Another week gone by in the Metropolitan Division, another leader at the top of the rankings. Columbus has taken over the reins this week with a four game point streak, going 2-0-2, and a one point lead over the rest of the Metro Division. Sergei Bobrovsky has been rounding back into form the last several weeks, allowing only one goal in four out of his last five appearances. If the Jackets want to remain in first place, Bobrovsky will likely have to keep up that consistency he’s shown the last few weeks.
The rest of the division has been somewhat surprising. It’s still early and the top seven teams are separated by only 3 points. The two New York teams have been an unexpected story while Philadelphia has recently warmed up and is now in second place. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh and Washington have struggled to consistently play to the level many predicted they would out of the gates. Pittsburgh and Washington have identical 7-5-3 records through 15 games and while both teams have lit the lamp plenty, both are also conceding almost equally as many goals. Carolina and New Jersey started out on fire, but have since bowed out and are currently at the bottom of the Metro. It’s shaping up to be a very similar season as the last few, with teams going neck-and-neck the entire year. One extended winning or losing streak could be the difference this year when the dust settles.
The Penguins finally ended a five game skid with a satisfying 4-0 shutout over the Arizona Coyotes in Pittsburgh, where the Penguins have been unusually below average this season. Two weeks ago, the Penguins were alone in first place. The Penguins then slid as low as 7th during that losing streak, and things were starting to appear pretty bleak. However, Casey DeSmith has been one of the few pleasant stories out of Pittsburgh this season. He got the nod against bitter rival Washington on Wednesday, and played well enough to get the win but was out-dueled by Braden Holtby at the other end of the ice. DeSmith then got his second start in a row against Arizona and went on to earn his second shutout of the season. For whatever reason, the team seems to be playing better with DeSmith in net, so watch for head coach Mike Sullivan to keep starting DeSmith as long as that trend continues. The Penguins will travel to New Jersey on Tuesday night before returning home to play Tampa Bay on Thursday. The Penguins will wrap this week up in Ottawa on Saturday night.
Two weeks ago, Philadelphia was playing like one of the worst teams in the NHL. Since the Flyers hit the road to California at the end of October, the Flyers have gone 5-0-1 and have shown they can, indeed, make saves and play solid team defense. The Flyers are still 28th in GAA, but are trending the right direction and are coming off a shutout against the Blackhawks on Saturday afternoon. Two coaches have already been fired in the NHL this year, and head coach Dave Hakstol must have been feeling the pressure to succeed because his name is likely on the list of current coaches on the bubble. The Flyers still have issues to fix, but must be feeling much better about themselves sitting in second place in the Metro after such a rocky start. The Flyers wrap up a 5-game home stand this week before flying out to Buffalo next week.
The Islanders hit a bit of a rough patch after leading the Metro last week. The Isles went winless this week but are still a much harder team to score against this season and have the third lowest GAA in the NHL. It seemed like all the talking heads recently have been pointing out the Islanders’ high shooting percentage and surprisingly high save percentage (that combined number is known as PDO) and are predicting an inevitable decline which will equal more losses. The Islanders do have the second highest PDO in the NHL behind league-leading Nashville, but until that decline happens, the Islanders will continue to defy expectations. The Islanders have a light schedule this week with only two home games against Vancouver and long time rival Rangers on Tuesday and Thusday this week.
The Rangers have seemingly come out of nowhere and went 3-0-1 this week and 5-0-1 in the last six games. That could have been a perfect 6-0 but the Rangers did allow the Red Wings to score three straight goals in the 3rd period and overtime to drop that game. The competition was somewhat weak for the Rangers this week, but their opponents were likely thinking the same thing about them. First year head coach David Quinn has yet to get many of his talented young players make that leap to the next level in the NHL. There have been a few bright spots - Brett Howden, Neal Pionk and Tony DeAngelo to name a few - for the Rangers youth movement this season, but expectations were higher for some of the other top end talent in NYC. If the Rangers get production from one or more of those prospects, the Rangers may be able to surprise some folks.
