In the fifth weekly Metropolitan Division snapshot, the New York Rangers remain hot. Heated. Streaky. No Adam Fox or even Igor Shesterkin? No problem. The result is a five-point lead before the halfway mark of November does not seem like much. But it puts them in a fantastic position for months to come. With three-point games and a stronger need to get every point possible, catching up in this league is hard to do. Do I personally like this? No. But this is the weekly Metropolitan Division snapshot. It is all about what it is in the standings and the team’s results. And so New York is above a much tighter group of everyone else in the division as we begin this week:
Even with Manhattan so far out in front, this week will be a good one to pay attention to for all but two days. Everyone is off on Friday for some reason. Monday is the only day in this coming week without a game within the division. There are a lot of those (7!) and those games are highlighted and in bold:
Here is the week that was and the week that will be in the Metropolitan Division.
New York Rangers
What Happened Last Week: The New York Rangers once again locked up first place for a weekly snapshot well ahead of the weekend. They had two games and won them both. Eventually, they have to lose, right?
Tuesday, vs. Detroit, 5-3 Win: This game had the makings of a blowout even with Igor Shesterkin off and Adam Fox out injured. Vincent Trocheck opened the scoring early in the first period and the Rangers held the visitors to just 5 shots in th eperiod. The Rangers proceeded to go on a tear in the second period. An Andrew Copp holding penalty gave way to a Chris Krieder power play goal. Then right after that, Christian Fischer (no relation) took a tripping penalty. That was quickly punished by Trocheck scoring. About three minutes after that, Artemi Panarin scored. This was followed by Will Cuylle tipping home a Zac Jones shot for a 5-0 lead. Then Jake Walman took a cross-checking penalty and, somehow, Detroit killed it. The Rangers cruised from then on. Which was a bit of an issue when Michael Rasmussen and Klim Kostin scored on back-to-back shifts in the third period and Copp made it a two-goal game with fewer than seven minutes to play. The Rangers did have to show up to defend to the end but they did for the 5-3 win.
Thursday, vs. Minnesota, 4-1 Win: Did you know the Rangers signed Louis Domingue in the offseason? Well, you do now as he started this game. The game was tight for two periods. Trocheck, once again, scored early into the game. Brandon Duhaime tied it up in the second period. The breakthrough came early in the third period from Alexis Lafreniere finishing a 2-on-1 with Panarin. Domingue and the Rangers held onto 2-1 until 14:39 of the third. That was when Blake Wheeler scored his first goal as a Ranger on a second rebound to make it 3-1. An ENG from Panarin sealed up the 4-1 for Domingue’s first of the season.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Rangers will have another short week and will not have to travel much at all. Enjoy it, Blueshirt fans. It gets harder after this week. Not that these two games are simple. Tonight, the Rangers will host Columbus. Columbus may be at the bottom of the division but nothing about the Blue Jackets says “doormat.” Then the Rangers will get five days off - a practical vacation period! - before taking on their hated rivals in New Jersey on Saturday night. The Devils are far from pushovers and the last two times the Rangers went to the Prudential Center ended rather badly for them. A goal on Saturday night would be their first one there since Game 2 of that first round series the Rangers lost in. That game also begins a four game road trip where the schedule will be a lot less kind to New York. The Rangers are in a great position in the standings. Maintenance would be a fair goal going into that trip.
What Happened Last Week: Carolina made a brief stop at home for a win before going to the state of Florida to split a back to back. A winning week (2-1-0) even if the middle led to the hairdryer treatment by Rod Brind’Amour. It gave them a bit of separation, which is good given their division-leading 15 games played (tied with Philly, who are suddenly not so far back).
Tuesday, vs. Buffalo, 3-2 Overtime (OT) Win: In a game fairly light on shots on net (27-21 in favor of Carolina, the Canes edged Buffalo and took a point they nearly lost. The scoring started after Victor Olofsson of Buffalo interfered with Brent Burns. Within 30 seconds of that power play, Anthony DeAngelo converted it for the 1-0 lead. Despite taking three penalties in the second period, Buffalo did find a way to keep the Canes off the board and tie it up. John Jason Peterka was taken down by Jalen Chatfield and the Canes tried to break out. Only for Alex Tuch to knock the puck away from Seth Jarvis and put one in the net to tie it up. Ouch. The Canes restored their lead in the second period with a goal from Brady Skjei. Yet, Andrei Svechnikov gave Buffalo a chance when he boarded Tyson Jost. That ended with Rasmus Dahlin scoring from behind the right faceoff dot for a PPG and a tie-game. The Canes had to hold on, kill another penalty, and go to overtime. There, the Canes made the difference. Sebastian Aho wheeled around the zone, got the puck back for a second rotation, and found Martin Necas right in front of the net. Pass, one-touch, 3-2 win for Carolina.
