The make-ups continue for another week. With the NHL not involved in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing due to COVID cases - something also impacting the Olympics themselves - this is the part of the month used to make up the previously postponed games. This week’s schedule is short and a bit unusual as a result. Still, the 2021-22 NHL season presses on. The Carolina Hurricanes remain at the top. Just ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and idle New York Rangers. The bottom is a more of a competition between the Philadelphia Flyers and a New Jersey Devils team that finally won a game (and a week!) recently. With Philly falling to the bottom for this snapshot (and look out, New York Islanders, you’re not far from the abyss.) this is the state of the Metropolitan Division prior to today’s games.
No one in the Metropolitan will play more than three games this week; and no one is playing at all on Valentine’s Day or Saturday. At least all eight teams will have games and some of them will be at home. Games within the division are highlighted and in bold, as usual:
Let us go over what happened last week and what is coming up for each team in the Metropolitan.
What Happened Last Week: Carolina embarked on a four-game road trip this week. Some of their games in hand were going to get used. Would the Canes pull ahead atop the division? The answer: Kind of. The road trip started off not so well. The Canes took the lead, 3-2, in the third period in Toronto on Monday. But Mitch Marner tied it up with under six minutes left in regulation and Marner took the win in overtime. The 4-3 loss did give Carolina a point. They got nothing the next night in Ottawa. Yes, Ottawa. The Sens started off and continued digging a hole for the Canes. Brady Tkachuk, Alex Formenton, and Chris Tierney put Carolina down four goals by the second intermission. The Canes did bring the fire to Anton Forsberg in a comeback attempt in the third period. However, they could only pull within one for a 4-3 regulation loss to a non-playoff team in Ottawa. Frustrated, the Canes went to Boston. They took out their frustration on the B’s. Similar to their January 18 matchup, the Hurricanes showed Boston no mercy in a 6-0 victory. Sebastian Aho picked up a brace, the team scored two PPGs, and Vincent Trocheck, Andrei Svechnikov, Brett Pesce, and Jordan Staal all contributed. With a win under their belt, first place secured for another week, and a chance to make the road trip an overall success, the Canes went to Minnesota. This one was close in that there was no scoring until the halfway mark of the second period and Svechnikov scored twice quickly in the third period. The problem was that the Canes were down 3-0 when Svechnikov got his brace. Try as they might, they could not take anything from St. Paul, Minnesota; a place where few have had done well as the Wild have a 12-game point streak at home. The Canes lost 3-2. They did not win their week. While they secured first and still have advantages like games played and tie breakers; they are in first by just a point. It could have been more. Instead, they’ll have to keep earning points while looking over their shoulder.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Carolina will play when the division will not in this coming week. They will be idle for three days before hosting Florida on February 16. The last time Florida came to Raleigh, the Panthers took a 4-3 overtime win on January 8. This potential Eastern Conference Final game could go either way. It should be a fascinating game. On Friday, the Canes will host Nashville. Way back on October 16, the Canes did go to Tennessee and left with a 3-2 win. That was a while ago, but it can help guide how this game may go. Even with a tiny lead, Carolina remains in the driver’s seat for the division. Keep driving.
SBN Blog: Canes Country
What Happened Last Week: The Pittsburgh Penguins won their games this week. They had two and came away with four points. Mathematically, they could not catch Carolina. They did jump past an idle Rangers team and furthered their gap over Washington. Job done. Those two wins? They beat Boston 4-2 on Tuesday. Despite giving up a brace to David Pastrnak in the first period, the Pens rallied in the second period with a brace by Danton Heinen and Sidney Crosby converting a power play to take a 3-2 lead. Bryan Rust sealed the win with an empty-netter. On Thursday, the Penguins went to Ottawa. They denied them a winning streak with a 2-0 shutout win. Jeff Carter scored at 7:25 into the second period and that was enough as Casey DeSmith stopped everything the Sens threw at him. Matt Murray did his best against 43 shots but Carter beat him and Rust put home another ENG to make it a four-point week for the Penguins. Well done.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Penguins will play two more bad teams before a playoff-quality opponent. However, these bad teams may trip them up. The Penguins will visit the New Jersey Devils for a Sunday afternoon game. The Penguins did beat the Devils in Newark back in December (3-2 on December 19), but it was not a massive win. And the Devils did win in Pittsburgh earlier (4-2 on October 30). With New Jersey now the winners of two straight, it may not be a simple task. On Tuesday, the Penguins will host Philadelphia. Philly has played some of the saddest hockey in recent franchise memory. And the Pens have beat on the Flyers 6-2 in their previous game on January 6. Yet, the last Penguins-Flyers game in Pittsburgh required overtime for the Pens to win. It is still a massive rivalry game. Taking that lightly is never good. Still, the Penguins should be favored in both. On Thursday, they will be in Toronto. That is a team far closer to Pittsburgh’s level. The Pens have done well in general, so they have a good chance to leave with points. Look out, Carolina. Sorry, Rangers. The Penguins are not likely going to go away soon.
