In case anyone forgot, the Flyers were leading the Metropolitan Division in the last recap and were riding high on a 6 game win streak. The Flyers lead didn’t last much longer, as the Capitals won that day and have retaken the lead since then. It was another not so great week for the Metro, which was good news for the Pens, as only the Capitals, Hurricanes, and (surprise!) Rangers had winning weeks this week. The top 3 in the Metro will likely we battling each other until the very end, which should lead to a very exciting finish this year. The Panthers have also caught fire and are now fighting for a Wild Card berth. The Metro may not be sending 5 teams to the playoffs this year after all.
After the great news that the Pens had traded for Brassard, Pens fans were greeted with bad news that Matt Murray was out with a concussion and recent rookie call-up Zach Aston-Reese had been injured as well. Aston-Reese has no timetable for return, while Matt Murray has been said to be out indefinitely. The results of those injuries brought back painful memories of the beginning of this season when the Penguins were getting blown out of the water and showed no fight some nights. It’s not going to get any easier, but having Evgeni Malkin playing some of the best hockey of his life certainly helps. The 31 year old Russian is now up to 2nd in the NHL in points, with 51 (27 goals, 24 assists) points in his last 33 games. As only Evgeni Malkin can do, he also has 35 PIM in those 33 games and is now up to 59 PIM in 62 games, slightly down from his usual PIM numbers. Keep your fingers crossed that he will start to become more disciplined in these final 20 games leading into the playoffs. The Pens cooled off after their stretch of dominant play, and have a massive game Wednesday night against the Flyers. Get your popcorn ready!
The Capitals ended their week on a high note in the Stadium Series outdoor game against the Maple Leafs. Their big named players all played a big part in a big game for the Capitals. Alex Ovechkin scored his NHL leading 40th goal of the season in that game, and he’s looking like he is going to bring home another Rocket Richard Trophy this year to add to his 6 already. Just another ridiculous year for the 32 year old Russian. Braden Holtby, however, has not been up to his usual standards. He’s looked very average for the Capitals. Not that there’s much room to talk coming from a Pens fan, but his .908 sv % and 3.00 GAA are far higher than his usual Vezina worthy numbers. Before winning in the outdoor game on Saturday, Holtby had lost 6 in a row, while allowing 4 or more goals in 5 out of the 6 games and 3+ goals in all 6 losses. Despite that, the Capitals are still in first place, although not comfortably like the Caps have been used to by this time of year the last few seasons. If Holtby were to catch fire at the right time, the Caps could win another Metropolitan Division Championship, for what it’s worth.
The Flyers capped off their 6 game win streak by losing 3 straight, including losing a wild shootout game to the Tampa Bay Lightning, despite leading 5-3 in the 3rd period. Recent acquisition Petr Mrazek looked sharp in his first 3 games with the Flyers, but has given up 10 goals in the last two games, both losses. As mentioned earlier, the game against the Penguins on Wednesday looms large, but the Flyers also have several tough tests to round out this week, also. The Flyers play the Bruins in Boston on Thursday before facing a tough and skilled Jets team for a Saturday matinee in Philly. It’s going to be a tough battle in all those games for the Flyers, who are likely already exceeding most people’s expectations for this season for them. The Flyers-Pens rivalry should be fully ignited by the time all is said and done Wednesday night.
The Devils got some good news and relief with news that Cory Schneider is back from injury. The bad news for the Devils is that they are 2-5 in the last 7 games and haven’t scored more than 3 goals in a game since February 17th. The Devils were in first place for nearly half of the year, but are now trying to hold on to a Wild Card spot. They sit in WC1 position right now, but can’t be comfortable in that spot with the way the team has played lately. Fortunately for the Devils, the Jackets and Canes have been struggling as well. The Devils are also fortunate to have some guy named Taylor Hall. He’s kinda good at that hockey thing.
