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Keeping up with the Metropolitans: Week 15

Your weekly dose of Metropolitan action!

NHL: JAN 14 Rangers at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

So far, 2018 has been a breath of fresh air for the Penguins. The players all got their mandated break from their jobs, and it turns out maybe that’s just what the team needed to reboot. The Penguins have been red hot in 2018, going 5-1 so far this calendar year, with some pretty impressive wins during that stretch. The defense has improved and the Pens are getting quality goal tending from an unexpected culprit in Tristan Jarry. GM Jim Rutherford was quoted a month ago as saying he expected the team to take some time to get in gear, and fully expected the team to be much better in the second half of this season. I think it’s safe to say that this man knows a thing or two about his hockey team.

Now that the Steelers season is over, the Penguins are going to get the majority of sports headlines once the sting of the Steelers playoff loss wears off. The Penguins are going to be getting the complete, undivided attention in the Steel City. Just in time for the team to make it’s charge forward in the extremely tight Metro division.

Did I mention that the Metro is tight at the moment? At the conclusion of the NYR-PIT game last night, 5 points now separate the 2nd-8th placed teams in the division. The Capitals are in the middle of their bye this week, but sit comfortably perched in the penthouse suite of the Metro division. The Caps, Pens and surprising Flyers have been the best teams in the Metro lately. The Flyers may be one of the hottest teams in the NHL the last month, going 12-4-1 since Dec 4th. The Flyers seem to go through extreme hot and cold streaks, and right now they’re as hot as anyone.

On the flip side of that, are the bad teams in the Metro. Right now, things are getting ugly in Columbus, New Jersey, NYC, and Carolina. Columbus’ offense has dried up, and they are bleeding goals at the same time. Not a very successful combination. The Jackets are 3-5-1 in the last 9, and the last 3 losses have come against the Avs, Sabres, and Canucks. The Jackets are on their bye week, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for Tortorella and his bandits. They resume play on January 18th vs Dallas, which is their only game in a 9 game stretch from Jan 13-22 when they hit the road to take on a dominant Vegas team in Las Vegas. With Columbus only having a potential 2 points in those 9 days, the rest of the Metro could just as easily leap frog them with how tight things are, and there’s not much the Jackets can do about it.

The Devils, meanwhile, are facing a different kind of adversity this season, but still a very familiar feeling based off the last few years. They can’t seem to win a game any more. The Devils haven’t won a game since Dec 27th, losing 6 games in a row. A few months ago, I named a flaw for each team in the Metro. For the Devils, I said they’ve been playing in many close games and they aren’t the most experienced team to keep going on that way. Four out of the six games during their streak have been one-goal games. It’s not over in New Jersey, as they still sit in 3rd despite losing 6 games in a row and having their bye in the middle of that run also, but things have definitely taken a turn for the worst for the Devils. They control their own destiny, and all three of their games this week are against Metropolitan opponents. This could be a big week for them, or a complete disaster. It’s in their hands.

The Rangers are another one of the Metro teams headed in the wrong direction. The Rangers returned from their bye week in physical form, but certainly not mentally from the way they’ve played in the two games since. They were outscored 12-4 in the two games, and have looked completely lost at times. The Rangers are 3-5-2 in the last 10, and have been blown out in many of those losses. Will the Rangers be the first team to try the fire-the-head-coach-and-hope-the-team-wakes-up method that seems to always work in the NHL? I doubt it considering how long they’ve been calling for AV’s head in NYC. Time will tell, and AV does seem to somehow escape the clutches of being fired by doing just enough to not get fired seemingly every year.

As for the Canes, at least they have a new owner on board who seems willing to spend some money, on and off the ice, in order to be a better team. His direct quote was “I value winning more than money,” which may be a bit of a culture shock to longtime Canes fans. He also said he’s an impatient man, so the recent struggles since he’s taken over can’t be making him very happy. The Canes have lost 6 out of the last 8, with the Canes allowed 4+ goals in their last 5 losses. He’s going to have his hands full if he wants the team to become the team he has in his mind. He did come out and say that he has 0 intentions on moving the team, so at least that’s something to be happy about in Raleigh.

The Isles have dug themselves out of the basement since the Canes have been struggling, but not much to report about there aside from the fact that their injury list is starting to pile up. The Isles have 4 games on the schedule this week, and can score with the best of them, but until they can figure out which goaltender sucks less, it’s going to be a long year in Brooklyn.

