Welcome to the penultimate Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the season. After a first half of the season where there were a lot of teams packed together in the standings, it is all finishing up without a lot of late drama. The division will send four teams to the playoffs. We know who they are: Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Washington Capitals. Three have the ‘X’ for clinching a spot and it is just a matter of time for Washington. The other four teams, well, it is just placement for pride at this point. Here are the standings for the next-to-final snapshot of the 2021-22 season after last night’s games.
By the way, the playoff odds for the New York Islanders are so small, that it cannot be rounded up to 0.1%. That is why it states “0.0%” and not “OUT.” Which could change really soon.
This week will be light for the Pittsburgh Penguins and games within the division, and heavy on road games. The most action will take place on Thursday, April 21, but even then two teams will be idle. Still, here is the schedule with games within the division highlighted and in bold.
Let us go over what happened last week and what is coming up for each team in the Metropolitan Division.
What Happened Last Week: The division leaders for so long are on the cusp of losing first place. It did not seem that would be the case. Yet, the Rangers keep having successful weeks and the Hurricanes have cooled off. This past week started off well for Carolina. They hosted Anaheim last Sunday. It went as well as expected. Andrei Svechnikov scored early in the first period. Jordin Martinook scored in the first period. Jordan Staal scored a hat trick. Anaheim never led in the game and were eliminated from playoff contention as a result of the 5-2 win. Good job. On Tuesday, the Canes went into MSG with a huge game against the team chasing them down for first place. They left Manhattan with two big points. While K’Andre Miller scored first in the second period, Svechnikov tied up the game in the second period. Seth Jarvis and Staal put the Canes up 3-1. A late goal by Chris Kreider gave the home team hope and Sebastian Aho dashed it with an ENG for a 4-2 win. Again, good job. Then came a home game against playoff-less Detroit on Thursday. The Hurricanes were shut out. By Detroit. A Detroit team with nothing to play for. At home. Carolina put up 46 shots on their former goalie, Alex Nedeljkovic, and got none past him. Mortiz Seider’s late second period goal was enough for the win; but Adam Erne and Filip Zadina scored in the third period to ensure the victory. The Canes lost 3-0 to Detroit at home. While the Rangers crushed Philly and would go on to crush Detroit on Saturday. This meant that Carolina really needed a result in their game on Saturday night. The problem was that the game was in Denver and against the top team in the NHL, the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs took a two goal lead in the first period thanks to J.T. Compher (PPG) and Nathan MacKinnon. In the second period, the Avs buried the Hurricanes deeper with a second PPG by Compher and Ben Meyers’ first goal - within the first 3 minutes of the period! Staal did score at 3:02 but at 4-1, it already felt like too little, too late. Staal scored again to add some more hope - which was cut off by Alex Newhook making it 5-2 minutes later. Hope became less faint when Aho made it 5-3 before intermission. Mikko Rantanen made it a three-goal lead again for the Avs in the third period. Svechnikov cut it short to a two-goal lead a few minutes after that with a PPG. Alas for Carolina, MacKinnon scored again to make it a 7-4 loss. The Hurricanes ended up splitting the week. While not bad, they are now tied with the Rangers in points and holding onto first place on the basis of regulation wins and regulation and overtime wins. And the Rangers are just behind the Canes by 1 in the RW column. Carolina is barely holding onto first place; the next two weeks will be tenser than expected.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Carolina needs to get back to winning more often and not drop points to bad teams. They have three games coming up that could be good for whatever is ailing them. On Monday night, the Hurricanes will visit the hapless Arizona Coyotes. That should be a win. On Thursday, the Canes will return home to play Winnipeg. They really should focus on getting a result there and avoid a repeat of their last home game, which was the 3-0 loss to Detroit. On Saturday, the Canes will visit the Devils for an early afternoon game. The Devils have a win over Carolina earlier this season (thank you, Jack LaFontaine) and played them close in a 2-1 loss back in January. The Devils may be bad and a team Carolina should beat, but it is not exactly a gimmie. Do well and first place may be secured for another week. Do poorly, and well, Carolina may be giving up the division crown to the Blueshirts.
