Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen! The 2018-19 NHL season is finally here, and with that brings the first week of our weekly Metropolitan update from PensBurgh.
The Capitals topped their annual Metropolitan Division banner with a different kind of banner last year. I’m sure that a reminder of which one I’m referring to is unnecessary, so I’ll just leave it at that. It looks like it’s going to be another race between Pittsburgh and Washington for the division winner, but nothing is guaranteed, just like the Devils surprise successful season last year. Be sure to check back here every Monday for the weekly recaps of the Metro.
Last year was another rollercoaster season for the Metro. The Rangers’ fall from grace landed them in last place in the division, and the team finally moved on from the Alain Vigneault era. The Islanders gave up nearly 300 goals, and the John Tavares era reached its much debated end. The Hurricanes continued to be below average, but now have a more hands-on owner who may bring change to their franchise’s identity.
None of those teams qualified for the playoffs, but it’s a new year, and anything could happen from now until April.
The Devils and Jackets finished as the Wild Cards with 97 points, squeaking by the Panthers with 96. The Flyers finished as the third seed with 98 points, thanks in large part to their affinity for the OTL, having the most in the NHL with 14. Meanwhile, the Penguins finished with an even 100 points, and the Capitals rounded out the Metro with a total of 105. Will the Metro be represented by five teams again this season? Will 97 points be the cut-off again? Time will tell, and every point will matter in the end.
1-1-0; 2 pts; 8 Goals For, 11 Goals Against
The Penguins opened this year at home against the Capitals with a thrilling up and down game that was torturous for both fans and goalies in the Penguins’ 7-6 OT win Thursday night. The Pens then went on to lay an early season egg at home against the Montreal Canadiens. The Penguins’ 11 goals surrendered in two games is only better than the Rangers’ 14 in three games for worst in the Metro right now, but Mike Sullivan and Co. will not allow this trend to continue. Not the best start already, but losing to the Capitals may have brought out some early season torches. The Penguins didn’t start too hot last year, either, but still finished with 100 points.
Everyone’s favorite former Penguins player in the NHL will be in town this Thursday for his second game ever in Pittsburgh playing against Pittsburgh. Of course I’m referring to Marc-Andre Fleury and the Vegas Golden Knights. It probably won’t be as emotional as last game (*DUST WARNING*), but emotions will still be high, and it may be another dusty night at the Paint Can again when they square off Thursday night. The Penguins will then get a chance at redemption against the Canadiens on Saturday night in Montreal in their first road game of the year. The workload is somewhat light for the Pens in the first several weeks, as they only have two games per week for the first three weeks before heading out to western Canada on October 23.
PIT: 7 OT
Letang pushes Pittsburgh past Washington 7-6 (OT) in track meet
Listless Pens fall
Thursday, October 11 - vs. VGK, 7 p.m. ET
Saturday, October 13 - @ MTL, 7 p.m.
(1) Carolina Hurricanes
2-0-1, 5 pts; 12 GF, 8 GA
The Hurricanes got off to a great start, their best in Carolina history as a matter of fact, and hold down first place in the Metro at the end of the first week. The Hurricanes tied the Islanders in their season opener with a late goal from Jordan Staal before losing in OT, but managed to get that infamous Bettman Point. The Canes followed that game up with a solid win in Columbus behind a strong performance by waiver pickup Curtis McElhinney, making 31 saves against the team he played four seasons with. The Canes finished their week up with an up and down game against the Rangers, winning 8-5 in a contest where Andrei Svechnikov scored his first career goal — the game winner. They haven’t been this excited for hockey in Carolina in some time.
The Canes will play their fourth game in six days when the Vancouver Canucks are in Raleigh on Tuesday night. The Canes then start a road trip north through Minnesota and Winnipeg before facing off in Tampa next Tuesday — the Canes third game in four days — because the NHL isn’t very logical sometimes. The Canes are in first place in the Metro after one week, and will look to be doing everything they can to stay in contention this season.
