Pittsburgh got their groove back in this past week. They smacked a top Pacific team, they wrecked the Washington Capitals on national TV, and they poured on what would be more misery for the New York Islanders. Only a loss in Montreal prevented a sweep of their week. However, the Penguins should be more than pleased. They not only held onto first place in the Metropolitan Division, but they created a larger lead ahead of second place. They arguably had one of the better weeks within the division:
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts|
Source: NHL.com - Links go to SBN Blogs
The Penguins were one of three teams in the Metropolitan to have a positive week of results. Our favorite team, the New Jersey Devils, were one of them. While the process wasn't entirely good - they played one period of hockey better than their three opponents - the results were. They won two games in overtime against two of the top teams in the Pacific. Their one loss came to one of the best teams in the league and the score was close, even though the game certainly always was not. As a result, they moved up a spot in the division for the time being.
The third team had the best week: the Philadelphia Flyers. They won all three of their games. In fact, their last loss in regulation came two weeks ago; I made a mistake in last week's post, they went 2-0-1, not 1-1-1. It's never a bad time to sweep a week of games. However, this was a real good time to do it as they jumped Carolina and the Islanders. They have a game in hand on everyone else, they'll still have one at the end of this coming week, and they're back in the mix. Like the Devils, they'll need to keep getting results to keep pace; but it appears both teams are putting their terrible starts behind them.
The rest of the division wasn't so good. The New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets split their weeks. The Rangers dropped their first two but finished strong with two wins. It was enough to keep them ahead of the Devils and Flyers for another week. The Blue Jackets had an odd week where they picked up wins in Ottawa and Calgary but got blown out in Edmonton and Vancouver. But all wins and losses count the same regardless of score and the four points moved the out of the division based on a tiebreaker. The Washington Capitals had a rough week; they're still in second, but their chance to take first was blown. With Pittsburgh playing an extra game, it may be some time before they get their next crack at the top. The Carolina Hurricanes dragged their third game beyond regulation so they got one little point in this week. They're winless in four now and they need to turn it around fast as seventh and eighth place are right behind them. Of course, the Islanders absolutely have to get something soon. They dropped all three of their games in regulation and they've played one more game than four of the five teams in front of them (two more than the fifth). The Isles can get back into this but it has to be right now.
Fortunately or unfortunately for all eight teams, everyone's got a busy week with either three or four games.
|PIT||@ BOS||vs. TOR||@ TBL||@ FLA|
|WSH||vs. OTT||vs. MTL||@ NYI|
|NYR||@ TBL||@ FLA||@ BOS||vs. VAN|
|NJD||vs. WPG||vs. CAR||@ CAR||vs. BUF|
|PHI||@ FLA||@ TBL||vs. WPG||@ NSH|
|CAR||vs. OTT||@ NJD||vs. NJD|
|CBJ||@ TOR||vs. NSH||vs. EDM||@ BOS|
|NYI||vs. WPG||vs. DET||vs. WSH|
Thanksgiving Eve and Black Friday may as well be called Metro Wednesday and Metro Friday, respectively. Everyone's playing on those nights. Friday is particularly interesting because some of those games are afternoon games so one could conceivably watch hockey all day Friday when not out shopping for ridiculous deals and insane sales. The Flyers will do something I don't recall seeing: an 11:30 AM start. Enjoy that one, Orange & Black fans.
While there will be a lot of action and tired players on Thanksgiving, there are only three inter-division games. The Devils and Canes will have a home-and-home set broken up by the holiday. These two games are important as it could very well determine who's jockeying for a playoff spot and who has a mess to clean up. The third game has the Capitals visiting Long Island. Both teams are shooting for a better week so there could be some good desperation hockey. Or just Alex Ovechkin lighting up the net. Whichever. Outside of that, it's a mish-mash of opponents. Among the seven back-to-back sets to close this week, I don't envy the Rangers getting Boston on Friday and then Vancouver on the following night. Good luck, Vigneault.
As for our favorite team, the Devils will return home. I think most fans are pleased overall with the results that came out of the California road trip. With three home games coming up against three teams that are not among the best in the league, the expectation should be a winning week. We'll see if they take care of business.
What do you think will happen this week in the Metropolitan Division? Will the Pens keep rolling? Will there still be a dogfight for third place? Can the Isles get themselves out of the basement? What do you expect the Devils to do, and will they do it? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the division and the upcoming week of games. Thank you for reading.