First and foremost, I want to apologize for missing last week’s snapshot. I came down with the flu last weekend. Between the fever, the sinus pressure, the coughing, and the other symptoms you really do not want to know about, I decided to skip the snapshot. I am back and so is the weekly Metropolitan Division snapshot. The final month of the season has begun and so there are just three more snapshots to take after this one. The Carolina Hurricanes decidedly remain in first place. The jockeying for position between the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins continues. The Washington Capitals were once close to Boston and even third in the division - not anymore. Everyone else in the Metropolitan, their fate has been all but sealed for this season. Here is how the standings look after yesterday’s games.
Even with varying kinds of motivation, everyone is very active coming up this week. There are a heap of inter-division games in this week coming up. They are highlighted and in bold for all to see.
Let us go over what happened last week and what is coming up for each team in the Metropolitan Division.
What Happened Last Week: Carolina went into this week fresh off a 7-2 beating of the Blues. They continued the beatdown in Washington D.C. on Monday, March 28. Martin Necas put up a brace, Sebastian Aho scored shorthanded, and lamplighters from Derek Stepan, Brett Pesce, and Brady Skjei all contributed to a 6-1 rout of a win. Carolina had to have something left for Tampa Bay on Tuesday, March 29. This one was close and ultimately decided by special teams. Nino Niederreiter scored the first goal of the game. Alex Killorn would tie it up with a PPG early in the second period. That was eventually responded by Seth Jarvis - only for Victor Hedman to tie it up about a minute later. Late in the second period, the Canes took a 3-2 lead from a goal by Aho. Yet, Pesce tripping penalty would open the door for Brayden Point to tie up the game with a PPG to make it 3-3. The score held all the way to the end of regulation. In overtime, Jordan Staal was caught hooking Steve Stamkos. That happened at 26 seconds. At 52 seconds, Stamkos scored Tampa Bay’s third PPG of the night. The Hurricanes lost 4-3 through overtime. On Thursday night, the Canes returned home and sought to beat the next team they saw. That team was Montreal. There was indeed a beating. Frederik Andersen was perfect all night long. Aho, Andrei Svechnikov (twice), and Teuvo Teravainen all scored in the 4-0 shutout win over Montreal. With a winning week secured, the Hurricanes hosted Minnesota on Saturday night. They did not win that one. Despite out-shooting the Wild by a two-to-one ratio (38 to 19), the Canes struggled to beat Marc-Andre Fleury. Mats Zuccarello and Dmitry Kulikov put the Canes in a 2-0 hole early on. Kirill Kaprizov made it 3-0 in the third period. Teravainen at least denied the shutout, but the Canes ended their week with a 3-1 loss. Carolina did go 2-1-1 for the week, which is positive. They remain in the driver’s seat for first and could still catch Florida for first in the East. They may want that Washington matchup instead of whoever finishes fourth in the Atlantic. All the more initiative to keep pushing on in April.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Carolina will play three games in four nights in this week. They should be able to handle the quality of opponent provided they are prepared for them. The first game is on Tuesday in Buffalo. The Canes will visit the Sabres, a team they last saw in December and crushed (6-2 on December 4). If that first game was not enough Sabres, then there is a second game on Thursday. This one will be in Carolina and should be more favorable. The Canes should try to have something left in the tank. They will be hosting the Islanders on Friday. While the Hurricanes are a better team than the Islanders, the Rangers can tell them a thing or two about their competitive nature. The Canes should not look past that one. Still, the Canes are capable of getting points out of each game and continuing to tighten their iron grip on first place in the Metropolitan. That is their goal now.
