The All-Star Game is in the books. The trade deadline is over six weeks away. The stretch run to the postseason begins this week as the NHL regular season resumes. As is tradition for the Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot, there are two new columns in the snapshot. One are a team’s odds of making the playoffs, which come from Moneypuck. Granted, I may not leave that up for the remainder of the season since the top four teams are just about locked into the postseason and the bottom four are all but eliminated. The second is the odds of the team winning first overall in a draft lottery as per Tankathon. (Is it not the Shane Wright draft? Don’t be shocked if some prefer Logan Cooley or others to go first.) Again, this will have more relevancy for the bottom four teams - which are in direct competition with several teams in the Atlantic Division for finishing up worse. The short week before the ASG did not change a lot in the division. The Carolina Hurricanes are your leaders (by a tiebreaker) and the New Jersey Devils are in the basement.
The season will resume tomorrow. I hope you like road games. Everyone in the division will be on the road except for two games. One of those two is within the division, which is highlighted and in bold for your convenience.
Let us go over what happened last week and what is coming up for each team in the Metropolitan.
What Happened Last Week: Carolina had one game to play before the All-Star break. They had to host San Jose last Sunday. Vincent Trocheck scored early. Then there was no scoring at all until Rudolf Balcers tied it up for the visitors early in the third. With less than five minutes to go, Andrei Svechnikov provided the difference maker to make it 2-1. The score held and the Canes won their fourth straight game. The one win was enough to hold onto first place for another snapshot. The tiebreakers remain in Carolina’s favor.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Carolina will have a lot more to do this week. They will be on the road for four games. They will head up to Toronto on Monday, which will be a challenging game as Toronto is a high-scoring team with loads of wins. On Tuesday, they will be in Ottawa. While the Canes are better than the Sens this season, the Sens have been able to upset some teams. Ottawa did beat Carolina in Raleigh back in December. It could be a trap. On Thursday night, the Canes will head to Boston, another quality opponent who has plenty to play for and plenty of games to make up. On Saturday night, the trip ends in Minnesota - another playoff-bound team who has been very good at home this season (14-3-1 going into the ASG break). Carolina can stay on top, but they will have to earn it this week. At least they are guaranteed to stay ahead of the second place team in the division.
SBN Blog: Canes Country
What Happened Last Week: The Rangers rose back up to second place in the Metropolitan. Since Carolina won their one game, they could only match them in points. Still, they are in a position to pounce should the Canes mess up. This is because they won both of their games last week. Last Sunday, the Rangers hosted Seattle. This one had a dramatic ending. While the Rangers were up 2-1 going into the third period, Yanni Gourde of the Kraken tied up the game with a PPG just over a minute left. Would the Rangers be forced to go to OT? No. K’Andre Miller said no. He scored with just 34 seconds left to put the Rangers on top 3-2 for another regulation win. On Tuesday, they hosted Florida, the best team in the East. Talk about a statement game; the Rangers scored early (Mika Zibanejad scored 35 seconds in), and often after Sam Reinhart put the Panthers up 2-1 early in the second. Alex Lafreniere tied it up, Chris Kreider scored a brace to get to 33 goals (!!!), and Artemi Panarin sealed up the 5-2 win. Beating Florida by multiple goals is impressive. They may have flaws in their game, but the Rangers have answered most challenges presented to them on the ice so far. I think their record speaks for itself.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Rangers’ record will stay the same. They have no games this week. They cannot jump past anyone. If anything, they could fall to third place depending on what Pittsburgh does next week. Rest up, Rangers. The work is coming soon after.
SBN Blog: Blueshirt Banter
What Happened Last Week: The Pittsburgh Penguins did not win a game this week. They took one out of a possible four points. This, after their winning streak ended. It was a dissapointing result. Especially as both games were in Pittsburgh and a single win could have put them a point behind the top two teams. Alas. Last Sunday, the Penguins and Kings traded goals. LA scored first, then Crosby tied it up on a PPG. Trevor Moore and Drew Doughty scored in the second period. Bryan Rust scored twice in the third period to tie it up. Moore scored later in the third and - there was no response to that. The Pens lost 4-3. On Tuesday, the Penguins hosted Washington. The game was loaded with special teams. Nic Dowd scored shorthanded to start, Evgeni Malkin responded on the same power play, Rust converted a later power play, Orlov tied it up on a PP later in the first, and Rust scored a second PPG in the second. Daniel Sprong tied it up on what would be the only 5-on-5 goal of regulation. The Pens tried to crack Ilya Samsonov, but he stopped a load from the second period on with just one goal allowed out of 35 shots. In OT, Orlov scored within the final minute to hand the Penguins a 4-3 OTL. The Penguins remain in contention for first, but these two games saw them take a step back.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Penguins will be on the road. They just have two games so catching Carolina would require a lot of help. They can jump past the idle Rangers, though. The Penguins will be in Boston on Tuesday night and in Ottawa on Thursday night. The B’s are a good team and Ottawa has a win over the Penguins this season in Ontario (6-3 on November 13). It is by no means a gimmie. But if the Pens want to keep fighting for the top, they will need to do better than just one out of a potential of four points.
