It’s deja vu all over again. Let’s go back to last fall in October 2022, the Pens jumped out to a very tenuous first place spot very early in the season and then just seven days later had slid to seventh place with the Flyers of all teams out in front of the division.
Get back to the present day, and remarkably almost the exact same thing has happened. Pittsburgh was tied for the most points in the Metropolitan Division last week (misleading, admittedly, having played more games than most — but go with us here) in the very infancy of the 2023-24 season. The Pens now find themselves in seventh place just one week later. And again, remarkably, it’s Philadelphia out of the gates quickly again who are in first place today.
Who says history doesn’t repeat?
Let’s go around the division to quickly recap the latest, with records from the last week in parenthesis.
Philadelphia (2-0-1): Give the devil their due, the Flyers looked great this week. They shutout a Vancouver team (who has looked pretty fair themselves early in the season) 2-0. Then the Flyers forced the rare goose-egg from Connor McDavid in a 4-1 win over Edmonton before falling in OT 5-4 to Dallas last night. The return to health of Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson (both out the entire 2022-23 season) has made a big difference. Much like last year, it remains to be seen just how much staying power they will have, but you can’t knock hustle or quick starts for now two seasons in a row.
New York Rangers (2-1-0): Good news in Manhattan where Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere combined for 2G+4A this week in three games. If those young players can keep producing and support the star players, the Rangers should be well on their way to another solid season.
Columbus (2-1-0): The Blue Jackets absorbed a tough injury when Patrik Laine took a late cheap shot against Calgary but found a way to win 5-4 in OT last night against Minnesota to give them a positive week to build upon. The newly rebuilt defense has been paying dividends with Zach Werenski, Ivan Provorov and Damon Severson combining for 1G+6A in three games this week.
Carolina (1-3-0): It’s been goals a million for the Hurricanes this season with 28 GF and 30 GA in just six games. This week’s scores were 3-6, 6-3, 4-7, 4-6 with the team out West for all their games following the season-opener. Last night was one of the most entertaining games of the whole young NHL season with a back-and-forth game against Colorado; until the Avs eventually pulled away from a 3-3 game to take control in the second half of the contest.
New York Islanders (1-1-1): Pretty typical Islanders week, a boring 1-0 win, followed by NYI stealing a point away with a late equalizing goal in a game they were chasing most of the night against New Jersey and then a 3-1 loss to Buffalo last night. As is the Islanders way, they’re treading water and hanging around, as they probably will all season.
New Jersey (1-1-0): Not many games for the Devils this week, but the action made up for it. After falling behind 4-0 to Florida, NJ made a spirited comeback that ran out of time with a 4-3 regulation loss and then used four power play goals to down the Islanders on Friday night. The Devils only had two even strength goals this week, but Jesper Bratt put up five PPP alone in a flex with the man advantage. Their opponents should look to stay out of the penalty box at all costs in the near future with that red hot group feeling it.
Pittsburgh (0-2-0): It was a tale of two losses on the road this week for the Pens, who fell behind 4-1 to Detroit and couldn’t dig out of their hole on Wednesday. They followed that up with a troubling effort and falling in St. Louis. The Pens look like a team that can use getting back home for a while, but they are going to have to raise to a high level of competition that’s coming up with Dallas and Colorado coming to town next week.
Washington (1-1-1): The Caps have struggled through a new coach and system. They got drilled 6-1 by Ottawa and in the games in between fell behind 2-0 in each contest before finding ways to get to overtime. They won one of those games (Calgary) in a shootout, and lost the other (Montreal) in OT. Washington only has six goals in their first four games of the season with all of their big forwards (TJ Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson, Evgeni Kuznetsov and shockingly Alex Ovechkin) still looking to open their accounts for goals this year.