What a difference a week makes. Last Sunday morning, the Pittsburgh Penguins were sitting in first place in the Metropolitan Division. Then a disastrous four game losing streak has tanked their impressive early season start and sent them deep down the standings. How deep? Let’s take a look
Ouch, that’s not a pretty picture, but shows how early in the season it still is to go from first place to seventh in just a few days. Things look bad for the Penguins now, but just as they weren’t awarded the Stanley Cup for going 4-0-1 to start the year, they’re not out of the running due to an early losing streak. That said, they’ll obviously want to get back to their winning ways as quickly as possible.
Bouncing around the division, let’s stop in with the other teams:
Philadelphia: A 1-1-1 week was good enough to get to first place this week. John Tortorella has almost admitted the current strong record is a bit of a mirage while being out-played at 5v5, but they will take the good times while they last. One very bad piece of news: center Sean Couturier had another back surgery and is out at least another 3-4 months.
Carolina: The Hurricanes lost a 2-0 lead in Philly last night, before pulling out the win in OT. Friday’s 6-2 NY Islanders win over Carolina might be one of the most surprising outcomes of the whole week. Not too often that Metropolitan teams go 1-0-1 in a week against the ‘Canes.
New Jersey: The Devils lost at home against the Capitals on Monday in the key matchup we featured last week, but bounced back with two wins over Detroit and Colorado over the remainder of the week.
NY Islanders: It was a great week for the Islanders. It started slow with a loss to Florida on Sunday, but then NYI turned their season around (for now at least) with a shutout win over their rivals the Rangers on Wednesday. That was followed up with a back-to-back weekend winning set against Carolina and Colorado. Considering the caliber of competition, that are three really impressive wins for the Isles this week.
Washington: The Caps were on the road all week, so going 2-1-0 isn’t bad. They rebounded from being shutout in Dallas on Thursday to turning around and returning the favor in Nashville by shutting out the Preds last night.
NY Rangers: A 0-2-1 start to the week was salvaged last night with a win in Dallas. It wasn’t a pretty for the Blueshirts who lost to Columbus 5-1 last Sunday, then fell in a shootout to Colorado and were shutout by the Islanders. Much like the Penguins, it looks like the Rangers are still trying to find their footing at the start of this season.
Columbus: That surprising 5-1 win over NYR wasn’t a sign of things to come for the Blue Jackets, who were out-scored a combined 10-3 by Arizona and Boston in two losses over the rest of the week. Has felt like a “one step forward, two steps back” type of season so far in Columbus.
The week ahead
Still being early in the season, there are just three inter-division games in the upcoming week, with many more teams seeing Western Conference teams coming up.
Columbus figures to have the most interesting and memorable week, they get New Jersey today and then head off to Finland to play Colorado in two games before coming back stateside.
It should be another challenging week for Pittsburgh - they are back home in the dreaded “first game back after a long road trip” against Boston. The Bruins lead the NHL in wins (8) and points (16), with only one loss on the year. Then the Pens have another back-to-back in Buffalo - who themselves have a winning record and will be rested. The Pens finish the week seeing the Kraken for the second Saturday in a row to quickly complete that season-series.