SBN Blog: PensBurgh
What Happened Last Week: Washington had a back-to-back to play before the All-Star break. On Tuesday, they went up to Pittsburgh. As discussed in the Pittsburgh section, the Capitals won that game 4-3. Samsonov went in for Vitek Vanecek and played very, very well. Orlov was the hero of the night. A big win for the Caps, even if it did give the Penguins - a team they are chasing - for a point. Would they follow that up with a home win over a struggling Edmonton team? No. It was entirely possible. Despite Leon Draisaitl, Evander Kane, and Connor McDavid making it 3-0 within the first 5:07 of the game (by the way, Samsonov was pulled for Vanecek in this one), the Capitals made a comeback. Lars Eller started it in the first period. Conor Sheary put them within one in the second period. A solo effort by Evgeny Kuznetsov made it 3-3 early in the third. Would the Caps rise up to take the game? No. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins deflated the comeback with a shorthanded goal just before the 16th minute mark in the third period. He would score an empty netter to make it a 5-3 loss for Washington. Ouch. The result is that the Caps are still set in fourth, still four points behind Pittsburgh, and four points ahead of the second wild card team in Boston, who has games in hand. At least the Caps are just about locked in for a postseason berth.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Capitals have one of the two home games within the division this week. They will host Columbus on Tuesday. The Blue Jackets’ season may be effectively over, but they are not total pushovers. They will make anyone who takes them lightly pay for their arrogance. On Thursday, the Capitals will be in Montreal, home of the worst team in the NHL by a hefty margin. The Caps should win that game. Simple as. Short of Pittsburgh falling on their face, the Caps will likely try to close the gap with the Pens this week.
SBN Blog: Japers’ Rink
What Happened Last Week: Columbus also had a back-to-back set before the All-Star Weekend break. It was just last Sunday and Monday. Last Sunday was a game in Montreal. Columbus won comfortably with a four-goal first period provided by Patrik Laine, Jack Roslovic, Eric Robinson (shorthanded), and Yegor Chinakhov. While Montreal clawed their way back to being within a goal in the third period, Cole Sillinger scored to restore a two goal lead on their way to a 6-3 win. Nice. On Monday night, they hosted Florida. The Panthers crushed them. 32 seconds in, Mason Marchment scored and registered the first of what would be six points on the night. It was close for a little bit, but then it just was not as Florida seemingly scored at will. Sam Reinhart had a hat trick. Marchment had a brace and four assists. Anton Lundell had five assists. The Blue Jackets lost 8-4 to close a month dotted by big losses to very good teams (7-4 comeback by Carolina, 7-2 to Tampa Bay, 9-2 in Florida, 5-2 to Pittsburgh). They remain in fifth place in the Metropolitan. The best they can do is to be the best of the worst. They still are for now.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Blue Jackets be on the road for this week and next week. A five-game road trip begins in Washington D.C. on Tuesday night. The Blue Jackets’ best hope is to catch Washington unaware and surprise them with their work ethic. On Thursday, the Blue Jackets will go to Buffalo, a place where they could leave with a win although this season’s Sabres are capable of putting up a fight. On Saturday, the trip will go to Montreal, where the Blue Jackets can beat on them again in Quebec. The signs are good for a winning week in theory. Now they just have to do it.
