This is the fourteenth weekly Metropolitan Division snapshot of the season and a lot actually has changed within the week. Of course, it was not just the events of the past seven days for some as there was some build up to this situation. For close to two months, the division snapshot was effectively as follows: New York Rangers own first with a lead and seemingly an iron fist, second to seventh has been a tight race, and the Columbus Blue Jackets are firmly at the bottom. This Sunday, though, the situation is a bit different. Due to a Ranger slump, the Carolina Hurricanes remaining hot, and the Philadelphia Flyers having yet another strong week of results, the top three has a four-point plus gap over the rest of the playoff bubble teams. Sure, the gap between second and seventh is still seven points but the details matter. And the Rangers are only ahead of the Canes and Flyers by one and two points respectively. While they have games in hand and tie breakers in their favor, there is now an actual race at the top. And the New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Washington Capitals, and Pittsburgh Penguins need to get their acts together soon unless they want a really nasty wild card battle between them all plus Tampa Bay and Detroit. The only constant: Columbus remains firmly at the bottom.
This week’s schedule is light on games within the division - which are highlighted and in bold - but there is plenty of activity. Monday is a day where most everyone is playing, some are hitting the road, and Western Conference teams are making their way through the Metropolitan. Here is what is coming up:
Now for the week that was and the week that will be for each team in the Metropolitan Division.
New York Rangers
What Happened Last Week: The New York Rangers have suffered a week of losses. 0-3-0. Not even a single point. Combined with a 1-1-1 start to 2024, the door is opening for Carolina and Philadelphia to take a shot at first place. No one ever said an 82-game season would be easy, Blueshirts.
January 8, vs. Vancouver, 6-3 Loss: The Rangers brought the rubber to Thatcher Demko. But they could not get out of the hole the Canucks dug them in early on. The game started well enough for the home team as Vincent Trocheck converted a power play early on. The issue was that J.T. Miller scored about a minute after that to tie it up, Nils Hoglander scored a bit after that, and Brock Boeser scored with 22 seconds left in the first period. Down 3-1, the Rangers really needed to solve Demko. It seemed OK when Artemi Panarin did beat him a bit over eight mintues into the second period. But the Canucks hit back later in the second with a quick pair of goals: one from Elias Pettersson and a second goal from Hoglander. A faint shot at a comeback appeared when Trocheck made it 5-3 early in the third period. But, again, Demko made a load of stops. Pettersson sealed up the game and a four-point night with an empty netter.
January 11, at St. Louis, 5-2 Loss: A similar story took place in St. Louis. Once again, the Rangers scored first and early in the first period. Not a power play goal but one from Adam Fox less than two minutes in. And once again, the opposition hit back. Jordan Kyrou scored about two minutes after Fox’s goal. Then Kyrou tipped in a PPG to punish a Nick Bonino penalty. The Blues would hold onto the 2-1 lead. Then make it 3-1 on their fourth straight power play of the game. Brandon Saad converted the last one to make it a two goal game by the halfway mark. That held until 7 minutes into the third period. That was when Kyrou completed his hat trick with a breakaway goal (Nick Leddy took the pain to make that happen) on Igor Shesterkin. The Rangers did get one more - a Trocheck PPG - to make it a two-goal game with nine minutes left. But Jordan Binnington held it down and Pavel Buchnevich ended it with an empty netter. A third straight loss for the Rangers made the next game crucial.