SBN Blog: Canes Country
New York Rangers
What Happened Last Week: The New York Rangers went into this week with the great feeling of smashing Pittsburgh at MSG in the prior Friday. The Rangers pushed to get more points on the board to try to not only keep second place in the division, but possibly work to secure it. They came close to doing just that. Last Sunday, the Rangers hosted Buffalo. The Sabres were very much a thorn in the side of the Rangers. While Frank Vatrano put up a quick brace in the first period, Rasmus Asplund scored to make it 2-1 before intermission. Early in the second period, Will Butcher and Kyle Okposo provided an equalizer and a go-ahead goal for the visitors, respectively. An Alexis Lafreniere goal tied it up for the remainder of that period. Artemi Panarain put the Rangers up a goal early in the third period; only to be answered later with a PPG by Jeff Skinner. Overtime was needed. But the Rangers would prevail when K’Andre Miller scored just over two minutes into the fourth period. Still a win even if it was closer than expected. On March 29 and March 30, the Rangers took to the road to visit Pittsburgh and Detroit. While it was not as big as their March 25 meeting, the Rangers did edge the Penguins, 3-2. They held on to win by a score after Sidney Crosby made it a one-shot game with just over 9 minutes left in regulation. A big win for the cause. Like with Buffalo, Detroit put up a far greater fight than anticipated. After Ryan Reeves scored, Detroit hit back with two goals and the Rangers ended up chasing the game from then on. Filip Chytil did tie it up shortly after Jakub Vrana converted a power play to make it 2-2 going into the second period. In the middle frame, Panarin eventually equalized after Tyler Bertuzzi converted a power play within the period’s first minute. Adam Erne put the home team up 4-3 early in the third, only for Chris Kreider converting a PPG to make it 4-4. In overtime, the Rangers prevailed again with Andrew Copp scoring 1:34 into the period for another two points on the board. That would be it for Rangers scoring this week. They hosted their hated rivals on Friday night in the Islanders. They were blanked as Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin, and Mat Barzal all scored on them. The 3-0 shutout loss was a disappointing way to end the week. It opened the door for Pittsburgh to re-take second place; even though they failed to do so. That puts a damper on their 3-1-0 week.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The New York Rangers have another week of games coming up that they should do well in on paper. They will host Philadelphia tonight, which is another rivalry game. The only road game they have will be on Tuesday night at the Prudential Center, where they will play the other basement team in this division. Thursday night is yet another game against the Penguins. It is at home and the recent wins over them should bode well for another one. On Saturday, the Rangers will host another hapless team in Ottawa. In theory, the Rangers should bank a lot of points. However, last week showed that they were close to dropping points to Buffalo and Detroit and were shutout by the Isles. If they take these four games lightly, then Pittsburgh will appreciate it.
SBN Blog: Blueshirt Banter
What Happened Last Week: The Penguins began their week with a home game against Detroit. They did the incredibly unlikely on that night. Pittsburgh absolutely demolished the Red Wings by a score of 11-2. Yes, they scored 11 goals. Evgeni Malkin had a hat trick (which included a PPG) while Rickard Rakell, Brian Boyle, Danton Heinen (PPG), Sidney Crosby, Bryan Rust (PPG), Jeff Carter (SHG), Teddy Blueger, and Kasperi Kapanen all scored. Ridiculous. Unfortunately, those good feelings did not carry over into Tuesday night’s home game against the Rangers. The Penguins did score first, but the Rangers scored the next three with a Chris Kreider PPG early in the third period. While Crosby converted a power play to make it a one-goal game, the visitors held on. The Rangers beat the Penguins, 3-2, to further secure (at the time) second place. The Penguins went to Minnesota on Thursday night, looking to rebound against the Wild. All looked to be good by the halfway mark as the Penguins were up 3-1 thanks to Rakell’s brace and a Jake Guentzel PPG. Then Frederick Gaudreau made it 3-2 and Kirill Kaprisov made it 3-3 early in the third. But the Penguins won the game in overtime thanks to Malkin; a 4-3 bounce-back win. Yesterday, Pittsburgh was in Denver to play the Avalanche. A game that was one part measuring stick and one part pathway back to second place. The Penguins fell behind in the second period with a Crosby goal sandwiched in between goals by Mikko Rantanen and Nicolas Aube-Kubel. With just under five minutes left to play, Mike Matheson tied it up at 2-2. Which lasted for all of 27 seconds. On the next shift, Devon Toews finished a play to make it 3-2 for Colorado and the score stood to the end. The Pens split the week in terms of results and let a chance to get past New York on Saturday get away from them. If they’re not careful, those chances could prove costly.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Penguins will play three games in this coming week, all against quality opponents. First off, they will play Colorado again on Tuesday. This one will be in Pittsburgh and could be seen as another measuring stick-looking game for the Penguins. Thursday night will have the Penguins visit the Rangers one more time. Given how the Rangers beat them twice in the prior two weeks, hopes may not be high for that one. But a win that night would be huge for Pittsburgh. On Saturday afternoon, the Penguins will host the Capitals - who may be resigning themselves to their wild card spot at that point. It will not be an easy game by any means, but Pittsburgh should have something to prove in each of these three games. Not to mention re-taking second place in the division. Whether they will prove anything is another matter.