SBN Blog: The Cannon
What Happened Last Week: The Islanders have the best playoff odds among the bottom four in this division. They had a lot of home games to make up and just a lot of games in hand on everyone. Their odds are predicated on winning most of those games. They did not do that last week. Last Sunday, they hosted Minnesota. The Wild were hot coming into the game and left Long Island hot with an 8-0-1 run in their last nine games. They led early and never lost the lead even as the Isles kept putting themselves within a goal in the game. They lost 4-3. On Tuesday, they hosted Ottawa. This went much better for the Isles. While Nick Holden struck first for the visitors, the Sens had no answers for the four goals the Isles would go onto score in the game from Anthony Beauvillier (PPG), Oliver Wahlstrom, Mat Barzal, and Adam Pelech. The Islanders won 4-1. The snowstorm last weekend pushed a Saturday game against Seattle to Wednesday night. This game was real bad for the Isles. They could not score on Philip Grubauer. They put up a mere 19 shots on net. They held Seattle goalless until the third period. Jared McCann scored the one goal the Kraken needed, Vince Dunn added some insurance, and Mason Appleton put the cherry on top of a bad week for the Islanders with a 3-0 shutout loss to the expansion team. 1-2-0 is not going make those faint playoff odds any more solid, guys. They remain in sixth, tied with Philadelphia in points but ahead only due to six games in hand on the Flyers.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Islanders will be making up their road trip to Western Canada this week. A four-game road trip will take them to Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary this week. A three-game in four night run starting on Wednesday. Vancouver is playing better than they were earlier in the season, Edmonton may be finding their way a bit, and Calgary is just plain good. This will be a difficult week to get points. The Isles could very well end up where they are by the end of it. It also does not help that these three road games will be the team’s first since January 18 - or six games ago.
SBN Blog: Lighthouse Hockey
What Happened Last Week: The Flyers ended their long losing streak just before the end of their month in the previous snapshot. With just one game on the schedule, would they at least win a second game? Yes. Yes, they would. They hosted Winnipeg last Tuesday. Kyle Connor scored 48 seconds into the game to give the Jets the early lead. But the Flyers would respond. Eventually. Just past halfway through the second, Travis Konecny tied it up. The deadlock held until just before four minutes left in the game when James van Reimsdyk broke the tie. The Flyers winning 2-1. Would they maintain the lead? Yes. Oskar Lindbolm ensured it with an ENG for a 3-1 result. The Flyers have won two straight games. They remain tied with the Isles in points. They can at least play toward mediocrity now - which is a long way off, but the journey begins with one step.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Detroit. The Flyers will have a non-back-to-back home-and-home with the Red Wings this week. The Flyers will host Detroit on Wednesday night. On Saturday, the Flyers will be in Detroit. The Red Wings are nine points behind Boston for the second wild card spot in the East, as well as with four more games played than Boston. Their odds of taking over are slim. The Flyers can help pour more dirt on the proverbial grave this week. It would help them take another step towards not being a total embarrassment this season.
SBN Blog: Broad Street Hockey
New Jersey Devils
What Happened Last Week: Speaking of embarrassment, the Devils effectively did this in their home-and-home with Toronto last week. In Toronto, the Devils had a chance to win the game. The scored early and often, making the Leafs pull Jack Campbell in the first period. They were up 4-2 going into the third period. Then it all fell apart. The offense withered. The defensive zone errors turned into goals against. The perimeter-based 1-3-1 power play of the Devils failed, leading to Damon Severson failing incredibly hard on a 2-on-1 that led to the game winning goal in a 6-4 loss to the Leafs. At home the next night, logic would suggest the Devils wanting revenge. Or at least to show some kind of mental toughness after that third-period choke job. Instead, it seemed that the Devils wanted nothing to do with the game at all. They lost 7-1. It was as bad as the score looked. Maybe worse, depending on how you feel about the season as a whole. The Devils lost both games in different flavors of enraging the fanbase that still cares about this season, which is becoming smaller with each loss. In short: BOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Devils will not be at home to hear any booing at least. They will be on the road for three games this week. They have a chance on paper in two of them. They will play in Ottawa on Monday night and in Montreal on Tuesday night. The Sens are the better of the two opponents and can surprise when they are on their game. Will they be on their game? Who knows. Montreal stinks and if New Jersey loses to them, then only Sherman Abrams and his followers will smile at that (and I guess Canadiens fans, too). Thursday night will be a whole lot tougher either way. They will be in St. Louis. St. Louis is a good team that is in a good position for a playoff spot, either through the Central Division or the wild card (they’re five points ahead of Calgary, who does have two games in hand on them; eight points ahead of Edmonton, too). That game will be a rough one even if the Devils end their losing streak in Ottawa or Montreal. Will they catch Philadelphia this week? In theory, yes. Based on their performances, how they are coached, and how they are run? Don’t hold your breath.
SBN Blog: All About the Jersey - Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh.
That was the seventeenth Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2021-22 season. What do you expect to happen in this week coming up? Will Carolina extend their hold on the division with their four games on the road this week? Can Pittsburgh avoid extending their losing streak? Will the Capitals close the gap on the Penguins? How will the bottom four shake out this week? Will the Devils win a game? 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.