clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot: 2/5 - 2/11

The seventeenth weekly Metropolitan Division snapshot of the season is short due to the NHL All-Star Weekend. Still, Carolina locked themselves in the top spot for the time being as the league resumes tomorrow. Read on for the week that was and week that will be for all eight teams in the division.

Carolina Hurricanes v Buffalo Sabres
More wins for the leaders.
Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

The National Hockey League is off today after Saturday’s All-Star Game in Sunrise, Florida. The regular season will resume tomorrow. Most of the Metropolitan Division was out on a bye week. However, there were some games played and those impacted the division as well as the race for the two wild card spots in the Eastern Conference. Namely: first place is now owned by the Carolina Hurricanes.

Metropolitan Division & Wild Card Standings as of the morning of February 05, 2023
Metropolitan Division & Wild Card Standings as of the morning of February 05, 2023
Standings from; Playoff Odds from Moneypuck; Lottery Odds from Last Year’s Lottery

Carolina, the Washington Capitals, and the Columbus Blue Jackets will have most of this week off as the other teams will play more games. Washington, in particular, has to be careful about what other teams do. Sure, they own the first wild card spot but a lot of teams have games in hand on them and the Caps are not so far away from them. Here is a list of who is playing who within the division and those in the wild card race. There are two games within the division coming up, which are both highlighted and in bold:

Metropolitan Division & Wild Card team schedules for 02/05/2023 to 02/11/2023
Metropolitan Division & Wild Card team schedules for 02/05/2023 to 02/11/2023
Team schedules via

Here is the week that was and week that will be for all eight teams in the division.

Carolina Hurricanes

What Happened Last Week: Carolina had a glorious opportunity. With the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers off on a bye week, they had three games to really pull away from them and the rest of the division. They did it. Job done. Mission accomplished. The first game was a home game with Boston last Sunday. The Hurricanes went up on the B’s and never looked back. Sebastian Aho put them up in the first period, Paul Stastny added a PPG in the second period, and Seth Jarvis made it 3-0 early in the third. Taylor Hall hit back a little later, but it was just a consolation goal. Jordan Staal ended it with a shorthanded empty net goal for the 4-1 win over the best team in the NHL. Tuesday night against Los Angeles was a lot more dramatic. Brent Burns put the Canes up 1-0 in the first period. Then the Kings reigned all over Carolina like they were named Roman. Adrian Kempe put up a brace, Kevin Fiala, and Anze Kopitar seemingly buried the Hurricanes with a four-goal second period. Plus, the Kings were keeping Carolina from shooting pucks in the third period. They only had three in the first ten minutes of the third period. Except two of them went in: Stastny (on a rebound) and Staal (on a tip in) beat Pheonix Copley to make it a one-score game. The Kings would blow the 4-1 lead after Quinten Byfield cleared a puck over the glass. 21 seconds into the power play, Teuvo Teravainen tied it up at 4-4. Overtime would be needed and, once again, a Kings penalty would benefit Carolina. Drew Doughty was caught tripping in OT. In the 4-on-3, Aho finished a seam pass from the left circle for the 5-4 win. Exciting. And a 64 minute-and-change result. Would the Canes have something left in the tank in Buffalo on Wednesday night? Absolutely. On Wednesday night, the Canes came out with a fury and blasted the Sabres with goals. An early PPG from Aho, a goal from Stefan Noesen, and Burns scored to make it 3-0 within the first 13 minutes. Alex Tuch did get Buffalo on the board but it did not lead to any sort of comeback. The defense would not allow that. Neither did Antti Raanta. Derek Stepan added to the lead in the third period and Jordan Martinook added a shorthanded empty netter for the 5-1 final score. The Canes swept their week and head into their own break with a seven game winning streak. They lead the Devils by eight points with just two more games than them. They have a double-digit lead over the Rangers and Capitals. There is a lot of hockey left to be played; yet Carolina is in a fantastic position to take another division crown.

What’s Coming Up This Week: Carolina is off until Saturday night. They will host the Rangers. Others in the division may want the Canes to win to make the Rangers suffer. If not, well, the Canes will be in first place no matter what by the next snapshot.

New Jersey Devils

What Happened Last Week: The Devils had a bye week. They were probably not too pleased Carolina stretched a two-point lead over them to an eight-point lead, but it is what it is.

