This is the fourth week of the Metropolitan Division Snapshot. For the first time in a long time, the team that this blog represents and supports are represented in the headline photo. You know what that means. The New Jersey Devils are in first place in the Metropolitan Division. They have been hot and they just finished a difficult road trip through Western Canada with three wins out of three. The Devils edged out Carolina with their win last night for first and they have a four-point cushion over the middle of the division, all tied with 14 points. With the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins slumping, the division is not as tight. Still, it is at the top, and that team at this moment is the New Jersey Devils. You certainly love to see it.
This week’s schedule is spread out through the week coming up. There are games on all seven days. Just about everyone is active on Saturday except for the Washington Capitals. There are four inter-division match-ups that could cause some swings in the standings. The New York rivalry will be a key one given how three teams have 14 points in this snapshot. Here is the upcoming schedule with those four inter-division games 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 went into this week with two straight wins. The Devils kept on winning. Last Sunday, they hosted Columbus in an afternoon game at The Rock. The Devils have struggled mightily with the Blue Jackets for years. The Devils absolutely wrecked the Columbus Blue Jackets with a 60 minute effort that showed little let up. After a flood of shots, Fabian Zetterlund finished a feed from Nico Hischier to beat Elvis Merzlikins in the first period. The shots would yield more goals as the game went on Nico Hischier scored to make it 2-0. Ryan Graves dropped a hammer of a slapshot as a trailer on a rush on the next shift to make it 3-0. Yegor Chinakhov gave Columbus a brief fighting chance with a goal in the second period. Then Merzlikins jumped on a scrum late in the second period after Nathan Bastian may have come close to poking the goalie in a sensitive area. In the resulting 4-on-4, John Marino stole a pass to Johnny Gaudreau and fired a shot that went off Merzlikins’ glove and in to make it 4-1. Jonas Siegenthaler jumped up on a power play to put home a rebound to make it 5-1. Jesper Bratt scored on a rush to make it 6-1. Miles Wood powered through David Jiricek and went bar down to complete the rout at 7-1. This game ruled. Then the Devils embarked on a trip to Western Canada. In Vancouver, the Devils got off to a slow start with only one shot on net. Which was a goal; Hischier completed a lovely passing play to convert a power play. Late in the period and after some more shots, Michael McLeod put home a rebound to make it 2-0. Dawson Mercer finished a 2-on-1 for a shorthanded goal and not long after Yegor Sharangovich finished a 2-on-1 to make it 4-0. One Vancouver timeout and two Devils power plays later, Bo Horvat got the Canucks on the board. The Canucks pressed late when Horvat converted another power play with an extra skater. But Jack Hughes ended the game with the empty net goal (ENG) for a 5-2 final result. On Thursday, the Devils went to Edmonton for a very fast, offensive game of hockey. The Devils controlled much of the play in the first period, but a bad decision by Bratt yielded a 2-on-1 that Connor McDavid finished. Miles Wood would put home a one-timer later in the first to tie it up. Then a disastrous set of minutes took place in a second period that Edmonton mostly owned. Derek Ryan scored on Mackenzie Blackwood from the left circle at 8:00. Damon Severson took a hooking call against Evander Kane. Blackwood went down with an injury at 8:41. Vitek Vanecek had to come into the game to replace him. Leon Draisaitl scored on the first shot Vanecek faced at 9:26 to make it 3-1. But the Devils entered the third with a purpose. Wood scored off a faceoff win early in the third to make it 3-2. The Devils kept throwing rubber at Stuart Skinner. Graves, who otherwise had a bad game, would provide the equalizer late as he fired a low shot and was tripped up. The puck trickled through Skinner’s legs. Then franchise history happened. Hischier won a draw, Bratt passed the puck back to Marino, Marino hit Bratt with a stretch pass, and Bratt scored just 7 seconds after Graves’ goal. The Devils scored their fastest pair of goals in franchise history to lead 4-3. Vanecek and the team held on for the win. Last night in Calgary, Damon Severon “helped” Nazem Kadri get on the board early. But the Devils had a response. Jack Hughes dropped a dime to the open middle for Nathan Bastian to tie up the game.Then Hischier dropped another dime to Tatar that led to Zetterlund scoring. Then McLeod hit Wood crashing to the net in stride for a goal. The Devils were up 3-1. They tried to extend the lead. But a power play ended with a Severson misplay and a 2-on-0 for Calgary. It ended with Elias Lindholm putting in a second effort past Vanecek to make it 3-2. The Devils held on and could not solve Jacob Markstrom. Early in the third, Blake Coleman found Nikita Zadorov cutting to the net with a saucer pass and he finished it to make it 3-3. Both teams had stretches of offense with some of those attempts even getting to the goalie. But both teams missed, got blocked, or saved. Overtime was needed; the first time for the Devils this season. They got a big break: Lindholm hit Marino away from the play in OT. The Devils’ power play was not threatening in regulation, but in 4-on-3, they could end it. And they did. Hughes to Hamilton. Hamilton faked a shot, sent it to his left to Zetterlund. Zetterlund hammered a one timer to beat Markstrom and win the game 4-3. A beat down, a decisive win, a comeback win, and salvaging a blown lead in overtime. The Devils won four different games in four different ways. It is 4-0-0 in the standings and the Devils are in first place in the division. The Devils have now won six in a row. Can it continue?
What’s Coming Up This Week: Maybe! I hope so! This week, the Devils will be at home for all three games. On Tuesday, the Devils will host the Flames. It will not be an easy game at all as the Flames did put up a tough fight in all three zones and even came within two shots in regulation. But the Flames will be coming off a game in Long Island, so the Devils will have a fatigue advantage as well as home ice. On Thursday, the Devils will host Ottawa. Ottawa can attack, but they have been rather unsuccessful away from home. The Devils could get something there. On Saturday, the Devils will host Arizona. Arizona should not be totally disrespected. Just ask Washington and Columbus. Or the Rangers, who only beat them by one. Or Florida, whom Arizona actually beat last week. Still, the Devils should have the talent advantage as well as home ice and possibly fantastic form going into Saturday night. The Devils are hot. They are getting results in different ways. The processes are good to wonderful. Even if the streak ends, I doubt the Devils will go into free fall. The Devils, yes, the Devils are in a great place.
What Happened Last Week: The Carolina Hurricanes did what they could in this past week. It was close at times. But they pulled out the results that got them points in the standings. On Halloween, the Hurricanes hosted Washington. The game was tight. Stefan Noesen opened the scoring with a power play goal in the first. Washington would respond early in the second with a goal by Dylan Strome and, later, Alex Ovechkin. However, the Canes would tie it up later in the second period thanks to Andrei Svechnikov. The 2-2 score stood through the second period, the third period, and even overtime. Frederik Andersen and Darcy Kuemper (who had more work to do at 2-2) were allowing nothing. A shootout was needed. Brent Burns and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored in the first round. Svechnikov would score in the second round and no one else would do so after him. The Canes won the shootout for the 3-2 win. On Thursday, the Canes visited Tampa Bay. This one featured a ton of offense from Carolina as Andrei Vasilevskiy made 52 saves. There would also be more scoring. Seth Jarvis scored for Carolina in the first period. The second period saw Tampa Bay go up 3-2 as Ross Colton, Nick Paul, and Nikita Kucherov scored with only Martin Necas interrupting the Lightning’s strikes. In the third period, Carolina would get an equalizer that surely demoralized Tampa Bay a bit: a shorthanded goal by defenseman Brady Skjei. The 3-3 score stood as Carolina could not beat Vasilevskiy in the third period again. Or in overtime. A six-round shootout was needed to end this