Friday, at Florida, 5-2 Loss: While there would be no repeat of the ECF games, the Canes would fall by a decisive score. Carolina did strike first with an early goal by Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Only for Matthew Tkachuk to tie it up about 1:40 later. Near the end of the first period, Uvis Balinskis scored his first NHL goal to give Florida the 2-1 lead and something for the Canes to be sour about. The Panthers never stopped and added a third goal in the second period thanks to Aleksander Barkov. Carolina did claw back within one late in the middle frame thanks to the
knee shot of Sebastian Aho. But the Canes were kept to a minimum in a third period even when down just one goal. Only 7 shots all period for the Hurricanes. Over 13 minutes into that period, Florida secured the win with a Carter Verhaeghe goal. An empty netter from Kevin Stenlund made it 5-2. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour was Not Happy about the loss per Walt Ruff of the Hurricanes.
Saturday, at Tampa Bay, 4-0 Win: Rod Brind’Amour was surely more pleased with this effort. The Canes kept a Kucherov-less Lightning team to just 22 shots on net while putting up 32. Goaltender Pytor Kochetkov shut out Tampa Bay. The Hurricanes got an early power play thanks to Luke Glendening roughing up Dmitry Orlov. That physical effort led to Teuvo Teravainen converting the PP for an early 1-0 lead. Early in the second, Aho knee-capped the Lightning further with a wrister to go up two. Brent Burns tipped in a Brady Skjei feed after coming out of the penalty box to make it 3-0 in the third. Tampa Bay never pulled their goalie, so the late third period goal tip-in by Stefan Noesen - after a Canes power play ended - beat Jonas Johansson. A dominant win by Carolina to close out the week and secure second place.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Hurricanes will have just two games to play and they will both be at home. They will also be games where they can help themselves and hurt the bottom half of the division at the same time. On national television, Carolina will host Philadelphia on Wednesday night. On Saturday night, they will host a Pittsburgh team that really needs to get going as soon as possible. Carolina has already rebounded from their October struggles. Wins over both will further cement their position the upper half of the division. And get some presumably unneeded props from other fans within the division in the process.
What Happened Last Week: The Capitals were an overtime away from sweeping the week. Still, 2-0-1 with back-to-back wins within the division is something to appreciate if you are a Caps fan. So is the team shooting up to third place after that week.
Wednesday, vs. Florida, 4-3 OT Loss: After ten minutes of scoreless play, Anthony Mantha got it started to make it 1-0 for the Caps. A bizarre re-direction off a Panther for what could be called an own-goal. The credit went to Mantha. This did not last as Oliver Ekman-Larsson had acres of space to fire a wrister through the traffic to tie it up. About four minutes later, Aleksander Barkov scored from the right dot to make it 2-1 for Florida. Washington would tie it up during their one and only penalty kill of the game. As Tom Wilson sat for high-sticking Matt Tkachuk, Aliaksei Protas led a zone exit and threaded a pass ahead to Connor McMichael. He was ahead of his man and went around the goalie to make it 2-2. Later in the second period, McMichael took a Panther turnover on defense and led a rush with Mantha. A pass to Mantha led to an intentional goal for Mantha, 3-2 for Washington. Unfortunately, Mantha would have to leave the game early due to a puck to the ear. Also unfortunately, the Panthers tied up the game early in the third. Evan Rodrigues one-touched a great pass by Gustav Forsling to score backdoor. The Panthers could not breakthrough again until overtime. It took 15 seconds for the Panthers to take the puck, rush up, Sam Reinhart to recover a pass off the board, get past Evgeny Kuznetsov’s stick, and beat the goalie. A rough loss given the circumstances.
