Halloween awaits as does the end of the first month of the season. November begins and this is usually the month where we get to see some separation between the true contenders and those who just started well. As this is the third Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the season, we are not quite there yet. While the top three are not a massive surprise in that it includes the New York Rangers (I take no joy in this), Carolina Hurricanes, and New York Islanders (due to the regulation win tiebreaker), nothing is remotely close to being decided.
This week’s upcoming schedule has the division off for Halloween. It also has more games within the division as the Carolina Hurricanes will spend their week against three in the division. They will definitely have a say in how the division looks by next Sunday. As will the Washington Capitals. Those games within the division are highlighted and in bold:
Here is the week that was - in a new format suggested by TheUnseenHand - and the week that will be.
New York Rangers
What Happened Last Week: The New York Rangers swept the week by going 3-0-0. They took first place in the process. I take no joy in this but this is the Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot. It is all about results and nothing more.
October 24, at Calgary, 3-1 Win: The Rangers began their trip to Western Canada by stopping in Calgary. The home team Flames got off to an early lead thanks to Blake Coleman scoring 1:15 into the game. But it all fell apart for the Enflamed C’s in the second period. Alexis Lafreniere tied up the game with a tip-in PPG, Chris Kreider made it 2-1 with a tip-in PPG, and Erik Gustafsson put in a big insurance goal late in the second period to make it 3-1. Igor Shesterkin held it down and handed another ‘L’ to a slumping Calgary team.
October 26, at Edmonton, 3-0 Win: The Rangers went to Alberta’s other team in Edmonton. The Oilers were without Connor McDavid. They were also without an answer for Mr. Jonathan Quick. Yes, the Rangers put in their #2 goalie for this one and he came through. It took a period before the Rangers could score and like their game in Calgary, they put up three. Adam Fox coverted a power play, Braden Schneider scored later in the period, and Lafreniere made it a 3-0 game late in the second. A big win that has left the Oiler faithful - and McDavid - gnashing their teeth. Getting shutout by Shesterkin is one thing. But Quick? Well.
October 28, at Vancouver, 4-3 Overtime Win: The game started well enough for New York as Artemi Panarin put home a power play goal in the first period. Vancouver scored a PPG of their own from J.T. Miller in the second period. Things escalated in the third period. A double-minor for Phillip DiGiuseppe gave the Rangers a chance to take the lead - only for Tyler Myers to do so with a shorthanded goal. Then, somehow, someway, the Canucks were caught with too many men on the ice during a penalty kill. Adam Fox converted the resulting 5-on-3. And Mika Zibanejad punished the too many men call once more with a PPG of his own about a minute after Fox’s goal. But Vancouver would get an equalizer after all that from Carson Soucy. The score held to force overtime. In OT, it appeared Chris Kreider tripped up Elias Pettersson. No call and a rush up ice ensued by Kreider. He tossed it back to K’Andre Miller who finished the shot to give the Rangers a 4-3 OT win. Vancouver fans are salty about it, but it is what it is.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Rangers will end their trip out to the Northwest by visiting Winnipeg on Monday night. Which Connor Hellebuyck will they get to face? It remains to be seen. The Blueshirts return to Manhattan on Thursday to host Carolina. They need to be careful because Carolina could end up being on a run by the time this game happens. On Saturday, the Rangers go on the road again to play Minnesota. No, this is not a road trip. It is just for Saturday.
What Happened Last Week: The Hurricanes returned home and won a pair of games to win the week at 2-1-0.
October 24, at Tampa Bay, 3-0 Loss: The Hurricanes had a rough time on the road in the prior week. In case you wondered if Carolina could split the trip at 3-3-0, the Lightning ensured they would not. Jonas Johansson was perfect. He stopped 32 out of 32. While the Bolts only put up 23 shots, they did not need to attack so much. Brayden Point’s power play goal late in the first period would hold up as the game winner. In case Carolina would answer that goal, the Lightning got insurance from a late second period goal by Alex Barre-Boulet and a late third period goal by Nick Paul. That the Paul goal was answered by a roughing double minor and a misconduct penalty given to Dmitry Orlov and a misconduct for Brendan Lemieux tells you that that Hurricanes were besides themselves in this loss.