Since we’re past the halfway point in this season, let’s take a quick look at the playoff picture. The Pens are currently in WC1 spot, with the Rangers in WC2. It’s basically the battle of the Metropolitans, as the top-3 seeds in the Atlantic are almost locks to finish in those positions. Unless a team from the Atlantic suddenly catches fire, it looks like the Metro is going to produce 5 playoff teams again. The 4th place Red Wings are 5 points behind the last placed Hurricanes for the Wild Card. It’s not over, but it might as well be for the rest of the Atlantic with how strong the Metro is again.

The loser point is going to have major ramifications again, just like it did last year. The Devils, Flyers, and Hurricanes all have 8 OTL already. That’s the equivalent to 4 extra wins. Despite how much the Penguins have struggled this first half, they’ve been a very good OT team going 9-3 overall and 3-1 in the SO. Pens will need to continue to be a strong OT team, and having a very good OT record is something that the team can actually take with them into the playoffs (assuming they make it.)

The OTL column can sneak a bubble team into the playoffs, where anything can happen after that. Last year, the Leafs squeaked into the playoffs, largely due to their 15 OTL. The Leafs finished with 95 points last year. The Islanders had 12 OTL last year, and finished with 94 points while the Lightning finished with 10 OTL and also finished with 94 points. If either of those teams were to have won one of those games they lost, they would have made it to the playoffs. One OTL can make or break a team’s playoffs hopes.

As always, stay classy PensBurgh and don’t forget to vote for Metro game of the week! Lots of intra-division games on the docket this week and it should stay that way until the season is over!

(4)Pittsburgh Penguins

24-19-3, 51 pts; 135 GF (15th in the NHL; 17th last week) / 141 GA (24th; 25th)
2-0 record last week

DET: 1
PIT: 4
Penguins Return From Bye Week With Third Straight Win

NYR: 2
PIT: 5
King me. Pittsburgh blasts past NYR 5-2

Week Ahead:

Wednesday January 17 - @ ANA, 10 PM ET

Thursday January 18 - @ LAK, 10 PM

Saturday January 20 - @ SJS, 8 PM


  • 12/27/17, LW Bryan Rust - IR; Upper-body injury
  • 12/27/17, D Chad Ruhwedel - IR; Upper-body injury
  • 1/2/18, C Carter Rowney - IR; Upper-body injury
  • 1/11/18, G Matt Murray - Day-to-day; Personal reasons

(1)Washington Capitals

28-14-3, 59 pts; 140 GF (6th; 9th) / 127 GA (15th; 11th)
2-1 record last week

VAN: 1
WSH: 3
Washington Rolls, Grubauer Shines in 3-1 Fiesta

CAR: 3
WSH: 1
Carolina Snaps Caps Home Streak, Wins 3-1

WSH: 4
CAR: 3
Caps Rally in Raleigh

Week Ahead:

Thursday January 18 - @ NJD, 7 PM

Friday January 19 - vs MTL, 7:30 PM

Sunday January 21 - vs PHI, 12:30 PM


  • 1/10/18, LW Andre Burakovsky - Day-to-day; Illness

(2)Columbus Blue Jackets

25-18-3, 53 pts; 124 GF (22nd; 21st) / 129 GA (18th; 11th)
1-2 record last week

TOR: 2
Just Enough Left in the Tank

CBJ: 1
BUF: 3

VAN: 5
CBJ: 2
Blue Jackets’ Stinker Lends Team for Soul-Searching into Bye Week

Week Ahead:

Thursday January 18 - vs DAL, 7 PM


  • 11/27/17, D Ryan Murray - IR; Upper-body injury
  • 12/12/17, C Brandon Dubinsky - IR; Fractured orbital bone
  • 12/23/17, RW Cam Atkinson - IR; Fractured foot

(3)New Jersey Devils

22-12-8, 52 pts; 133 GF (11th; 12th) / 130 GA (19th; 15th)
0-1 record last week

PHI: 5
NJD: 3
New Jersey Devils Now Winless in Six with Disappointing 3-5 Loss to Philadelphia Flyers

Week Ahead:

