Well, this isn’t good folks. The Penguins are in a total free-fall right now and are losers in 8 out of their last 9 games. Even after getting called out in the media and making a trade to prove his point, the team lost all three games this week and GM Jim Rutherford’s blood is boiling at an even higher temperature. To make matters worse, captain Sidney Crosby is currently on the shelf with an upper-body injury. The Penguins are closer to a lottery draft pick than the NHL playoffs at this point. They currently sit last in the Metropolitan Division and are at the bottom of the standings in the Eastern Conference. Are even bigger moves on the horizon? If Jim Rutherford was upset last week, he’s got to be irate by now. That spells trouble for everyone on this roster not named Evgeni, Sidney, Phil or Kris.
It seems like neither Matt Murray or Casey DeSmith have the ability to make a big save to bail out the team and all around poor play in front of them is dooming this team. There are few, if any, bright spots on the team this year. The core four (87, 71, 81, 58) have impressive box cars and are leading the team, but those numbers fall off a cliff after those four. It’s been mentioned many times on PensBurgh already, and worth mentioning again - this team needs more secondary scoring. Relying on the same 4 players to win you games isn’t a good enough strategy. Those four players aren’t in their 20s anymore and can no longer carry the full load night in and night out. The defense was supposed to be the best it’s been in some time, but instead has been the biggest problem. I wouldn’t be surprised if GMJR were to make a move to improve the blue line in the very near future.
With four games on tap this week and Thanksgiving on Thursday, the month of November could very well be the reason the Penguins possibly miss the playoffs this year. There is still time to bounce back from this dreadful month, and there are still 6 more games on the schedule. It’s far from over, but things are not looking very promising at the moment. As they say, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. The Penguins have been known to be a much better team in the spring than they are in the fall during The Crosby Era. I have faith that this is going to be the story again this year. The Penguins play four games this week - at home against Buffalo and Dallas on Monday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The Pens will then travel to Boston on Friday before returning home to play Columbus on Saturday night. It’s not going to get any easier for Pittsburgh.
As for the rest of the Metro, the Jackets have been playing their best hockey this month. They are 8-3-2 since the return of Seth Jones and have created some separation atop the division standings. The Jackets haven’t been defeated in regulation since November 3rd in Los Angeles. Sergei Bobrovsky has found his groove and hasn’t allowed more than one goal per game since that loss to LA, winning each game in the process. The Jackets could be the team to beat in the Metro this season. This will be a busy week for the majority of NHL teams, but Columbus got a break and will only play one game in Toronto on Monday before having a three day break for Thanksgiving. The Jackets pick things back up on Friday against Toronto at Nationwide Arena before traveling to Pittsburgh for a Metropolitan clash on Saturday night. Coach John Tortorella and the rest of the Jackets likely have that game circled on their calendar this month.
The Islanders had a light week this week against two weaker opponents on paper. There are no pushovers in the NHL, but Vancouver and the Rangers would be considered over-achieving at this point coming into this year. The Islanders dispelled both teams and scored 12 goals in the process. A quarter of the way into this season and the Islanders look like they could be for real with head coach Barry Trotz calling the shots now. The Islanders have by far the fewest goals allowed and have a goal differential two times the next closest opponent in the Metro. The Islanders play the Stars at Barclays Center this afternoon before playing three Metro opponents in four days and five in a row when the Capitals visit next Monday.
The Rangers have been defying all the “experts” who predicted them to be one of the top contenders for this year’s #1 pick, Jack Hughes. The Rangers are tied with the Islanders for the second most points in the Metro with 22 points in 20 games played. The Rangers are 7-2-1 in their last 10 and are 4-0 in the shootout this year. Nobody knows if they can keep this up this success, but things are going much better for New York than most people expected as Thanksgiving approaches. The other New York team will also play Dallas at home this week before playing three Metro opponents in four days. The Rangers and Flyers will battle on the first NBC televised game this year on Black Friday in the “2018 NHL Thanksgiving Showdown” in Philadelphia at 1 p.m. on Friday. That should be quite an entertaining game, be sure to watch that while your body recovers from the copious amounts of turkey and stuffing from the day before.
The Capitals had another roller coaster week. It started with an ugly loss in DC to the Coyotes last Sunday before the Capitals hit the road to the north. The Capitals rebounded against Minnesota and handed their former bench boss Bruce Boudreau a 5-2 smack down. The following night they crossed the Canadian border to play the Winnipeg Jets that turned into a very ugly 3-1 loss for the Capitals. The Capitals lost Evgeny Kuznetsov and TJ Oshie in that contest to questionable hits, and were also without starting goalie Braden Holtby due to injury. All three of those players were unable to play back in the United States again when the Caps and Avs met in Denver two nights later. Colorado scored one late in the third period to tie it before Nicklas Backstrom won it 20 seconds into overtime. The Capitals aren’t where they want to be in the standings, but have been playing better hockey lately. They fly back into Canada to play the Canadiens on Monday before returning home to play Chicago and Detroit in DC on Wednesday and Thursday before flying out to the Big Apple to play the Rangers in a Saturday matinee at MSG.