October 26, vs. Seattle, 3-2 Overtime Win: Perhaps all the Canes needed was to get back to Raleigh? The Canes took out their frustrations out on the Kraken in a more constructive manner. 45 shots. Fredrik Andersen back in the net. Only one power play conceded. It looked grim at first with Oliver Bjorkstrand and Devin Shore making it a 2-0 game for Seattle in the first period. But Martin Necas pulled a goal back late in the first to make it 2-1. The score held despite Carolina’s best efforts. Their efforts would be rewarded. A great defensive stop by Brady Skjei led to a counter attack ended by a trailing Jesperi Kotkaniemi to tie it up for the Canes with under five minutes left in the third period. Overtime would be needed. A shootout was looming. Then, with ten seconds left in overtime, Anthony DeAngelo slung a pass to Necas in the high slot. Necas beat Joey Daccord to give the Canes a 3-2 win. A relief of a result after a bad trip out West.
October 27, vs. San Jose, 3-0 Win: The Canes may have played the night before but they did not take their foot off the pedal. Loads of shots? How about 40. Defense? They held the Sharks to 20. Discipline? Only two penalties to kill. Hero? Teuvo Teravainen. Teravainen converted a first period power play, scored with just under five minutes left in the first period, and scored just over six minutes into the third. A natural hat trick for Teravainen! And it was the only scoring in the game. A nice shutout for Antti Raanta too. Perhaps the back to back wins will be just want the Canes need to get back to their contending form.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Carolina will have a lot to say about next week’s division snapshot. All three games coming up are within the Metropolitan. The Hurricanes will visit Philadelphia on Monday, then go to Manhattan on Thursday to play the Rangers, and then visit the Islanders on Saturday night. Carolina on the road is still a bit of an unknown but they are going into this week in great form given how they attacked in the last three games. More positive results and not bleeding goals would go a long way to re-establishing their contender status.
New York Islanders
What Happened Last Week: The Islanders went 2-1-0. Due to an edge in regulation wins, they are now in third place
October 24, vs. Colorado, 7-4 Loss: Colorado also started off this season on a heater and they torched the Isles. The Isles are thought to be this defensive, grind it out team. Well, the Avs made it an offensive affair with 38 shots and 7 goals. The Isles would keep it close for most of the game, to be fair. A Ryan Johansen PPG was answered about five minutes later by Cal Clutterbuck. A Cale Makar first period goal to make it 2-1 Colorado gave way to two early second period goals by Kyle Palmieri (PPG) and Simon Holmstrom to make it 3-2. Alas, a horrible last minute of the second period made it 4-3 Colorado going into intermission. Bowen Byram and Nathan MacKinnon scored on back to back shifts to put the Isles down. Anders Lee got his first of the season to make it 4-4 early in the third. But Mikko Rantanen put the Avs up at 5-4. While the Isles tried, the Avs pulled away with two empty net goals: one by Johansen and the other by Ross Colton. Again, it was closer than the final result looked like but a loss is a loss all the same.
October 26, vs. Ottawa, 3-2 Win: In a game with even more offensive attempts - Ottawa led in shots, 47 to 38 - the Isles held true with a one-goal victory. The Isles went up early with a PPG by Bo Horvat and a Clutterbuck goal in the first period. The Sens would beat Ilya Sorokin twice in the second period to tie it up. A PPG from Claude Giroux and a regular even strength goal from Jakob Chychrun, specifically. But Sorokin held it down with 16 saves in the third period. A Noah Dobson shot broke through Joonas Korpisalo in the third to make it 3-2 for the Isles. That was enough to get the job done.