The Capitals won back-to-back games for the first time this year with wins over Edmonton and Pittsburgh before falling to division rival Columbus behind a strong effort by Sergei Bobrovsky. Alex Ovechkin is off to one of his best starts of his career with 12 goals and 18 points in 15 games. Braden Holtby has stepped his game up recently and was the difference in Wednesday’s win over Pittsburgh. The Capitals play Arizona this evening to wrap up a five game home stand before playing three games in three cities and two countries in four days. The four game road trip will then head back across the US/Canada border a second time when the Capitals are in Montreal next week.
Carolina finally got one in the win column against Chicago to wrap up a 1-2-1 road trip through the West and Central Divisions. The Hurricanes fired 52 shots on goal against the Red Wings but couldn’t get one more past Detroit netminder Jonathan Bernier in a 4-3 shootout loss. The Hurricanes are 1-4-2 in their last seven games and have not looked very good in those games. Carolina has the 28th ranked power play and 29th ranked penalty kill in the NHL. It’s hard to win games when losing the special team battle each night. The Canes will also have a light week this week when they host Chicago on Monday night and Columbus on Saturday night.
New Jersey finally won a road game this season, and of course it came against Pittsburgh. The Devils were then demolished by Ottawa and Toronto by a combined 13-4 in the two games. New Jersey is now 1-6 on the road (compared to 5-1-1 at home), getting outscored 34-17 in those seven games. The Devils wrap up their 7 game road trip this evening in Winnipeg before returning home to face the Penguins on Tuesday night. The Devils then head right back out to face Philadelphia on Thursday before returning home for a home game against Detroit on Saturday and a road game in Raleigh next Sunday. The way things are going for New Jersey lately, there’s a good chance they’ll be stuck in last place for a while.
As always, thanks for checking in this week and don’t forget to vote for game of the week at the end!
7-5-3; 17 pts; 51 Goals For (T-14th in the NHL; 10th last week); 47 Goals Against (9th in the NHL; T-14th last week)
1-2 record last week
Boyle’s hat trick sinks Pittsburgh
Capitals Get Late Goal to Eke Out Win Over Penguins
DeSmith shuts out Arizona as Pens break losing streak
Tuesday, November 13 - @ NJD, 7 p.m. ET
Thursday, November 15 - vs TBL, 7 p.m.
Saturday, November 17 - @ OTT, 7 p.m.
- 10/13/18, D Justin Schultz - IR; fractured leg
- 10/26/18, C Derick Brassard - IR; Lower-body injury
(1) Columbus Blue Jackets
9-6-2, 20 pts; 56 GF (T-7th; 11th); 58 GA (26th; 25th)
1-2 record last week
ANA: 3 OT
Blue Jackets Squeeze a Point from Anaheim in 3-2 Overtime Loss
Dallas Stars at Columbus Blue Jackets
Power Play, Bobrovsky Shine in 2-1 Win Over Washington
NYR: 5 SO
Fun with backup goaltenders
Monday, November 12 - @ DAL, 8:30 p.m.
Thursday, November 15 - vs FLA, 7 p.m.
Saturday, November 17 - @ CAR, 7 p.m.
(2) Philadelphia Flyers
9-7-1, 19 pts; 57 GF (6th; 12th); 60 GA (T-27th; 29th)
3-0 record last week
Closing out strong
PHI: 5 OT
Gostisbehere scores OT winner as Flyers down Coyotes
Tuesday, November 13 - vs FLA, 7 p.m.
Thursday, November 15 - vs NJD, 7 p.m.
Saturday, November 17 - vs TBL, 1 p.m.
- 9/27/18, C Pascal Laberge - IR; Hip
- 10/1/18, D Samuel Morin - IR; Knee
- 10/5/18, LW James van Riemsdyk - IR; Lower-body injury
- 10/21/18, LW Michael Raffl - IR; Lower-body injury
- 10/26/18, C Corban Knight - IR; Dislocated collarbone
- 11/2/18, G Michal Neuvirth - Day-to-day; Undisclosed injury
(3) New York Islanders
8-6-2, 18 pts; 49 GF (T-19th; T-13th); 42 GA (T-5th; T-2nd)
0-2-1 record last week
MTL: 4 SO
Poor job protecting a lead foils win streak
Late goal costs Isles at least a point
Another blown lead in Florida
Tuesday, November 13 - vs VAN, 7 p.m.
