Separation is beginning to form in the Metropolitan Division as we enter the mid-point of January. The Carolina Hurricanes remain at the top with only the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers within a reasonable distance behind them. The rest of the pack is beginning to become well behind them. The Washington Capitals have the disadvantage of having played more games than the other teams, but they have a small cushion over the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins. Two teams who have struggled recently but remain ahead of their Atlantic Division counterparts so fifth place equals a wild card spot. Still, those three are close to each other - and well behind or ahead of those around the trio. The largest separation is at the bottom, though. The bottom two teams are way on the outside of any reasonable playoff picture. However, the Philadelphia Flyers are in great form and find themselves just five points behind Pittsburgh now. The Columbus Blue Jackets are near the bottom of the league standings. That is a gap of 15 points. Clearly, Columbus is essentially “safe” in eighth place. Here is how the division looks after last night’s games.
This upcoming week of games is heavy with contests on Monday and Thursday. For the Monday games, check your local listings as some of these are afternoon or early evening games due to the holiday. There are other games scattered throughout the week, where Friday is the lightest day for the division. There are three games within the division in this week, which are highlighted and in bold for your convenience.
Here is the week that was and week that will be for all eight teams in the division.
What Happened Last Week: Carolina opened up another Metropolitan Division-based week of games by hosting the New Jersey Devils. After dropping three in a row, they presumably looked forward to hosting a Devils team they beat twice earlier this season. The game started off well enough with the Canes owning the run of play. Poor defending during a defensive zone faceoff on a power play led to Jesperi Kotkaniemi firing in a shorthanded goal to open the scoring. Alas, Jonas Siegenthaler snuck a low shot past Pytor Kotchetkov’s right skate just inside the post. Upon review, it was a goal and a tie game. The Canes kept up the pressure in the second period. They were rewarded with a fluke; a Max Pacioretty lob pass to the front hit off Yegor Sharangovich’s shoulder and into the net for the 2-1 lead. Carolina extended their lead to 3-1 when Sebastian Aho tapped in a feed from Teuvo Teravainen for another shorthanded goal. Unfortunately, it all fell apart in the final minute of the second period. Dawson Mercer went from the corner to the front of the net and beat Kotchetkov with a back-hander through the five-hole. On the next shift, a spill on defense freeded up Jesper Boqvist to go to the front of the net and beat Kotchetkov with a back-hander through the five-hole. The Devils tied up the game 3-3. In the third period, the Devils pushed back against Carolina’s 5-on-5 pressure. They broke through when Dawson Mercer split the D and beat Kotchetkov wide as he took a tumble. The Devils were up 4-3. With the goalie pulled, Nico Hischier ended the game with an ENG. The Devils handed Carolina their fourth straight loss, 5-3. Ouch. Carolina would set things right on Thursday night against Columbus. Frederik Andersen returned to the net and Carolina got its groove back. Largely thanks to their defensemen scoring five goals. Brett Pesce and Brent Burns scored in the first period. Jalen Chatfield scored a shorthanded goal in the second period. Pesce and Jaccob Slavin scored in the third period. Seth Jarvis ended the defensemen-scoring-only run with a sixth goal late in the game. By that point, the game was already sorted out. Sean Kuraly (first period, 2-1) and Johnny Gaudreau (third period, 5-2) scored but it did not matter. Carolina smashed Columbus to win 6-2 and end their losing streak. Last night, the Canes hosted Pittsburgh - a team looking to further secure their playoff hopes. It would be a tight affair with Andersen taking to the crease once again. Once again, the Canes blueline provided the goals. Brady Skjei put the Canes up late in the first period. Chatfield made it 2-0 before the halfway mark of the game. The Pens tried to make a comeback and put themselves within one in the third period thanks to a power play goal from Rickard Rakell. But Andersen was too good. The Canes held on to win 2-1. The win secured first place in the division for another snapshot. Although they are not entirely safe given that the Devils are not only right behind them but also have a tiebreaker advantage.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Carolina’s week of three games starts tonight. Whatever they have left in the tank for today is going to be needed when they host Vancouver. Vancouver is in a state of disarray this season. But they can pounce on a potentially tired team and look to spoil the Hurricanes. I do not think it will happen but it is possible. After Sunday’s game, they have no games until Thursday. They will then host Minnesota, a team of quality and looking to secure a playoff spot in the Central Division. This is to say that it will not be an easy game. On Saturday, the Hurricanes will go to Long Island. It will be their final inter-division game until February 11. While the Isles may not be challenging Carolina’s position at this moment, the Hurricanes would be wise to keep the Islanders down. Not that the rest of the division will thank them, but they would appreciate that.