Friday, at New Jersey, 4-2 Win: The Capitals went into Newark in October and went out to a 3-0 lead. They lost that lead but restored it and took that game in the third period. This would one would not be so dramatic. Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Beck Malenstyn scored on back-to-back shifts to put the Caps up 2-0 in the first period and send Vitek Vanecek to the bench. The second period went well. A sequence of attempted offense by the Devils yielded a 2-on-0 rush led by Tom Wilson. He fed Evgeny Kuznetsov for an unstoppable third goal. The only bad news in that period was that defenseman Martin Fehervary left the game due to an injury. The Caps even held off the Devils from consecutive power plays. However, the Devils would get on the board and quickly get another to make it a one-shot game. Timo Meier put a rebound past Charlie Lindgren and Dawson Mercer re-directed a Tyler Toffoli pass to make it a game. Caps fans probably were in shock when Jesper Bratt had an open wraparound - but were thankful the puck did not curl in. The Caps held on as they could. A sandwich hit on Rasmus Sandin took him out late, but the Caps got a huge empty net goal from a Kuznetsov clearance to avoid dropping a point. The Caps have to feel good about getting a second ‘W’ in Newark this season.
Saturday, at New York Islanders, 4-1 Win: The Capitals have to feel good about going back-to-back with wins within the division. The Capitals got an early goal from Alexander Ovechkin off an offensive zone faceoff in the first period. They would concede one within the final minute; a strike from Alexander Romanov. It did not help that Alexander Alexeyev closed out the first period with a penalty. But the Caps killed it, Hunter Shepard locked it down, and the Caps would pull ahead in the second period. Nic Dowd got his first of the season to break the tie. Aliaksei Protas tipped home a puck late in the period to make it 3-1. Shepard stopped all else. Ovechkin sailed in an ENG to secure back-to-back wins and a big jump in the standings.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Washington will get a short week of just two games coming up. Both are at home, which should give some time to rest a bit. The first of the two games will be quite difficult. It is against the defending champion Las Vegas Golden Knights. They have been excellent to start the season. They will be in D.C. on Tuesday. On Saturday night, they will host Columbus. Columbus is not an easy opponent and the Caps need to stay ahead of teams like them. If they have to choose one game or the other, I would suggest Saturday’s game is the one they should really want to win. We shall see how it goes on the ice. Still, this week put them in a better place to have a short week of games.
New Jersey Devils
What Happened Last Week: New Jersey split up the second half of their road trip to split it overall. With a chance to win the week against Washington on Friday night they flopped. A 1-2-0 week kept the Devils from moving on up and/or gaining ground on first. In fact, it moved them down to fourth behind Washington.
Sunday, at Chicago, 4-2 Win: The New Jersey Devils came out in Chicago and were fairly flat. A shift where no one picked up an open Taylor Hall led to Taylor Hall scoring just before two minutes into the game. The Devils would hit back with two quick goals later. A power play was converted by the struggling Dawson Mercer going to the net to tie it up. A turnover by the Blackhawks led to a breakaway for call-up Max Willman. He scored to make it 2-1. Late in the first, Jacob Dickinson had a net to shoot at but Vitek Vanecek dove and soared to rob him of an equalizer. The Devils picked up their play in the second period and really frustrated Chicago. They just could not score. Not until John Marino followed up a one-on-one opportunity with a pass to Curtis Lazar, who re-directed the puck in for a 3-1 lead. All was well until a breakdown behind the net led to Andreas Athanasiou hooking Ryan Donato up for a wide open chance in front of the net to make it 3-2. One ENG was taken off the board due to offside, but a last second one from Michael McLeod secured the victory in Chicago. It was dramatic for the final five minutes but the win was earned.
Tuesday, at Colorado, 3-6 Loss: The Devils came out fast against the Avalanche. So did the Avs. Tyler Toffoli opened the scoring early in the game. Colorado upped their game and when they got a power play after a Timo Meier hook, Mikko Rantanen re-directed a Cale Makar feed to tie it up in the first period. The Devils proceeded to be broken down from the second period onward. A shot block on Kevin Bahl led to a massive 2-on-1 where Vitek Vanecek denied Miles Wood. But no one picked up Ross Colton and he buried the loose puck to make it 2-1. And then during a too many men on the ice situation, Colton proceeded to board Luke Hughes. Meier took exception so Colton cross-checked him in the face. The rare 5-on-3 with a 7 minute power play would ensue. Meier converted the too many men call to make it 2-2. Then a bad dump and worse move by Dougie Hamilton opened up a shorthanded breakaway chance for Wood. Wood scored to make it 3-2. Hamilton would score later on the long power play to make it 3-3. Would the Devils clean it up? No. A terrible turnover by Chris Tierney gave Ryan Johansen a free shot at the net and he made it 4-3 for Colorado. A little later, a collision between Willman and Lazar led to a puck going loose. Makar turned that into a 2-on-1 led by Rantanen and ultimately finished by Nathan MacKinnon for 5-3. An empty netter secured the loss at 6-3. It was a tie game going into the third but the Devils’ own mistakes on defense and with the puck cost them points.