What’s Coming Up This Week: New Jersey returns to the Rock on Monday for the second Hughes Bowl of the season. The Devils are indeed hosting a Vancouver team that is not that good. They should look to start their month of games in February well as it does get harder in this week. On Thursday, they will host Seattle. Seattle out-Devils the Devils in their previous meeting in January and the Kraken are also like the Devils in that they are a very successful road team. After that game, the Devils will start a four-game road trip. The first game is in Minnesota on Saturday night. Minnesota’s playoff spot is insecure - they have a big problem named Colorado among others - so they will need the points. Plus, Minnesota has done quite well at home this season. Still, the Devils should be able to compete in all three games and even get results. The goal is to keep out-earning the Rangers and Capitals. Doing so will make up some lost ground to Carolina.

New York Rangers

What Happened Last Week: The Rangers had a bye week. While they have four games in hand on them, they still have Washington right behind them in the standings.

What’s Coming Up This Week: The Rangers will return to action on Monday to start three straight games at home. First up is Calgary. The Flames are very much in a battle for a wild card spot in the Western Conference. They are not quite so successful on the road, so the Rangers may seek to make the Flames’ journey harder. On Wednesday night, the Rangers will host a flailing Vancouver team. Friday night will see Seattle come to MSG. The Kraken will be coming off a game in New Jersey the night before, so the Rangers will have a rest advantage. They should still be careful because Seattle has been a really capable squad on the road this season. They also need to save something for Saturday night to go to Raleigh and play a well-rested Carolina team coming out of their bye week. The goal for the Rangers will be to get whatever they can at home, keep pace ahead of Washington, and seek to move up when they can. Getting results have not been a big issue for the Rangers recently, but slipping up now could lead to a way more difficult final two months of the season.

Washington Capitals

What Happened Last Week: Washington had two games to play last week. Last Sunday, they were in Toronto. It was seemingly good to start. Nicklas Backstrom converted a power play for his first goal of the season and to put the Caps up 1-0 going into the first intermission. Toronto proceeded to make it rain in the second period. Michael Bunting converted a power play to tie up the game. Morgan Rielly scored his first of the season to make it a 2-1 game. William Nylander made it 3-1 minutes later. Minutes after that, Pierre Engvall made it a 4-1 score. Darcy Kuemper was pulled for Charlie Lindgren. The Caps were done and dusted at that point. In a low-shooting period (5-4 for Washington), Zach Aston-Reese added an extra goal for the 5-1 loss. Ouch. On Tuesday, the Capitals went to Ohio. It was not a simple game. Garnet Hathaway and Trevor van Riemsdyk put the Caps up 2-0 in the first period, but Andrew Peeke scored on the shift after van Riemsdyk’s goal for a 2-1 score. The defenseman van Riemsdyk added a second goal in the second period. A little later, Columbus made it a one-goal game again when Eric Robinson scored. The one-goal lead held until the third period. Johnny Gaudreau wired a shot past Lindgren to tie it up. Overtime was needed. Fortunately for Washington, Evgeny Kuznetsov ended it for the Capitals with a goal 26 seconds into the fourth period. The Caps went 1-1-0 in the week. Enough to build up a three-point lead over Pittsburgh for the first wild card spot and remain two points behind the Rangers. Not enough to really secure themselves. Get used to scoreboard watching, Caps fans.

What’s Coming Up This Week: You can start that this week as the Capitals are off until Saturday. I have some bad news: The Capitals are playing Boston on Saturday afternoon. In Boston. The Bruins have lost all of one (1) game in regulation at home so far. They have lost all of four (4) games total at home at the time of this snapshot. Capitals fans, hope the Penguins, Islanders, and Panthers do not get hot this week (and after this week, worry about Buffalo too).

Pittsburgh Penguins

What Happened Last Week: The Penguins had a bye week. They remain in the second wild card spot with a mere one point lead over Buffalo. Consider sending Carolina a Thank You card.