SBN Blog: PensBurgh
What Happened Last Week: Nothing. At least, nothing in terms of the Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot, where the focus is on the games played. The Rangers had no games. They did fall to third place but still remain in the conversation for first in the division.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Rangers will play some games. They will host Boston on Tuesday, February 15. This long-time rivalry may not have as much heat as it does in past decades. The last time these two played was in the 2021 Thanksgiving Game in Boston and the Rangers won 5-2. Will this be a repeat? I am not sure but it will be competitive. The Rangers will host Detroit on Thursday, February 17. With Boston slipping a bit, any realistic shot of Detroit challenging for their wild card spot means that the Red Wings need to win at any chance. The Rangers may deny them that. But who knows? It’s their first meeting this season. The Rangers should aim at Pittsburgh before aiming at Carolina, but they have been here before this season. This should not phase them.
SBN Blog: Blueshirt Banter
What Happened Last Week: After five days of no games, the Washington Capitals returned to their home rink to host Columbus. A non-playoff-bound Blue Jacket team. The Capitals lost in regulation, 5-4, to them. This game was close and had drama right up until the end. Patrik Laine tied it up 3-3 seconds before the end of the second period. Trey Fix-Wolansky scored his first NHL goal early in the second to put the visitors up. There was no response until Tom Wilson put in an equalizer with fewer than three minutes to go in regulation. Boone Jenner denied the Capitals at least a point through overtime when he scored with 45 seconds left. Ouch. On Thursday, the Caps went to Montreal. An eight-win team who just fired their head coach and had Martin St. Louis make his debut as interim head coach. Surely, the Capitals can rebound there? They did. Joe Snively scored his first NHL goal, Connor McMichael scored on the next shift, and the Washington Capitals did not look back in a 5-2 win. The result split the week at 1-1-0. They remain solidly in fourth place. That the Rangers have two games in hand on the Capitals and the Caps are behind them by three points is not favorable. But they are not collapsing. One would think so, at least.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Capitals will be busy again with three games coming up. They will be hosting Ottawa in an afternoon game today. As much as Ottawa can surprise a team like, say, Columbus; the Capitals really should try to do right by their fans and win that one. After that game, Washington will be on the road for this week and next week. Tuesday night will see the Capitals in Nashville. That should be a fun contest of teams of similar quality. Washington could sweep their series against them as they did beat the Preds 5-3 back on December 29. On Thursday, they will travel to Philadelphia. The Capitals lost to Philly way back on November 6, 2-1. With Philadelphia being really bad and the Capitals needing points to climb their way up the standings, they should seek to win there this week. The Capitals need to take a Pittsburgh approach and just focus on getting results consistently. They are in an unfavorable place standings-wise, but progress can only help them. It is possible to make progress with Ottawa, Nashville, and Philadelphia coming up on the schedule. Don’t blow it.
