December begins today after a very busy Friday-Saturday pairing in the Metropolitan Division. Nearly everyone had a back-to-back set and everyone had a few pre-Thanksgiving games on top of that. After all of the games were played, nothing changed. The order of teams in the standings remained the same.
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.|
Source: NHL.com - Links go to SBN Blogs
The Pittsburgh Penguins are still at the top. They actually increased their lead over the Washington Capitals from four points to seven. They nearly swept this past week; their only blemish came from an overtime loss to Boston last Monday. They responded with a crazy win over Toronto and a back-to-back beatdown over the Florida teams. Seven out of eight points is still fantastic and it looks like we may have another month of Penguins pictures leading this article on this site.
The New York Islanders are still at the bottom. The Isles are mired in a six game winless streak. Their last win was on November 16, and their overtime loss to the Capitals last night was their first point earned since that evening. They've went from being in the mix to right out of it. They need to win and win fast, though that will not be easy at all given their opponents in this coming week.
Everyone else managed to stay in place. Four teams split their week with two wins and two losses. The Carolina Hurricanes and Capitals had winning results, but they did not move anywhere. The Caps are still only two points ahead of the New York Rangers. The Canes would have made some noise but their one loss was against the New Jersey Devils, which helped keep them down below. The Canes and Philadelphia Flyers faithful do have one standings advantage. They have a game in hand on everyone else in the Metropolitan. The Canes will use it up against most teams not named the Devils; while the Flyers will still have one except against the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Caps. The soft, gooey middle of the Metropolitan has yet to take form. So there's plenty to watch out for regardless of who you support. Take this coming week of games as an example:
|PIT||@ NYI||vs. SJS||@ BOS|
|WSH||vs. CAR||vs. NSH|
|NYR||vs. WPG||@ BUF||vs. NJD|
|NJD||@ MTL||vs. MTL||vs. DET||@ NYR|
|PHI||@ MIN||@ DET||@ DAL|
|CAR||vs. VAN||@ WSH||@ NSH||vs. SJS|
|CBJ||vs. TBL||vs. MIN|
|NYI||vs. PIT||@ STL||@ LAK|
There are only three inter-division games but two of them could be big. Former Southeast foes, Carolina and Washington, face off on Tuesday. That's an important match-up for the Canes if they want to make some movement up the standings. The Caps could use a win there to hold off at least one of the several teams closing in on them. The other big game is where our favorite team plays Our Hated Rivals on Saturday night. It would be something if the Devils managed to stay a point behind the Rangers. In fact, mathematically, the Devils could jump the Rangers right before the game. However, the Rangers have a comparatively easier schedule than the Devils before Saturday. No offense to Winnipeg and Buffalo, but neither of you are Montreal or Detroit. Saturday's game may end up determining whether the Devils push to make a move into third or whether the Rangers knock them down a peg. Ah, rivalry games, how ever more interesting they are when something's on the line.
The third inter-division game won't decide much. It actually is the first of an extremely tough one for the Islanders. They get the Penguins on Tuesday before they hit the road to visit St. Louis and Los Angeles. They're two of the strongest teams in the league. That's not at all what a team with a long winless streak needs right now. For their sake, one hopes they can sneak out a victory somewhere.
Speaking of the road, Philadelphia hits it this week with road games in Minnesota, Detroit, and Dallas. Like the Devils, the Flyers have been doing much better in November and are now battling for position in the division. Hopefully, they'll be like the Devils and struggle in those games so the Devils may get ahead of them at best. On the flip side, the Blue Jackets and Capitals get a light week with only two home games. They aren't easy games, but I'm sure the players appreciate the lack of travel all the same.
What do you think will happen in the Metropolitan Division this week? While no one can catch Pittsburgh, will they only tighten their grip on first place? Will the Islanders win a game in their next three games? What will happen in the middle of the division? Can the Caps and Rangers remain where they are or will we see some movement? The Devils have four tough games ahead; what do you expect from them? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the division and the upcoming week in the comments. Thank you for reading.