New Jersey Devils
What Happened Last Week: The Devils began a five-game road trip in Raleigh, North Carolina before heading to California. On Tuesday night in Carolina, most of the first two periods had the making of a decisive loss. Erik Haula covered air as Jesperi Kotkaniemi put in a shorthanded goal a bit after a defensive zone faceoff loss to open the scoring. While Jonas Siegenthaler snuck a low shot inside the right post past Pytor Kochetkov, the Canes were making Vitek Vanecek play like a star. He was, but there was nothing he could do about the two goals against in the second period. A Max Pacioretty pass went up and off Yegor Sharangovich’s shoulder and into the net to make it 2-1. A shorthanded 2-on-1 that Dougie Hamilton, the one, did not cover any of two ended with a Sebastian Aho goal. It looked like it was not going to be their night what with Jack Hughes hitting a post and Jesper Bratt hitting a post on an open net earlier in the game. Then in the final minute, hope sprang for the Devils. Dawson Mercer and Jesper Boqvist scored on back-to-back shifts with the same exact shot: a backhander through Kotchekov’s five hole. The Devils stunned the Canes to make it 3-3 after 39 minutes of Carolina-dominated play. The third period was much better for the Devils. Mercer became the hero when he flied through the defense and went around Kotchetkov for the go-ahead goal. The Devils held on and Nico Hischier sealed the comeback win at 5-3 with an empty net goal. The Devils won back-to-back with multi-goal comebacks for the first time in decades. On Friday night, the Devils went to Anaheim. This would be no trap game as Anaheim played a slow, sloppy game. New Jersey took full advantage. A gloved rebound on a Dougie Hamilton shot led to a Dougie Hamilton goal to open the scoring. Later, Bratt finished a breakaway to make it 2-0. On a power play, a Jack Hughes pass to the top of the crease was seemingly put home by Hischier. Or defenseman Simon Benoit. Either way, the Devils were up 3-0. John Gibson hesitated by his left post, which gave Bratt the opportunity for a wraparound. He finished it to make it 4-0. A turnover by Erik Haula led to a missed breakaway by Troy Terry - and a put back goal by Adam Henrique to get the Ducks on the board. There would be no comeback; a breakaway goal by Jesper Boqvist early in the third all but ensured that. While Trevor Zegras roofed a power play goal late in the third, Sharangovich won a puck on the next shift and set up Hughes for a one-touch score right in Gibson’s grill. The Devils dominated and deserved to defeat the Ducks, 6-2. Last night, the Devils sought to sweep this part of this road trip in Los Angeles. They came out a bit sluggish as most teams do after playing the night before. The Kings controlled much of the play and Adrian Kempe found Kevin Fiala backdoor for a power play goal to open the scoring. The Devils would get a PPG of their own to respond; Tomas Tatar putting home a rebound to make it 1-1 by intermission. The Devils would go up 2-1 thanks to Erik Haula (yes, him), leading a 2-on-1, and finishing it (yes, really). He beat Jonathan Quick straight up. The Kings would tie it up in response later in the second when Anze Kopitar deflected in a long shot from Drew Doughty. A PPG to punish NJ for a Miles Wood penalty. On the next shift though, Nikita Okhotiuk went down the left from the point and just torched Quick on a shot that Quick really should have stopped. The goal put the Devils up 3-2. Ryan Graves provided insurance in the form of a long shot bouncing its way past the traffic and Quick to make it 4-2. The Kings tried - and even had a Fiala penalty shot - but Mackenzie Blackwood was rather sharp in stopping 35 out of 37 shots. Bratt sealed the game up with an empty netter. The Devils won 5-2 to sweep the week and make their five game road trip a success already. They won their last four, they scored at least four goals at a goaltender in those games, and they are right behind the Hurricanes with a four point lead (potentially six with a game in hand) on their hated rivals. I dare suggest they are heating up.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Devils will wrap up their road trip with a short week of games this week. The first game is a Monday afternoon game in San Jose. This game will be the third game in four days for the Devils, so fatigue figures to be a factor. As would the odd start time. San Jose has the worst home record in the NHL and they have nothing to play for at this point. The Devils should aim to prevail there. New Jersey’s last stop on the trip will take place on Thursday night. They will visit a Seattle team that has played quite well this season. They are not expansion fodder anymore; the Kraken have legitimate playoff aspirations. They have also been on a tear with eight wins in a row as of this post. It will be a difficult end to this trip. With just two games, they may want to keep an eye on what their hated rivals in Manhattan do as they could catch up to the Devils. If they did what their hated rivals just did, they may be safe in second should they win both games. Should Carolina stumble, they may still be right with the Hurricanes for first in the Metropolitan Division.