Taylor Hall of the @NJDevils is the eighth different player in the last 30 years (since 1987-88) to record at least one point in 25+ consecutive appearances. #NHLStats #VGKvsNJD pic.twitter.com/WqOql2czY3— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 4, 2018
As I mentioned above, the Panthers have been on a roll lately. Meanwhile, the fans appear to be throwing in the towel in Columbus. The Jackets tried their hardest to improve their team at the deadline, and aren’t dead in the water just yet. With a win late Sunday night, they reclaimed the WC2 spot, but the Panthers do have 3 games in hand. It may not be over just yet in Columbus, but their offense is ranked 27th and Artemi Panarin can only carry the Jackets so far. Bobrovsky has been playing well lately, but the Jackets will need their recent trades to turn into miracles to be a threat in the playoffs, or even make the playoffs.
It’s hard to overlook the Hurricanes, but they still have a chance to make the playoffs. That’s due in large part to their 11 OTL this year. The OTL column can be the difference between the playoffs and not making it, and only the Flyers have as many as the Hurricanes. The Canes did just have a decent week, but are going to need great play from here on out to make the playoffs.
The Rangers were very up front and public about the rebuild that was about to happen in NYC. Somehow, Henrik missed that memo about rebuilding. He’s not sure if they got his memo that the Rangers are still his team, and he’s not going to roll over any time soon. He has been doing everything in his power to win, becoming the first goalie ever to win back-to-back games with 50 or more saves. It’s fun to poke fun at him, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a great goaltender. Enjoy these times while they last, Rangers fans. I wouldn’t expect too many 3 game win streaks in the near future for the Rangers.
The Islanders are trying to show the Rangers how to lose the right way. It doesn’t matter who’s in net for the Isles, chances are they aren’t going to stop many shots. The Isles have now lost 6 in a row, and are now tied with the last place Rangers. The John Tavares rumors are only going to get bigger and bigger until a resolution is announced, and if the team continues to fall lower, the more negative the rumors will become. Just like the Jackets, the Isles aren’t eliminated yet, but it looks like they can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
As always folks, thanks for stopping by again this week. Don’t forget to check back next week, and also to vote for game of the week! I’m pretty sure it’s going to be an easy choice this time. And of course, stay classy, PensBurgh!
37-25-4, 78 pts; 215 GF (5th in the NHL; 6th last week) / 200 GA (23rd; 20th)
1-2 record last week
Devils Knock Off Penguins to Remain in Tight Playoff Race
Beantown Beatdown. Bruins Score 8 to Dismantle Penguins.
PIT: 3 OT
Penguins End 3-Game Skid With 3-2 OT Win
Monday March 5 - vs CGY, 7 PM ET
Wednesday March 7 - @ PHI, 8 PM
Saturday March 10 - @ TOR, 7 PM
Sunday March 11 - vs DAL, 7:30 PM
- 2/25/18, G Matt Murray - Day-to-day; Concusion
37-21-7, 81 pts; 203 GF (9th) / 193 GA (18th; 17th)
2-0 record last week
Kuznetsov, Grubauer Lift Washington
*2018 NHL Stadium Series in Annapolis, MD*
Stars Star Under the Stars, Caps Win 5-2
Tuesday March 6 - @ ANA, 10 PM
Thursday March 8 - @ LAK, 10:30 PM
Saturday March 10 - @ SJS, 4 PM
34-21-11, 79 pts; 197 GF (12th; 10th) / 193 GA (12th)
0-2-1 record last week
So this is what losing feels like again
TBL: 7 SO
Why do we have the shootout again?
