It was a “come back to the pack” type of week in the Metropolitan Division. The New Jersey Devils jumped out to a fast start early in this season, but lately they have faded ever so slightly. That has allowed all of Carolina, Pittsburgh to close in and even others like the NY Rangers and Washington to keep pace with the pack in the last five to ten games.
Here’s how the standings look this morning, outside of NJ the upper half of the division has all been piling up the points lately with a critical Pens/Canes showdown this afternoon looming.
New Jersey (0-3-1): Tough week for New Jersey, and their red hot start has almost evaporated in the standings, just like that. In the next two weeks their schedule includes Carolina and Boston next week and then Boston and Pittsburgh the following week, so we’re going to continue to see if they fall back to earth against top competition, or can hold their own and stay out front in the division.
Carolina (3-0-0): Goals have been tough to come by for Carolina, but their defense has been on point as well, allowing only two goals in their first two games this week prior to a slip in the third period on Saturday against Dallas. Rookie sensation goalie Pyotr Kochetkov is making his mark, having played in seven of the Hurricanes last eight games, and with tremendous results.
Pittsburgh (2-0-0): Pretty slack week for the Pens with only two games this week, which both featured third period Evgeni Malkin goals ending up as game winners in each game. One of those goals was far more painful than the other, but at the end of the day, the Penguins keep finding ways to win.
NY Rangers (3-0-0): Saw this called a statement week for the Rangers. They beat the division leading Devils in OT on Monday night, rallying from being down 3-1 in the second period. Then NYR and Igor Shesterkin played one of their most impressive games to defeat the red hot Toronto Maple Leafs by a 3-1 score on Thursday. Then the Blueshirts made it a six-game winning streak by downing the Flyers last night.
NY Islanders (1-1-1) : The Islanders turned a 2-0 lead against Arizona into a 5-4 regulation loss on Friday, which is never good. Ilya Sorokin has been doing a tremendous job to keep NYI’s season somewhat steady, but this remains a very Jekyll/Hyde type of team that wins some, but loses a bunch too.
Washington (3-1-0): Alex Ovechkin has found his rocket gear, scoring seven goals in the last six games. That’s been good enough to almost catch Gordie Howe, with now an unbelievable 800 career goals for Ovechkin. He’s now only 94 back of Wayne Gretzky for most all time. With Ovechkin pulling the wagon, the Caps are doing just enough to stay in the hunt for the time being.
Philadelphia (1-2-1): Kevin Hayes is one of only two Flyers players with more than 15 points this season, and in fact leads them in scoring with 29 points in 31 games. Naturally, coach John Tortorella has decided to make Hayes a healthy scratch. Tortorella said, in part, “it’s kind of a big picture in my mind as far as team concept” and later that “I can’t keep looking by things because we’re worried about scoring”. Without Hayes, the Flyers surrendered six goals and lost to the Rangers. So, yeah, that’s what’s going on with those crazies this week.
Columbus (1-3-0): Columbus exploded for six goals in a home OT win last Sunday against Los Angeles. But then they went on the road for the next three games this week, gave up four goals in each game and only scored three total goals en route to losing them all. That’s been the Blue Jackets’ season in a nutshell - one good thing happens and then two or three bad ones follow it up.