NYI: 2 OT
Thomas Greiss Spoils Hurricanes’ Opening Night In 2-1 Overtime Loss
Brind’Amour, Hurricanes Propelled by McElhinney to First Win of the Season
Svechnikov makes his first goal count in wild Hurricanes win
Tuesday, October 9 - vs VAN, 7 p.m.
Saturday, October 13 - @ MIN, 6 p.m.
Sunday, October 14 - @ WIN, 7 p.m.
- 9/12/18, C Victor Rask - IR; Hand
- 9/29/18, G Scott Darling - IR; Lower-body injury
(2) Washington Capitals
1-0-1, 3 pts; 13 GF, 7 GA
The Capitals got about as good a start as they could have hoped for when Boston came to town on Wednesday, with a complete drumming of the Bruins 7-0. They then tied the game at six late the following night in Pittsburgh, before losing in OT in an intense and action-packed early season game. Their 13 goals in two games are by far the most in the NHL, and they appear to have the firepower to stay in first, but 6.5 goals-per-game obviously isn’t likely in this NHL’s day and age.
Everyone’s favorite former Penguins player in the NHL will be in town on Wednesday in an early season rematch of last year’s Stanley Cup Final. Marc-Andre Fleury and Vegas play the Penguins in Pittsburgh the following night, and Flower is unlikely to start in both, and will likely get the nod against the Capitals on Wednesday in front of a national audience. The Capitals then face division foe New Jersey in New Jersey the following night before returning home against the Maple Leafs on Saturday. That’s three games in four days for the Capitals, against three teams that aren’t pushovers.
Washington Raises Banner, Crushes Bruins 7-0 in Title Defense Opener
PIT: 7 OT
Barn Burner Benefits Both But Pens Beats Caps in Overtime
Wednesday, October 10 - vs VGK, 8 p.m.
Thursday, October 11 - @ NJD, 7 p.m.
Saturday, October 13 - vs TOR, 7 p.m.
- 9/26/18, D Michal Kempny - IR; concussion
- 9/26/18, C Travis Boyd - IR; Lower-body injury
- 10/3/18, RW Tom Wilson - Suspended
(3) New Jersey Devils
1-0-0, 2 pts; 5 GF, 2 GA
The Devils were elected to start this year in Gothenberg, Sweden as part of the NHL’s Global Series, facing off against the Edmonton Oilers. The Devils may have earned themselves some new Swedish fans, as they handled Connor McDavid and the Oilers in a 5-2 victory. While being in Sweden for the regular season may not sound like a good idea to start so far away, the Devils schedule in October consists of seven home games and two road games, with the second road game on October 30 in Tampa. The Devils don’t play again until Thursday at home against the Capitals, and will only play two games in nine days to start their season. The Devils should have plenty of time to adjust from traveling overseas to begin this season.
Palmieri, Zajac, and New Jersey Devils Decisively Defeated Edmonton Oilers in Sweden
Thursday, October 11 - vs WSH, 7 p.m.
Sunday, October 14 - vs SJS, 1 p.m.
- 9/12/18, G Cory Schneider - IR; Hip
- 10/4/18, LW Jesper Bratt - IR; Broken jaw
(4) New York Islanders
1-1-0, 2 pts; 5 GF, 5 GA
The John Tavares-less Islanders ushered in their new era by naming Anders Lee as their new captain prior to their season beginning. I’m sure the Isles are looking forward to moving past all the Tavares drama the last few years and just play hockey again. They opened the season with an OT win in Carolina before losing to the Nashville Predators in their home opener at Barclays Center on Saturday. Matthew Barzal had a goal and an assist in that loss against Nashville, and is now most likely the de facto face of the franchise.
October is not going to be very kind to the Islanders. The Isles will play the Sharks in a Monday afternoon matinee on Columbus Day before flying to Nashville on Saturday, and then swing out west for the California trip next week. The Isles will then play one home game before starting off another three-game road trip against Metropolitan foes. That adds up to 11 total games — three home and eight road — to begin the season. If the Islanders struggle on the road this month, they may be playing catch up in the Metro the entire season.
NYI: 2 OT
45 saves for Greiss sets up Isles win
Good effort, mistaken result
Monday, October 8 - vs SJS, 1 p.m.*
Saturday, October 13 - @ NSH, 8 p.m.