January 13, at Washington, 3-2 Loss: This one capped off a zero-point week while also annoying a bunch of other teams in this division. No Putinist, no problem for the Caps as the Rangers squandered a pair of one-goal leads in this one-goal loss. Adam Fox got a brace. He scored in the first period - only for Anthony Mantha to beat Jonathan Quick on a breakaway late in the first period. Fox scored again in the second period. That held up until the third period where the Caps stunned the Rangers with quick pair of goals. Nic Dowd batted in a lofted puck by Evgeny Kuznetsov on Quick’s flank just after a power play ended for Washington. A rush play shortly thereafter saw Dylan Strome find T.J. Oshie behind Quick for a tap-in and a 3-2 lead. Fox was burned on both plays too. The Rangers could not and would not beat Charlie Lindgren to tie it up and so the Rangers suffered a third straight regulation loss. A fourth straight winless game too since they ended last week with a shootout loss.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Four games in seven days! The first half of an eight-game stretch over two weeks! A suddenly desperate need to win! It begins in Manhattan today to conclude an afternoon home-and-home with the Capitals. Given other results, the Capitals fans are not the only ones who will want Washington to win. But the Rangers really need to split the home-and-home so they are not walking into their other games needing a win. On Tuesday, the Rangers will remain at MSG to host Seattle. Then comes a four-game road trip out to the West Coast. The Rangers will take on the mighty Las Vegas Golden Knights in their building on Thursday night. Then New York starts their California swing in Los Angeles on Saturday night. Between a losing week, losing their lead on the division, and hectic schedule coming up, it is going to be a real test for New York. At the least they can afford to drag their other games beyond regulation in the hopes for ending their winless run.
What Happened Last Week: Carolina had a short but successful week. Two games, two wins, and thanks to the Rangers, they sit just one point behind first place today.
January 11, vs. Anaheim, 6-3 Win: After four days off, the Hurricanes hosted the Ducks and came away with their seventh straight game with a result. It took 16 minutes before the scoring would begin. It came quick as Brady Skjei and Andrei Svechnikov scored 15 seconds apart to give the Canes a 2-0 lead. A very busy second period ensued. Isac Lundestrom scored his first of the season to make it a one-shot game just 25 seconds into the middle frame. Jordan Martinook responded with a goal a little bit after that. The Canes collapsed around the middle of the period. Ryan Strome made it 3-2. Goaltender Pytor Kochetov tripped up Mason MacTavish less than a minute later. It took three seconds into that power play for Frank Vatrano to score a PPG and tie up the game. A little bit after that, a collision took out a goalie. Lundestrom was pushed into Kochetkov and the impact knocked Kochetkov out of the game. He remains out with a concussion. In came Antti Raanta for the Canes. Carolina really locked things down as Raanta faced zero shots in the second period. Stefan Noesen put the Canes up 4-3. Then a boarding by Sam Carrick on Jack Drury led to a fight between him and Brendan Lemieux. That was punished by Drury just before that penalty ended. Anaheim changed goalies at intermission; John Gibson out, Lukas Dostal in. The third period was a lot less eventful. Raanta faced three (3) shots in the third period. Seth Jarvis scored on Dostal just before the halfway mark of the period. Canes took two holding penalties and did not get punished. They won 6-3. Of course, losing Kochetkov is a concern.
January 13, vs. Pittsburgh, 3-2 Overtime (OT) Win: It was not simple, it was a game loaded with a lot nerves and had a dramatic ending to regulation, but the Canes pulled out another ‘W.’ Which is all that the snapshot and the standings care about. The Hurricanes went up early in this game. Brett Pesce and Jordan Martinook made it 2-0 before halfway through the first period. A contentious second period that saw the Canes down two men near the end of the period due to penalties forced the Canes to survive Pittsburgh trying to make a game of it. And they did in the third period. Jake Guentzel made it a one-shot game in the third period. With the net empty, Erik Karlsson dropped a hammer from the center point. Antti Raanta made the stop but the rebound was massive and Bryan Rust buried it into a wide open net. 2-2 within the final minute of regulation. Fortunately for Carolina, overtime would be their area to shine. There was one shot only, it came from Pesce, and he torched Tristan Jarry after an entry and a drop pass by Teuvo Teravainen for essentially a one-timer. It gave the Hurricanes a second point in the game and maximized their week with four earned.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Carolina has another light week as their homestand continues. They just have two games. They will host Los Angeles on Monday afternoon. That could be tricky as the Kings have been legitimate road warriors this season. On Friday, the Hurricanes will host a Detroit team that is on the outside of the bubble looking in. Enjoy the days off between games. The following week will not be light. But if the Rangers keep slipping and the Canes keep getting points, then there is a chance they could enter a heavier schedule in first.