SBN Blog: PensBurgh
What Happened Last Week: Washington had just one game to play in this past week. It was a doozy: a home game with Carolina. The Capitals went into this one with back-to-back victories from the end of the prior week. It did not matter. Carolina put a hurting on the Capitals early on and never really looked back. Derek Stepan and Martin Necas put Washington down early. While Tom Wilson cut the lead in half early in the second, Sebastian Aho (the good one) scored a shorty to restore the two goal lead and Brett Pesce scored about two minutes after that. Necas scored again to make it 5-1 minutes before the second intermission. In the third, Brady Skjei scored to make it a 6-1 loss for Washington. Ouch. They went 0-1-0 and saw them drift further behind Pittsburgh for third place and Boston for the first wild card spot.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Washington will definitely play more than one game in this week. They have three games and they are all against playoff teams. Tonight, they will host a Minnesota team looking to secure their spot in the Central Division. On Wednesday night, the Capitals will host a dangerously good Tampa Bay team. On Saturday, the Capitals will begin a back-to-back set with a matinee game in Pittsburgh. The Capitals are not going to be at risk of losing a playoff spot. But this week (and most of the next week) will show whether the Caps can really hang with their playoff-bound peers.
SBN Blog: Japers’ Rink
New York Islanders
What Happened Last Week: The Islanders followed up a loss in Boston last Saturday with a home game against Tampa Bay. This was a decisive loss for the Isles as the Lightning out-classed the home team. They lost 4-1. Then the Islanders went on a bit of a tear. With fifth place still in sight, they had a huge non-consecutive home-and-home with Columbus on Tuesday and Thursday night. On Tuesday night in Ohio, the Isles went up big with four straight goals from 11:47 in the first period to 9:10 in the second period. Seymon Varlamov faced a lot of rubber and did get beat twice - which was enough to secure the 4-3 win for the Isles. On Thursday night in Long Island, the game was close until the third period. The Isles struck for two in the first period thanks to Sebastian Aho (not that one) and Oliver Wahlstrom. The lead went up in smoke in the second period with two quick goals allowed. In the third period, Kyle Palmieri broke the tie, Mat Barzal made it 4-2 before the halfway mark of the third, and Ryan Pulock sealed the 5-2 win. Those wins were huge to get the Isles in contention for fifth place. On Friday night, the Isles went to Madison Square Garden to play their long time hated cross-city rivals. In game relatively light on shots, Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin, and Barzal scored in each period. The Isles beat their rivals 3-0. Always a positive. It ended the week at 3-1-0. It put the Isles up in fifth place for this snapshot. With tiebreakers very much in their favor. It may not mean much in a larger picture, but it is something.
What’s Coming Up This Week: That win in Manhattan on April 1 began a five-game road trip for the Isles. The remainder of that trip will be served this week. Today, at 4 PM, they will stay local and visit the New Jersey Devils for their final meeting this season. After that one, the Isles will really rack up the mileage. The Islanders will travel to Dallas for a Tuesday night game, circle back to Raleigh for a Friday night game against the division leaders, and then fly out to St. Louis for a Saturday night game. The Isles are not a terrible road team and their three straight wins may get them started on this trip on the right path. We shall see if they can heat up further or have some more struggles.