SBN Blog: Canes Country
New York Rangers
What Happened Last Week: Another snapshot, another winning week for the Blueshirts. They went 2-1-0, beating the two teams most would expect them to beat and losing to the one with the most on the line. That game came first; a home game against Carolina on April 12. The Rangers are just about right there with the Hurricanes in terms of points, but Carolina still has an edge in the regulation win (RW) and regulation + overtime win (ROW) tiebreakers. This game would help decide who is in first for this week. And the Rangers lost. While K’Andre Miller scored early in the second period to start the scoring in the game, Andrei Svechnikov responded later in the second. Seth Jarvis broke the 1-1 tie early in the third period. Jordan Staal followed that up with a goal just over five minutes later. Chris Kreider did make it interesting late with a 6-on-5 goal with less than two minutes left to play. Sebastian Aho denied any late drama with an ENG for the 4-2 loss to New York. But the Rangers would get points very soon. They were in Philadelphia on the following night. Past Rangers-Flyers games have been competitive and filled with heat. This one was just a beating by the Manhattaners. Kaapo Kakko scored twice, Artemi Panarin scored, and Andrew Copp scored a shorthanded ENG. All while Alexandar Georgiev stopped all 28 shots. The Rangers won 4-0. There was heat at the end but who cares - the Rangers clearly won. Yesterday, the Rangers were hosting Detroit. Impressively, they repeated their performance from Wednesday night in Philly. Igor Shesterkin only faced 20 shots and he got them all. Mika Zibanejad, Frank Vatrano, and two by Alexis Lafreniere made it a second-straight 4-0 victory. As disappointing was losing to Carolina was, the wins over Philadelphia and Detroit keeps them right on the Hurricanes’ tails. First is still very possible for New York. And to think, they announced a rebuild just back in 2018. Now look at them.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The New York Rangers will play three games and hope to keep churning out results to finish strong and maybe even jump the Hurricanes. They will host Winnipeg on Tuesday night. That should go well given that the Jets have little to play for. On Thursday, they will go to the UBS Arena to face their hated rivals in the Islanders. The Isles have been playing much better than their record suggests. They could put up a real challenge for the Rangers, given the rivalry and the fact it is on the road. On Saturday, they will visit Boston for an afternoon game. Boston has plenty to play for themselves and are a strong team in their own right. Of course, the Rangers have been this successful so far, so it may not be foolish to think they will just continue to do it. Carolina (and Pittsburgh) will hope they blunder.
SBN Blog: Blueshirt Banter
What Happened Last Week: The good news is that Pittsburgh clinched a playoff spot this week and won the week by taking 5 out of a potential 8 points. The bad news is that they needed more to gain on the Rangers for second place and now Tristan Jarry is out week-to-week. The snapshot focuses on results, so let us go over them. Last Sunday, they hosted Nashville. Sidney Crosby scored first and Matt Duchene provided a response late in the first period. After a scoreless second, the Penguins went down a goal when Nick Cousins scored. About four and a half minutes later, Jason Zucker tied up the game at 2-2. The game required overtime and Crosby finished it for his 1,400th career point, an end to a winless streak for the Penguins, and two points in the standings, 3-2. On Tuesday, they began a non-back-to-back home-and-home with the Islanders in Long Island. The first period made it seem like it would be a long night. Jake Guentzel scored first, only for the Isles to respond with three goals of their own in the first period. But the Pens fought back and tied up the game with goals by Danton Heinen and Guentzel in the second period. Josh Bailey put the Isles up a goal only for Jeff Carter to tie it up again. The game needed extra time and a shootout. Alas, no one on Pittsburgh scored and Kyle Palmieri did for the Isles. The Penguins lost 5-4 in a shootout, dropping a point in the process. On Thursday, the Penguins would get some revenge. The game opened with two goals by the Pens; Kris Letang and Heinen were the scorers. A Parise goal in the second period was answered by Guentzel to keep the lead. Crosby made it 4-1 early in the third period. The final three minutes saw four goals scored, two by each team, and so the game ended 6-3 for the Penguins. The win also gave them a guaranteed playoff spot. The win would not lead to greater things. Yesterday, the Penguins visited Boston. They needed points to inch closer to a Rangers team that keeps on winning. They got nothing. Trent Frederic scored 49 seconds into the game for the B’s. Erik Haula scored just 1:12 later. Jeremy Swayman was on form, stopping 23 out of 24 shots in the game. Heinen put the Penguins within a goal in the second period, but that would be it. They lost 2-1. (Aside: This game clinched a playoff spot for Boston.) It is not set in stone, but I think the Penguins are a near lock for third place. I hope they have plans for MSG in a few weeks. Or Raleigh.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Penguins will be idle for most of this week coming up. They just have two games to play and the first one will be on Thursday. It will be against the same Boston team who beat them 2-1 on Saturday. This game will be in Pittsburgh. The extra time to practice and prepare should help the Pens in theory. We will see if it does that night. After that game, the Penguins will head to Detroit for an early afternoon road game. They should do well. They really should try to. If only to not limp into the postseason - both figuratively in terms of results and literally in terms of injuries.
