Welcome back to Sunday Standings, where we check out the week that was for the teams of the NHL’s Metropolitan Division.
It’s a tough picture for the Penguins, who were tied for second in points and points% this time last week, but see a 0-3-0 week drop them to the basement. First, it’s still very early and the season is less than 10% completed, so wild swings like that are going to happen. Second, Pittsburgh played pretty well in two out of the three games and is getting some health, so their November should be better than October.
On the flip side of things, the Hurricanes went 3-0-0 this week, with multi-goal wins over Toronto, Boston and Chicago. Carolina is the league’s only team in the league to not have tasted a defeat and has only given up 11 goals in seven games so far. They’re flying high at the moment, and may stay that way for a while with the next two games coming up (AZ, @CHI). But later next week Carolina takes a road trip to play both the strong Florida teams, so we’ll see how that goes for them and likely see their goals against balance out a bit.
The Caps kept it going with a 2-0-1 week, though not exactly playing a murderer’s row of competition (@OTT, AZ, DET). Perhaps troubling for Washington, T.J. Oshie now joins Nicklas Backstrom on the injury list with a week-to-week injury, which will give youngsters Connor McMichael and Hendrix Lapierre that much more of a look. Feels like a long, long time since the Caps actually developed a good forward through their own organization..
NYR went 1-1-0 this week, getting smacked 5-1 by Calgary, but the Rangers have won five of their last six games overall and have started the season in a very strong manner. Igor Shesterkin continues to look like the real deal, recording a shutout on Thursday against Columbus and running his stat-line to a 4-1-1 record with a 1.81 GAA and .944 save% this season. Henrik Lundqvist wasn’t really the dominant, star-level Henrik Lundqvist since like 2015-16, so it took a while for Broadway to get that kind of goalie back in place, but it looks like they have it now.
The Pens and Flyers clash on Thursday, and Philadelphia is off to a fairly good start. But, I don’t know, it feels way too quiet and like no one is talking about the Flyers right now. Maybe that’s in part because they just completed a Western Canada trip this week (beating Edmonton and Vancouver, but losing to Calgary). Maybe it’s just been past everyone’s bed times back in the East, but the Flyers have just been too quiet so far this season. I don’t know quite what to make of this, but I don’t think I like it..
By the way, let’s sidebar here and talk about those Flames, who have been mentioned a few times in this article. Calgary has played their last five games over the past nine days against five Metropolitan teams. Four have been on the road. And the Flames are 5-0-0. Washington, win. Rangers plus Devils on a road back-to-back? Win, win. Penguins? Win. Flyers for the first game after a long road trip with no real break? Win. Combined score of these five games? Calgary 22, Metro Division 7. Thankfully for this division, Jacob Markstrom and the Flames are only on the schedule twice.
Back around the division, the Islanders continued their marathon 13 game road trip to start the season (the league allowing for extra time to complete the new NYI arena). NYI played in arguably the two most fun NHL road cities you can be in (Vegas and Nashville) going 1-0-1 this week along the way.
We’ll see what the week ahead brings for the teams of the Metro, it’s been a pretty lax October, with all these teams starting out with 6-8 games in the first calendar month of the season. The NHL regular season schedule has been extended out all the way to the end of April this year due to the Olympic break, but it’s nice for players and writers alike that this season has a less hectic pace than last year’s condensed schedule.
As such, the Pens probably won’t be climbing too much this week, since they only play two games (Philly on Thursday and Minnesota on Saturday). This week for Pittsburgh will be better served getting some rest and perhaps working on that creaky power play that still has a lot of new faces to work into the first group with Kris Letang, Bryan Rust and Evgeni Malkin all still out of the lineup.