New York Rangers
What Happened Last Week: The New York Rangers just had two games to play in this past week. They avoided a drop from third place thanks to “help” from other teams in the division - namely, the Washington Capitals - and winning those two games. First, they hosted Minnesota. The Rangers went down in the first period thanks to goals from Jon Merrill and Kirill Kaprizov. But they came back with two defensemen-scored goals - K’Andre Miller and Adam Fox - in the second period. Ex-Ranger Mats Zuccarello put the Wild up 3-2, only for Filip Chytil to provide the equalizer with about six-and-a-half minutes left. A zesty overtime ensued for the home team but Marc-Andre Fleury stopped them all in the fourth period. In a shootout, Kaapo Kakko and Artemi Panarin scored while only Zuccarello did so for Minnesota. The 2-1 shootout yielded a 4-3 shootout win for New York. Second, they hosted Dallas. This was a tight affair with Jake Oettinger and Igor Shesterkin allowing very little. A power play goal from Tyler Seguin in the second period was the game’s only goal up until the last second. Literally. Miller scored at 19:59 to tie up the game. Needless to say, MSG erupted in jubilation. They did it again when Fox finished it in overtime for the 2-1 win. The Rangers secured third place for this snapshot and remain in range of the Devils for second place. Instead of falling behind, they made the most of what was given to them.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The New York Rangers will be a bit busier in this week with three games coming up. They will play a pair of non-playoff teams as they host Montreal today and visit Columbus tomorrow. It is a back-to-back set and it will be important for the Rangers to not drop points to these spoilers. Especially as the Rangers will have a much, much tougher opponent on Thursday. They will host Boston. Sure, they finally lost a game at home this season in regulation. That it took half a season for that to happen speaks to Boston being the best team in the NHL this season. Even with Boston coming into Manhattan after playing in Belmont the night before, I do not think they are in the business of just taking any game off. Should the Rangers take care of business in their back to back set to open this week, then that game may not matter as much. We shall see.
What Happened Last Week: Washington had a favorable week of games. It was not so simple, though. Last Sunday, the Caps hosted the worst team in the division: Columbus. A team they thrashed a few days earlier. Plus, Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson returned. What happened in the game: a very tight and close game. Erik Gustafsson scored early and then the game turned into the Darcy Kuemper show. He stopped 38 shots to shutout the Blue Jackets and win 1-0. Yes, just 1-0 against a Columbus team that leaks goals. Still a win, though. That would not be the case on Wednesday night in Philadelphia. The Flyers smacked the Caps in the mouth early on. Scott Laughton scored a power play goal. While Garnet Hathaway tied it up late in the period, Travis Konecny answered back on the next shift. After a scoreless second period, Owen Tippett put the Flyers up 3-1. Then Konecny scored a shorthanded goal for a three-goal lead. Insert the cliche as the Caps would begin to respond. Marcus Johansson cut the lead to two goals less than two minutes after the SHGA; and T.J. Oshie made it a one goal game with just over five minutes left. But the Flyers frustrated the Caps. Especially into taking two penalties within the final two minutes. Konecny ended the game with a power play goal into an empty net for a hat trick. The Caps lost to the Flyers, 5-3. Washington sought revenge at home on Saturday night. They would not get it. Laughton once again scored a PPG in the first period to open the scoring. Alex Ovechkin scored his 30th of the season to tie it up. That ties a NHL record that former Cap Mike Gartner achieved with 17 30-goal seasons. The Flyers did not care for that. James van Reimsdyk and Wade Allison scored within a minute in the second period to go up 3-1. The Capitals could not solve Carter Hart. The Capitals lost a second straight game to Philadelphia, 3-1. The Capitals are still ahead of the Islanders and Penguins. But going 1-2-0 in a week against Columbus and Philly twice is not ideal. They may rue those losses in the future if they do not turn it around fast.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Capitals will play a tougher schedule than just Columbus and Philadelphia in this coming week. For one, they will play four games in six nights. For another, those games include a trip to Long Island on Monday, a home game against Minnesota on Tuesday, a road game in Arizona on Thursday, and a trip to Las Vegas on Saturday. That is three our of four teams with nothing to play for. Given how Philly stunned them last Thursday, the Caps should not overlook the Yotes in their building. Still, the Capitals can do some damage to their opponents’ playoff hopes in the other three games should they prevail in any of them. The issue is that the Capitals really cannot afford to drop too many games given that the rest of the Metropolitan Division has games in hand on them. Unless Washington just wants to cheer for others later on for help.