SBN Blog: Lighthouse Hockey
Columbus Blue Jackets
What Happened Last Week: Columbus slipped in the prior week. In order to keep fifth place, their non-back-to-back-home-and-home with the Islanders was massive. They ended up being massive for the Islanders as they jumped past the Blue Jackets in the standings. On March 29, Columbus were the hosts. Despite Vladislav Gavrikov scoring first, the sight of Brock Nelson, Josh Bailey, Anthony Beauvillier, and Zach Parise score the next four goals had to hurt. The Blue Jackets did try to make a game of it. Gavrikov did score in the second period to give the hosts some kind of life. Oliver Bjorkstrand made it a one-shot game early in the third period. But Varlamov was just able to stop everything else for the Blue Jackets to lose 4-3. On March 31, the Islanders were the hosts. The Blue Jackets responded well to a first period deficit of two goals. Emil Bemstrom and Justin Danforth scored within minutes of each other to make it a 2-2 game going into the third period. Alas, the Isles put the Jackets away with two third period goals and an empty netter sealed a 5-2 loss for Columbus. Down in sixth, the Jackets needed a result in Boston on Saturday night to avoid falling behind the Islanders. They put in a hard working effort, but the B’s often put Elvis Merzlikins to the sword with 40 shots on net in the game. Erik Haula scored first, only for Gustav Nyquist to tie it up late in the first period. Danforth scored within the first minute of the second period to put the Blue Jackets up 2-1. Late in the second period, Brad Marchand tied up the game. The score held all the way until Andrew Peeke to Columbus’ first penalty of the game. Just as time ran out on that call, Haula converted the power play to put the B’s up 3-2. Jake DeBrusk and Charlie Coyle each sent in empty netters to make it a 5-2 defeat for Columbus. As hard fought as that game may have been, it is still a loss. More than just going 0-3-0 this week; Columbus is now winless in their last six games. Columbus may not fall to the depths of the division, but if they want fifth place for pride, then they need to end this run of losing as soon as possible.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Blue Jackets will have opportunities to reclaim their previous title of “Best of the Rest” this season. They will play four games and three of them are certainly winnable. The first one may not be. The Blue Jackets will host Boston on Monday and that is always a challenge. On Tuesday, the Blue Jackets will play Philadelphia home-and-home as well. That first game will be a rest disadvantage for Columbus and on the road, but it is the Flyers and they could be beaten regardless. Ditto for the second game, which will be in Ohio. Columbus’ week will end with another team that has fallen from grace from earlier in this season. On Saturday night, the Blue Jackets will play in Detroit. Again, the opportunities to step back up are there. Will Columbus be able to do so? We shall see.
SBN Blog: The Cannon
New Jersey Devils
What Happened Last Week: The New Jersey Devils had three games to play in this week. They were to host Montreal, visit Boston, and then host Florida - the top team in the Atlantic Division. Against the 31st place Montreal Canadiens, Jack Hughes dropped a brace on the visitors. Only for the visitors to claw back into the game with a goal by Josh Anderson and a last-minute extra-skater equalizer by Rem Pitlick. Mike Hoffman seemingly ended it in overtime, only for the review to show he hit both posts. In a seven-round shootout, Yegor Sharangovich provided the last goal and Nico Daws provided the last save for the 3-2 win for New Jersey. On March 31, the Devils visited Boston. The first period was close, with Hughes scoring an improbable corner-shot. The second period featured six goals by Boston, Daws getting pulled for Jon Gillies (who proceeded to be shelled), a seventh goal taken away from Brad Marchand for offside, and the Devils being victimized over and over. The Devils lost 8-1 to Boston. It was as bad as it looked. Plus, it mathematically eliminated the Devils from the playoffs. Yesterday against Florida, the Devils went up big on the Florida Panthers. Yegor Sharangovich scored a hat trick, Jack Hughes scored again, and even Janne Kuokkanen and Andreas Johnsson found the back of the net. They were up 6-2 after two periods. Then the Panthers ripped apart the Devils. They put up 25 shots on net in the third period. They held New Jersey to just five. Brandon Montour and Gustav Forsling put the seed of doubt of the Devils fans as they beat Devils debuting Andrew Hammond easily. Then Aleksander Barkov germinated the massive comeback with two goals late in the third. 