Friday, vs. Washington, 4-2 Loss: On Military Appreciation Night, the Devils started the game like they ate a bunch of crayons before puckdrop. The Caps kept them to a mere two shots on net. Vitek Vanecek was yanked after giving very similar goals on back-to-back shifts from the offensive threats named Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Beck Malenstyn. The second period was not much of an improvement. A missed shot from Kevin Bahl plus a terrible activation by Brendan Smith led to a 2-on-0 rush from Tom Wilson and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov finished it to make it a 3-0 game. It was not until past the seventh minute of the third period that the Devils got on the board. Timo Meier banged in a rebound from a Michael McLeod shot. Suddenly, the Devils realized they should attack Charlie Lindgren. It paid off quickly when Dawson Mercer one-touched a killer pass by Tyler Toffoli to make it a one-shot game. Alas, the Devils could not find the equalizer. A long clearance during an empty-net situation by Kuznetsov found the net and that would be it. A poor game by the Devils to end the week.
What’s Coming Up This Week: New Jersey will go back on the road. They will be off for two days before heading up to Winnipeg for their one and only game up in Manitoba. Given that the Jets are on the same level as Dallas and Colorado in the Central Division standings, that will be a tough one on paper. Given the last two games, it could be a tough one on the ice. The Devils will be a bit closer to home on Thursday night when they visit Pittsburgh. That game is also not easy but the Devils have a history of getting results in Western Pennsylvania. On Saturday night, they will host their hated rivals. A big opportunity to take them down a peg while pulling themselves up. It is always worth trying to beat a hated rival. Given the standings, there will be more than just Devils fans who want to see a regulation win by New Jersey. Still, the Devils have to avoid falling into a losing streak given how this past week ended. Good luck.
What Happened Last Week: The Flyers had their own trip to California. Much derision ensued. Then they won their other two games to win the week and move up to fifth, only behind the Devils due to games played. Still, the Flyers lost to the last winless team in the league.
Tuesday, at San Jose, 2-1 Loss: Yes, loss. To the team that lost two straight games with 10 goals allowed each. To the team who was 0-10-1 going into the game. To the team who went 0-10-1 for the first time since the 2017-18 Arizona Coyotes. Whom also won their first game against Philadelphia. Normally I would summarize this game. Instead, I give you what they deserve for losing 2-1 to Mackenzie Blackwood making 38 saves, going 0-for-4 on the power play, giving up 5 power plays and a PPG among 19 shots allowed. Laughter. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.
Friday, at Anaheim, 6-3 Win: One would think that head coach John Tortorella wanted his players to prove something out there in Orange County after the Blah in the Bay. Messages were received. Sean Couturier opened the scoring, Cam Atkinson made it 2-0 in the first period, and an early second period goal from Louie Belpedio made it 3-0. Good lead. Then Anaheim started to fight back a bit. An Atkinson hooking penalty wiped out a Flyers power play and once Anaheim’s penalty ended, Lucas Carlsson converted the PPG to make it a 3-1 game. The Flyers dared the Ducks to do it again with two more second period penalties and an early third period delay of game call, but they killed them. Travis Sanheim extended the game to 4-1 in the third period. Carlsson brought it back to 4-2 around the halfway mark. But Owen Tippett torched Frank Vatrano to restore the three goal lead a bit later. A late hooking penalty by Scott Laughton was punished by Carlsson for his hat trick. But a Tippett empty netter restored the three goal lead for the fourth time in Anaheim. The Flyers never looked back in this one and, outside of discipline, they should feel better from that win.