New York Islanders
What Happened Last Week: The Islanders returned home for this week after a tough road trip through Western Canada. The times would not get much better. On Tuesday, they hosted Dallas. Jason Robertson scored early in the game and Anders Lee responded with a PPG later in the first period. Then Jake Oettinger and Ilya Sorokin stopped everything afterwards. The game went all the way to a shootout. Robertson was the only one to score and so the Islanders lost 2-1 to the Stars. They picked up a point when they really needed two. They would get zero on Thursday night against Minnesota. Scott Mayfield scored late in the first period and the score held at 1-0 for the Islanders going into the third period. Then the Wild broke through within the final ten minutes of regulation. Frederick Gaudreau tied up the game with a shorthanded goal. 93 seconds later, Sam Steel finished a feed from Mats Zuccarello to make it 2-1 for the Wild. Kirill Kaprizov ended the game with an ENG to hand the Isles a 3-1 loss. Winless in their last four, the Islanders hosted Montreal last night to hopefully end the slide. Surely, a playoff-hopeful Isles team would put down a Montreal team not expected to do much, right? It was not easy but they would. Casey Cizikas scored early in the game and Anthony Beauviller scored a second goal in the first period. That goal would be important as the Isles failed to score again. Montreal did not create a lot against Ilya Sorokin, but Nick Suzuki beat him with just over 10 minutes left in the third period. However, the Isles locked down the game - Montreal had a whopping five shots in the third period - and won 2-1. Their losing streak was snapped at four. With Pittsburgh falling to Carolina, the Isles move up to fifth place in the division and take their spot in the wild card. If only the Isles had a more successful week; they could be closer to the Capitals. Alas.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Poor Islanders. This week on paper for the Isles is just brutal. The Islanders will host Washington on Monday in a game with some stakes within the division. Then on Wednesday, the Isles will host Boston. A fresh Boston team. A Boston team that really just does not lose games this season. Then the Islanders will head up to Buffalo on Thursday. The Sabres are a high-scoring squad and they are feeling it in recent weeks. Definitely not an easy trip; especially after a game against the B’s. At the end of the week, the Islanders will host the division-leading Carolina Hurricanes. Another top-tier opponent. That is an absolutely rough stretch of four games in six days. If the Islanders enter next week’s snapshot with a winning record, then they would have made multiple statements. And perhaps move them back into a wildcard spot at least. That is what will add pressure to an already challenging week on paper. The Islanders can not afford to get rolled. Otherwise, they may go back to being on the outside looking in. Of course, this would require the Penguins to win some games of their own.