What Happened Last Week: The Flyers started off the week with a rough loss. Then it got better with three straight wins to go 3-1-0 in the week. Enough to pull away from the Islanders and put themselves just two behind the Rangers in first place. Those expecting Philly to fade remain disappointed.
January 8, vs. Pittsburgh, 4-1 Loss: The rivalry’s latest chapter was largely written by the Penguins. Rickard Rakell was tripped up by Sean Couturier 28 seconds into the game and Rakell converted that powerplay 45 seconds into the game. Erik Karlsson doubled the lead minutes later. Owen Tippett would convert a power play for Philly to make it 2-1. But the Flyers escaped further damage as they took five penalties in that first period. A call-less second period followed but Chad Ruhwedel got his first of the season to put the Flyers back down two goals. Alex Nedeljkovic was making all of the stops. Evgeni Malkin’s goal early in the third was not just insurance, it effectively ended the game. There was some bad blood to be sure, but the game was a solid Penguins win. Which was what the Flyers sought to avoid.
January 10, vs. Montreal, 3-2 Shootout (SO) Win: Philadelphia traded a top-five drafted Cutter Gauthier to Anaheim for defenseman Jamie Drysdale for reasons related to Gauthier not wanting to be a Flyer. This would be Drysdale’s first game as a Flyer. Philly was up for this one although it was not an easy win. Sean Monahan tipped in a Justin Barron shot to make it 1-0 early for the visitors. David Savard made it 2-0 for Montreal past the halfway mark. But the Flyers came back. Owen Tippett made it a one-shot game with four minutes left in the first period. Morgan Frost tied it up with a power play goal to punish a delay of game call on Jordan Harris in the second period. Then the Flyers just could not beat Cayden Primeau. The Flyers out-shot the Canadiens 39-19 including 7-1 in overtime. No goals after Frost’s equalizer. A shootout was needed. Couturier scored first and it held up as the only goal in the contest. The Flyers got a tight comeback win.
January 12, at Minnesota, 4-3 OT Win: The Flyers got a second one in Minnesota on Friday night. After a goalless first period, Marcus Johansson opened the scoring for Minnesota 51 seconds into the second period. Joel Farabee would tie it up on a redirection less than three minutes later. The third period had more going on. The Wild jumped out to a two goal lead thanks to Ryan Hartman and Matt Boldy in fewer than five minutes into the third period. Not only did that not last, it did not even last for six minutes. Tyson Foerster and Tippett beat Marc-Andre Fleury to turn 3-1 into 3-3 with nine minutes left in regulation. Overtime saw a pretty heinous no-call on Philly and a pretty clear Mats Zuccarello tripping penalty on Cam Atkinson. In the 4-on-3 situation, the Flyers took it just before the Zuccarello penalty ended. Farabee rifled it home to give the Flyers another two points in the standings. Not to mention leaving a bad taste in the mouths of the Minnesota faithful.
January 13, at Winnipeg, 2-0 Win: How about this for a statement? Winnipeg is a top team in the West this season, they have been very good at home, the Jets won eight straight going into the game, and the Flyers shut them out just after prevailing beyond 60 minutes in Minnesota the night before. Samuel Errson was perfect in stopping all 35 shots in the game. Even when Philly was under siege in the third period as they were out-shot 13-5. But the Flyers put up 31 shots in the first two periods and one Flyer beat Connor Hellebuyck twice: Cam Atkinson. Atkinson re-directed a feed from Joel Farabee through the goalie to open the scoring. Early the second period, Neal Pionk slashed Morgan Frost. Frost took a shot on the resulting power play and Atkinson buried the rebound at the top of the crease. The Flyers got a huge result to end a great week of results, rivalry loss not withstanding.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Flyers will wrap up a short road trip in St. Louis on Monday night. The Blues are no pushovers but neither is Philadelphia. They will return home for two tougher Western Conference opponents. They will host Dallas on Thursday night and Colorado on Saturday afternoon. That game on Thursday will start a busy run of games for the Orange and Black. But those who keep expecting the Flyers to fade have continued to be disappointed. Given their position in the standings, they just need results in this week coming up to stay ahead and stay close to Manhattan. Giving points to St. Louis, Dallas, and Colorado does not impact Philly much so they can get results however they want.