So let’s never do that again
Wednesday March 7 - vs PIT, 8 PM
Thursday March 8 - @ BOS, 7 PM
Saturday March 10 - vs WPG, 1 PM
- 10/3/17, RW Colin McDonald - IR; Lower-body injury
- 2/10/18, G Brian Elliott - IR; Core muscle surgery
- 2/18/18, G Michal Neuvirth - IR; Lower-body injury
- 2/19/18, RW Wayne Simmonds - IR; Upper-body injury
- 3/3/18, D Andrew MacDonald - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury
(4)New Jersey Devils
33-25-8, 74 pts; 193 GF (16th; 13th) / 199 GA (21st)
1-3 record last week
New Jersey Devils Tipped Pittsburgh Penguins in 3-2 Victory
New Jersey Devils Held in Check by Florida Panthers in 2-3 Loss
New Jersey Devils Smothered by Carolina Hurricanes in 1-3 Loss
Taylor Hall Can’t Do It All; New Jersey Devils Dropped by Vegas Golden Knights
Tuesday March 6 - vs MTL, 7 PM
Thursday March 8 - vs WPG, 7 PM
Saturday March 10 - @ NSH, 8 PM
- 1/20/18, LW Brian Gibbons - IR; Thumb
- 1/23/18, LW Marcus Johansson - IR; Concussion
(5)Columbus Blue Jackets
32-28-5, 69 pts; 172 GF (27th; 28th) / 194 GA (11th; 9th)
1-2 record last week
Blue Jackets Can’t Hold Early Lead in 5-2 Loss to Los Angeles
The End of the Season
Tuesday March 6 - vs VGK, 7 PM
Thursday March 8 - vs COL, 7 PM
Friday March 9 - vs DET, 7 PM
- 2/16/18, D Markus Nutivaara - IR; Undisclosed injury
- 2/18/18, D Dean Kukan - IR; Upper-body injury
29-26-11, 69 pts; 176 GF (25th; 27th) / 198 GA (19th; 22nd)
2-1-1 record last week
BOS: 4 OT
Hurricanes earn a point, but losing streak continues in OTL to Bruins
Hurricanes Snap Losing Streak with 4-1 Win over Flyers
Teravainen, Ward Lift Hurricanes over Devils, 3-1
Odd bounces, tentative shooting doom Canes in 3-2 loss to Jets
Tuesday March 6 - @ MIN, 8 PM
Thursday March 7 - @ CHI, 8:30 PM
- 2/28/18, LW Joakim Nordstrom - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury
(7)New York Rangers
30-30-6, 66 pts; 189 GF (17th; 18th) / 209 GA (25th)
3-0 record last week
NYR: 6 OT
No recap. Too many trades to recap at this point in time for the Rangers.
Henrik the Anti-Tank Engine Keeps On Puffing Along
Sweeping the Tank?
Tuesday March 6 - vs WPG, 7 PM
Thursday March 8 - @ TBL, 7:30 PM
Saturday March 10 - @ FLA, 7 PM
- 1/18/18, D Kevin Shattenkirk - IR; Torn meniscus
- 2/8/18, G Ondrej Pavelec - IR; Sprained MCL
- 2/11/18, D Steven Kampfer - IR; Fractured hand
(8)New York Islanders
29-29-8, 66 pts; 213 GF (6th; 5th) / 237 GA (31st)
0-2-1 record last week
4th straight loss darkens fading hopes
Taking yet another L
PIT: 3 OT
Gibson’s effort not enough
Monday March 5 - @ VAN, 10 PM
Thursday March 8 - @ EDM, 9 PM
Sunday March 11 - @ CGY, 7 PM
- 11/6/17, LW Nikolay Kulemin - IR; Upper-body injury
- 12/16/17, D Calvin de Haan - IR; Upper-body injury
- 1/18/18, LW Shane Prince - IR; Upper-body injury
- 2/6/18, D Scott Mayfield - IR; Lower-body injury
- 2/16/18, G Thomas Greiss - IR; Lower-body inury
- 2/22/18, C Alan Quine - IR; Lower-body injury
Which Metropolitan game is the most intriguing?
This poll is closed
3/7/18 - PIT @ PHI, 8 PM ET; NBCSN
3/8/17 - PHI @ BOS, 7 PM; NHL-N
3/10/18 - PIT @ TOR, 7 PM; NHL-N