October 28, at Columbus, 2-0 Win: Seymon Varlamov was not going to be beaten on Saturday night. So he was not. Columbus tried with 34 shots on net. They had three man advantages. They had five shots from Jack Roslovic alone. Even Spencer Martin played well, but Martin was not perfect. Kyle Palmieri’s goal in the first period was enough for the Isles to win the game by night’s end. Matt Martin tacked on a late insurance goal. The Blue Jackets brought an onslaught of rubber but Varlamov carried the Isles to a big win. One that moved them up to third place at the moment.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Islanders will start this week at home with Detroit, who has started off this season quite well. This could be a challenging game. It does not get too much easier later in the week. On Thursday, they will go to Washington D.C. in a game where the Isles may be wise to keep the Caps down in the standings. Carolina on Saturday at home will be an interesting matchup as well. This past week saw the Isles forced to attack a whole lot. The Canes can do that but may not quite have the back end sorted out. Can the Isles keep up? We shall see.
New Jersey Devils
What Happened Last Week: The Devils went 2-1-0 to win the week and moved up in the standings. Specifically to fourth place due to tiebreakers.
October 24, at Montreal, 5-2 Win: The Devils started off well enough - if you ignore that they conceded the game’s first goal to Justin Barron. But the Devils got a response in the first period with Alexander Holtz piling in a rebound from a Timo Meier shot to make it 1-1. In the second period, the Devils attacked but could not find the breakthrough - until Tyler Toffoli was found in the slot by Jack Hughes and he made it 2-1. Early in the third, Nico Hischier put home a PPG to make it 3-1. Later, another power play led to another Toffoli goal to make it 4-1. Mike Matheson torched Jonas Siegenthaler to make it 4-2. But there would be no comeback. Tyler Toffoli ensured the victory with an empty netter. The hat trick made it a 5-2 result, the biggest margin of victory for the Devils so far this season.
October 25, vs. Washington, 6-4 Loss: The Devils and Capitals played the night prior. You would not have known that from the 2-shot first period by New Jersey. Or the goals by Anthony Mantha, Dylan Strome, and Sonny Milano that sent Akira Schmid to the bench after intermission and exposed the defense. In the second period, the Devils flooded Hunter Shepard (his NHL debut) in the second period with 14 shots and four goals within six minutes. First from Toffoli. Then from Meier. Then from Hischier after taking a hit from Tom Wilson. Toffoli made it a 4-3 game just past the halfway mark. Would the Devils hold on? No. A late tripping penalty by Hischier in the second period ended with a give-and-go 18 seconds into the third between Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dylan Strome - Strome beat Vanecek to make it 4-4. Then Mantha and Connor McMichael took on Dougie Hamilton and Vanecek in a 2-on-1. Hamilton flopped like Severson and McMichael’s shot trickled through Vanecek. Alex Ovechkin added an empty netter to seal a teeth-gnashing 6-4 loss. Devils need to play well for more than 10 minutes in a game to get results in this league.
October 27, vs. Buffalo, 5-4 Win: The Devils indeed played well for more than 10 minutes in a game. More accurately, the offense did as Vanecek had plenty of poor moments along with the defensive effort. Once again, the Devils conceded first. John Jason Peterka caught Luke Hughes falling down in the neutral zone, he walked in, and froze Vanecek on a shot to make it 1-0 for Buffalo. The Devils would get a quick response when Holtz put home a Luke Hughes-created rebound to make it 1-1. Later in the second, Siegenthaler lost his stick, Toffoli lost his mark, and Vanecek did not stick to the post - which led to Tyce Thompson tucking in a puck behind the goalie to make it 2-1. Then controversy struck. Connor Clifton took down Nico Hischier with a head shot. A resulting fight led to two minutes of 4-on-4 hockey and a three-minute power play from Clifton’s major (he also got a match penalty and a two game suspension on Saturday). Right as 4-on-4 began, Jesper Bratt stripped a Sabre and beat Eric Comrie low to make it 2-2. The Devils did not punish the power play. Comrie would also not finish the game; an apparent toe pick into the ice led to an injury. In came Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen in net. The Devils got hit with a too many men on the ice call, but Erik Haula beat the backup on a breakaway to make it 3-2. Then a bad break happened: Rasmus Dahlin took a long shot that hit off Nathan Bastian to beat Vanecek. 3-3 going into the third. A delay of game call on Buffalo ended with Jack Hughes’ shot going through. Maybe tipped by Toffoli but 4-3 all the same. This did not last. Somehow, Vanecek hugging the left post was not enough as a Dylan Cozens shot snuck through to make it 4-4 with 7:25 left. Would the Devils be doomed to sharing points or losing outright? No. A long shot from Kevin Bahl was tipped into the net by Haula to make it 5-4. The Devils had a power play after but could not convert. They had to hold on. A Dawson Mercer empty net try missed and went for icing. Haula had an empty netter for his hat trick - and his stick broke. A Jack Hughes shot block led to three sort-of tries, all not going. But the time ran out and the Devils did win 5-4. The goaltending and defensive effort remains in a slump. The offense carried the day for the Devils to win the week.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Devils will play their first weekend game of the season this evening when they host Minnesota. Will it be a goal fest? Will either team clean up their play? Who knows. Then the Devils embark on their first real road trip of the season, a four-game run through a part of the midwest. The Devils will go to Minnesota on Thursday night, so whatever data they can download from Sunday would be appreciated. Then they will go to St. Louis on Friday night. St. Louis will be rested for that one, so it could make for a tough one. The Devils really need to clean up their back end. Once they can do that, then the wins will at least become easier to watch.
