In this second weekly Metropolitan Division snapshot of the season, everyone got on the board with a win. Thank you for joining the winning column, Washington Capitals. It remains tight window as it usually is in the early part of the season. A time where everyone still has a chance of some sort. A time where one night makes a difference, as evidenced by the New York Rangers being in sixth on Friday night and now being in second after one win. (This also means the New Jersey Devils are in sixth, behind the New York Islanders due to Regulation Wins (RW).) This is also a time of unexpected leaders, which explains the Philadelphia Flyers being in first place this morning.
No one is out of anything although if I were a Pittsburgh Penguin or Capitals fan, then I would hope the winning would start sooner rather than later.
Ahead of this coming week, the whole division is off today and Monday. No games at all. Tuesday, on the other hand, involves everyone. Games within the division are highlighted and in bold:
Here is the week that was and week that will be for all eight teams.
What Happened Last Week: This week (and next week) has been all about the Western Conference. The Flyers hosted two and went out to Texas last night. The two games at home went well. Against Vancouver on Tuesday, the Flyers got plenty of positives. Carter Hart was perfect. Egor Zamula scored within the first two minutes. Sean Couturier scored the second goal - his first since 2021. The 2-0 win was a triumph; the Flyers are not in the dire straits that Vancouver is in. On Thursday, the Flyers hosted Edmonton. They did something rare: They held Connor McDavid to no shots on net. He would get an assist on a Zach Hyman goal in the second period. But even that was not that damaging. That goal made it 2-1, after all. Joel Farabee made it 1-0 in the first period and Cam Atkinson tipped in an Owen Tippet shot earlier in the second period. The Hyman goal was answered by a shorty from Sean Walker. A second Atkinson goal early in the third sealed up a 4-1 win. Yes, a 4-1 win over Edmonton. The Flyers took their good form to Texas last night and brought the offense. A whopping 40 shots on Dallas. Granted, the Flyers were down early due to Dallas goals by Wyatt Johnston and Tyler Seguin. The Flyers would hit back with Joel Farabee and a shorty by Travis Konecny. A tie game going into the second period which was blown up by Roope Hintz 30 seconds into the second period. Seems like Dallas is in control, right? Especially when Jamie Benn made it 4-2 just past halfway through the third? Well, something weird happened. Cam York took an interference penalty. That was not weird. What was weird was that Philly scored twice during that penalty kill. Konecny and Sean Walker provided two shorthanded goals to force a tie game. That is weird. They made it to overtime. Alas, Johnston found Joe Pavelski all alone in the slot in overtime. He beat Sam Ersson to hand Philly a 5-4 defeat. But the point was enough to make it a successful week and take first in the division for the moment.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Did you like that trip out to Dallas on Saturday? Enjoy an even later start time, Flyers fans. On Tuesday, the Flyers will visit the defending champions in Las Vegas. They will return home for two more Western Conference opponents. An explosive - in both ends of the rink - Minnesota team visits Philly on Thursday and Anaheim comes on Saturday. The Flyers may not have a lot to play for but the fast start dulls some of the pain that comes with rebuilding. Better to fall from something than nothing at all.
New York Rangers
What Happened Last Week: The Rangers followed up their loss in Ohio in the prior Saturday by hosting Arizona on Monday. It would be a tough one. Chris Kreider scored in the first period, Clayton Keller responded with a PPG in the second period, and Vincent Trocheck decided it with a PPG in the third period off an Artemi Panarin shot. It was a tight game and a tense one. The game ended with 21 penalties between both teams, including 5 misconducts at the end of the game and a rare goalie leaving crease penalty on Igor Shesterkin. A win is a win, though. They would not get on Thursday against Nashville. The Preds came out fast and never looked back. Craig Smith hit the Rangers with a double in the first period. Ryan O’Reilly and Filip Forsberg each got PPGs to put New York down four. Adam Fox would get the Rangers on the board late in the second period but it was a consolation goal. As the Predators pointed out after the game, the Rangers quit in that 4-1 loss. The Rangers embarked on a five game road trip out West with a game in Seattle to start it off. It started off concerning when Justin Schultz opened the scoring, but Artemi Panarin tied it up later in the first period. The second period saw the Rangers pull ahead to never look back thanks to their younger set. Kappo Kakko broke the tie and Alexis Lafreniere made it a two-goal lead, each getting assists from K’Andre Miller and Filip Chytil, respectively. Panarin added a third period goal early in the third to make it a 4-1 game and the Rangers cruised to a win. A good start to their trip, a rebound from a bad night against Nashville, and a second place spot in the division.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Rangers are going through Western Canada this week. They will visit Calgary on Tuesday at 9:45 PM ET. Then they will visit Edmonton on Thursday. Lastly, they will go to Vancouver on Saturday night. These road trips can trip up teams - see Carolina - so the Rangers will need to be careful as they aim to get results. But they started off well and could fare better than Carolina if only with their net superiority.