Saturday, at Los Angeles, 4-2 Win: Fresh off that win in Anaheim, they got revenge for their recent 5-0 loss to Los Angeles on Saturday night. The Flyers put up an early lead thanks to Owen Tippett in the first period. Cal Petersen was forced to work a lot as he faced 20 shots alone in the second period. A rate presumably raised after Morgan Frost scored in the period. Yet, Petersen almost stopped everything in the middle frame and he was not beaten until after Frost tipped in a shot from Nick Seeler. The goal from Carl Grundstrom gave the Kings a foothold going into the third period. But Cam Atkinson took it away with a goal about seven minutes. Adrian Kempe gave L.A. some hope with a tip-in but Petersen stopped all else for the victory. The Flyers ended their California trip with back-to-back-wins and moved past their Pennsylvanian rivals with the result.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Philadelphia will just have two games to play in this coming week. Neither will be easy. On Wednesday, their road trip will end in Carolina when they play the Hurricanes. That could go real bad given how bad their time in California went. At least the Flyers will be well-rested for that one. After then, the Flyers will go home to begin a weekend back-to-back. Unfortunately, the first game is against the defending champion Las Vegas Golden Knights. A truly formidable opponent as they have crowned many of their foes already. The last two games further the point that this team is no pushover. On the other hand, they lost 2-1 to San Jose, who was coming off back-to-back games where they allowed 10 goals in each one.
What Happened Last Week: The Penguins emerged from the bottom with a sweep the week, 3-0-0. They are now in sixth place and within two points of third place.
Tuesday, at Anaheim, 2-0 Win: Radim Zohorna took a rebound from Lars Eller and tucked it into the net off John Gibson for the only goal against a goalie in this game. Gibson stopped 35 of 36. Tristan Jarry stopped 20 of 31 - because he was injured during the second period and needed to be replaced by Magnus Hellberg. Hellberg stopped the other 11 shots, all int he third period, to preserve the shutout. Sidney Crosby - who missed a little time in this one too - did secure the win with an empty netter with 20 seconds left. This was a joint effort with Jarry and Hellberg for the win.
Thursday, at Los Angeles, 4-3 OT Win: With Jarry out, Hellberg took the start and Joel Blomqvist was the backup. Hellberg got a lot of action as the Kings out-shot the Pens 34-19 in regulation. The Pens did give their goalie some more goals to work with. Crosby scored early on for the lead. Alas, Hellberg would not be perfect. Carl Grundstrom turned an extra minor for Adrian Kempe into a shorthanded goal to tie up the game for Los Angeles. Int he second period, just before the halfway mark, Kempe struck to give the Kings tghe lead. Late in the period, it was Pittsburgh’s turn to score shorthanded. During a Kris Letang hooking minor, Lars Eller rushed up to beat Pheonix Copley for a shorty and a 2-2 game. Within the first minute of the third period, Jake Guentzel gave the Pens a 3-2 foothold. That went away thanks to Kevin Fiala about six minutes after that goal. Then the goalies held it down and overtime would be needed. It took some turns, but the Penguins needed just one shot. A drop pass by Evgeni Malkin after entering the zone gave Bryan Rust the outside lane to take the puck. He went hard around the net and beat Copley to the post for the goal. Yes, a wrap-around was the one shot. A tasty wrap to end a successful trip to California.
Saturday, vs. Buffalo, 4-0 Win: In a game loaded with shots, Tristan Jarry emerged as the superior goaltender of the night. He stopped all 36 from the Sabres. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, well, he made 36 saves out of 39. Evgeni Malkin opened the scoring late in the first period, which surely did not make Buffalo feel good going into the first intermission. Drew O’Connor got his first of the season late in the second to put the Sabres down two going into the second intermission. A late period Rasmus Dahlin cross-checking penalty carried over into the third period. There, Erik Karlsson punished it with a PPG to really put Buffalo in a deep hole. They could not crack Jarry before then - and would not. Karlsson added an ENG for good measure in the significant win. I do mean significant; the Pens have won four straight and have emerged from the bottom.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Pittsburgh will be all about the division in this week. They are hot going into it with four straight wins. They will go to Ohio on Tuesday night to play Columbus. Not an easy one but an important one to keep the Jackets down in the standings. On Thursday, they will host the Devils. An important measuring stick game for the Pens as they need to do work and get results to get back into the higher end of the standings. This means dropping points to the Devils hurts this effort. If that goes awry or even well, then they can do it again on Saturday night when they go to Carolina. Another measuring stick kind of game where a result will help them - but dropping points also hurts their cause since the Penguins are currently chasing the Devils and Hurricanes. And even sweeping this past week meant a move up to sixth due to results by the Capitals, Flyers, and Islanders. I told you catching up in this league is hard. By the way, Pens fans, the Canes game on Saturday is only the first one of next weekend. At least the team is in great form for this week’s run of games.