6-6 by the end of regulation. And Forsling took it in overtime. The Devils literally blew a four-goal lead in the third period and coughed up five straight goals to lose the game in overtime. Yes, the Devils went 1-1-1 in this past week. They did so in one of the most enraging ways possible.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Devils will be busy this week with four games in seven nights. They will finish a four-game homestand and then begin the first of a five-game road trip. You know, road games. The thing the Devils have been awful at this season. Anyway, the Devils will play some home games with teams closer to their level first. Today, the Devils will face the Islanders, who may or may not take this game to make it a hot streak for them. On Tuesday, the Devils will host their hated rivals in the Rangers. The Devils did beat them badly 7-4 in their previous meeting at the Rock. Penguins fans will hope for a repeat of that on Tuesday night. On Thursday, the Devils will host Montreal, one of the few teams worse than them in the standings - and one of the few teams to drag the Devils into a shootout. That run of home games does not bode well given that they could not even protect a four-goal lead within twenty minutes of regulation ice hockey on Saturday. After those three home games, the Devils will begin their trip with an afternoon game in Dallas. Given that it has been over a month since the Devils won a road game, that also does not bode well. Nothing about the Devils bodes well. But management remains set in status quo.
SBN Blog: All About the Jersey - Remember when status quo was a good thing for the Devils?
What Happened Last Week: Philadelphia had three games to play last week. They finished up their five-game road trip with a Sunday game in Nashville and a Tuesday game in Minnesota. The Flyers lost the game in Nashville in high-scoring, close affair. While Philly scored two in the first, Nashville scored four in the second period. But Philly did end the second period at 4-4 in the final minute of the middle frame. Yet, with 1:19 left, Tanner Jeannot took the points for Nashville with a goal to hand Philly a 5-4 defeat. In Minnesota, the game was more decisive. The Wild scored two goals each in the first two periods to establish a solid 4-0 lead. Morgan Frost’s PPG in the third period was just a consolation goal; the Flyers lost that one 4-1. Philadelphia returned home and hosted Toronto last night. This game was close for two periods. After a scoreless first period, Kevin Hayes made it 1-0 for Philly. Wayne Simmonds and Timothy Liljegren responded with goals quickly scored together to make it 2-1 for Toronto. Yet, Ivan Provorov put the Flyers back in a tie at 2-2 going into the third period. Then the wheels fell off. Auston Matthews broke the deadlock at 7:41 and Pierre Engvall scored a shorty to make it 4-2. Provorov scored after that PP ended to make it 4-3 and give the Flyers some life. Only for Morgan Reilly and John Tavares to pull the game back to 6-3 for Toronto. The Flyers lost the game entirely in the third period for a fourth straight loss. That meant the Flyers went 0-3-0 and fell behind the Devils by a point to take eighth place in the division. Also, they were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs in this past week too.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Flyers will be quite busy within the division for most of this week coming up. Tonight, they will visit the Rangers. The Rangers will have a rest advantage and presumably want to win after getting blanked by the Islanders on Friday. Good luck, Flyers. On Tuesday and Thursday, the Flyers will have a non-consecutive home-and-home with Columbus. The Tuesday game will be in Philadelphia while the Thursday game will be in Columbus. The Blue Jackets may want these games to stem their fall. After all of that, the Flyers will host Anaheim for a Saturday night game. At the least, it will be a game outside of the division.
SBN Blog: Broad Street Hockey
That was the twenty-fourth Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2021-22 season, covering the twenty-fifth week of the season. There are only three more snapshots after this one. What do you expect to happen in this week coming up? Will we see Carolina get an ‘X’ (for clinching the playoffs) by their name soon? Who will hold onto second place by next week’s snapshot? Will the Isles be able to stay ahead of the Blue Jackets for fifth? Will Columbus win a game this week? Can the Devils stay ahead of Philadelphia somehow? 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.