SBN Blog: PensBurgh
What Happened Last Week: Washington is the last remaining team in the Eastern Conference yet to clinch a playoff spot. That is just a matter of time given their recent form. The Capitals won three out of their four games last week and two of them involved them lighting up their opponents. Last Sunday, the Capitals hosted Boston. The likelihood of the Capitals catching them was (and is) small, but they needed a regulation win to keep hope alive. They got it. John Carlon scored first in the second period. While Curtis Lazar and Erik Haula responded with a goal each in quick succession, Tom Wilson tied up the game in the second period. In the third period, Lars Eller provided the breakthrough goal and Alex Ovechkin finished the game with an empty-netter for a 4-2 win. A big result. Against the Flyers on Tuesday, they needed to avoid being spoiled. They did that. They also absolutely torched Martin Jones and Carter Hart. Goals were scored by Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Martin Fehervary, Lars Eller (twice), Conor Sheary, Matt Irwin, and Johan Larsson. That is 9 goals. The Capitals won 9-2 over Philly. Goodness. On Thursday night, the Capitals traveled to Toronto. This time, they would be on the receiving end of a goal explosion. The Capitals were never really in the game. Toronto scored two in the first period. John Carlson cut the lead to one, which lasted all of 13 seconds before Toronto scored two quick goals and then two more. Wilson made it 6-2 in the final minute of the second period; a complete consolation goal. Ilya Mikheyev made it 7-2 and Nic Dowd’s consolation goal in the third period led to a final score of a 7-3 loss. Ouch. The Capitals would get their scoring groove back in Montreal on Saturday night. This one was closer than the final score would suggest. The first period only had a goal from Dowd. Jake Evans tied it up early in the second period. Anthony Mantha scored on back-to-back shifts to make it 3-1 in the second period. And on the shift after Mantha’s second goal, Ryan Poehling scored to make the score 3-2. Alex Ovechkin appeared to restore the two-goal lead, which lasted until intermission. Poehling again put the Canadiens within a goal early in the third period. Then the Capitals pulled away with goals by Hathaway, Dmitry Orlov, and Justin Schultz before the 10-minute mark of the third. Then Nick Suzuki scored a consolation goal, Oshie converted a power play, and the game ended at 8-4 for the Capitals. Outside of that Toronto game, it was a good week for the Capitals. If nothing else, they should feel confident about their offense.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Washington began a five-game road trip in Toronto last Thursday. They will finish the trip in this week. The first two games will be provide more of a challenge than Montreal did. The Capitals will be in Colorado on Monday night. The Avs are the best team in the league and they protect their rink very well. Any result would be a positive there. On Wednesday, the Capitals will be in Las Vegas to play the Golden Knights. The G-Knights are playing for their playoff lives. They should be desperate. They should be hungry. We shall see if that throws off the Caps. On Friday, the Capitals will end their trip in Arizona. They should beat Arizona. Simple as. This mostly-tough week combined with Boston and Pittsburgh still leading the Caps by three points will make moving up a challenge. Another winning week, though, and it will get interesting entering the final week. Especially if the B’s and Pens falter.