New York Islanders
What Happened Last Week: The Islanders returned home, lost, then got a win in overtime, then went on the road to lose again. They went 1-2-0 and remain in fourth - perilously close to being jumped by the Devils, Capitals, and Penguins. They are also now four points back of Philadelphia, whom they have been battling for most of the season for third (or second). So it goes, Isles.
January 9, vs. Vancouver, 5-2 Loss: Fresh off a win in Manhattan, the Canucks went to Belmont and got another win. Not exactly a great performance from the Islanders. The first period was goalless until the Canucks’ top pairing put up two goals late in the first. Filip Hronek and Quinn Hughes made it 2-0 going into the second. Just after the halfway mark of the period, Elias Pettersson made it 3-0. Brock Nelson did get the Isles on the board shortly thereafter with a PPG. But a comeback bid was denied when Tyler Myers scored late in the period. Brock Nelson would add a goal with just fewer than five minutes in the third but it would be a consolation goal. Which was confirmed when Dakota Joshua put in an empty net goal to seal up the loss.
January 11, vs. Toronto, 4-3 OT Win: The Islanders would get a win the hard way against the Maple Leafs on Thursday. The game pretty much opened with Auston Matthews tripping Matt Martin and Kyle Palmieri converted that power play. Toronto would tie it up later thanks to Bobby McMann. Matthews emerged with two quick backhanders for goals in the second period to put Toronto up 3-1. But it would be them to blow the multi-goal lead. Alexander Romanov made it a one-goal game fewer than two minutes after Matthews’ second goal. The equalizer came from Mat Barzal - whom assisted on the other two Isles goals - on a power play later in the second period. The third period went goalless so overtime was needed. And it would be a short one. Just 21 seconds into the fourth period, Barzal got his fourth point of the game by re-directing in a Noah Dobson shot-pass for the win. A big comeback win for the Isles.
January 13, at Nashville, 3-1 Loss: It would be the only win as the Isles went to Nashville and suffered a 3-1 loss. The game was closer than the score shows. For one, the game had no goals until there were eight minutes left in the game. Jean-Gabriel Pageau tipped in a Dobson shot to open the scoring. But Kyle Palmieri took a tripping penalty against Luke Evangelista over a minute after that goal. The fouled Evangelista would end up converting that power play with fewer than five minutes left (and near the end of the man advantage) to tie up the game. Then a disaster struck. With fewer than 20 seconds left, the Preds attacked the Isles. Alexandre Carrier took a shot from the high slot, the shot broke Scott Mayfield’s stick, which caused the puck to pop up and get over Ilya Sorokin. An absolute heartbreaker of a goal allowed. Jussi Parssinen put in a last-second ENG to make the score seem more decisive than the actual game. A rough way to lose to be sure.
What’s Coming Up This Week: That game in Nashville started a four-game road trip that will be concluded in this coming week. The Islanders will get a tough back-to-back set on Monday and Tuesday. They will go to Minnesota on Monday night and Winnipeg on Tuesday. Minnesota should be (and may be?) desperate. Winnipeg is legitimately a great team this season with a great home record. The Islanders will get a more favorable matchup on Friday night when they go to Chicago. They just have to avoid complacency in that one. The back-to-back set will determine how the week will go. And given the standings, they need to get results.
New Jersey Devils
What Happened Last Week: The New Jersey Devils won the week again! Despite their growing list of injuries, the Devils went to the state of Florida for two games and leave it with three out of four points. Going 1-0-1 is a winning week. Alas, they remain in fifth place right behind the Islanders, just ahead of the Capitals and Penguins, and unfortunately further back from the Flyers than they were. The pressure remains on in New Jersey despite being less than 100%.