The Flyers up-and-down season continues as they followed up a 3-0 week two weeks ago with three straight home losses this week. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but goaltending in Philly has been less than ideal. Their two top goalies are injured currently, and waiver wire pickup Calvin Pickard is now the #1 goalie for the Flyers. The Flyers scored one total goal in two losses against Florida and New Jersey before playing a spirited afternoon game against Tampa Bay. The Flyers heavily outplayed the Lightning through the first 40 minutes but had nothing to show for it but a 3-1 deficit despite out-shooting the Bolts 34-15 through 2 periods. The Lightning appeared to have things wrapped up with two quick goals to make it 5-1 midway through the 3rd period before the Flyers scored four straight goals in just under 6 minutes to tie the game at 5. The game would go into overtime before the Lightning scored in OT to win it 6-5. A valiant effort by the Flyers, but they came up just short to lose their third in a row. The Flyers have a three day break then play in Buffalo on Wednesday before playing the Rangers in the “Thanksgiving Showdown” on NBC mentioned above. The Flyers wrap things up this week in Toronto on Saturday night.
The Hurricanes had two home games this week, and it’s been very quiet out of Raleigh since their hot start. The Canes dropped the Blackhawks in OT on Monday and lost to the Jackets on Saturday. Carolina has the second lowest goals allowed in the Metro, but also have the fewest goals scored as well. Sebastian Aho has been lights out and fellow countryman and line mate Teuvo Teravainen have played well, but the offense in Carolina needs more if they want to work their way up the standings. Michael Ferland is still having a career year, but has slowed down as well since playing at a point-per-game pace to start the season. Goaltending will be the main issue with Carolina, as their trio of goalies have all been unimpressive so far. The Canes will wrap up a 6 game homestand this week with home games against New Jersey, Toronto, and Florida before flying out to Brooklyn to battle Metro opponent Islanders on Saturday.
The New Jersey Devils have had a very similar story as the Hurricanes this season. Both have decent goals against relative to the rest of the Metro, but are also struggling to score goals. Both started out greatly, before crashing back down to earth. The Devils are riding the coattails of Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri - as they go, the Devils go. Keith Kinkaid is still the man between the pipes for New Jersey, even after the return of Cory Schneider. Schneider has started three games and lost each of them while posting a save percentage of .841 and goals against of 4.81. It’s been a rough recovery for Schneider with his injuries the last few years, and it’s clearly taken a toll on his play. If he can recover, however, the Devils may be able to turn their season around. The Devils are playing the aforementioned Hurricanes in Raleigh tonight before sandwiching the Canadiens and Islanders at home around Thanksgiving this week before hitting the road again to close out November where the Devils are currently 2-7 on the road.
As always, thanks for stopping by this week and don’t forget to vote for game of the week!
7-8-3; 17 pts; 60 Goals For (T-16th in the NHL; T-14th last week); 61 Goals Against (T-18th in the NHL; 9th last week)
0-3 record last week
Hall’s four point night sinks Pittsburgh
Penalties cost Penguins big time in 4-3 loss to Lightning.
Quit digging when you hit rock bottom
Monday, November 19 - vs BUF, 7 p.m. ET
Wednesday, November 21 - vs DAL, 7 p.m.
Friday, November 23 - @ BOS, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 24 - vs CBJ, 7 p.m.
- 10/13/18, D Justin Schultz - IR; fractured leg
- 11/13/18, C Sidney Crosby - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury
12-6-2, 26 pts; 69 GF (4th; T-7th); 63 GA (T-22nd; 26th)
3-0 record last week
Big Dust Up in Big D
Minus Key Regulars, Jackets Overcome Early Deficit, Rout Panthers
Atkinson’s Hat Trick Lifts Blue Jackets Over Hurricanes, 4-1
Monday, November 19 - @ TOR, 7 p.m.
Friday, November 23 - vs TOR, 7 p.m.
Saturday, November 24 - @ PIT, 7 p.m.
10-6-2, 22 pts; 61 GF (T-14th; T-19th); 49 GA (T-4th; T-5th)
2-0 record last week
Kuhnhackl magic; Ladd hurt
Beau’s first hat trick spurs big rivalry win
Sunday, November 18 - vs DAL, 1 p.m.