Columbus Blue Jackets
What Happened Last Week: Columbus followed up a win over the Rangers last Saturday with a poor outing against Detroit on Monday. Shayne Gostisbehere made it 1-0 and the visitors never looked back. Michael Rasumussen, Dylan Larkin (PP), and Andrew Copp (PP) all made it 4-0 just over 12 minutes into the second period. Columbus just could not solve James Reimer. Not even for a simple consolation goal. Worse, it could have been 5-0 but Spencer Martin denied Copp on a penalty shot. A bad loss following a good win.
The Blue Jackets ended their week with a back-to-back set. First, they hosted Calgary and received some good news: a healthy Zach Werenski. The Flames owned the shot count but Spencer Martin was more than up to the task with 25 saves on 25 shots through two periods. Sean Kuraly provided the game’s first goal to give Columbus the lead in the second period. Justin Danforth made it 2-0 in the third period. Unfortunately, they could not punish an A.J. Greer elbow on Johnny Gaudreau. Instead, Elias Lindholm made it a 2-1 game with a shorthanded goal. But Martin stood tall, Werenski sealed the win with an empty netter, and the game ended with Rasmus Andersson throwing an elbow to Patrik Laine’s head after the buzzer. The 3-1 regulation win came at the cost to Laine, who would be out against Minnesota on Saturday. Andersson was suspended for 4 games because of the hit. The Blue Jackets had to rally without Laine. They did so by ripping Minnesota’s defense apart with 54 shots on Filip Gustavsson. Only one beat him in the first period, thanks to Justin Danforth. A second came from Kent Johnson in the second. Then Minnesota would tie it up within the second period thanks to Dakota Mermis (!!) and Mats Zuccarello whose Aasen is silent. Jonas Brodin would make it a 3-2 game for Minnesota early in the third and the Columbus offense would continue to march on to success. Boone Jenner tied it up in the third. Starlet Adam Fantilli scored his first NHL goal on a power play to make it a 4-3 game. Alas, Columbus could not stop Marcus Johanasson from tying it up late. Overtime was needed. A failed possession by the Wild led to Jack Roslovic ending it all to make it a 5-4 win. A back-to-back pair of wins is a very nice result. Hopefully Laine will be OK soon.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Blue Jackets will be back in action on Tuesday against Anaheim with the odd start time of 6:30 PM ET. This would be a good game on paper for Columbus to get their season back on track. They will go to Montreal on Thursday, which is another potentially favorable match-up for the Blue Jackets. On Saturday, it will get a bit tougher as the Blue Jackets will host the Islanders. The Blue Jackets are coming off successes with strong offensive results. They could very well build on that in these games.
What Happened Last Week: Road trips out West can go awry and the Hurricanes have learned that the hard way. While they went into this week with a shootout win over Los Angeles, blowing a 3-0 lead in the process was a concern. Anaheim did not even let that happen. Sam Carrick, Frank Vatrano, and Pavel Mintyukov of the Ducks all scored in the first period to put Carolina a hole. The Canes got on the board in the second period thanks to Teuvo Teravainen - only for that goal to be answered minutes later by Vatrano. The Canes put up a power-play driven comeback in the third period with PPGs by Teravainen and Martin Necas. Yet, they pulled Antti Raanta late and conceded an ENG to Cam Fowler. Then they did it again and Vatrano got his hat trick. The Canes lost to the Ducks, 6-3. The California part of the trip ended in San Jose on Tuesday. This had the makings of another disappointing loss. In the first period, Fabian Zetterlund made it a 1-0 game for the Sharks early. Seth Jarvis converted a PPG later to tie it up. Jaccob Slavin put in a shorthanded goal in the second period; only for Filip Zadina and William Eklund to score PPGs (Zadina’s on the same situation Slavin scored on) to make it a 3-2 game for San Jose. Carolina was dominating the shot count and still down 3-2 after two? They decided to take out their frustrations in the third period. It began with a Stefan Noesen PPG to tie it up. Then a Jarvis PPG to take the lead. Then a Necas even strength goal to add to the lead. The end came from Brett Pesce. The Hurricanes scored four goals in about six minutes in the third period to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 6-3 win. They got the win at least.