one. Colton scored in the fourth round, only to be matched by Teuvo Teravainen. In the sixth round, Corey Perry missed and Sebastian Aho did not - he scored. The Canes won another shootout for a 4-3 final result - two more points. The Canes returned to North Carolina to host Buffalo on Friday night. No shootout was needed. While Jacob Bryson scored for Buffalo 28 seconds into the game, the Canes would see this one through. Aho scored twice in the first period, ending the first at 2-2 as Victor Olofsson did score for Buffalo between Aho goals. In the second period, Necas broke the tie. In the third period, Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored to make 4-2 and Aho finished his hat trick with an empty net goal. Rasmus Dahlin scored a consolation PPG with a second left in regulation for a 5-3 final score. A regulation win is still two points. The Canes swept the week by going 3-0-0. They are down in tie breakers with the shootout wins, but they remain solidly in second place. They fell just behind a super-hot New Jersey team in the standings. But they could not do much better than they did - except maybe winning those first two games within regulation, but hey.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Hurricanes will play four games coming up and all four will be a challenge of sorts. This evening, the Hurricanes will host Toronto. Toronto can light up teams and given the situation with their goalies, they may have to in order to succeed. On Wednesday, the Canes will visit Florida to play the Panthers. They are no slouches even if they are not on a torrid pace in the standings like last season. On Thursday, Carolina will return home to host Edmonton. The Oilers have the two best players in the world, can play super-fast, and are more than just an offensive force. On Saturday, the Hurricanes will go to Denver to play the Avs. The Avs may be getting out of their shooting slump, which makes them even more dangerous of an opponent. The Hurricanes are good enough to go into any of these games and get results. They did just win their last four games, after all. How they do it as well as if they do it will further confirm their status as contenders.
What Happened Last Week: The Philadelphia Flyers continue to defy expectations by being in third place in the Metropolitan Division at this point of the season. They would split the points in their three games last week. The Flyers went to Manhattan and Carter Hart had to be impressive. He stopped 35 shots. The Flyers put just 19 on Igor Shesterkin. Nothing would go in for either team. At least not until overtime when Chris Kreider put the 36th shot for the Rangers on net - and into the net. The Flyers lost 1-0, earning a point. On Wednesday night, the Flyers visited Toronto. The Flyers tried to hold their own, but they could not catch the Leafs after the first period. Joel Farabee did score to open the game’s scoring. However, Auston Matthews scored a PPG and John Tavares scored late in the period to end it at 2-1. After a scoreless second period, Zach Aston-Reese made it 3-1 for Toronto early in the third. Owen Tippett put in a PPG to make it 3-2. Then John Tavares ended the game with a pair of goals. His hat trick made it a 5-2 final score, a loss for Philly. The Flyers ended their week in Ottawa on Saturday. Flyers legend Claude Giroux scored against his old team early in the first period. Kevin Hayes would convert a PPG to tie it up. Late in the second period, Zack MacEwen made it 2-1. Hart and the Flyers held on to win at 2-1. The Flyers went 1-1-1 in the week and remain in third place due to playing one fewer game than the New York teams. The expectations remain defied.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Flyers have three games coming up and they may like their chances in all three. The Flyers will host a St. Louis team that has had an awful start to their season on Tuesday night. The Flyers will visit Columbus on Thursday night. Columbus will be desperate for a win given their losing streak and stewing over a pair of losses in Finland to Colorado for four days before the game. Philly can do their best to make it worse. On Saturday, the Flyers will host Ottawa - a team who has struggled on the road this season and a team the Flyers just beat. Provided they do not collapse, the Flyers are not going to sink just yet.
