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Keeping up with the Metropolitans: Week 27

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Your weekly dose of Metropolitan action!

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. The 2017-18 NHL regular season has concluded and the Washington Capitals, once again, are Metropolitan Champions. It doesn’t mean much, and I’m sure the Caps fans couldn’t care less at this point, but it’s still an accomplishment that should be recognized.

The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions finished five points behind the Capitals, with an even 100 points for the year. The Penguins finished t-4th in the NHL with Vegas with 272 goals this year, which was the most in the Metro.

I think the most surprising thing about the final standings is that the Pens finished with the highest goal differential despite getting blown out many times at the beginning of the season, including that 10-1 drumming via the Blackhawks. I’m not sure if that says more about the Penguins down the stretch, or the rest of the Metro. The Division isn’t as strong as it was last year with three 50 win teams, but there certainly aren’t going to be any push-overs in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. More on that later.

To start off with the last recap of the season, I’ll begin with the three teams that did not qualify for the playoffs. The Rangers finishing last in the Metro was probably the biggest surprise, although not too many people saw the Devils in the playoffs either. The Rangers have already started their off-season, relieving head coach Alain Vigneault of his duties not long after their loss to the Flyers in their final game.

The Rangers have the potential to make this a turning point in their franchise, as they have seven picks in the first three rounds(three 1st round picks, two 2nd round, two 3rd round) that could land them some important young players as they continue to re-tool their roster. It’s going to be Hank’s team until he calls it quits, but it makes you wonder whether Lundqvist would ask for a trade to a contender at some point before next year’s trade deadline. He still has gas left in the tank, but it doesn’t look like the Rangers are going to be able to contend while Lundqvist can still be a difference maker.

The Islanders will also have a potential franchise changing off-season as the John Tavares Saga plays out. If I were a betting man, I’d put money on him staying with the Islanders for the better part of the next decade, at least. That’s just one of the major story lines with the Isles, as they recently secured a new home at Belmont Park, but will be splitting time between the Barclays Center and their former home, the Nassau Coliseum, for the next three years. With how low their attendance was last year at Barclays, and with the renovated Nassau Coliseum seating 13,500, things aren’t going to be getting any better on the home-front before their already much anticipated move to Belmont.

On the ice, the Islanders gave up an NHL worst 296 goals last season. That was the most goals allowed in the NHL since 2007 when the Flyers gave up a whopping 303 goals, the last time an NHL team gave up 300+ in a year. The Islanders missed that by four goals. There’s a lot of work that needs done in Long Island/Brooklyn.

For the Hurricanes, it was more of the same again this year in the standings. However, there’s a new face to their franchise in team owner Tom Dundon. He’s already (de)promoted former GM Ron Francis to a new role, opening the door for a new GM. He’s said he wants a more direct owner/GM tandem, similar to the way that Mark Cuban runs the Dallas Mavericks. This will definitely be a franchise altering off-season for the Hurricanes.

As for this season, their offense was never enough to carry them to victories, and once again goaltending was a big let down as Scott Darling had a miserable first year with Carolina, winning only 13 games in 40 starts. His other numbers were far from impressive as well, with a goals against of 3.18 and a save percentage of .888 in 43 total games. Cam Ward played better, but his numbers were very average and he becomes an UFA this summer. He’s been in Carolina for a long time, winning a Cup as a rookie with current Penguins GM Jim Rutherford in 2006. With new ownership in town, this looks like it may finally be goodbye to the last piece remaining of that legendary Hurricanes team.

Be sure to check back later this off-season, as I’ll be keeping a watchful eye on all the happenings in the Metro, and I’ll put it together in a nice, little recap again this summer. There’s still some other business to take care of first.


The Contenders

Once again, five teams will be represented by the Metropolitan Division again this spring. The Devils shocked just about everyone but themselves this year, going from 28 wins and the first overall pick last year to 44 wins this year and a playoff berth. They’ll be playing against the Atlantic in the Playoffs, squaring off against the #1 seed in the East, Tampa Bay. The Devils have fared surprisingly well against the Lightning, winning all three games in the regular season between the two teams. Be sure to check by AATJ for their previews and what to watch for in that series.

The Capitals finished first in the Metro again this year, and will have the pleasure of taking on the Blue Jackets in the first round. It’s been a much different year this year for the Capitals this season. Braden Holtby took a big step back compared to his usual self, and T.J. Oshie was much less of a force as he’s been known to be. Their defense had some big shoes to fill, and the results were fairly obvious. Despite all that, the Capitals still finished with 49 wins, and wrapped up the regular season on a roll. Oh yeah, Ovie won another Rocket Richard Trophy again this year, but that bum didn’t even hit 50 goals. #Notimpressed

As for the Blue Jackets and coach Tortorella, they’re in again and the playoffs have become expected of their team now. It wasn’t that long ago that the Blue Jackets finally won their franchise’s first playoff game in overtime against the Penguins. They still haven’t gotten past the first round yet, but they certainly have a chance at doing that against the Capitals this year.