January 11, at Tampa Bay, 4-3 OT Loss: Without Jack Hughes, Dougie Hamilton, Ondrej Palat, Timo Meier, and Jonas Siegenthaler, one could look at the result and think it was acceptable. One could look at Vitek Vanecek and wonder what could have been if a better goaltender was in the net. The Devils took on fellow playoff bubble squad Tampa Bay and went up first thanks to Dawson Mercer putting in a second chance off Andrei Vasilevskiy and into the net. But the Bolts hit back with a brilliant re-direction of a Nick Perbix shot by Luke Glendening. The Devils got a late power play in the first period. It was wasted when Luke Hughes fell on his own during a breakout, coughed up the puck to Glendening, and the Lightning player made Vanecek look like a shooter tutor for the shorthanded goal. During a delayed penalty call, an uncovered Brayden Point hammered in a shot from the slot to make it 3-1. But the Devils fought back. A popped rebound from a John Marino shot ended up being put into the net by the Lightning, last touched by Jesper Bratt to make it 3-2. Then in the third period, Nathan Bastian took a puck from Perbix and went in one-on-one on Vasilevskiy. Bastian scored to tie it up. The Devils seemingly went up 4-3 with a jam play by Michael McLeod but the goal was taken away due to a successful offside challenge by Jon Cooper. The score held to overtime. Alas, the Lightning took it when Darren Raddysh got open in the cycle and torched Vanecek with a stoppable shot. The Devils have not taken games to overtime often this season and circumstances say a point is good. But they need more.
January 13, at Florida, 4-1 Win: They got more thanks to Nico Daws. The Devils took on a Florida that that is A) really good this season, B) beat them earlier in October, and C) went into the game with a nine-game winning streak. The Devils struck first once again when Alexander Holtz fired a shot from the perimeter and it went by Sergey Bobrovsky thanks to a deflection by Dmitry Kulikov of the Panthers. Later on, Michael McLeod won a puck inside and shoveled a puck to the top of the crease where Jesper Bratt got inside of Kulikov and re-directed it through Bobrovsky for a 2-0 lead. Daws was in form and got a boost when Erik Haula torched Bobrovsky’s five-hole for an early 3-0 lead in the second period. Daws was tested. He was ultimately beaten when Sam Reinhart converted a power play on an unstoppable shot on Daws’ flank thanks to Matthew Tkachuk’s between-the-legs pass. But Daws stopped all else, including some really surprising shots, and the Devils survived Florida’s onslaught where the Devils were out-shot 29-10 in the second and third periods combined. It took several attempts but John Marino put home the empty netter to end Florida’s streak and leave the state of Florida with a big win. And perhaps a goaltender they can lean on.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Devils have it all to do and will have four games in six nights in this week coming up. The Devils will visit Boston for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day game. The Devils lost decisively in their last visit to Boston so this will be a challenge. The Devils will need to get something out of a home game against Montreal on Wednesday and a trip to Columbus on Friday night. They should get something against Dallas on Saturday as the team is honoring Sergei Brylin by placing him in the Ring of Honor. But Dallas is good and the second half of back-to-backs have been a losing venture for the Devils this season. Whether you like it or not, the Devils continue to need results at this point.
What Happened Last Week: The Washington Capitals got back to winning ways and won the week by going 2-1-0. They remain right behind the Devils in sixth and just ahead of the Penguins due to one fewer game played.
January 7, vs. Los Angeles, 4-3 Win: The Kings have been struggling as of late and the Capitals added more misery with a late winner in regulation. After a goalless first period, the Caps got on the board first thanks to Nic Dowd. The Caps went down after Adrian Kempe scored a PPG and Kevin Fiala scored later in the second, but Dylan Strome would tie it up with fewer than five minutes left in the middle frame. An early high-sticking call on Connor McMichael in the third period yielded an early PPG by Fiala. The Caps would tie it up thanks to Nicolas Aube-Kubel later on. Overtime seemed inevitable. Then John Carlson fired a shot from the left point and it got all the way through for the goal with 52 seconds left. A fortunate shot gave the Capitals a big win at home to start off the week right.