What Happened Last Week: The Islanders have been hot with a 3-1-0 week in the prior week with all three wins coming in a row. The winning would continue on the road for most of this past week. On Tuesday, the Islanders went to Chicago. The Islanders controlled much of a not particularly high-scoring game. Anders Lee scored a PPG in the first period, Brock Nelson made it 2-0 in the third period, Jonathan Toews made it 2-1 with a PPG, and Zach Parise ended it with an an empty netter for a 3-1 win. Solid. On Thursday, the Islanders went to St. Louis to pour more misery on a Blues team in a slump. St. Louis scored first with Vladimir Tarasenko beating Ilya Sorokin in the first period. Then the Islanders responded with four goals in just over 10 minutes in the second period: Kyle Palmieri, Nelson, Josh Bailey, and Lee. Robert Thomas pulled the Blues within two with a PPG in the third period. But it would not be enough. Jean-Gabriel Pageau put home an ENG to make it a 5-2 win for the Islanders. The Islanders visited Detroit with the goal of sweeping the week to further extend their winning streak. They left Detroit with no goals at all. Ville Husso stopped 24 out of 24 shots. Lucas Raymond, Pius Suter, and Dominik Kubalik each scored for a 3-0 final score. The Islanders’ winning streak was snapped. They still won the week by going 2-1-0 and remain in the mix in the division instead of looking up at most of the teams in the standings. That is still a positive.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Islanders will be in the state of New York all week. They will be busy with four games in six nights. They will host Calgary on Monday night. Calgary is not an fun opponent as they can grind out games and control the run of play. Devils fans will hope this one goes long, though. The Isles cannot expend too much energy on Monday night. They will go to Manhattan to play their hated rivals in the Rangers on Tuesday night. The Islanders’ winning streak began with a 3-0 win over the Rangers at UBS Arena on October 26. The Rangers will certainly look for revenge. The Isles will hope to deny them for points in the standings and bragging rights among the fans. The Islanders will go back to Long Island for their next two games. They will host Arizona on Thursday and Columbus on Saturday. On paper, the Isles should like their chances. But looking past Arizona is a bad idea (just ask Washington). Ditto for Columbus, who is searching for any kind of win at this point. The Isles are in a position to stay in a good one with a bounce back after the loss in Detroit. We shall see if they can do it, especially with that nasty back-to-back set to start this week.
What Happened Last Week: The Rangers were on the road last weekend. They entered this past week coming off a win in Dallas. They would make it a winning weekend at Arizona State University on Sunday. Alexis Lafreniere opened the scoring in the second period. Arizona hit back with a PPG by Lawson Crouse and a goal from Nick Bjugstad. Late in the second period, Artemi Panarin tied up the game for New York. In the third period, Mika Zibanejad converted a power play to break the tie. It would hold up as the winner in a 3-2 game. On Tuesday, the Rangers returned home to host Philadelphia. This was a goaltending duel between Igor Shesterkin and Carter Hart. Albeit Hart faced 36 shots and Shesterkin faced 19, so New York surely had the better of the run of play. It took overtime for a goal to be scored. Chris Kreider provided it with less than a minute left in OT. The Rangers won 1-0. With a chance to sweep the week, the Rangers hosted Boston on Thursday. They became the B’s latest victim. It was close for most of the game. David Pastrnak scored in the first period. Jimmy Vesey tied it up just past the halfway mark in the second period. Early in the third, Charlie Coyle and Adam Fox traded goals within the first four minutes. Then Trent Frederic scored just over six minutes into the third and the Bruins never looked back. Jake DeBrusk extended the lead to two goals. Hampus Lindholm sailed in the ENG to end a smothering third period for Boston (17-4 in shots for Boston!) and hand the Rangers 5-2 loss. Disappointing as that may have been, it was a 2-1-0 week for the Rangers. They hold pace with the Islanders and Flyers within the division. Tiebreakers are the reason why they are in fifth and that may not last.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Rangers will be busy with four games coming up this week. Two will be against Detroit. The Rangers will host Detroit in an early evening game today. They will visit Detroit on Thursday. Detroit is certainly not an easy opponent, although I struggle to call them contenders. The Rangers will need to be on their toes for those two games. On Tuesday night, the Rangers will have to get up for a rivalry game against the Islanders. In their last meeting, the Isles shut out the Rangers at UBS Arena. The Rangers will surely look for revenge at MSG on Tuesday night. The Blueshirts will end their week in Tenneesee as they visit Nashville for a Saturday night game - and to start another weekend that will end with a game against Arizona. But that is for next week’s snapshot.
