will have to jump right into things. On Wednesday night, the Capitals will host Philadelphia. As the two teams are close to each other in the standings, the Capitals should really push to get a result to get (or stay) ahead of Philly. On paper, the Flyers are an easier opponent than either of the two teams they will play after Thanksgiving. On Black Friday, the Caps will host Calgary. Calgary, again, is dirty, heavy, and a pain to play against. As poor as they are on the road, by the time they get to D.C., they will at least be quite acclimated to the East Coast. It will not be a simple game. On Saturday, the Capitals will head up to Newark. The Capitals did beat the Devils 6-3 way back in October on the strength of a four-goal second period. The Devils followed that up by winning 11 games in a row. Even if the streak is over by then, the Devils will have the extra motivation of wanting to pay the Caps back in addition to having played very well and succeeding in all kinds of games. It will not be an easy end to the week even if Washington made it look easy on October 24. The Capitals will just have three games and has the “lightest” week of all eight teams. They could still get ahead of the Pennsylvanian teams. But they will have to earn it. And they need to do it fast as they now have to play catch up. Those games in hand will loom over the Caps for a bit; Philadelphia and Pittsburgh will still have one by week’s end.
What Happened Last Week: The Blue Jackets ended their slide in the prior week with a win. An overtime loss to the Isles gave them three out of four points. With a six-game homestand starting this week, they could try to salvage something in a season filled with losses and lost players to injury. On Tuesday night, they hosted a Philadelphia that has been fading as of late. Columbus struck first when Sean Kuraly scored in the first period. Boone Jenner put the home team up 2-0 with a PPG in the second period. Then the game went pear shaped. The lead was erased with goals allowed to Kevin Hayes and Noah Cates. Elvis Merzlikins left the game due to injury. In the third period, a quick pair of goals from Jenner and Eric Robinson restored a two-goal lead. Which did not even make it to halfway through the period as they conceded to Nick Seeler and a PPG to Travis Koneckny. Would Columbus suffer a late loss? No. What about overtime? Actually, they would prevail thanks to a game winning goal by the game’s hero and real human bean, Vladislav Gavrikov. On Thursday night, the Blue Jackets hosted Montreal. It was another high-scoring affair in C-Bus. The Jackets went up early with two goals in the first period; first from Cole Sillinger and second from Gustav Nyquist. Montreal hit back in the second period with Jordan Harris scoring and Josh Anderson converting a power play. Once again, a third period of goals took place in Ohio. Jenner put Columbus ahead 3-2. Minutes later, Brendan Gallagher made it 3-3. Less than a minute after that, Kuraly made it 4-3. Then Mathieu Oliver put the Jackets up 5-3 exactly a minute after that goal. On the very next shift, Nick Suzuki scored to make it 5-4. Despite the late push, Montreal could not tie it up. Kuraly put the game away with an ENG for a 6-4 win. Columbus won two so far in the week. Would they sweep the week with a win over Detroit on Saturday? They embarked in another high-scoring game. By the other team at least. Columbus mustered up only one goal. Dylan Larkin started the scoring in the first period with a PPG. Emil Bemstrom scored 43 seconds into the second period to tie it up. That lasted for almost six minutes and then Detroit made it rain goals. Filip Hronek broke the tie, Ben Chiarot made it 3-1, and Hronek scored late in the second to make it 4-1. In the third period, Dominik Kubalik added a PPG and Tyler Bertuzzi scored his first of the season for a sixth Detroit goal. The Blue Jackets lost 6-1. A crushing end to an otherwise successful week. Going 2-1-0 is a sign of competitiveness. Can they build on it? Well, we shall see with more home games coming up.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Columbus still has to try to salvage something to continue to be a competitive team in the bottom of the standings. Someone has to be in last place, but no one wants to be a doormat. Last week went well in rising above the doormat level. Columbus will have four tries and three more home games to improve their standing this week. Which is good because the Jackets have been poor on the road. Their week begins tonight. They cannot dwell on a 6-1 loss to Detroit; they have a home game against a talented but not exactly successful Florida team. Not the easiest start, surely. On Wednesday, the Blue Jackets will host Montreal again. The Blue Jackets prevailed in a wild 6-4 win last week against the Canadiens. They could conceivably beat them again. After Thanksgiving, the Jackets will host the Islanders and then visit Nashville. The Isles will like their chances in Ohio so the Blue Jackets will need to be prepared for a tough night. New Jersey, Carolina, and Manhattan will hope for a Columbus victory anyway - just to keep the Isles back. The Blue Jackets have been unsuccessful outside of Ohio this season but Nashville has seemingly alternated between being competitive and struggling. Columbus is likely to remain in last by next week’s snapshot. At least they are not mired in another winless streak.
That was the sixth Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2022-23 season. What do you expect to happen in this week coming up? Will the Devils remain in first for another snapshot? By how many points will they lead by next Sunday? Who will finish in second place between Carolina and the New York teams? Can Washington and Philadelphia stop their slides? Will Columbus remain competitive? 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.