SBN Blog: Japers’ Rink
What Happened Last Week: Columbus started a five-game road trip this week. It has started quite well. Their first stop was in Washington D.C. A night where Patrik Laine scored twice, Trey Fix-Wolansky scored a very timely first NHL goal, and Boone Jenner stunned the home team with a game winner with 45-seconds left. The 5-4 win in Washington surely felt good. Thursday night in Buffalo was a bit more challenging. Despite scoring first, the Sabres took the game in the second period with two scores and Alex Tuch quickly made it 3-1 early in the third period. Buffalo needed another comeback effort. They got it with Brendan Gaunce’s first goal of the season and Oliver Bjorkstrand converting a power play to make it 3-3. Overtime was needed and Jakub Voracek scored his second of the season - yes, really - sixteen seconds into the fourth period - yes, just 16 seconds - to make it another win for the Jackets. This week’s part of the road trip ended in Montreal yesterday. Montreal has been awful this season and Columbus continued to pile on the misery. It was close to a positive result for the home team. Bjorkstand scored early. A miscue after a dump-in yielded an equalizer for Cole Caufield. It was 1-1 until Jeff Petry tripped Bjorkstrand. It remained 1-1 during the man advantage until there was eight seconds left. That’s when Laine finished his shot. PPG. 2-1 Columbus. A ninth-straight loss for Montreal. A third-straight win for Columbus. They swept their week and have secured at least a winning record for this road trip. It may not mean much for the season, but it has to feel good all the same for the Blue Jackets.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Blue Jackets will head out west to conclude their road trip next week. Tuesday night will be a tough one. They will be in Calgary. Calgary is not just a good team with a real shot at winning their division. They are a good team who has eaten up Metropolitan Division teams like potato chips this season. Back on January 26, Calgary went to Columbus and left with a 6-0 win. I do not think a game in their building will be much easier. Fortunately for Columbus, they will travel to a non-playoff-bound Chicago team for Thursday night. While the Blackhawks beat them on January 11, 4-2; the game should be more competitive than the expected beating the Flames may put on them. The road trip may end up being a success overall as Columbus can work towards being the best of the rest in the division and in the conference. They are just three points behind Detroit with three games in hand on them. Again, it may not mean much, but where they are is far better than most of their preseason expectations.
SBN Blog: The Cannon
What Happened Last Week: The Islanders hit the road for the first time since January 18; which was a trip to Philly and their only road game so far in 2022 until this week. This week had the Isles go all the way out to Western Canada. The first stop in Vancouver went really well. Despite both teams having the best 5-on-5 goaltending in the league, there were nine goals scored - six by the Isles. Zach Parise, Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, Casey Cizikas, and Mat Barzal all scored in the first period before Vancouver even respond to any of it. The first three goals were scored 31 seconds apart from each other. Their early melting of the Canucks yielded a 6-3 win. On Friday night, the Isles got to play Edmonton just after they fired their head coach, Dave Tippett. The Oilers were in control on the scoreboard. Mike Smith played well, Cody Ceci and Zach Human scored before the Isles could get on the board. Which they only did once, a PPG by Anthony Beauvillier. Jesse Puljujarvi put Edmonton up 3-1 with a PPG of his own and that was it for that game. Last night, the Islanders played Alberta’s better team in Calgary. I had a feeling this would not go so well for the Isles. It did not. At no point did the Isles lead in the game. When Noah Dobson tied it up with a late first period PPG, Calgary re-took the lead a minute later thanks to Chris Tanev. Andrew Mangiapane made it 3-1 in the second. While J-G Pageau clawed back a goal, two more from the Flames in the third period locked up a 5-2 win for the home team. This meant a 1-2-0 result from Western Canada. Combined with Columbus sweeping their week, they are now 7 points back of the Blue Jackets. The Isles would have to win all four games in hand on the Jackets to secure finishing ahead of them - never mind make up enough ground to crash a nearly-decided race for a wild card spot. But can they win those extra games? This past week further suggests that they may not.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Islanders will wrap up their road trip in Buffalo on Tuesday, February 15. Buffalo is not a total doormat team and if the Isles want to keep faint playoff hopes alive, they really need a win there. Even so, it may be too faint at this point. The Isles will return home for Thursday, February 17. They will host Boston. Boston has hit some struggles as of late. And the Isles beat the B’s in Long Island, 3-1, back on December 16. Again, the Islanders need points out of this one too to keep things going. But every slip up is going to further confirm their likely fate. It is appearing that the hole is just too deep for them. So it goes.