With the California part of the trip over, Carolina went up to Washington state to play Seattle on Thursday. This would be another high-scoring affair. Seattle wanted that first win of the season and would hit the Canes with a goal explosion to do it. Yanni Gourde’s tip-in goal to open the scoring was quickly answered by Jesper Fast. But Seattle got a PPG from Jaden Schwartz and a SHG from Pierre-Edouard Bellmare to make it a 3-1 game in favor of the Kraken. Vince Dunn added a PPG in the second period to keep Carolina buried at 4-1. The Canes would try to repeat what they did in San Jose in the third period. A quick pair of goals from Jarvis and Jesperi Kotkaniemi made it a one-goal game. Alas, Jared McCann and Tye Kartye had other ideas. They each scored to give the Kraken a 6-3 lead. A Seth Jarvis PPG made it a two goal game but an Oliver Bjorkstrand goal ensured there would be no late drama. The Canes lost 7-4. An injury to Frederik Andersen on this trip required a Pytor Kochetkov call up and so he started against Colorado last night. It did not go so well. Sure, the Canes went up first with a Kotkaniemi goal. Then Ryan Johansen tied it up on a power play with 6 seconds left in the first period. The second period started off with a Logan O’Connor shorthanded goal. The Canes would respond around midway through the second with a PPG by Brent Burns and a Michael Bunting ESG to make it 3-2. The Avalanche then proceeded to live up to their namesake. Frederik Olofsson, Artturi Lehkonen, Nathan Mackinnon, and Mikko Rantanen all scored in succession within the final eight minutes of the second period. Eight shots against Kochetkov, five goals allowed. Ouch. Slavin put in a consolation goal in the third but the loss was set, 6-4. The Canes got creamed on this trip for the most part and one has to wonder: Do they have the goaltending to contend?
What’s Coming Up This Week: Probably a lot of scoring as every Carolina game has had at least eight total goals scored so far this season. Carolina’s road trip will end in the Eastern Time Zone. They will visit Tampa Bay on Tuesday. Then they will get re-matches with Seattle and San Jose in Raleigh, back-to-back on Thursday and Friday. A bit harsh for the Hurricanes to get three games in four nights after a four-game week, but the schedule is what it is. Might I suggest some discipline and defense, Carolina? Perhaps some goaltending help too?
New York Islanders
What Happened Last Week: The Islanders followed up their one-in-one week with another victory on Tuesday night. They hosted Arizona and it became a kind of goaltender’s duel between Karel Vejmelka and Ilya Sorokin. Mostly by Vejmelka as the Isles out-shot the Coyotes 34-14. Yes, 14, I did mis-type that. It would take a power play early in the second period to decide this game. Mat Barzal converted it to make it 1-0 and that would be enough. Sorokin was perfect, the Isles kept forcing Arizona to defend, and the Isles won 1-0.
On Friday, they hosted the Devils and they had the exact opposite of the Arizona game. The Devils attacked and pushed forward often, forcing Ilya Sorokin to make a lot of saves (34, 20 more than the Arizona game) and some incredible ones on Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt, Nathan Bastian, and Alex Holtz among others in 5-on-5. The Isles went into this one with a perfect penalty kill and left with a far-less-than-perfect one. While Brock Nelson opened the scoring in the first period, Adam Pelech’s dumping of Tyler Toffoli into Sorokin led to Dougie Hamilton tying it up on the PPG. Late in the first, Casey Cizikas of the Identity Line cross-checked Nico Hischier in the kidneys. This resulted in an early second period goal by Toffoli. Nelson tied up the game thanks to a breakdown by Luke Hughes and Brendan Smith. Then Pelech cleared a puck over the glass, which allowed Luke Hughes to redeem himself with a PPG. The Isles would tie it up later in the second period when Noah Dobson found Bo Horvat all alone to Akira Schmid’s left. Horvat snuck the puck through to make it 3-3. This held until Pierre Engvall was caught hooking John Marino in the third period. 28 seconds later, Jack Hughes one-touched an Ondrej Palat pass past Sorokin to make it 4-3. Yes, 4 PPGAs. The score held until Sorokin was pulled for an extra skater. A rush by Mat Barzal and scrum in front ended with Horvat putting the puck off Schmid and in for the late equalizer. A point was earned. But the Devils would end it. A shift by Timo Meier, Dawson Mercer, and John Marino forced the Isles to keep Engvall, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Ryan Pulock on the ice. Jack Hughes came on, got the puck, took on Pulock, and fired a rising shot around the defender past a surprised Sorokin. The Devils won 5-4 to hand the Isles their first non-win of the season.