- 9/15/18, LW Andrew Ladd - IR; Upper-body injury
- 10/2/18, C John Stevens - IR; Undisclosed
- 10/2/18, LW Matt Lorito - IR; Undisclosed
(5) Philadelphia Flyers
1-1-0, 2 pts; 7 GF, 7 GA
The Flyers started off their 2018-19 campaign on the road with two games against Vegas and Colorado. The Flyers chased Marc-Andre Fleury in Vegas in a 5-2 victory, before suffering a 5-2 loss two days later in Colorado. The Flyers will play their home opener on Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks before traveling to Ottawa the following night. The Flyers will then get the Knights season series over early, as they will have a rematch in Philly on Saturday afternoon.
The rumors of Brian Elliott’s demise have been greatly exaggerated
The one where no one has any idea what goaltender interference looks like
Tuesday, October 9 - vs SJS, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, October 10 - @ OTT, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 13 - vs VGK; 1 p.m.
- 9/19/18, G Alex Lyon - IR; Lower-body injury
- 9/20/18, G Michal Neuvirth - IR; Groin
- 9/27/18, C Pascal Laberge - IR; Hip
- 9/27/18, C Corban Knight - IR; Upper-body injury
- 10/1/18, D Samuel Morin - IR; Knee
- 10/5/18, LW James van Riemsdyk - Day-to-day; Lower-body injury
(6) Columbus Blue Jackets
1-1-0, 2 pts; 4 GF, 5 GA
The Blue Jackets began their season against longtime foe Detroit in Detroit. Columbus started Joonas Korpisalo surprisingly, although it did play its home opener the following night and were likely saving Bob for its home fans. Korpisalo got the win, but didn’t require a ton of work as the ‘Wings finished with 20 shots on goal in a game that went into OT. Despite the Jackets saving Bobrovsky for the Hurricanes and his 30 save effort, the offense got shut down, and they dropped their home opener 3-1 to the Hurricanes.
The Jackets will host the Avalanche on Tuesday night before flying down to Florida to take on the Panthers and Lightning this week.
CBJ: 3 OT
Get off on the right foot
Jackets Fall Flat on Second Game of Back-to-Back
Tuesday, October 9 - vs COL, 7 p.m.
Thursday, October 11 - @ FLA, 7 p.m.
Saturday, October 13 - @ TBL, 7 p.m.
- 9/24/18, D Seth Jones - IR; Knee
- 9/27/18, D Scott Harrington - IR; Concussion
(8) New York Rangers
0-3-0, 0 pts; 8 GF, 14 GA
The Rangers started their 2018-19 campaign similar to how last year’s ended: losing. They dropped their home opener against Nashville 3-2, before falling back-to-back days in Buffalo and Carolina, losing those games 3-1 and 8-5 respectively. Eight goals in three games isn’t so bad, but 14 goals allowed in three games isn’t going win very many contests. The Rangers have a light workload with only two home games this week and only those two games in the next eight days. New coach David Quinn is still winless in his short coaching career, but has some time to get his coaching philosophies ingrained in his player’s minds. It could be a very long year in the Big Apple.
Rangers Fall to Predators 3-2 in Home Opener
Carter Hutton Shuts Down Rangers for Second Straight Loss
Thursday, October 11 - vs SJS, 7 p.m.
Saturday, October 13 - vs EDM, 1 p.m.
- 9/23/18, LW Matt Beleskey - IR; Shoulder
- 10/2/18, C Ben Nieves - IR; Concussion
- Standings via NHL.com as of 10/7/18
- Injuries via hockey-reference as of 10/7/18
Which Metropolitan game is the most intriguing?
This poll is closed
10.10.18 - VGK @ WSH, 8 p.m. ET; NBCSN
10.11.18 - VGK @ PIT, 7 p.m.
10.11.18 - WSH @ NJD, 7 p.m.
10.13.18 - VGK @ PHI, 1 p.m.
10.13.18 - TOR @ WSH, 7 p.m.; NHLN
10.13.18 - PIT @ MTL, 7 p.m.