What Happened Last Week: Washington won their previous week with their first two road wins of the season. How would they build on that? Unfortunately for the Washington faithful, they did not. On Halloween, the Capitals visited Raleigh to play the Hurricanes. It was a close affair. Stefan Noesen scored for Carolina on a power play to open the scoring. The second period had more action with Dylan Strome and Alex Ovechkin scoring for the Caps and Andrei Svechnikov scoring for the Canes. The third period: no goals at all. Overtime: No goals. In a shootout, the goals came quickly. And in favor of Carolina: Brent Burns and Svechnikov scored, only Evgeny Kuznetsov scored for Washington. The 3-2 shootout loss did give them a point. On the next night, the Capitals returned home to host Las Vegas. Different team, different arena, and a similar result with a slightly different path. Marcus Johansson opened the scoring with a PPG, only for it to be matched by Jack Eichel late in the first period. Trevor van Riemsdyk scored in the second period and William Carrier tied it up in the third period. Shea Theodore ended the game in overtime to hand Washington another post-regulation point in a 3-2 loss. OK, two points, no wins, no big deal right? Wrong. Washington went to Detroit on Thursday night. Ovechkin scored for Washington to tie a league record for most goals with one-team. Then Detroit took over. Lucas Raymond scored a PPG to tie up the game in the second period. Andrew Copp broke the tie late for Detroit in the third period. Dylan Larkin sealed a 3-1 loss for Washington. Surely, the Capitals hosting Arizona would mean a positive end to the week. Nope. Washington was held scoreless in the first, but took a 2-0 lead minutes into the third period with a second period PPG by Ovechkin (so he set the record for most goals with one team) and a third period goal from Anthony Mantha. Then Arizona made the comeback to stun the Capitals. Josh Brown got the Coyotes on the board, Nick Ritchie tie it up before halfway through the third period, and Ritchie scored again with just 36 seconds left in regulation to make it a 3-2 regulation loss. Washington picked up just two out of eight points and fall to sixth place. They are now winless in four games and could use a turnaround and fast.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Capitals will be home all week for three games. The problem is that their opponents will be quite challenging. They will host Edmonton, who is certainly no pushover this season, on Monday night. On Wednesday, they will host Pittsburgh. The Pens are slumping and it could be Washington’s best chance on paper to get a win this week. However, those teams are not fans of each other and the Penguins are desperate for a win themselves. On Friday night, the Capitals will host Tampa Bay. The Caps will see Tampa Bay again in two days. The Lightning are starting to regain their form of being contenders. Any results from the Caps in these games will likely be well earned. But they need to be wins. Otherwise, they may stay in this half of the division even longer.
What Happened Last Week: The Penguins were winless in the previous week on the road through the Northwestern part of the league. They returned home to play the supremely hot Boston Bruins on Tuesday night. This one was a goal-fest. Sidney Crosby scored 30 seconds into the game. Boston responded with goals by Charlie Coyle and Jakub Lauko in the first period. Pittsburgh proceeded to score four straight in the second period with goals by Evgeni Malkin, Josh Archibald, Bryan Rust, and Rickard Rakell. But Boston got a bit of hope when Brad Marchand converted a power play to make it 5-3. After ten minutes of holding on, Boston broke through. Pavel Zacha scored with just over 8 minutes left in the third to make it 5-4. Taylor Hall provided the equalizer with less than 2 minutes left. In overtime, Hampus Lindholm completed the comeback with 1:23 left in the fourth period to hand Pittsburgh another loss, 6-5. They get a point, but with a three goal lead, I am sure the expectation was to win. On Wednesday, Pittsburgh went to Buffalo. The first 38 minutes went well enough. Jason Zucker scored in the first period and Archibald made it 2-0 fairly early into the second period. But with 1:09 left in the second period, J.J. Peterka put Buffalo on the board. Jake Guentzel seemingly made things right when he converted a power play just 8 seconds into the third period. Then the Penguins suffered another meltdown. Tage Thompson on the power play made it 3-2. Victor Olofsson made it 3-3. Alex Tuch made it 4-3. Kyle Okposo and Olofsson put home empty netters to make it a 6-3 loss for Pittsburgh. The Pens returned home for a Saturday