New York Islanders
What Happened Last Week: Struggles. The New York Islanders lost all three games and the fans are not happy. They may not be out of anything in the standings but there is a real fear that things could spiral out of control at this rate. They have already fallen to seventh due to other results.
Tuesday, vs. Minnesota, 4-2 Loss: The game opened with Patrick Maroon scoring 19 seconds in. Not a good start, but Noah Dobson tied up the game later in the first. The Isles eventually hit on a power play. Specifically one in the second period where Oliver Wahlstrom got his first of the season after a sweet move to beat a defender and then launch the puck to the corner. Very nice. It also did not last. Vinny Lettieri rifled a shot from the center point through traffic and past Semyon Varlamov to tie it up. A series of penalties by the Isles in the third period would be costly. A Dobson penalty for roughing Brandon Duhaime led to Kirill Kaprizov hammering a cross-ice feed past Varlamov. A little later, a forecheck by Patrick Maroon led to him winning the puck and dishing it to a wide-open Joel Eriksson Ek. He scored to make it a 4-2 game with 13 and change to go. The Isles could not mount a comeback, not even with a late power play, and the fans were left restless with the loss.
Thursday, at Boston, 5-2 Loss: The restlessness continued with a trip to a surprisingly successful Boston team. A team that owns the Atlantic Division first place spot with a strong lead. This is to say that this would be a tough one. Trent Frederic opened the scoring in the first period, only for Brock Nelson to tie it up on the one power play the Isles would get all game - a cross-check by Frederic. 1-1 after one period is fine. Manageable. Boston would re-take the lead. After Jean-Gabriel Pageau held Mathew Poitras, Pavel Zacha set up Charlie Coyle in the slot to score. Early in the third period, Wahlstrom took a tripping penalty. This led to a shorthanded goal by Holmstrom to tie it up at two. This did not last. That penalty would eventually be punished by David Pastrnak to re-take the lead. Charlie Coyle finished a pass by James van Reimsdyk to provide an insurance goal. A penalty on the Isles was not punished in the third but hurt the cause of a potential comeback. One that would not be realized after Coyle completed his hat trick with an empty net goal. Suggestion for the Isles: Do a bit more than just 14 shots in the second and third periods combined after putting up 15 in the first period.
Saturday, vs. Washington, 4-1 Loss: The Islanders heeded the previous suggestion and put 37 shots on net against Hunter Shepard. Problem: Only one went in. A late first period strike from Alexander Romanov. And that goal only tied up the game at 1-1 as Alexander Ovechkin scored right after a Washington faceoff win earlier in the first period. While the Isles got a power play right by the end of that period, they did nothing with it. They got out-done in the second period and it cost them with goals by Nic Dowd and Aliaksei Protas. A furious 16-shot third period could and did not get the Isles back into the game. And so they lost 4-1 to the Caps at home. Many at the UBS Arena called for Lane Lambert to be fired. Casey Cizikas doubled down on the bad times by calling out the fans after this one. Oh, it was a bad week for the Islanders.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The New York Islanders will not play a game within the division. Instead, they are going up to the Northwestern part of the league. They are going to Western Canada plus Seattle with four games within six nights. Monday will be in Edmonton, Wednesday will be a nationally televised game in Vancouver, Thursday will be in Seattle, and then the week and trip will end in Calgary on Saturday night. Edmonton and Calgary have been struggling. Seattle is a bit better than those two but not by a lot. Vancouver has been hot. With the way the Isles have been playing plus the schedule of this trip, nothing is a gimmie or an expected result. Times are looking tough for the Isles. and Lane Lambert may not last long if the losing continues. Good luck.
Columbus Blue Jackets
What Happened Last Week: After ending a losing streak last week, the Blue Jackets began another by going 0-2-1 for four winless games in a row. This is not a good thing.
