Wednesday will be a big day for the entire league. March 5 is the NHL Trade Deadline. All trades must be made by 3 PM EDT. It'll be a day where teams will decide to go for it for the remainder of the season or give up on it. A day where teams try to find that missing piece, throw away the puzzle, or do something else. Some will do nothing but at least try to do something. It's a crucial day. There are plenty of teams in the Metropolitan Division who will have to see where they are and make tough decisions. This week's division snapshot shows that there are plenty of teams in the proverbial hunt.
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.|
Source: NHL.com - Links go to SBN Blogs
The Pittsburgh Penguins remain the Metropolitan Division leaders. The New York Islanders are entrenched in the basement. There was a little movement in the middle, but not much. The New Jersey Devils took care of business but because the teams ahead of them also did well, they didn't gain much ground. The lone exception are the Carolina Hurricanes. With an additional game last week, they could have been knocking on the door of the top three. Instead, they lost all three and are further back from the pack. This is the wrong time of the season to have a losing streak. Does this affect what they do at the trade deadline? Maybe. Are they out of the playoff picture? Not quite, but they need points and fast this week.
Elsewhere, the Washington Capitals are probably pleased with the Devils. Since the Devils beat the Columbus Blue Jackets, they were able to jump ahead of them with two wins. The Blue Jackets did get a win on Saturday against Florida so they remain just ahead of the Devils by way of playing one fewer game. Alas, the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers made sure their positions would not be breached. They each split their weeks. The Flyers did beat the Rangers, so the Rangers weren't able to pull ahead. Still, the Flyers remain a win ahead of the Caps for third. As close as these teams are in terms of points, the Caps, Jackets, Devils, and Canes need help to move up. The Flyers and Rangers playing fairly well doesn't help them any.
|W.C.||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.|
Source: NHL.com - Links go to SBN Blogs
What also doesn't help is that the Detroit Red Wings also had a successful return to regular action. They won both of their games and won them decisively. They now have the same number of points as the Flyers. That really doesn't favor the Devils, Caps, Jackets, or Canes. On top of that, the Toronto Maple Leafs continued to get points. Overtime points in both games, but points nonetheless. They could break the top three in the Atlantic, actually. They're only one behind Tampa Bay at the moment. It still means a team in the Atlantic has a solid hold on the first wild card spot.
The Devils (and other Metropolitan teams that want that second wild card spot opened up) will have to hope Detroit cools off a bit. They play them twice in this coming week. Here's the upcoming schedule for all eight Metropolitan teams and the two wild card teams. Inter-Metropolitan division games are in bold:
|PIT||@ NSH||@ SJS||@ ANA|
|NYR||vs. BOS||vs. TOR||@ CAR|
|PHI||@ WSH||vs. WSH||@ TOR|
|WSH||vs. PHI||@ PHI||@ BOS||vs. PHX|
|CBJ||@ TOR||vs. DAL||@ CHI||@ NSH|
|NJD||vs. SJS||vs. DET||@ DET||vs. CAR|
|CAR||@ ANA||@ SJS||vs. NYR||@ NJD|
|NYI||vs. FLA||@ WPG||@ EDM||@ CGY|
|TOR||vs. CBJ||@ NYR||vs. PHI|
|DET||@ NJD||vs. COL||vs. NJD|
The Devils, like most of the division, has four games this week. With the top three only playing three each, this is a chance to gain some ground on them. It will not at all be easy. They start with San Jose today, Detroit home-and-away, and a Canes team that may have everything to play for this Saturday. The latter game may depend on how Carolina does against Our Hated Rivals. That's a tough road ahead and the Devils need results. They cannot rely on teams around them faltering to keep pace.
They aren't the only team with big games ahead directly affecting the playoff picture. The Capitals will get the Flyers twice, home-and-away. Then they get Boston and Phoenix while Philly only has Toronto. It's a great shot for the Caps to climb back into third place and throw the Flyers back down into the chaotic part of the division. But if they fail, then they help the Flyers stay up. Good luck, Caps. Likewise, there should be plenty of cheering for Toronto as they play Columbus, the Rangers, and Flyers. They may sew up the first wild card spot and the rest of the Atlantic may not like it. But their success helps the Devils as they chase those three teams.
At least cheering against Columbus and most of Carolina's week will be easy. As for the two teams whose positions are set, they are likely to remain as they are. And travel a lot. After their snowy game in Chicago, the Penguins will be on the road all week. The Isles get a home game in Florida today before a road trip begins through western Canada. As usual, expect the Pens and Isles to book end the Metropolitan. As for what will happen with each team as March 5 approaches, who knows? These last one or two games before it may make the difference. We'll know it when it happens.
What do you think the Devils should be able to achieve with the upcoming week of games? Do you think the Rangers and Flyers will hold onto second and third place, respectively, for another week? Will Detroit hold onto that second wild card spot? Can the Canes rebound? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the division and the upcoming week of games in the comments. Thank you for reading.