The Jackets were a much different team after the trade deadline. Cam Atkinson and Thomas Vanek had much to do with that along with the strong play of Zach Werenski and Seth Jones. Sergei Bobrovsky was the main catalyst for the Jackets making the cut. He went 10-2-1 since March 1, as the Jackets season was still very much up in the air at that point. If the Jackets are going to knock out the Capitals, they’re going to need him to be his best at all times.

If you’re a fan of low-scoring, low-action, low-aggression hockey, I recommend you don’t watch a single second of the first round matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers. There’s not much that needs to be said about this matchup that hasn’t been said a million times already. These two teams always put on a show, no matter what the stakes are. Put these two together in a best of seven series in the Stanley Cup playoffs and magic happens. The Penguins swept the regular season in the four matchups, but that doesn’t mean much come Game 1. The excitement is already palpable.

LET’S DO THIS!

3ELIEVE!


(2)Pittsburgh Penguins

47-29-6, 100 pts; 272 GF (4th in the NHL; 3rd last week) / 250 GA (20th; 22nd)
2-0 record last week

4/5/18
PIT: 5 OT
CBJ: 4
PHIL THE THRILL BABY

4/6/18
OTT: 0
PIT: 4
Penguins Shut Out Senators to Clinch Home-Ice Advantage

Injuries:

  • 3/17/18, C Carter Rowney - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury
  • 3/27/18, C Derick Brassard - Day-to-day; Groin

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Wednesday April 11 - PHI @ PIT, 7 PM ET; NBCSN

Friday April 13 - PHI @ PIT, 7 PM; NBCSN

Sunday April 15 - PIT @ PHI, 3 PM; NBC

Wednesday April 18 - PIT @ PHI, 7 PM; NBCSN

*Friday April 20 - PHI @ PIT; TBD

*Sunday April 22 - PIT@ PHI; TBD

*Tuesday April 24 - PHI @ PIT; TBD

*If necessary


(1)Washington Capitals

49-26-7, 105 pts; 259 GF (9th; 10th) / 239 GA (15th)
2-1 record last week

4/2/18
WSH: 4
STL: 2
Burakovsky Is Brilliant and Holtby Shines in 4-2 Win

4/5/18
NSH: 4
WSH: 3
Despite Two-Goal Effort By Kuznetsov, Capitals Edged 4-3

4/7/18
NJD: 3
WSH: 5
Playoffs, Baby!

Injuries:

  • 4/1/18, C Jay Beagle - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury

Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Thursday April 12 - CBJ @ WSH, 7:30 PM; USA

Sunday April 15 - CBJ @ WSH, 7:30 PM; NBCSN

Tuesday April 17 - WSH @ CBJ, 7:30 PM; NBCSN

Thursday April 19 - WSH @ CBJ, 7:30 PM; USA

*Saturday April 21 - CBJ @ WSH; TBD

*Monday April 23 - WSH @ CBJ; TBD

*Wednesday, April 25 - CBJ @ WSH; TBD

*If necessary


(3)Philadelphia Flyers

42-26-14, 98 pts; 251 GF (13th) / 243 GA (16th)
2-0-1 record last week

3/3/18
PHI: 3
NYI: 4
Flyers stage furious third period rally, still lose in regulation because Flyers

3/5/18
CAR: 3
PHI: 4
The one where we all became Boston sports fans

3/7/18
NYR: 0
PHI: 5
Flyers shutout Rangers, clinch playoff berth

Injuries:

  • 10/3/17, RW Colin McDonald - IR; Lower-body injury
  • 3/4/18, D Johnny Oduya - Day-to-day; Lower-body injury
  • 3/28/18, G Michal Neuvirth - Day-to-day; Lower-body injury

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Wednesday April 11 - PHI @ PIT, 7 PM ET; NBCSN

Friday April 13 - PHI @ PIT, 7 PM; NBCSN

Sunday April 15 - PIT @ PHI, 3 PM; NBC

Wednesday April 18 - PIT @ PHI, 7 PM; NBCSN

*Friday April 20 - PHI @ PIT; TBD

*Sunday April 22 - PIT@ PHI; TBD

*Tuesday April 24 - PHI @ PIT; TBD

*If necessary


(4)Columbus Blue Jackets

45-30-7, 97 pts; 242 GF (16th) / 230 GA (10th; 9th)
1-1-1 record last week

4/3/18
DET: 4
CBJ: 5 OT
Answered Prayers in Unanswered Goals

4/5/18
PIT: 5 OT
CBJ: 4
Blue Jackets Clinch Playoff Berth in Overtime Loss Versus Penguins