What Happened Last Week: The Penguins needed to get some wins. Especially in their first two games this week before a nasty back-to-back set with Winnipeg and Carolina. Pittsburgh would get it done. Last Sunday, the Pens entered Tempe. While Barrett Hayton put the Penguins down a score in the first period, the response came from Jake Guentzel in the second period. His brace put the Penguins up 2-1. Jason Zucker extended the lead to 3-1. Jeff Carter ended the affair with an empty netter for a solid 4-1 win. The Penguins’ slide was over. Next up was Vancouver on Tuesday night. It was a disaster of a start for the Penguins. At home to Vancouver, they went down three goals. Yes, down 3-0 to the Canucks. Within the first 7:05, Conor Garland, Brock Boeser, and Quinn Hughes all scored. Casey DeSmith was pulled and Dustin Tokarski came in. Would the Penguins fight back? Yes. Evgeni Malkin started it off with a power play goal. Then Sidney Crosby pulled the Pens within one goal. Zucker tied it up with 3:30 left. It was 3-3 in the first intermission. Yes, this all happened within one period. The Penguins kept rolling in the second period with goals from Malkin and Rickard Rakell. Vancouver caused concern in Pittsburgh when Travis Dermott scored with just over seven minutes left in the third period. But the Pens would not blow this lead. They came back to win 5-4 over Vancouver. Job done. Now the tough part: a home game with Winnipeg on Friday and a road game in Carolina on Saturday. The home game against the Jets did not go well. The first period was not so bad. Blake Wheeler did convert a power play goal, but Drew O’Connor tied it up before intermission. Then the Jets pulled away with a quick double late in the second period. First from Mark Scheifele and then from Nikolaj Ehlers. Scheifele scored a second goal in the third period to make it a decisive 4-1 loss for Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh went into Raleigh last night hoping to rebound and get a result. They would not get it. Brady Skjei beat Casey DeSmith late in the first period and Jalen Chatfield scored before the midpoint of the game in the second period. The Penguins punished the Canes for Jordan Martinook taking a tripping call in the third period. Rickard Rakell converted it. But that was the only one of the five power plays they had scored on after Pittsburgh went down two goals. They even failed to convert a long 5-on-3 in the second period. The Penguins lost 2-1. They dropped both games in their back-to-back. They slip behind the Islanders and suddenly find themselves just five points ahead of Philadelphia. At this rate it will get late awfully early, Penguins.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Pittsburgh will get three games against two opponents far more favorable than the back-to-back set they just wrapped up. On Monday, they will host Anaheim. The Ducks are truly out of it and the Penguins are in a position to gain by adding to their misery. They should make it happen. On Wednesday, the Penguins will head up to Ottawa. This is the first of a non-back-to-back set as the Penguins will host Ottawa on Friday. The Sens are no push-overs but they are not in a great position. They may be rather hungry as they need to stay in the wildcard picture somehow. The Pens would be wise to put them down to try to claw their way towards Washington once more. Another dropped week may put them in a precarious position given Philadelphia’s heater.
What Happened Last Week: The Flyers had a real difficult week on hand. But the 2022-23 Flyers are showing that they are not so easy of an opponent. Last Sunday, they hosted Toronto and were creamed by the Leafs. Calle Jarnkrok and Zach Aston-Reese scored in the first period. Travis Konecny responded on the shift after Aston-Reese’s goal, but it would not lead to much. Conor Timmins extended the lead. A Nicolas Deslauriers goal put the Flyers back within one and the Flyers received a power play shortly after. Only for Timothy Liljegren to score shorthanded to put the Leafs up 4-2. John Tavares scored a bit after that for a 5-2 score. Auston Matthews converted a PP in the third period to end the beating at 6-2. But the Flyers took out any frustration from that loss right on Buffalo the next night. Samuel Ersson took to the net and denied the high-scoring Sabres anything from their 28 shots on net. Ersson earned his first NHL shutout. Meanwhile the Flyers out-shot Buffalo 38-28 and ran up the goals. Zack MacEwen scored early in the first, Joel Farabee made it 2-0 later in the first, and Noah Cates made it 3-0 less than two minutes after Farabee’s goal. Wade Allison added an exclamation mark of a fourth goal early in the third period. Yes, the Flyers beat Buffalo 4-0 on a night after getting waxed by Toronto. The Flyers were not done spoiling. They hosted Washington on Wednesday night. They showed Washington early they would not be pushed around. Scott Laughton converted a power play in the first period, and Travis Konecny scored in response to a Garnet Hathaway goal. After a scoreless second period, Owen Tippett and Konecny put the Flyers up 4-1 in the third period. Washington would fight back with a goals by Marcus Johansson and T.J. Oshie to bring the Caps within one. But the Flyers held on, the Capitals took two stupid penalties late in the third, and Konecny completed his hat trick with a power play empty net goal. The Flyers won 5-3. On Saturday, the Flyers went to D.C. to play the Capitals again. They did it to Washington again. Laughton converted a power play to put the Flyers up early. While Ovechkin tied it up in the first period, the Flyers pulled away in the second period with goals by James van Reimsdyk and Wade Allison. Who each scored within a minute. The Caps had no answer to beat Carter Hart. The Flyers prevailed 3-1. Yes, the Flyers beat the Capitals two games in a row. Yes, the Flyers went 3-1-0 in what looked like a rough week. They won seven of their last ten. Throw out your iPads and your preconceived notion of the Flyers being doormats. They are in great form and now just five points behind the Penguins. Everything to gain and nothing to lose.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Philadelphia will play four games in six days and the first one is a doozy. They will be visiting Boston. While the B’s lost a home game in regulation recently, I really doubt they will enter a slump now. The rest of the week is a bit more do-able for the Flyers, though. They will host a real bad Anaheim team on Tuesday. Then they will host a real bad Chicago team on Thursday. A challenge will emerge with a road game in Detroit on Saturday. But the Flyers’ recent form has them right on the cusp with the other Atlantic Division teams fighting for a wildcard spot. They are still outside of the playoff picture. Yet, this is a far sight better than eating losses regularly like Anaheim and Chicago has done this season. Hopefully the Flyers faithful appreciates that when Anaheim and Chicago comes to town and accepts that it could always be worse. But if they keep winning and Pittsburgh keeps flailing, the season will get more interesting than looking ahead to the 2023 NHL Draft.