Thursday, November 15 - vs NYR, 7 p.m.
- 10/2/18, C John Stevens - IR; Undisclosed
- 10/2/18, LW Matt Lorito - IR; Undisclosed
- 11/2/18, LW Matt Martin - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury
(4) New York Rangers
8-7-2, 18 pts; 50 GF (T-25th; 28th); 54 GA (T-23rd; T-20th)
3-0-1 record last week
Lundqvist Steals Win From Sabres with 39 Saves
Four Unanswered Goals Propel Blueshirts to Fourth Win In A Row
DET: 3 OT
Rangers Win Streak Ends with 3-2 Loss in Detroit
NYR: 5 SO
Rangers Top Jackets, Remain Undefeated in Shootout
Monday, November 12 - vs VAN, 7 p.m.
Thursday, November 15 - @ NYI, 7 p.m.
Saturday, November 17 - vs FLA, 7 p.m.
- 10/24/18, D Adam McQuaid - IR; Lower-body injury
- 11/7/18, RW Mats Zuccarello - Day-to-day; Groin
(6) Washington Capitals
7-5-3, 17 pts; 53 GF (T-11th; T-6th); 52 GA (T-18th; T-23rd)
2-1 record last week
McDavid Strikes, But Ovechkin Conquers as Washington Rolls 4-2
Unstoppable Oshie Wills Washington to Last-Minute Win 2-1
All About the Power as the Caps Fall 2-1
Sunday, November 11 - vs ARI, 5 p.m.
Tuesday, November 13 - @ MIN, 8 p.m.
Wednesday, November 14 - @ WPG, 8 p.m.
Friday, November 16 - @ COL, 9 p.m.
- 10/3/18, RW Tom Wilson - Suspended
- 10/30/18, D Brooks Orpik - IR; Lower-body injury
- 11/8/18, D John Carlson - Day-to-day; Lower-body injury
(7) Carolina Hurricanes
7-7-3, 17 pts; 47 GF (T-22nd; T-13th); 52 GA (T-18th; T-17th)
1-1-1 record last week
First-Period Trouble Sends Canes to 5th Straight Loss
Hurricanes Survive Comeback Bid, Beat Blackhawks to End Losing Streak
DET: 4 SO
A Deflating Shootout Loss
Monday, November 12 - vs CHI, 7 p.m.
Saturday, November 17 - vs CBJ, 7 p.m.
- 9/12/18, C Victor Rask - IR; Hand
- 11/2/18, G Petr Mrazek - Day-to-day; Lower-body injury
(8) New Jersey Devils
6-7-1, 13 pts; 43 GF (T-26th; T-27th); 49 GA (T-13th; T-6th)
1-2 record last week
Brian Boyle’s Hat Trick Led New Jersey Devils 5-1 Beatdown of Pittsburgh Penguins
New Jersey Devils Shamefully Collapse in 3-7 Loss to Ottawa Senators
The Compete Sucked: New Jersey Devils Routed in 1-6 Loss to Toronto Maple Leafs
Sunday, November 11 - @ WPG, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, November 13 - vs PIT, 7 p.m.
Thursday, November 15 - @ PHI, 7 p.m.
Saturday, November 17 - vs DET, 1 p.m.
- 10/19/18, D Steven Santini - IR; Broken jaw
Which Metropolitan game is the most intriguing?
This poll is closed
11.13.18 - PIT @ NJD, 7 p.m. ET
11.14.18 - WSH @ WPG, 8 p.m.
11.15.18 - TBL @ PIT, 7 p.m.
11.15.18 - NYR @ NYI, 7 p.m.
11.15.18 - NJD @ PHI, 7 p.m.
11.17.18 - TBL @ PHI, 1 p.m.
11.17.18 - CBJ @ CAR, 7 p.m.