What Happened Last Week: The Flyers went 1-2-0. They fell to fifth place due to tiebreakers.
October 24, at Las Vegas, 3-2 Loss: The Las Vegas Golden Knights are not just your defending champions. They were also on fire. They were on a Heater. The Flyers were their victims on that Tuesday. The Flyers were in a good place after the first period. While they conceded the game’s first goal to Ivan Barbashev, Noah Cates and Cam Atkinson made it 2-1 by intermission. The score even held through the second period and 12 minutes of the third. Alas, Paul Cotter provided an equalizer at 12:06. The Flyers were holding on, hoping for a point. Then Shea Theodore finished a shot in space above the right circle with 31.7 seconds left. Womp. The Flyers lost a heartbreaker and left Las Vegas with nothing.
October 26, vs. Minnesota, 6-2 Win: The Flyers returned home and proceeded to put a hammer down on the Wild. They led in shots, 35-28. They led on the PP, 2-for-3 against 0-for-3. And the score was obvious. It opened with Travis Konecny putting home a wrister in the first. Sean Couturier converted a power play in the second and Bobby Brink put in his first goal for a PPG a little later. 3-0. Minnesota hit back for two quick goals in the third thanks to Dakota Mermis and Marcus Foligno to make it 3-2. But Owen Tippet restored a two goal lead two minutes after Foligno and the rout continued with scores by Brink and Sanheim. The Flyers never looked back in victory. The Wild, I still do not know what to make of them.
October 28, vs. Anaheim, 7-4 Loss: The Flyers hosted Anaheim early in the afternoon. Philadelphia seemingly forgot the game started at 1 PM. The visiting Ducks proceeded to rack up four goals. Ryan Strome in the game’s first minute, a power play goal from Frank Vatrano, an even strength goal from Vatrano, and an Adam Henrique goal. All before the halfway mark of the game. Atkinson and Konecny did score closely apart after the halfway mark to make it 4-2, which kind of made it a game. Until the Ducks hit back with a quick double early in the third: Trevor Zegras scored a PPG and Brett Leason scored shortly thereafter to make it 6-2. It was all for consolation at this point. Konecny scored, Vatrano got a shorty for his hat trick, and Joel Farabee added another goal to make it a three-goal loss. The Flyers got flattened by Anaheim.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Flyers will be quite busy this week. They will host Carolina on Monday night. This could be an interesting game to see how resilient the Flyers are. After them, they will get a home-and-home with Buffalo but not on consecutive nights. They will host Buffalo on Wednesday, which will be on TNT. The road game will be on Friday. The Flyers cannot lay it out all on the ice then, though. They will host Los Angeles on Saturday night. That is a grind of a week. We shall see if this is where the rebuilding Flyers begin to wilt or show that they are further along then their preseason expectations said they would be.
Columbus Blue Jackets
What Happened Last Week: The Blue Jackets picked up points but in losses as they went 0-1-2. Those two post-regulation losses were rough to take and it was followed by a blanking. The Jackets fell to sixth.