SBN Blog: Lighthouse Hockey
New Jersey Devils
What Happened Last Week: For the first time in a long time, the Devils won a week. They took more than half of the possible points in a week. They had three games. They won two of them. Their losing streak finally ended. They even beat a playoff-bound team. The failures did have to begin on Monday in Ottawa, first, though. The Devils gave up 2 goals within 9 seconds in the second period to give the Senators a commanding 3-1 lead. They could not solve Matt Murray. Despite a heated conversation by Lindy Ruff to his players, the Devils gave up a fourth goal in the third period minutes after said conversation and the team lost 4-1. The next night, they were in Montreal. Could this Devils team at least beat the worst team in hockey? The answer: Yes. Oh yes. The Devils scored two goals in the first period. They did not crumple when Montreal got on the board in the second period. They took some penalties, but they emerged with three scores in the second period to take a commanding 5-1 lead. Two more goals boosted it to a 7-1 win. A massive blowout to end a seven-game losing streak. It even got Dominique Ducharme fired from Montreal; it was the last straw as he was let go on Wednesday. The team moved onto St. Louis on Thursday night. A playoff-bound Blues team with just five regulation losses at home. The Devils scored first and second again. However, the Blues responded to Michael McLeod’s highlight reel goal on the next shift by Klim Kostin. When Brayden Schenn and Justin Faulk scored - no thanks to Pavel Zacha - in a second period the Blues controlled, it looked like Lindy Ruff’s gameplan was downloaded again in the first period and the Devils were going to falter to another loss. But, no. A lovely pass by Nico Hischier to Yegor Sharangovich provided an equalizer. In a 4-on-4 situation, Hischier finished a great read by P.K. Subban past a sliding Jordan Binnington to make it 4-3 New Jersey. Late in the third, Jimmy Vesey stunned Binnington and everyone else with a backhander to make it 5-3. An important insurance goal as Pavel Buchnevich roared through the Devils and set up Schenn to make it 5-4 on the next shift. But Jesper Boqvist beat out an icing and put home an ENG and Hischier added in another ENG for a 7-4 win. The Devils won two straight road games and won their first week in a long while. Would they stay out of last place? Thanks to Detroit, the answer is yes. For this snapshot at least. A welcome sight, especially after that extensive losing streak.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Devils will return home today to host Pittsburgh this afternoon. On Tuesday, they will host Tampa Bay. While the Devils have wins over both teams, their most recent game against each were loses. Close losses on the scoreboard. But still losses. Also: both Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay have something to play for while the Devils do not. And: both Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay are really good while the Devils are not. As much as I would love to see the Devils have an actual winning streak and win a home game for the first time since January 22 (last 3 were losses), I would not hold my breath. Stranger things have happened though.
SBN Blog: All About the Jersey - They’re not Philadelphia.
What Happened Last Week: The Flyers went into their All-Star Game break with wins. Back to back wins. Sweet, glorious, warming, cozy wins. Would they make it three in a row on February 9 when they hosted Detroit? No. Absolutely not. This game was close for a period and six minutes when the first seven minutes featured each team trading goals and sitting at 2-2. Then at 6:12 into the second period, Pius Suter scored. Five minutes later, Robby Fabbri scored. While Scott Laughton hit back immediately to make it 4-3, the Red Wings lead stood until 8:46 into the third. That was when Givani Smith made it 5-3 for the visitors. Vladislav Namestnikov sealed the deal late for a 6-3 defeat of the Flyers. Yesterday, the two teams faced off in Detroit. This afternoon, Detroit went up early and never looked back. Fabbri scored in the first period. Filip Zadina made it 2-0 just before halfway through the second. Keith Yandle scored his first of the season for Philly with eight seconds left in the second period to give the Flyers some life. Moritz Seider dug the hole in deeper a bit after nine minutes into the third. Laughton responded with a goal right after that to make it a one-shot game. But the only shot to go in afterwards was an empty-netter by Michael Rasmussen. A 4-2 loss for the Flyers. Back to back losses sent the Flyers back down to last in the Metropolitan.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Two really good and rival (or rival-esque) opponents. They will travel across the state to visit Pittsburgh on Tuesday. As sad as the Flyers’ performances have been this season, a rivalry can be a wildcard in terms of expectations. Maybe the Flyers get up for this one and take the game to the Pens. Maybe they sag as they did throughout January. Who knows. On Thursday, the Flyers will host Washington. There is not a lot of love between these two teams. However, the visitors have their playoff positioning to play for and all Philly has is pride. This may not bode well for Philly. But, hey, it’s not Detroit for a week. Just two far better teams. (Spoiler: It does not get easier in the following week, Flyers fans).
SBN Blog: Broad Street Hockey
That was the eighteenth Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2021-22 season. What do you expect to happen in this week coming up? Will Carolina continue to reign? How will the Rangers do after a week-plus off? Can the Washington Capitals climb up? Can the Columbus Blue Jackets become the best of the non-playoff teams in the East? Will New Jersey jump past Philadelphia? 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.