January 11, vs. Seattle, 4-1 Loss: The homestand took a turn for the worse and became a losing one on Thursday night when they lost to Seattle. In fairness, Seattle has been hot with eight straight wins and twelve straight games with at least one point earned. The Kraken wrapped their tentacles on the game early when Tye Karye and Alexander Wennberg made it 2-0 in the first period. Washington would make it close in the second period when Max Pacioretty scored his first of the season. However, with less than two minutes to go, Justin Schultz restored the two-goal lead by tucking in a rebound at the left post. Adam Larsson made it 4-1 in the third and so the Capitals became the Kraken’s latest victim. Not what the Caps needed after their win over Los Angeles.
January 13, vs. New York Rangers, 3-2 Win: The Capitals ended their five-game homestand at 2-3-0 thanks to this big result over the first place team in their division. A result that surely annoyed a bunch of other teams. But Washington has to do what is best for Washington. Adam Fox scored first but the Caps got an equalizer in the first period from Anthony Mantha. Fox made it 2-1 in the second period, which was equalized in the third period after a power play ended. Evgeny Kuznetsov beat Fox on the entry, went around the net, pitchforked a puck towards the net, and Dowd batted in the mid-air puck for the 2-2 score. Shortly thereafter, Strome beat Fox on the rush and found T.J. Oshie backdoor for the 3-2 lead. Charlie Lindgren and the squad held it down for the big regulation win. Enough to keep pace with the Devils and Isles, enough to open up first place for others, and enough for the Capitals to win the week.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Capitals will have four games coming up. First is the completion of a home-and-home with the Rangers. That will happen at 1 PM ET today in Madison Square Garden. Another big swing is there for the taking. The Capitals will get to host Anaheim on Tuesday night and try to avoid getting ensnared by the Ducks. Then comes another home-and-home albeit not in a back-to-back set. The Capitals will host St. Louis on Thursday and then go visit them on Saturday to start a road trip. The tests will keep coming for the Caps. Will they pass them? Or remain where they are?
What Happened Last Week: The Pittsburgh Penguins won the week despite only winning one game. They took two overtime losses to go 1-0-2. Those two “loser points” keep the seventh place Penguins in a point-tie with the Capitals, one behind the Devils, and two behind the Islanders.
January 8, at Philadelphia, 4-1 Win: The Penguins started off the week right by beating their hated rivals by a good margin. Rickard Rakell was tripped up by Sean Couturier 28 seconds into the game and Rakell converted that powerplay 45 seconds into the game for an early lead. One that was doubled a little later by Erik Karlsson. The Penguins gave the Flyers some life when Jansen Harkins tripped Travis Sanheim. Owen Tippett would convert that power play for Philly to make it 2-1 in a penalty-filled first period. Alas, the Penguins’ power play went 1-for-6. That ended up being OK, especially after Chad Ruhwedel got his first of the season to make it a 3-1 game. Alex Nedeljkovic was in control and Evgeni Malkin’s goal early in the third widened the margin. Aside for some beefs, the Penguins clearly took this latest chapter of the Pennsylvania Rivalry.
January 11, vs. Vancouver, 4-3 OT Loss: The Penguins had to claw their way to a point in this one. The first period ended with the Pens down 3-1 to Vancouver. Brock Boeser scored twice early on. While Marcus Pettersson got his first of the season, Elias Pettersson answered that goal before intermission. Nedeljkovic was replaced by Tristan Jarry and it was right move. Jarry would stop 17 shots from Vancouver in regulation, whom took 17 shots in the remainder of regulation. Sidney Crosby would be the among the ones to get the Penguins back in the game. He made it a one-shot game in the second period. With time running out and an extra skater on the ice, Crosby tipped home a Karlsson shot from the center point to tie it up with 28 seconds left in regulation. A point was secured. There would not be a second one. Filip Hronek blocked a feed in a 3-on-1 rush in overtime and launched it forward to Elias Pettersson for a breakaway. He beat Jarry five-hole (and just got ahead of Crosby, who hustled like crazy to try to get him) for the 4-3 Pittsburgh loss. Hey, at least the comeback got them a point.