What’s Coming Up This Week: Pittsburgh will return to the ice on Tuesday with a tough home game against Colorado. The Avs are getting healthier, they have risen up the standings in the West, and they are hungry to get back to securing a playoff spot. The Penguins need to be prepared for a difficult one. After that game, the Penguins are off to California. They will play all three teams within a five-day period with a back-to-back set at the end of this week. They will go to Anaheim on Friday night and then visit Los Angeles on Saturday night. Sure, New Jersey showed that sweeping California is possible. Pittsburgh is not New Jersey and the Pens will need to be sure they do not drop points to a hapless Anaheim team or struggle against a Kings team that has real playoff aspirations this season. The Penguins need to also worry about what the teams around them in the standings will do. They have to be concerned with Washington, Buffalo, the Islanders, and Florida - all of whom are within three points of the Penguins’ position. It is a stressful time, Pens fans, and it is not going to get any calmer any time soon.

New York Islanders

What Happened Last Week: The Islanders had a bye week. They did make a big trade, though. They traded Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty, and their first round pick in 2023 with top-12 protection (remember: winning a lottery can only move a team up 10 spots now) to Vancouver for Bo Horvat (with 25% retained salary). Is Horvat a long-term solution? Probably not. Are the Islanders set up to be a long-term successful team? No. What they need is scoring and Horvat has been scoring. The Islanders won a couple of games before their bye and are very much still in the mix for the wild card spots. Discount the Isles at your peril, Eastern Conference.

What’s Coming Up This Week: The Islanders will return to play this week with four games in six nights. They will go to Philadelphia on Monday night. This game has value as the Flyers can really put a dent in the Isles’ wild card hopes with a result over them. Especially since the Isles will be playing on Tuesday night at home against Seattle. Seattle is both rather good and rather good on the road this season. The Isles will have a rest disadvantage, too. It will be a tough game. On Thursday night, the Isles will get to host Vancouver. The Isles will have the rest advantage for this one against a floundering Canucks squad. On Saturday, the Isles will go to Montreal for an early afternoon game. Montreal may be out of the playoff picture but they are not total doormats. While all games count the same, the Isles will get a little more respect for their playoff hopes if they get wins over Philly, Vancouver, and Montreal. They also need the points wherever they can find them. Also, Isles fans, cheer super-hard against Buffalo’s, Florida’s, Pittsburgh’s, and even Washington’s opponents. Also, hope Ottawa, Detroit, and Philly do not go on heaters. You can do something about Philly on Monday, after all.

Philadelphia Flyers

What Happened Last Week: The Flyers had a bye week. They remain ahead of Detroit, within striking distance of Ottawa, and can look to be a light bubble squad spoiling better teams. One could even say they just need an aggressive retool instead of a rebuild.

What’s Coming Up This Week: Philadelphia will be home for their next four games and three of them will be in this coming week. The Flyers will host the Islanders on Monday night. This is a prime opportunity to spoil the Isles’ hopes as well as Horvat’s debut with the team. The Flyers can continue being spoilers when they host Edmonton on Thursday. Edmonton may have the best player in the world but they are not secure in a playoff spot and the Flyers can throw a wrench in their plans (and Calgary and Colorado will thank them for it). On Saturday afternoon, the Flyers will host Nashville. The Preds need points and fast to avoid falling too far behind in the Western wild card race. Once again, the Flyers can spoil their efforts. I would suggest saving something out of that game, though. The Flyers play again on Sunday.

Columbus Blue Jackets

What Happened Last Week: Columbus had one game to play in this past week. They did not win it. They tried against Washington. They went down early to goals Garnet Hathaway and Trevor van Riemsdyk. Andrew Peeke responded right on the next shift to make it 2-1. The Jackets went down in the second period again with another score from van Riemsdyk. Eric Robinson made it a one-goal game in the second period. The Blue Jackets held on and managed to get that one shot to tie it up. It came from Johnny Gaudreau just outside the slot past Charlie Lindgren. The Blue Jackets turned an early 2-0 deficit into a game that was 3-3. But they would not get it done in regulation. They would go to overtime and suffer within the first minute. A drop pass to Evegny Kuznetsov left in space and he ended it the game for a 4-3 overtime loss. Columbus gets a point, but that does not mean much at this point of the season.

What’s Coming Up This Week: Columbus is off until Friday. They will start a home-and-home set with Toronto, one of the top teams in the league. Good luck, Columbus.

That was the seventeenth Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2022-23 season. What do you expect to happen in this light week of games coming up? How much ground can be made up on Carolina? Will the Washington Capitals remain in a wild card spot by next week’s snapshot? What about Pittsburgh? Can Horvat give the Isles what they need? 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.