Monday, at Florida, 5-4 OT Loss: The game looked to be a disaster. Within a not very nice 6:09 to start the game, the Blue Jackets were down three goals. Goals allowed to Ryan Lomberg, Gustav Forsling and Aleksander Barkov. A beating seemed inevitable. But hope sprang late in the first when Sean Kuraly put home a rebound from an Erik Gudbranson shot. Within the final two minutes of the first period, Boone Jenner led a 3-on-1 and finished it himself to make it a one-goal game. Then it was a zero goal game when Kirill Marchenko converted a power play midway through the second. The deficit was gone. The game was for the taking. And it appeared that Columbus took it when Alexandre Texier led a 2-on-1. He tried to pass the puck across, it hit off a Panther defender’s skates, then went off the post, and Texier had the presence of mind to stop, turn, reach, and tap in the puck. 4-3 Columbus! Would it last? No. Florida pulled their goalie for the extra skater and it worked out when Nick Cousins denied a clearing attempt by Ivan Provorov and fired a shot past Spencer Martin. Ouch. But overtime still gave Columbus a chance to win. Unfortunately, Damon Severson had, well, a Damon Severson moment. In a 2-on-1, he stood in between the Panthers attacking. Anton Lundell shot it, Carter Verhaeghe put in the rebound, and everyone supporting the Blue Jackets winced. A point lost after being a minute away from a massive comeback win, both featuring flops from their big money defensemen.
Thursday, vs. Dallas, 5-2 Loss: In this one, Columbus suffered from a swing by the opponents. They opened the game with an early goal by Boone Jenner. Marchenko scored later to make it 2-0. Only for Mason Marchment to get Dallas a foothold in the game less than a minute after Marchenko’s goal. Craig Smith finished a 2-on-1 where Severson did nothing of value on it (seriously, Damon) to make it 2-2. Later in the second period, Matt Duchene made it 3-2 for Dallas. Early in the third, Tyler Seguin tipped in a Nils Lundkvist shot for a 4-2 lead. Jason Robertson tacked on an empty netter for the final score. Yes, after scoring the first two, Columbus gave up five straight. If dropping the Florida game was heartbreaking, then this was facepalming.
Sunday, at Detroit, 5-4 Loss: The first period was a compelling one. It seemed so over when Lucas Raymond and Robby Fabbri scored less than a minute apart early in the third period. The Blue Jackets were so back after Alexandre Texier got Columbus on the board a minute after Fabbri’s goal and Adam Fantilli batted in a puck off the endboards from a missed shot by Kirill Marchenko tied it up late in the first period. Columbus even took a lead when Sean Kuraly burst past Jeff Petry for a goal in the second period. Alas, Detroit said that lead would be over before the period’s end. Alex DeBrincat tied up the game with four minutes left in the second period from a wide-open one-timer inside the left circle. Daniel Sprong punished a bad, bad bounce from Columbus’ own end of the rink to make it 4-3 within the final two minutes of the period. Insurance came from Jake Walman by an accident. His shot from the right point hit off a player, went off the endboards, and caromed into a sprawled out Spencer Martin - which made the puck slide in. Columbus would have some hope late when the returning Patrik Laine scored after a keep-in after a Detroit penalty expired. But there would be no equalizer. No final hero. The Blue Jackets were done in by bad bounces, bad goaltending, and having too much to overcome. This loss makes it four winless in a row.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Columbus will be the busiest team outside of Long Island in this division. They are not even done with this weekend. Tonight, they will visit the division leading New York Rangers. Given that the Rangers had two days of rest and the Blue Jackets just lost to Detroit, this could go rather poorly for the Blue Jackets. They cannot dwell on it if that does happen. The Blue Jackets return home on Tuesday to play Pittsburgh. This is a big one if Columbus wants to take a step to take a step forward in the standings. Hurting Pittsburgh helps Columbus; a four-point swing would be big. On Thursday, the Blue Jackets will host Arizona. A respite from the division-heavy schedule and also not a game to discount. The Coyotes are competitive in the Central Division and pulled off some notable results already. Columbus’ week will end in Washington D.C. when they play the Capitals. Like the Penguins game, a four-point swing would be huge. Of course, Columbus has to win those games to avoid getting pushed back down further at the bottom. And that is a big problem as they need to win a game first. Again.
That was the fifth Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2023-24 season. What do you expect to happen in this week coming up? Will the Rangers stay hot? Can Carolina catch them? What of the Capitals and Penguins own streaks? Will the Blue Jackets and Islanders keep swooning? Most importantly, what happens with the Devils now? 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.