Tuesday December 16 - @ NYI, 7 PM

Thursday December 18 - vs WSH, 7 PM

Saturday December 20 - @ PHI, 1 PM


  • 11/12/17, D Mirco Mueller - IR; Fractured clavicle

(5)New York Rangers

22-17-5, 49 pts; 132 GF (15th; 10th) / 129 GA (11th; 9th)
1-2 record last week

NYR: 2
NYI: 7
Rangers Embarrassed By Islanders 7-2 at MSG

NYR: 2
PIT: 5
Different Day, Same Result for the Rangers

Week Ahead:

Tuesday January 16 - vs PHI, 7 PM

Thursday January 18 - vs BUF, 7:30 PM

Saturday January 20 - @ COL, 3 PM

Sunday January 21 - @ LAK, 10:30 PM


  • 12/27/17, LW Chris Kreider - IR; Blood clot
  • 1/13/18, D Ryan McDonagh - Day-to-day; Undisclosed injury
  • 1/13/18, C Kevin Hayes - Day-to-day; Lower-body injury

(6)Philadelphia Flyers

20-15-8, 48 pts; 128 GF (17th; 18th)/ 125 GA (13th; 17th)
1-0 record last week

PHI: 5
NJD: 3
Couturier does it all again in fourth-straight win

Week Ahead:

Tuesday January 16 - @ NYR, 7 PM

Thursday January 18 - vs TOR, 7 PM

Saturday January 20 - vs NJD, 1 PM

Sunday January 21 - @ WSH, 12:30 PM


  • 10/3/17, G Anthony Stolarz - IR; Knee
  • 10/3/17, RW Colin McDonald - IR; Lower-body injury
  • 1/11/18, D Shayne Gostisbehere - Day-to-day; Illness

(7)New York Islanders

22-18-4, 48 pts; 153 GF (2nd) / 160 GA (30th; 31st)
1-0 record last week

NYI: 7
NYR: 2
Five points for Barzal as Isles storm out of break

Week Ahead:

Monday January 15 - @ MTL, 7:30 PM

Tuesday January 16 - vs NJD, 7 PM

Thursday January 18 - vs BOS, 7 PM

Saturday January 20 - @ CHI, 8:30 PM


  • 11/6/17, LW Nikolay Kulemin - IR; Upper-body injury
  • 12/16/17, D Calvin de Haan - IR; Upper-body injury
  • 12/27/17, D Johnny Boychuk - IR; Lower-body injury
  • 1/5/18, RW Josh Bailey - Day-to-day; Lower-body injury
  • 1/5/18, LW Andrew Ladd - Day-to-day; Undisclosed injury
  • 1/12/18, C Casey Cizikas - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury

(8)Carolina Hurricanes

20-17-8, 48 pts; 126 GF (21st) / 140 GA (23rd; 22nd)
1-1-1 record last week

CAR: 4
TBL: 5
Canes Can’t Keep Pace in Tampa

CAR: 3
WSH: 1
Hurricanes Start Home and Home with 3-1 Win over Capitals

WSH: 4
CAR: 3
Caps Stun Canes, 4-3

CGY: 4
CAR: 1
Stempniak Scores, Aho Gets Hurt as Hurricanes Fall to Flames Ahead of the Bye Week

Week Ahead:

Saturday January 20 - @ DET, 7 PM

Sunday January 21 - vs VGK, 6 PM


  • 1/11/18, C Derek Ryan - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury
  • 1/11/18, D Brett Pesce - IR; Upper-body injury
  • 1/13/18, LW Sebastian Aho - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury

  • Standings via as of 1/15/18
  • Injuries via TSN as of 1/15/18


Which Metropolitan game is the most intriguing?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    1/16/18 - NJD @ NYI, 7 PM
    (6 votes)
  • 12%
    1/16/18 - PHI @ NYR, 7 PM; NBCSN
    (19 votes)
  • 13%
    1/18/18 - WSH @ NJD, 7 PM
    (21 votes)
  • 5%
    1/20/18 - NJD @ PHI, 1 PM
    (8 votes)
  • 12%
    1/20/18 - PIT @ SJS, 8 PM
    (19 votes)
  • 30%
    1/21/18 - PHI @ WSH, 12:30 PM; NBC
    (46 votes)
  • 22%
    Any/all of the Penguins California trip games. Late night hockey!
    (34 votes)
  • 0%
    (0 votes)
153 votes total Vote Now