October 24, vs. Anaheim, 3-2 Overtime Loss: Columbus brought the pressure (37 shots) and the game’s first goal, a power play goal from Emil Bemstrom. But the Ducks never said die. Lukas Dostal would not let them. Ryan Strome provided a game-tying goal in the second period. Adam Fantilli put the Jackets up 2-1 in the third. But late in the third, Damon Severson failed to make a zone exit and the Ducks preyed on it. A quick give-and-go gave Brett Leason an equalizer. In OT, Frank Vatrano provided the decision by beating out Ivan Provorov to go one-and-one. He finished it to hand the Jackets an OT loss.
October 26, at Montreal, 4-3 Overtime Loss: In Quebec, a similar game was played. Lots of offense but not enough past Samuel Montembeault. Columbus got off to the bigger lead with an early first period strike from Jack Roslovic and a late PPG from Bemstrom. Montreal began their comeback with a 27-second goal into the second period by Nick Suzuki. Bemstrom put them away with a PPG in the second period, but Mike Matheson made it a one-goal game with a PPG of his own with 27 seconds left in the second period. Columbus could not stop the equalizer; Sean Monahan tipped home a power play goal in the third to make it 3-3. After a long overtime, Cole Caufield walked in, walked his man, and fired a hard shot to end it. Columbus fans were surely sighing in resignment over that one.
October 28, vs. NY Islanders, 2-0 Loss: The Blue Jackets tried. They tried real hard. They put up 34 shots on Semyon Varlamov. Spencer Martin did well in the net. But Varlamov was perfect and Martin was not as perfect. A Kyle Palmieri goal in the first period ultimately sank the Blue Jackets as they could not get one past Varlamov. Not from Roslovic, not from Boone Jenner, not from Bemstrom, not from Fantilli, not from anyone. A Matt Martin third period goal sealed a 2-0 defeat.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Columbus will seek out a win in this coming week against a potentially tricky slate of three games. They will go to Dallas on Monday night, host Tampa Bay on Thursday night, and then visit the Capitals on Saturday night. The team can attack. Can they defend and avoid errors that lead to losses? A different question entirely. They are not out of anything but if they do not get their acts together soon, they may fall to the two teams beneath them rather than catch any of the three just ahead of them.
What Happened Last Week: The Capitals would win the week, pulling out a shootout win in their third game to go 2-1-0. They won the week and moved up to seventh place, chasing Columbus.
October 24, vs. Toronto, 4-1 Loss: Washington tried in this one. They put up 38 shots on net. Alex Ovechkin had 14 of them all by himself. He even got a goal. It was the only one for the Capitals in that night. The Maple Leafs just needed 17 as a team to put four past Darcy Kuemper. Morgan Rielly started it off with a PPG in the first period. In the second period, Ovechkin drew a penalty shot - and was denied by Joseph Woll. Minutes later, John Tavares and William Nylander scored about 90 seconds apart to put the Caps down 3-0. Auston Matthews converted a later second period power play to make it 4-0. Ovechkin’s one goal came with 11 seconds left in the second period for a power play goal. A true consolation goal. The Caps were slumping.
October 25, at New Jersey, 6-4 Win: Washington started a new goalie in Hunter Shepard and tried to make the most of it in New Jersey. What they found was a terrible first period by the Devils that the Caps took full advantage of. It led to a 3-0 lead at the first intermission thanks to goals by Anthony Mantha, Dylan Strome, and Sonny Milano. They chased Akira Schmid out of the net. They preyed upon the Devils lax defense. Then the second period came and the Devils offense arrived. The Capitals were under siege in the period, most notably during a four-goal blitz by the Devils. Toffoli, Meier, Hischier (after a hit by Tom Wilson!) and Toffoli again all scored within six minutes to put the Caps down 4-3. They would get an opportunity late: a Hischier tripping penalty on Ovechkin late in the second. This carried over into the third period. 18 seconds into said period, Strome finished a Evgeny Kuzentsov feed for the PPG. Less than two minutes later, a two-on-one ended with Mantha settign up Connor McMichael for a close shot. The puck squirted through Vitek Vanecek and it was 5-4. The Caps would get another goal from Milano, but it was taken away after an offside challenge by the Devils. The Devils tried but it was not enough. Ovechkin ended it all with an empty netter for the victory to end Washington’s slide.