The Isles could not dwell on that, though. They had a game in Buffalo to play last night. The Islanders could not stop the Devils’ offense from shooting and they did not stop the Sabres’ offense from shooting. Buffalo put up 43 shots on Semyon Varlamov. While he was perfect in the first period, he was beaten by Jeff Skinner within the final five minutes of the second period. Then again by Mattias Samuelsson with 37 seconds left in the second period. Then once more by Dylan Cozens just 2:40 into the third period. The Isles were in a hole and would never really come back out of it. Noah Dobson beat Eric Comrie late in the game to avoid a shutout loss. But that was it. A 3-1 disappointing loss to the Sabres. The back to back yielded one point for the Isles. At least their RW count kept them above the Devils this time.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Islanders will return home for two more games in this coming week. They will take on Colorado, which could be a difficult game depending on how the Avs perform. It also has an 8 PM ET start time, so it will end later than usual. Then they will host Ottawa, a team that has been scoring in bunches to start this season. The Islanders will get an inter-division game on Saturday when they go to Columbus. The Isles are a team that will seek to shut teams down. We shall see if they can continue to do that in this coming week.
New Jersey Devils
What Happened Last Week: Like the Penguins, the Penguins enjoyed the fewest amount of games to play in this past week. Also like the Penguins, they dropped the first one. The Devils hosted Florida on Monday and proceeded to have a bad first period. Worse, they would be down two scores in the process. Sam Reinhart re-directed an Evan Rodrigues feed for the first goal and Carter Verhaeghe roofed a puck that Brendan Smith whiffed on for the second. The Panthers would make it 3-0 when Matt Tkachuk found Niko Mikkola backdoor behind Vitek Vanecek in the second period. A pair of penalties by Ondrej Palat and Nico Hischier led to a power play that Reinhart converted. The Devils would at least push back. Erik Haula beat Sergei Bobrovsky for a PPG; and a Haula shot that snuck through Bobrovsky was jammed in by Michael McLeod to make it 4-2. A late PPG by Jesper Bratt gave the Devils hope late, but it was not realized. The Devils lost 4-3.
The Devils would try to split the week in points on Friday night in Long Island. This turned into a goal-fest. The Devils played much better in the first period. This did not stop Brock Nelson from taking advantage of space and beating Akira Schmid on a shot for a goal. But a late first period power play ended with Dougie Hamilton dropping a hammer through Ilya Sorokin to tie it up. Sorokin made massive saves all night at 5-on-5 but was beaten in 5-on-4. An Islanders penalty with 15 seconds left in the first led to Tyler Toffoli picking the corner early in the second period to make it 2-1. A breakdown by Luke Hughes with help by Brendan Smith yielded Nelson alone in front to beat Schmid low to make it 2-2. The Isles took another penalty and Luke Hughes fired a seeing eye shot through loads of legs to make it 3-2. This lead also did not last when Noah Dobson found Bo Horvat all alone to Schmid’s left; the forward tied it up at 3-3. Once again, the Isles took a penalty in the third period. It ended with Ondrej Palat finding Jack Hughes on Sorokin’s backdoor to make it 4-3. This held up throughout the third period until Sorokin was pulled. The extra man led to a massive crashing of the net and Horvat flinging the puck off Schmid and just inside the right post. 4-4 and overtime was needed. A smart shift by John Marino, Timo Meier (who got his first point of the season in this one), and Dawson Mercer led to Jack Hughes carrying the puck against Ryan Pulock in 3-on-3 OT. Hughes proceeded to make Pulock look like a mannequin and rifle a high shot past a surprised Sorokin for the overtime win. The Devils won 5-4 with 4 PPGs. It came with the cost of losing Nico Hischier to injury in the game and the team was down Erik Haula and Tomas Nosek. Hopefully some can recover in time for next week. The Devils sit at 2-1-1, which is not bad but they must keep getting results to compete in this division.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Devils will play three games in four nights next week. They will visit Montreal on Tuesday, which has the odd start time of 7:15 PM. Then they will be on TNT when they host Washington on Wednesday night. The Devils will host a potentially high-powered (but not so high-defense) Buffalo team on Friday. The Devils would be wise to have a good week. It gets late early in this league and no amount of expectations are worth anything in the standings.
