As stated numerous times this season, the Metropolitan Division is a big mess beyond the first-place Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins remain at the top of the division simply by getting off to a good start and continuing to get results since they are a very good team. In fact, they are atop the Eastern Conference right now. However, what's new this week is that it appears there is a legitimate basement dweller. And it's a team very familiar with last place: the New York Islanders. They have not won in their last nine games.
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.|
Source: NHL.com - Links go to SBN Blogs
The division standings looks like giant ice cream sandwich, with one awesome chocolate cookie on top and one really stale and bland cookie on the bottom. The creamy goodness in the middle just melds with each other. Seventh-place Columbus Blue Jackets are only five points behind second-place Washington Capitals and third place has been in flux. For another week, the New York Rangers have the spot but only by a thread. A late equalizer against the New Jersey Devils saved them from fourth place, but even so they are in a tight spot.
In this past week, the Carolina Hurricanes and Blue Jackets had the best weeks within the division. The Blue Jackets may be without Sergei Bobrovsky's services and that will be a big loss. But they not only won both of their games last week, but didn't even give up a goal. Carolina played more games and earned the most points with three wins. Their little surge got them as high as second during the week. If they can keep putting up points, they really could get up in that spot quickly.
Of course, those two teams were helped by the other teams in the ice-cream-and-chocolate-chip middle just treading water. While the Devils played well against Montreal, they were very close to going winless all week. Eric Gelinas' overtime winner got them a win and kept their pace in the Metropolitan. The Rangers got half of six points. The Capitals split their short week. The Philadelphia Flyers had a big comeback win in Detroit sandwiched in between two more decisive losses. As #2 through #7 continue to have a mix of results, it remains a very competitive. However, it just makes it easier for Pittsburgh to stay at the top and harder for the Islanders to find their way back into it.
This coming week of games has a good chance of making the gooey middle of the Metropolitan even gooier with several inter-division games. Those games are in bold.
|PIT||vs. CBJ||vs. NJD||@ DET|
|WSH||@ NYR||vs. TBL||@ FLA|
|NYR||vs. WSH||vs. NSH||vs. CBJ|
|CAR||@ VAN||@ EDM||@ CGY||@ PHX|
|NJD||@ CBJ||@ PIT||vs. TBL|
|PHI||@ OTT||@ CHI||vs. MTL|
|CBJ||@ PIT||vs. NJD||@ NYR||vs. STL|
|NYI||@ ANA||@ SJS||@ PHX||vs. MTL|
Tonight has a big one between the Capitals and Rangers. The Caps really could use this one to get some breathing room from the rest of the pack. The remainder of the week shows that Columbus will help decide what happens within the division. The Blue Jackets get Pittsburgh and New Jersey on a back-to-back and then the Rangers on Thursday. They could make a lot of noise with results or risk falling further behind. They would really like to take the Devils game as the two teams are closer to each other in the standings. Pittsburgh can also help or hinder New Jersey's hopes for a better week on Friday. The Devils should be very happy if they get four of six.
Elsewhere in the division, Carolina gets a tough road trip through the Pacific. Devils know it's not at all an easy trip, but the Canes could really help themselves with some results. I'd argue the Islanders unfortunately have the toughest week ahead. They get their own road trip through the Pacific wrapped up and they have to play Anaheim, San Jose, and Phoenix within four nights of each other before hosting a very good Montreal team. The Isles have not won a game since November 16. They'll need something to go right soon. On paper, I can see them extending their winless streak further.
What do you expect the Devils to do this week? Who will end up in second and third place by next Sunday? Can the Canes stay good or will they fall on the road? When will the Isles win a game? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the division standings and this upcoming week of games in the comments. Thank you for reading.