October 27, vs. Minnesota, 3-2 Shootout Win: The first period had goals. An early one from Marco Rossi of the Wild, a mid-period Tom Wilson shorthanded goal, and a Strome PPG late in the first period. The 2-1 score stood as Darcy Kuemper denied the Wild back into the game. Until the third period, when they did. Ryan Hartman scored early in the third to tie it up at 2-2. Neither Kuemper or Marc-Andre Fleury would be beaten again. An overtime goal by Rossi was taken away for goalie interference by Foligno. Both sides were close on other, more legal chances, but a shootout was needed. It took seven rounds for someone to score. Only one was needed: John Carlson did it for the Caps. Kuemper stopped Patrick Maroon and the win was secured. It does not help with tiebreakers, but two points are two points. And so the week was won for Washington.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Capitals will host San Jose tonight at 5 PM ET. That should be a good warm up for what will come later in the week. The Capitals will host the Islanders on Thursday and Columbus on Saturday. Both are good opportunities for Washington to start moving up in the standings. Whether or not they will remains to be seen. A suggestion for the Caps: Try to win in regulation.
What Happened Last Week: The Penguins went 1-2-0 and fell to the bottom of the division.
October 24, vs. Dallas, 4-1 Loss: Pittsburgh put the pressure on Jake Oettinger. Alas, they only got one through him all night. A late first period wrister from Bryan Rust. This lasted until 7:37 of the second period when Jason Robertson scored his first of the season. Evgeny Dadonov made it 2-1 late in the second period right in the crease. As Oettinger made saves, the Stars kept increasing their lead. Thomas Harley took advantage of an Alex Nedeljkovic mistake to make it 3-1 in the third. Wyatt Johnston’s shot hit off the frame and then the goalie before going into make it 4-1. This made it three straight losses for the Penguins and, presumably, a lot of unhappy Pens fans.
October 26, vs. Colorado, 4-0 Win: Colorado went into this game hot. The Penguins cooled them off with a decisive win. The Avs went into this one undefeated and riding a big road streak - and the Penguins ended it. Tristan Jarry was perfect with 31 saves out of 31 shots. The goals came to give the Penguins insurance they did not need. Reilly Smith got a brace in the first period, Lars Eller made it 3-0 six minutes into the second period, and Sidney Crosby scored in the third for the 4-0 final score. It was a feel good win over a hot opponent. It also ended the Penguins’ own losing streak that was sending them to the bottom of the Metropolitan.
October 28, vs. Ottawa, 5-2 Loss: The Penguins put the pressure on early and often for Joonas Korpisalo. The goalie faced 22 shots alone! Perhaps this was driven by Reily Greig scoring a PPG early in the first and Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk making it 2-0 later in the first. The Sens dug the hole deeper for the Pens when Tristan Jarry was beaten by Dominik Kubalik in the second. Out went Jarry, in went Magnus Hellberg. The Penguins would get on the board late in the second period thanks to Sidney Crosby. But it was too little, too late. Tkachuk got his brace to make it 4-1. Drake Batherson scored on the shift right after Tkachuk to make it 5-1. A last-minute goal from Jake Guentzel made it a 5-2 loss, sending the Penguins into this snapshot with a 3-5-0 record.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Penguins will be at home to host Anaheim on Monday night. Enjoy that one, local fans because the team is away after then. The Penguins will go on their California road trip. It starts on Saturday night in the Bay Area, where they will play the Sharks. The Penguins should be well rested for this trip. With only two games, they really need results in both to avoid being on the wrong side of the pack in this division. Again.
That was the third Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2023-24 season. What do you expect to happen in this week coming up? Will the New York Rangers stay in first for another week? Can Pittsburgh sort out their problems? How do you think the Devils will fare? Has Carolina figured it out? 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.