Pittsburgh remains at the top of the mountain. However, the Metropolitan Division beyond them as seen a shakeup. Two teams have built up a small lead in the other two playoff spots with a blazing-hot Columbus team right behind them. Prior to Sunday's games, this is how the division looks:
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.|
Source: NHL.com - Links go to SBN Blogs
Columbus has been the most successful team in the division in recent weeks. They're riding a six-game winning streak. No longer are they in the bottom end of a shallow pool, but ever so close to the ladder up to the playoff deck. Sure, it's arguable that maybe they should have dropped one or two of those games. But it's all about results, the Blue Jackets are getting them, and they cannot be ignored. The schedule has been kind enough to leave them with games in hand on the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, who had a real good week of their own. By the end of this week, they'll have more on Philly and will still have them on New York. Well done, Columbus.
If Columbus was the most impressive, Washington had the most disappointing week. Sure, my fellow New Jersey Devils fans, going 1-1-2 on a road trip while Columbus and Our Hated Rivals soar stings. Yes, losing yet two more shootouts is a damaging annoyance. And when you consider the teams around them have played fewer games, it's possible the Devils could fall further. But Washington didn't even win a game this week. They dropped two shootouts to start, lost late in regulation to Pittsburgh - yes the Penguins won their only game this week, and then ended it with another loss. Two out of eight points is not good on it's own. In this division, it's a pretty big slip. They can recover but they'll have to catch up to do so. Their 14 ROW is going to loom large in the meantime.
I will point out that the New York Islanders are going to be rather interesting to see in the rearview. The fact they got to 50 along with New Jersey and New York hurts them. Especially with the Carolina Hurricanes sitting at only 47 games, which means they could jump up real fast with a successful week. But if the Isles can keep putting together good weeks of results, then they may sneak back into the picture. They still have a mountain to climb. It would be fun to see them try. For some in the Metropolitan Division, it would be fantastic if they could do it this week:
|PIT||vs. FLA||vs. MTL||@ NYI||@ DAL|
|PHI||@ NYI||vs. CAR||@ CBJ||vs. BOS|
|NYR||vs. WSH||vs. NYI||vs. STL|
|CBJ||vs. LAK||vs. PHI||vs. BUF|
|WSH||@ NYR||vs. OTT||@ NJD||@ MTL|
|NJD||vs. STL||vs. WSH|
|CAR||vs. TBL||@ PHI||@ BUF||@ OTT|
|NYI||vs. PHI||@ NYR||vs. PIT||vs. STL|
The teams in bold highlight the games within the Metropolitan and there are a lot of them this week. Both the Isles and Flyers can dictate what it looks like next Sunday. They each play three out of four games within the division. From a Devils perspective, cheer for the Orange-and-Royal Blue on Monday and Tuesday. Points they can take from Philadelphia and Their Hated Rivals helps the Devils' (and Blue Jackets' and Capitals' and Hurricanes') cause. The Pittsburgh game is a wash since no one's catching the Penguins in the foreseeable future. The Flyers having three games is trickier as they get the Canes and Blue Jackets. The Flyers winning hurts the overall cause of getting a playoff spot. Yet, Flyers wins will hold two teams closer to the Devils in the standings back. The same conundrum applies later today when the Rangers host the Capitals. Which is in the best interest of the Devils? Caps winning to take a step back towards third or the Rangers winning to keep the Caps back? Of course, the Devils-Capitals game on Friday is massive before their marquee matchup in the Bronx next Sunday. Beating St. Louis would be huge too, though that's going to be a problem since they're really good.
Elsewhere in the division, the Penguins will go back to a fuller schedule. They could quite possibly increase their lead over the rest of the Metropolitan. They are that good and they just keep on rolling. The Blue Jackets' hot streak will face their toughest test yet on Tuesday against LA before playing against progressively weaker teams. I think this is the week it ends. I'd like to say LA but who knows - maybe they stretch it to at least seven? Carolina gets a fun week that is mostly in the Atlantic except for their Tuesday night game against Philly. There are no easy games, but it's possible they jump at least the Devils.
What do you think will happen in this coming week in the Metropolitan Division? Will the Rangers and Flyers still hold onto the two non-Pittsburgh playoff spots? Will the Blue Jackets' streak end and when? Where will the Devils be? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the division and the upcoming schedule in the comments. Thank you for reading.