Columbus Blue Jackets
What Happened Last Week: Columbus went into this week with some heads held high after beating Carolina through a shootout. Those heads were lowered during this week. Last Sunday, the Blue Jackets went to D.C. to play Washington. In a season where they have bled goals, the Blue Jackets only gave up one to Washington. An early goal to Eric Gustafsson. The bad news: the Jackets scored zero goals past Darcy Kuemper. The Blue Jackets lost 1-0 to Washington. A far better result than what happened on Tuesday night. The Jackets went to Tampa Bay and were zapped. Nikita Kucherov scored early and Nick Paul added a PPG put Columbus down early. While Gavin Bayreuther made it a one-goal game in the second period, Vladislav Namestnikov restored the two-goal lead later in the period. Tim Berni scored his first NHL to make it 3-2. Then the Lightning went to work. Kucherov scored a PPG, Brayden Point scored a PPG, and Ross Colton scored at even strength to make it a 6-2 game. A Kirill Marchenko score only made it a 6-3 final as the Jackets have lost 10 straight on the road now. On Thursday night, the Jackets returned to Ohio to host Carolina. The Hurricanes enacted revenge. Mostly from their defensemen finishing shots. Brett Pesce and Brent Burns put the Jackets down two in the first period. Sean Kuraly made it close, a 2-1 game by the first intermission. This was spoiled when Jalen Chatfield scored a shorthanded goal in the second period. Pesce and Jaccob Slavin made it a 5-1 game before Columbus could respond with anything. Johnny Gaudreau provided that response but it was too little, too late, and Carolina’s Seth Jarvis scored to make it a 6-2 game after Gaudreau’s goal anyway. The Jackets lost yet again as they went into Detroit on Saturday night. This would be the night the losing on the road would end. Patrik Laine saw to that with a brace in the first period, sandwiching a goal by Vladislav Gavrikov. The Blue Jackets went up 3-0 in the first period. With all three goals coming within a four minute section of the period. Laine completed his hat trick with a goal early in the second period. Up 4-0 and the Blue Jackets seemingly relaxed. Which made for a dramatic third period by Detroit. Olli Maata put the Red Wings on the board. Jake Walman put the Red Wings within two. Lucas Raymond scored with just over three minutes left to make it a one-goal game. Columbus held on though. They held on to finally win a road game. They won 4-3 and ended their week at 1-3-0. Still dead last in the division, but they are done with their winlessness on the road. For now.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Columbus will begin their week of four games in six days with a home game against the Rangers. The Blue Jackets are spoilers at this point. They will try but few will expect a result in that one. On Tuesday, Columbus will go off to Nashville and try to spoil them. While the Preds are not currently in a playoff position, they are close to one. Columbus could hinder their goals, but it will be tough between Columbus playing on Monday, Nashville being tough to break down at times, and Columbus being themselves this season. The week does get a bit easier after that back-to-back set. Columbus will host Anaheim on Thursday and San Jose on Saturday. If nothing else, those games would be good for Columbus to win just to earn some respectability. It is not much but it is better than ending another week in 32nd place out of 32 teams.
That was the fourteenth Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2022-23 season. What do you expect to happen in this week coming up? Will the Devils continue to put pressure on the Hurricanes? Can the Rangers crash that party up top? Will Washington continue to stay ahead of the Islanders and Penguins? 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.