4/7/18
CBJ: 2
NSH: 4
“Blue Jackets” Fall to Predators, 4-2, Draw Washington in First Round

Injuries:

  • 3/21/18, C Lukas Sedlak - Day-to-day; Head
  • 3/24/18, LW Nick Foligno - Day-to-day; Lower-body injury
  • 3/31/18, D Markus Nutivaara - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury

Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Thursday April 12 - CBJ @ WSH, 7:30 PM; USA

Sunday April 15 - CBJ @ WSH, 7:30 PM; NBCSN

Tuesday April 17 - WSH @ CBJ, 7:30 PM; NBCSN

Thursday April 19 - WSH @ CBJ, 7:30 PM; USA

*Saturday April 21 - CBJ @ WSH; TBD

*Monday April 23 - WSH @ CBJ; TBD

*Wednesday, April 25 - CBJ @ WSH; TBD

*If necessary


(5)New Jersey Devils

44-29-9, 97 pts; 248 GF (14th; 13th) / 244 GA (17th)
2-1 record last week

4/3/18
NYR: 2
NJD: 5
Hall, Butcher, & New Jersey Devils Buried Rival New York Rangers, 5-2

4/5/18
TOR: 1
NJD: 2
CLINCHED! The New Jersey Devils Secured First Playoff Spot Since 2012 with 2-1 Win Over Toronto

4/7/18
NJD: 3
WSH: 5
Devils Fall Short of Matching Capitals’ Star Power in 5-3 Defeat

Injuries:

  • 1/23/18, LW Marcus Johansson - Day-to-day; Concussion

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New Jersey Devils

Thursday April 12 - NJD @ TBL, 7 PM; NHL Network

Saturday April 14 - NJD @ TBL, 3 PM; NBC

Monday April 16 - TBL @ NJD, 7:30 PM; CNBC

Wednesday April 18 - TBL @ NJD, 7:30PM, GOLF

*Saturday April 21 - NJD @ TBL; TBD

*Monday April 23 - TBL @ NJD; TBD

*Wednesday April 25 - NJD @ TBL; TBD

*If necessary


(6)Carolina Hurricanes

36-35-11, 83 pts; 228 GF (23rd) / 256 GA (22nd; 23rd)
1-2 record last week

4/2/18
CAR: 2
FLA: 3
Canes Finish on Wrong Side of 3-2 Score in Florida

4/5/18
CAR: 3
PHI: 4
Canes grounded by Flyers

4/7/18
TBL: 2
CAR: 3 OT
Canes top Lightning 3-2 in OT

Injuries:

  • None


(7)New York Islanders

35-37-10, 80 pts; 264 GF (8th) / 296 GA (31st)
3-0 record last week

4/3/18
PHI: 4
NYI: 5
Spoiled cheesesteaks

4/5/18
NYR: 1
NYI: 2
Isles complete the season sweep

4/7/18
NYI: 4 OT
DET: 3
Tavares scores winner, Lee scores 40th in finale

Injuries:

  • 11/6/17, LW Nikolay Kulemin - IR; Upper-body injury
  • 12/16/17, D Calvin de Haan - IR; Upper-body injury
  • 2/22/18, C Alan Quine - IR; Lower-body injury
  • 3/25/18, C Casey Cizikas - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury


(8)New York Rangers

34-39-9, 77 pts; 231 GF (21st; 18th) / 268 GA (28th)
0-3 record last week

4/3/18
NYR: 2
NJD: 5

4/5/18
NYR: 1
NYI: 2
Bad Result Is Good Result

4/7/18
NYR: 0
PHI: 5
And Then There Were None: Season Finale Thread

Injuries:

  • 1/18/18, D Kevin Shattenkirk - IR; Torn meniscus
  • 2/11/18, D Steven Kampfer - IR; Fractured hand
  • 3/12/18, D Tony DeAngelo - Day-to-day; Ankle
  • 4/1/18, RW Jesper Fast - Day-to-day; Groin
  • 4/3/18, LW Cody McLeod - Day-to-day; Abdominal strain


  • Standings via NHL.com
  • Injuries via TSN as of 4/8/18


As always, thanks for reading this weekly recap and thanks to everyone for all the comments, recs, and votes throughout the year. Be sure to check back periodically with new updates from around the Metro this playoffs and offseason! Vote for your Metropolitan favorite below and don’t forget to always stay classy, PensBurgh!

Poll

Which Metropolitan team will go the furthest in the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

This poll is closed

  • 71%
    Pittsburgh Penguins
    (78 votes)
  • 12%
    Washington Capitals
    (14 votes)
  • 12%
    Philadelphia Flyers
    (14 votes)
  • 2%
    Columbus Blue Jackets
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    New Jersey Devils
    (0 votes)
109 votes total Vote Now