SBN Blog: Japers’ Rink
What Happened Last Week: The Islanders had a positive week by going 2-1-0 in their three games. What is more is that the effectively did their most hated rivals, the Rangers, a solid as two of those three games were against the Penguins. On Tuesday, the Isles hosted Pittsburgh. It looked like a spoiler watch was warranted as Zach Parise scored a brace in the first period and Josh Bailey scored in the final minute of the opening period to make it 3-1. Of course, Pittsburgh is able to come back and they did with goals from Danton Heinan and Jake Guentzel. Early in the third, Bailey scored again to make it 4-3. But a PPG by Jeff Carter tied up the game again for the visitors. The score held all the way into a shootout. Kyle Palmieri was the lone scorer and so the Isles took the game 5-4 through a shootout. Pittsburgh being denied a point helped the Rangers. They would not be denied on Thursday in Pittsburgh for a rematch. The Isles were defeated more decisively. They went down two goals in the first. While Parise clawed back a goal in the second period, Guentzel restored the two goal lead. Sidney Crosby extended it in a third period. The final three minutes saw goals by Anders Lee, Brock McGuinn, Zdeno Chara’s first of the season (!), and Guentzel’s second of the night. All that resulted was a 6-3 loss for the Isles and an ‘X’ for Pittsburgh. The Isles looked to rebound in Montreal on Friday night. They absolutely did. Ilya Sorokin was perfect and stopped 44 shots by the Canadiens. It took two periods, but the Isles broke through in the third period. Parise scored, Noah Dobson scored, and Brock Nelson put home the ENG for a 3-0 win. The Isles remain ahead of Columbus and are in control of their destiny for fifth place. It may not mean much but it is something. Maybe.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Islanders have four games coming up and the first three will be quite challenging. Their first stop is in Toronto tonight. While Toronto has clinched a playoff spot, they would likely want home ice against Tampa Bay. They have a lead in points on them, but they need to maintain it. Good luck, Isles. On Tuesday, they will host Florida. Florida is on the cusp of securing the Atlantic Division. However, teams with 50+ wins just don’t “turn off” for games even if they do not seem crucial. Good luck again, Isles. Thursday night will feature another chapter in the long, historic, hated rivalry within the City. The Islanders will host the Rangers. Pittsburgh will be cheering the Isles on big-time for this one, presuming they want a shot at second place. Surely, the Isles will play for pride in that one. The Islanders’ week ends with an afternoon game in Buffalo on Saturday. No disrespect intended to the Sabres, but it is a drop-off after Toronto, Florida, and the Rangers in the same week.
SBN Blog: Lighthouse Hockey
What Happened Last Week: Columbus had a light week and so trying to catch the Islanders would require the Isles to not succeed. That did not happen, but the Blue Jackets at least kept it close. Their first of two games last week was on Wednesday night against Montreal. The Canadiens arrived and they left with a big ‘L.’ Jack Roslovic scored a brace and Patrik Laine converted a PPG before Ryan Poehling got the visitors on the board. Cole Sillinger restored the three-goal lead in the third period and Emil Bemstrom made it 5-1 before the end of regulation. A clear win with Poehling’s goal denying Elvis Merzlikins a 21-save shutout. Columbus began their California road trip last night in Los Angeles. The home team took an early two-goal lead and never looked back. Dustin Brown scored just over a minute into the game and Philip Danault made it 2-0 just over seven minutes into the game. Columbus made it tight, especially when Sean Kuraly scored 53 seconds into the second period. But the Blue Jackets could not solve Jonathan quick a second time. They lost 2-1, which meant they split their two-game week. The results make it such that they are three points behind the Islanders, who have a game in hand on them. Sixth is likely now, but not locked-in.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Blue Jackets will continue their short trip through Golden State before returning home for a game. Tonight, Columbus will visit Anaheim for the second stop of the three-game trip. The trip will end on Tuesday night in San Jose. Two days after that, the Blue Jackets will be back in Ohio to host Ottawa. The Blue Jackets are still in a position to try to reach the Islanders, but they need help to go in their favor in addition to winning their own games. They could do well in this week; it is not like Anaheim, San Jose, or Ottawa are killer teams. But they need the Isles to suffer to make it happen before the final week of the season.
SBN Blog: The Cannon
What Happened Last Week: The New Jersey Devils continued their five-game road trip with three games in the West in this past week. Fresh off a 3-1 win in Dallas, the Devils visited Arizona on Tuesday night. While Arizona scored early in the game by Tyler Boyd, the Devils would have an answer in the first period with Fabian Zetterlund’s first NHL goal. In the second period, Kevin Bahl would find the net on a long shot for his first NHL goal - and put the Devils up 2-1. Nick Schmaltz tied up the game with a PPG late in the second. However, Tomas Tatar immediately responded on the next shift to make it 3-2. Jesper Boqvist put home a rebound on the shift after that to have the period end 4-2 for New Jersey. A brace by Yegor Sharangovich in the third period led to the final score of 6-2 - a big win for a team with not many road wins this season. The good times would not last as the Devils visited Colorado on Thursday night. The Devils were not embarassed by Andrew Hammond in net or in their performance overall. But the Avalanche dominated the