It was a “back to the pack” week in the Metropolitan Division. The New Jersey Devils got off to a fast start early this season, but lately they’ve faded ever so slightly. That has allowed all of Carolina, Pittsburgh to shut down, and even others like the NY Rangers and Washington to keep up with the pack in the last five to ten games.
Here’s how the standings look this morning, outside of NJ, the top half of the division has been picking up points lately with a critical Pens/Sticks matchup this afternoon.
New Jersey (0-3-1)Tough week for New Jersey and their red hot start has all but evaporated in the standings, just like that. Their schedule over the next two weeks includes Carolina and Boston next week and Boston and Pittsburgh the following week, so we’ll continue to see if they get back down to earth against top competition or if they can hold their ground and stay ahead. in division.
Carolina (3-0-0). Scoring has been difficult for Carolina, but their defense has been spot on as well, allowing just two goals in their first two games this week before slipping up in the third period against Dallas on Saturday. Sensational rookie goaltender Piotr Kochetkov is making his mark, starting in seven of the Hurricanes’ last eight games with tremendous results.
Pittsburgh (2-0-0)Pretty lackluster week for the Pens with just two games this week, both of which were third period goals for Evgeni Malkin, game-winners in each game. One of those goals hurt a lot more than the other, but at the end of the day, the Penguins keep finding ways to win.
NY Rangers (3-0-0). I see this is called an announcement week for the Rangers. They beat the division-leading Devils in OT Monday night after trailing 3-1 in the second period. NYR and Igor Shesterkin then played one of their most impressive games to defeat the red-hot Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 on Thursday. The Blueshirts then snapped a six-game winning streak by knocking off 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 done a tremendous job keeping NYI’s season somewhat stable, but this remains a very Jekyll/Hyde type team that wins some but also loses a bunch.
Washington (3-1-0)Alex Ovechkin has found his Rocket gear, scoring seven goals in his last six games. It was good enough to nearly catch Gordie Howe, and now Ovechkin is at an incredible 800 career goals. He is now just 94 behind Wayne Gretzky for all-time. With Ovechkin pulling the wagon, the Caps are doing just enough to stay in the hunt for now.
Philadelphia (1-2-1). Kevin Hayes is one of two Flyers players with more than 15 points this season and actually leads them with 29 points in 31 games. Naturally, coach John Tortorella decided to make Hayes a healthy scratch. Tortorella said in part, “it’s kind of the big picture in my mind in terms of the concept of the team,” and later, “I can’t keep looking at things because we’re worried about scoring.” Without Hayes, the Flyers gave up 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 scored six goals in last Sunday’s OT home win over Los Angeles. But then they hit the road for the next three games this week, giving up four goals in each game and scoring just three goals en route to losing them all. In short, this was the Blue Jackets’ season. one good thing happens and then two or three bad ones follow.