Wednesday, November 21 -@ NYR, 7 p.m.
Friday, November 23 - @ NJD, 4 p.m.
Saturday, November 24 - vs CAR, 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
- 11/13/18, C Casey Cizikas - IR; Lower-body injury
- 11/13/18, LW Andrew Ladd - IR; Right leg
(3) New York Rangers
10-8-2, 22 pts; 61 GF (T-14th; T-25th); 64 GA (T-24th; T-23rd)
2-1 record last week
Rangers Defeat Canucks with Late Goal by Brett Howden
Rangers Rebound with 4-2 Win Over Florida Panthers
Monday, November 19 - vs DAL, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, November 21 - vs NYI, 7 p.m.
Friday, November 23 - @ PHI, 1 p.m.
Saturday, November 24 - vs WSH, 2 p.m.
- 10/24/18, D Adam McQuaid - IR; Lower-body injury
- 11/11/18, RW Pavel Buchnevich - IR; Broken Thumb
- 11/16/18, RW Mats Zuccarello - Day-to-day; Groin
9-7-3, 21 pts; 63 GF (T-11th); 63 GA (T-22nd; T-18th)
2-2 record last week
Arizona Averts Caps’ Comeback Attempt
Wilson Returns and Washington Wins
Winnipeg Wrestles a Win Against Washington
WSH: 3 OT
Washington Strikes in Overtime to Bury Avalanche
Monday, November 19 - @ MTL, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, November 21 - vs CHI, 7 p.m.
Friday, November 23 - vs DET, 4 p.m.
Saturday, November 24 - @ NYR, 2 p.m.
- 10/30/18, D Brooks Orpik - IR; Lower-body injury
- 11/13/18, G Braden Holtby - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury
- 11/13/18, C Evgeny Kuznetsov - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury
- 11/13/18, RW TJ Oshie - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury
9-9-2, 20 pts; 63 GF (T-12th; 6th); 71 GA (29th; T-27th)
0-2-1 record last week
No thank you, Mr. Roberto
Flyers shutout by New Jersey for second straight loss
TBL: 6 OT
What a ride!
Wednesday, November 21 - @ BUF, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, November 23 - vs NYR, 1 p.m.
Saturday, November 24 - @ TOR, 7 p.m.
- 9/27/18, C Pascal Laberge - IR; Hip
- 10/1/18, D Samuel Morin - IR; Knee
- 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 - IR; Undisclosed injury
- 11/15/18, G Brian Elliott - Day-to-day; Lower-body injury
8-8-3, 19 pts; 51 GF (27th; T-13th); 58 GA (T-13th; T-18th)
1-1 record last week
CAR: 3 OT
Canes come back, top Ward, Blackhawks
Blue Jackets Dominate, Pick up 4-1 Win Over Hurricanes
Sunday, November 18 - vs NJD, 5 p.m.
Wednesday, November 21 - vs TOR, 7 p.m.
Friday, November 23 - vs FLA, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 24 - @ NYI, 7 p.m.
- 9/12/18, C Victor Rask - IR; Hand
- 11/2/18, G Petr Mrazek - Day-to-day; Lower-body injury
- 11/11/18, D Brett Pesce - Day-to-day; Lower-body injury
8-8-2, 15 pts; 54 GF (T-23rd; T-26th); 59 GA (16th; T-13th)
2-1-1 record last week
Something’s Gotta Give: Devils Defeated Easily by Jets 2-5.
Kinkaid Reigned in Gutsy New Jersey Devils Shutout Win Over Philadelphia Flyers
DET: 3 OT
What a Stinker: New Jersey Devils Fail in Overtime to Detroit Red Wings
Sunday, November 18 - @ CAR, 5 p.m.
Wednesday, November 21 - vs MTL, 7 p.m.
Friday, November 23 - vs NYI, 4 p.m.
- 10/19/18, D Steven Santini - IR; Broken jaw
- 11/10/18, C Nico Hischier - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury
- 11/10/18, C Brian Boye - IR; Upper-body injury
- 11/14/18, D Sami Vatanen - IR; Lower-body injury
Which Metropolitan game is the most intriguing?
This poll is closed
11.18.18 - NJD @ CAR, 5 p.m. ET
11.21.18 - NYI @ NYR, 7 p.m.
11.23.18 - NYR @ PHI, 1 p.m.
11.23.18 - NYI @ NJD, 4 p.m.
11.23.18 - PIT @ BOS, 7:30 p.m.
11.24.18 - WSH @ NYR, 2 p.m.
11.24.18 - CAR @ NYI, 7 p.m.
11.24.18 - CBJ @ PIT, 7 p.m.