second period, scored three goals (Logan O’Connor, Andre Burakovsky, and Artturi Lehkonen on the power play), and allowed just one goal to Jesper Bratt in the third period for a 3-1 final score. Respectable in some senses, but just another loss in the sense of the division snapshot. Still, the Devils could win the week with a win in Seattle last night. The Devils did strike first with a fine finish from Bratt to open the scoring. But the Kraken answered back when Will Borgen activated and scored from above the left circle. The Devils answered that one later when Jesper Boqvist finished from the slot thanks to a pass by Pavel Zacha to make it 2-1. Then the second period happened and Seattle stormed back into the game with an equalizer by Carson Soucy and the first NHL goal by Matty Beniers. The Kraken led 3-2. Then the Devils responded thanks to Damon Severson going top shelf from the right circle. The game required additional time and even a shootout. Ryan Donato scored in the shootout’s first shot - and that was it in terms of goals. The Devils lost 4-3 through the shootout to split the week at 1-1-1. It was enough to stay ahead of Philadelphia, who did not even win one game or even earn one point.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Devils’ five-game trip out West will end on Monday night in Las Vegas. The Golden Knights have a lot to play for and really cannot afford to drop any games at this point. Especially to a team like the Devils. Then again, that also seemed to be the case for Dallas and the Devils pulled out a 3-1 win on them at the beginning of the trip. The Devils will return home for two games later in the week. They will host Buffalo on Thursday. The last Devils-Sabres game was in Buffalo and ended 4-3 for New Jersey. Maybe they can get another win over them. On Saturday, the Devils have a chance to spoil the Hurricanes, who have suffered some surprising losses recently. Beating them again would help out their hated rivals in the Rangers. But a win at home in the twilight of this miserable season may provide a respite from the reality that this team is finishing in the bottom ten of the league standings for a fourth-straight season. And could still finish behind Philadelphia. If they, you know, win some games.
SBN Blog: All About the Jersey - Hey, they won another road game.
What Happened Last Week: Philadelphia played three games in this past week and lost them all. The first two were just massive losses. On Tuesday night, the Flyers visited Washington. This was a straight-up blowout. Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie scored. Then James van Reimsdyk gets Philly on the board - which is answered fairly quickly by Martin Fehervary. In the second period, Washington pulls further away with scores by Lars Eller and Conor Sheary. Then there are three more goals by the Caps: Matt Irwin’s first of the season, a second for Eller, and Garnet Hathaway. Van Reimsdyk gets a PPG for the Flyers late - which is answered about a minute later with a PPG by Johan Larsson. That is nine goals allowed by the Flyers. They lost 9-2. Painful. Right after that game, they had to host the Rangers. At least the Flyers scored in Washington D.C. They got nothing on Alexandar Georgiev, the Rangers’ backup, in their own building. They conceded four more goals: two to Kaapo Kakko, one to Artemi Panarin, and a shorthanded ENG to Andrew Copp to tie the Devils in shorties allowed. They lost 4-0. Last night, the Flyers began a home-and-home for the weekend in Buffalo. This game had a chance. Joel Farabee and Owen Tippett scored in the first period to put the Flyers up 2-0. Then the game fell apart in the second period. Kyle Okposo converted a power play at 3:17 for Buffalo. Rasmus Dahlin tied up the game at 8:27. Travis Konecny stopped the pain and put the Flyers back up a goal at 14:06. Vinnie Hinostroza tied up the game at 15:36 - 90 seconds after Konecny’s goal. Tage Thompson finished a four-goal second period with a PPG at 17:58. And that would be it. The Flyers lost 4-3 to Buffalo. The Flyers were outscored by a combined 17 to 5 this week. I think it is fair to say that the Flyers fanbase would like to fast forward the next two weeks and just end this miserable season. Life does not work that way, Flyers fans.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Flyers do have two weeks left to play. They now have a four-game winless streak to try to end. Maybe they can do that this week? Today, they have an early evening game at home against Buffalo. The Flyers should have the incentive to put up a better effort than they did on Saturday. Then again, this season suggests that may be asking too much. On Tuesday, the Flyers will visit Toronto. Toronto is both really good and would like to secure home-ice for their playoff series that their fans desperately want to see them win. I doubt the Maple Leafs will look past the Flyers. On Thursday, the Flyers will visit Montreal. Montreal is one of the few teams in the NHL with a worse record than the Flyers. However, they have played better hockey, or at least more successful hockey, under Martin St. Louis. There are no games that seem like likely-wins on paper. Try anyway, Flyers.
SBN Blog: Broad Street Hockey
That was the twenty-sixth Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2021-22 season, covering the twenty-seventh week of the season. There is only one more snapshot to go. What do you expect to happen in this week coming up? Will Carolina hold onto first place for another week? Or will the New York Rangers snipe first place within the final weeks of the season? Can Pittsburgh and Washington gear up knowing their potential playoff matchups? Will the Islanders stay ahead of Columbus to be the Best of the Rest in the East? Can the Devils stay ahead of Philadelphia for another week? 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.