game against Seattle. Surely, this would go better. Well, they did not give up six goals. That was a plus. But it was a tighter game against the second-season opponent. After a scoreless first period, Crosby scored in the second period. Only for Vince Dunn to respond for the Kraken a little over two minutes later. In the third period, Yanni Gourde put the Kraken up 2-1. Guentzel tied it up about two minutes after that. Then the score held until Brandon Tanev - yes, the guy with the profile photo where his eyes are as wide open as dinner plates - scored with 3:39 left in regulation. The Penguins lost 3-2. They went winless again. They picked up one point out of a possible six. They are sinking in the division, only ahead of an equally slumping Columbus team. Whom was the last team they beat, way back on October 22.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Penguins need a win. They will have to find it outside of Pennsylvania this week. After three days of what I would think are some reflection and tough practices, they will visit Washington. The Caps have not exactly been hot themselves. But this game is usually one of interest and desperation may lead to interesting results for one of them. On Friday, the Penguins will head up to Ontario play Toronto, another team who is looking for something better than recent events have yielded. On Saturday, the Penguins will go to Quebec to play Montreal, who has nothing to lose and everything to gain. It is not an easy set of three games in four nights. Nothing is easy when you are in a slump. Somehow, Pittsburgh has to stop the slide. Otherwise, they will continue to fall behind in a competitive division.
Columbus Blue Jackets
What Happened Last Week: The Columbus Blue Jackets went into this week in the hopes of winning a game to avoid a losing streak. They failed. Last Sunday, they visited the New Jersey Devils. For the last seven years, Columbus has dominated the match-up in terms of record. Not on October 30, 2022. The New Jersey Devils hammered the Blue Jackets from start to finish. First with shots, then with goals. Columbus scored one (1) consolation goal in a 7-1 beating in Newark. Columbus then packed up and left New Jersey to head to Tampere, Finland. They were to play Colorado in a “home and home” as part of the 2022 Global Series. Colorado went up early in the first game and made it 3-0 just into the second period with scores from Logan O’Connor, J.T. Compher, and Mikko Rantanen. But the Jackets fought back. Jakub Voracek scored a PPG not long after Rantanen’s goal. Patrik Laine made it 3-2 in the second period. Early in the third, Sean Kuraly made it 3-3. Would Columbus keep on going? No. The Avalanche said no. Rantanen converted a PPG just shy of 9 minutes into the third period. Cale Makar scored a bit before 11 minutes into the third period. Rantanen completed his hat trick with an ENG to make it a 6-3 loss. That was Friday and it would be the most competitive game they would play this week. On Saturday, Artturi Lehkonen scored 33 seconds into the game. Boone Jenner would convert a power play to tie up the game in the first period. Then the Avalanche just buried Columbus with three goals within the first five minutes of the second period. Martin Kaut, O’Connor, and Devon Toews blew the game open. Alex Newhook scored early in the third to cap off of a 5-1 loss for Columbus. The Blue Jackets have lost every game in regulation since waxing the Rangers on October 23. They are on a five game and counting losing streak and entrenched in last place in the Metropolitan Division.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Since Columbus went all the way to Finland to play two games (and lose), they will return back to Ohio and get four days without a game to recover. I would imagine practices, video sessions, and meetings may be intense in an attempt to break the losing streak. They will get two chances to do so. The problem is that both teams have been done well as of late. The Blue Jackets will host Philadelphia on Thursday night. A Flyers team that continues to get results will not be an easy opponent. On Saturday, the Blue Jackets will go to Long Island. The Isles have played great as of late. Columbus just needs a win in the worst way. Whether it will happen, I could not tell you. It’s bleak in Ohio right now.
That was the fourth Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2022-23 season. What do you expect to happen in this week coming up? Will the New Jersey Devils hold onto first place for another week? Will there be a break up in the middle of the division? Who will break their winless ways first: Washington, Pittsburgh, or Columbus? 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.