NHL Metro Division Week 4 Notebook: Every Team is Seeing Devils Red

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Nothing has changed in regards to the standings in the Metropolitan Division. What has changed is the will and determination of some teams not to lay down and roll over. Without further ado lets dive right into the weekly recap of the NHL Metropolitan Division.

A Devilish Surprise?

Who could have seen New Jersey coming? Practically nobody. After having a six day break, the Devils were back in action over the weekend earning four points. New Jersey picked up wins over Ottawa and Arizona. Through 10 games, the Devils have a record of 8-2 as they ready themselves for the Western Canada road trip. Not all the news was positive for the Devils as Kyle Palmieri is day to day with a lower body injury. Adding to the list of injuries is Marcus Johansson. Johansson was a late scratch Saturday against Arizona. It is unknown if both players will be on the upcoming road trip. Taylor Hall is starting to heat up for New Jersey. He willed his team to victory against the Coyotes with two goals and an assist. Having the knowledge of sticking with the big club allowed Jesper Bratt to find his scoring touch again.

Is Fatigue a Factor?

Last Monday, after an article mentioning how Antti Niemi was important to Pittsburgh success, the Penguins waived the veteran goaltender. This was not a shock to anyone as most believed he could not replace what Marc-Andre Fleury brought to this hockey team. Pittsburgh will play a record 19 back-to-back games. In the second game of the back-to-back Pittsburgh has given up 29 goals and have a record of 0-4. The Penguins have given up five or more goals in five of 13 games this season. Playing as much as they have over the past two seasons is finally taking a toll. During their two wins this week, Penguins just scored four goals. Granted they played two quality opponents in Winnipeg and Edmonton. After two wins, Pittsburgh followed that up with two loses. Pittsburgh must keep a strong mindset night after night if they want to have continued success.

Jackets Continuing to March On

Nobody needed to tell the players on the Columbus Blue Jackets that head coach John Tortorella has not been satisfied with their play as of late. Columbus secured four of six points this past week jumping back into third place in the Metro Division. With wins over Buffalo and Winnipeg, Columbus fell to St. Louis on Saturday night. Not only did the Blue Jackets lose the game to the Blues, Columbus will be without leading scorer Cam Atkinson for a period time as he suffered a lower body injury. Atkinson has been the team’s leading scorer for the past two seasons. Columbus can survive without his services, but for how long? It is still early for Columbus. They have yet to find their groove. Expect the Blue Jackets to improve with each game on the schedule.

Brooklyn Uprising

Captain John Tavares has finally become the player everyone thought he would be to begin the season. With two hat tricks in the past three games, Tavares has willed his team to two victories in three games. After playing a good game against the Coyotes last Tuesday, the Islanders fell short against the Minnesota Wild two nights later. New York was not disciplined at all in that game. Minnesota made they pay on the power play. The Islanders followed that loss with their best game of the season defeating the Nashville Predators 6-2. Not as Tavares picked up his game, but Jordan Eberle has shown signs of life scoring two goals against the Predators. Of note, the Islanders sent prospect Josh Ho-Sang to Bridgeport. The Islanders are hoping Ho-Sang cannot only develop his game on the ice but his attitude off the ice.

Broad Street Blues

It’s not Always Sunny in Philadelphia these days. The Flyers did have the greatest of weeks and that is gonna happen. Philadelphia picked up only one win and it was against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night. Potentially the Flyers could have gotten another point, if it was not for a controversial call against the Senators. Philadelphia believed they scored the tying goal, but according to the officials and replay the puck did not cross the goal line completely. At the beginning of last week, Anaheim came into Philadelphia and dominated the Flyers in every aspect. While Jakub Voracek has not produced with the goals this season, he leads in the team in assists. Voracek knows the goals will come eventually. As long as the team is winning, Voracek could care less about whether he scores or not.

Capital Punishment

Washington is not the same team as they were last year. Washington was able to pick up one win on their Western Canada road trip. After laying an egg against the Vancouver Canucks losing 6-2, the Capitals took their frustration out on the Edmonton Oilers winning 5-2. However, Washington followed that win with a loss in Calgary. Alex Ovechkin has cooled from his record setting goal pace to start the season though he still leads the team with 10 goals. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin have found some magic playing together. While Nicklas Backstroke and TJ Oshie have been working well together. Washington has definitely felt the effects of the cap this season. With no depth on the forward lines, Washington has been relying more on the top two lines to produce the goal scoring. Washington must have confidence in all their lines to be successful.

No Hurricane Warning Coming

Things have not gone right for the Carolina Hurricanes at all this season. Don’t look now, but Carolina is going to be the same position they have been in the last couple of seasons trying to climb an uphill battle. Carolina had a chance to gain ground on the division, but was not able to do so. Carolina only was able to record three points during the week. After a terrible outing against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Carolina was able to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Hurricanes followed that up by losing to St. Louis and Anaheim. Both games Carolina lost by one goal and played well enough to win the game. The Anaheim loss will be disheartening as the Hurricanes led 3-2 in the third period before losing in a shootout. Carolina must get off to better starts in order to avoid the same cycle every season.

Problems in the Big Apple

If anyone saw the Rangers having this many problems, they would be lying. Most figured the Rangers would be back in the playoffs this season. Indeed the start to the season for Rangers has been a bit surprising. The window for winning a Stanley Cup has been closing, but it feels like the door has been slammed shut on the season with this dreadful start. Again, not calling for any coach to be fired, however; something needs to change with the Rangers quickly. Ondrej Pavelec earned a start against the Montreal Canadiens after his win against Arizona Thursday night. Pavelec was not able to duplicate his performance. New York as able to claw back in the game, but after trailing 3-0 early, the mountain was to great to climb. Don’t be surprised if something big happens this week if the Rangers don’t start winning.

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By Robert Kowal (Flickr: Henrik Lundqvist) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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