Once again, the Pittsburgh Penguins remain at the top of the Metropolitan Division. However, the big lead that they had last week got smaller. The Penguins had a rough time of it in a short week and those behind them made up some distance. Not so much that the Pens faithful should start freaking out, but enough such that it is mathematically possible for a new division leader (and a new team to be pictured for these posts) by next Sunday. Here's how the Metropolitan Division stands after Saturday night's games:
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.|
Source NHL.com - Links go to SBN Blogs
The Penguins had a big enough lead that a winless week doesn't do much damage to their spot. The New York Islanders, on the other hand, picked a bad week to do the same. They started the week in second place and now they're in fifth down with the rest of the mess of the division. Losing three in a row is never a good thing, but it was worse for the Isles as those three games were within the division. Their faltering helped the Washington Capitals get on up to second place, kept the Carolina Hurricanes in front of them, and did the Columbus Blue Jackets a solid by ending their losing streak. Bad weeks happen to everyone and it's still November so the Isles can make this up. It's better to do it soon when the division is still tight.
Further, the Caps, Canes, and New York Rangers did the most to help themselves in this past week. The Caps were a shootout away in Phoenix from a perfect week of results and a mere two points behind the Penguins. Instead, they're behind by three points. As of now, they are the only team that can catch Pittsburgh in the standings during this coming week of games. The Canes were also a shootout away against Minnesota from the same and sole possession of third place. The Rangers finally figured out this scoring thing. They blasted the Pens on Wednesday night and got another big division win in Columbus the next night.
As for the bottom, well, the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers split the week from a points standpoint by earning three out of six. Columbus joined them with their losing ways, which ended yesterday. The Devils beating Philadelphia was big from a standpoint of avoiding last. Yet, they still have the fewest amount of wins in the Metropolitan Division. If they can have a positive week, then they could make a move upwards instead of treading water. They'll have four games and none of them look to be easy ones. Here's the upcoming schedule for this week:
|PIT||vs. PHI||vs. NSH||@ NJD|
|WSH||@ COL||vs. CBJ||@ DET|
|NYR||vs. FLA||vs. NJD||@ MTL|
|CAR||vs. COL||vs. ANA||@ STL|
|NYI||@ MTL||vs. NSH||vs. LAK||vs. DET|
|NJD||vs. NSH||@ NYR||vs. LAK||vs. PIT|
|CBJ||@ WSH||@ BOS||vs. MTL|
|PHI||@ OTT||@ PIT||@ WPG|
The Devils kick it off by hosting Nashville tonight. They will play a more offensively-effective Rangers team at MSG on Tuesday. Their week ends with a back-to-back set at home against Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. Getting more than four points out of this week would be huge and at the same time difficult. Two of them are within the division and could serve to either give the Devils a bit more hope of moving up or dash them further. The Islanders, again coming off a winless week, are the only other team with four games coming up. All four games are outside of the division and aren't at all gimmies either. They going to Montreal tonight before three home games against Nashville, L.A., and Detroit. Their goal is a bit simpler: end their losing streak as soon as possible.
As for the rest of the Metropolitan, there's no shortage of games as the other six teams will play three games. Everyone's active on Tuesday, so keep that night free so you can check out what's going on. But this week is light on the inter-division games. There are only four and two of them involve our favorite team. Other than the Devils-Rangers game, the less-heated division match-up of Columbus-Washington will also take place on Tuesday. The other one will be far more heated. The Pennsylvania rivalry continues on Wednesday as a Flyers squad looking for something to smile about gets to play the Pens. The Penguins will be well rested and surely ready to avoid turning the two losses from last week into an actual losing streak. It'll be on national television for all to see.
What do you think will happen in the Metropolitan Division in this coming week? Will the Penguins rebound to remain at the top? Will the Capitals catch them, or will they settle for just staying close? Who will take the third place spot by next week? Can the Devils earn at least four out of eight points this week? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the division and the week ahead in the comments. Thank you for reading.