What Happened Last Week: Like the Devils, the Penguins enjoyed the fewest amount of games to play in this past week. Also like the Devils, they dropped the first one. The Penguins visited Detroit on Wednesday night. The start was great as Evgeni Malkin made it 1-0 within the first minute. Unfortunately, Detroit would respond with the next four goals. Alex DeBrincat made it 1-1 in the first period. The second period featured scores from Ben Chiarot, Andrew Copp, and a PPG by David Perron. The Penguins made it a one-goal game in the third period. Erik Karlsson scored his first as a Penguin early in the third. With just seven minutes left, Bryan Rust tipped a Karlsson shot into the net. A comeback was afoot. Tristan Jarry even stopped an unsuccessful penalty shot by Copp in between those two goals. Alas, Copp would have the last laugh. He put in an empty netter. Pittsburgh challenged it, failed, and then pulled Jarry for a shorthanded 5-on-5 situation. That ended with DeBrincat putting a power play empty netter for a 6-3 loss. Oof.
Against the St. Louis Blues, the Penguins would put up a tighter defensive performance. They kept the Blues to just 21 shots on net. The problem: the Blues did not need to attack so much. Brandon Saad scored in the first period. While Malkin made it 1-1 with five seconds left in the first period, the Blues responded in the second period. Jake Neighbours got his first early in the second period. Colton Parayko made it a 3-1 game less than two minutes later. The score held until the third period when Saad struck again to make it 4-1. A Radim Zohorna goal was just consolation. The Penguins lost 4-2. Going 0-2-0 in a short week is not good for anyone. The Pens slipped to seventh.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Pittsburgh will have a bit more to do with three games coming up. All are at home. They will host Dallas on Tuesday, host Colorado on Thursday, and host Ottawa on Saturday. The first two, on paper, will be challenging as both teams are quite talented. Ottawa has been rather potent on offense to start this season; they cannot be underestimated. The Penguins need to sort it out soon. It does get late early in this league and their form is suspect at a minimum.
What Happened Last Week: Washington would seek to get their first goal of the season as well as their first win last week after being shutout by Pittsburgh in their home opener. They would get it in their second game, a home game on Monday against Calgary. It started very poorly. The Caps were out-shot 18-3. They conceded goals to Adam Ruzicka and Dillon Dube to go down two. Then it got better. Matthew Phillips made it 2-1 and Connor McMichael made it 2-2 just before halfway through the game. The game got locked down. Darcy Kuemper got into a groove, denied Blake Coleman on a penalty shot, and held it at 2-2. A shootout was needed and Evgeny Kuznetsov made it a win for the 3-2 result. Goal and win accomplished. Then they went to Ottawa and got waxed in Josh Norris’ first game. Vladimir Tarasenko and Norris scored first. John Carlson made it 2-1 late in the first but that would be the closest they would get in that one. Norris and Artem Zub scored within the first five minutes of the second period and the rout continued. Claude Giroux and Josh Sanderson capped off the 6-1 beating of Washington. A painful loss. Would they recover against Montreal?
Well, sort of. Alex Ovechkin finally got a shot on net in this week. He got five, in fact. He even got an assist too. It was part of a comeback effort too. Sean Monahan put the Caps down a goal with a late first period PPG. Brendan Gallagher made it a 2-0 game just before the halfway mark. Then Dylan Strome had enough. He would get the Caps on the board - with that assist from Ovechkin - part the halfway mark of the third period. Strome would score with with the extra skater to make it 2-2 and force overtime in Montreal. Alas, the comeback ended there. Cole Caufield scored 47 seconds into overtime to make it a 3-2 loss for the Caps. At least Washington got a point and did not totally sag when down in the game.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Capitals get three games in four nights next week and it begins with a brutal back-to-back. The Caps will host a powerful Toronto team on Tuesday at the odd time of 6 PM ET. If they got wrecked by Ottawa, that could be a real rough one. Then they get to visit the Devils on national television on Wednesday. The Devils will have played the night before but will be coming off a game in Montreal. Far more favorable than a game against Toronto. On Friday, Washington will host Minnesota - another potentially explosive offensive opponent. Washington needs to figure it out soon; their situation is worse than Pittsburgh’s.
That was the second Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2023-24 season. What do you expect to happen in this week coming up? Will the Philadelphia Flyers stay in first for another week? Can Washington or Pittsburgh sort it out? How do you think the Devils will fare? Does Carolina have a goaltending problem? 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.