January 13, at Carolina, 3-2 OT Loss: Another comeback for a point was achieved on Saturday night for Pittsburgh. The Pens went down 2-0 in the first period due to goals by Brett Pesce and Jordan Martinook. The Penguins solved Antti Raanta in the third period. Jake Guentzel got the Pens on the board at 6:45. Once again, a 6-on-5 empty net situation in the final minute provided an equazlier. And once again, it started from Erik Karlsson’s stick from the center point. Only this time Raanta stopped the long shot and gave up a massive rebound to Bryan Rust. Rust buried it at 19:07. OT would be shorter and Carolina took it with Teuvo Teravainen dropping a pass for Pesce. Pesce one-timed it for a score to give the Penguins another OTL in the week. Still, a comeback for a point is better than no comeback for no points.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Penguins will just have two games coming up. They will host Seattle for an early evening game on Monday night. Then they will get four days off before a quick trip to Nevada and Arizona. This week will end for them in Las Vegas, which is a difficult place for anyone to play in - especially as the Golden Knights are a Cup contender once again. The Pens will get some time off before the grind of the schedule picks up again. But like the Devils and Capitals, they need results as much as possible as soon as possible.
Columbus Blue Jackets
What Happened Last Week: The Columbus Blue Jackets went 0-2-0 and lost by a combined 12-4. Brutal. Also, Elvis Merzlikins is not happy about his role. I suspect he is not the only unhappy Blue Jacket right now.
January 9, at Winnipeg, 5-0 Loss: The Winnipeg Jets were hot going into this game and they burned Columbus. As you can see by the score, the Blue Jackets were shut out by Connor Hellebuyck with 29 saves. The Jets just kept on scoring on Daniil Tarasov. Brendan Dillon in the first period. Cole Perfetti and Josh Morrissey in the second period. Perfetti and Gabe Vilardi in the third period. This was a beat down where the only notable sin of the Jets was that Pionk took three penalties in the game, including two at the same time for roughing and a rare clipping call. This was a classic burn-the-tape game.
January 13, vs. Seattle, 7-4 Loss: Columbus scored a goal in this game! Just 1:41 in, Ivan Provorov opened the scoring in the game Then Jordan Eberle had an answer for that. Provorov responded on the next shift to make it 2-1. Jared McCann tied it up later on in the first. A 5-on-3 for Columbus was converted by Kirill Markchenko to make it 3-2. Then Seattle scored the next four goals. Tye Kartye tied it up. Oliver Bjorkstrand made it 4-3 with a power play goal to punish Cole Sillinger’s boarding minor. McCann made it 5-3 in the third period and Brandon Dumoulin made it a touchdown just over two minutes after McCann’s third period goal. Emil Bemstrom would score a consolation goal to make it a two-goal game. But there would be no further comeback. Eeli Tolvanen sealed up the game at 7-4 with an empty net goal. A classic game that was close for half of it until it just was not. The unhappy Merzlikins backed up Tarasov, who saw six of the seven goals go past him. Cannot imagine he was any happier about not coming in relief when the game was a game. Alas.
What’s Coming Up This Week: It is another light week coming up for the Blue Jackets. Plus, they get to stay in Ohio for the week. They will host Vancouver on MLK Jr. Day for an afternoon game. That could get ugly since this team just got flattened by Winnipeg and Vancouver is more than capable of running teams over with goals. On Friday night, the Blue Jackets will get a chance to spoil the Devils. It is telling that they are looking to spoil teams this early in the season but it is what it is for the 2023-24 Blue Jackets.
That was the fourteenth Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2023-24 season. What do you expect to happen in this week coming up? Will we finally have someone else in first place by next Sunday? Can the Philadelphia Flyers expand their lead over the Islanders, Devils, Penguins, and Capitals? Can the Devils move on up from fifth? Will the Penguins and Capitals keep winning weeks? What do you even do if you are Columbus? 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.