Another wild and crazy week inside the NHL Metro Division. Lots of teams jockeying for position. Nothing will truly be clear until the first quarter of the season is over. Still lots of questions that have gone unanswered. Lets take a look at the week that was in the Metro Division
Are the Devils for Real?
New Jersey still leads the Metro Division as the team heads into a much-needed week off. New Jersey is dealing with an injury to their starting goalie. Cory Schneider was hurt in the game against the Senators this past Thursday and placed on injured reserve. The Devils are hoping with a week off will help. New Jersey continues to score goals a high pace. They played two entertaining games against the Senators and Lightning both of which required an extra period to decide the winner. The offense is not the problem for the Devils. In order for the Devils to keep up this good pace, the defense in particular must limit the shots from the opponents. As well as limit the number of penalties they take. If New Jersey can do that, look for the Devils to stick around as contenders.
For the third time in as many games Antti Niemi had another rough outing. Pittsburgh has real problems at the backup goalie position. Coming into the season, Niemi was pegged a key player for the Penguins. The loss of Fleury is being felt already. Fleury was a calming force for the Penguins. Pittsburgh no longer has that same feeling with Niemi. When Niemi is announced as the starting goalie, do the Penguins really have confidence in him? Pittsburgh needs to figure out that position quickly. As the Penguins sit in second place, the champs can find the another gear. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin still lead the Penguins in points. Pittsburgh has been able to find a balance scoring attack through these past several games. Pittsburgh has some tough games coming up. It will be interesting to see how many games Niemi gets during this stretch.
Making Some Noise in Philly
Another surprise to start the season has been the Philadelphia Flyers. For a team that was projected to miss the playoffs again this season, the Flyers are proving a lot of doubters wrong. Brian Elliott has been quiet the surprise. He has given some stability to the position. Claude Giroux is finding his old form again for the Flyers. He is a necessary piece for the Flyers to be successful. Another player that is finding his form is Shayne Gostibehere. He leads the Flyers in points with 11. The Flyers defense is a lot better than expected. Head coach David Hakstol has the Flyers buying into his system. The young Flyers are determined to make the crack in the Liberty Bell even bigger with their continued success on the ice.
Bump in the Road
Columbus hit a small bump in the road. After picking up a nice win in Winnipeg to start the week off right, the Blue Jackets lost back to back games. Losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Los Angeles Kings on home ice is a little disappointing for a team that prides itself on having a home ice advantage. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has played well for the Blue Jackets thus far. He knows he can play better. Season is still early, so look for Bobrovsky to take his game to another level. The concerning part for John Tortorella is how his team is finishing games. In their loss to the Kings, Columbus allowed the game winning goal late in the third period costing the team a valuable point. This will be a point of emphasis going forward.
Improvement in Brooklyn
Don’t look now, but the New York Islanders are a team on the rise. It took some time for Doug Weight to have the Islanders playing the system he wants. Even after a tough California road trip, the Islanders were able to pick up back to back victories. One over their arch rival the New York Rangers and the other against the San Jose Sharks. Captain John Tavares is starting to find his groove on the ice. He is tied for the lead in points with six with Anders Lee and Josh Bailey. Tavares had his best game in the win against San Jose Saturday night as he picked up a goal and two assists. If the Islanders can continue their success at the Barclays Center, the Islanders will be able to continue their climb.
Unrest in Washington
No team likes to lose heading into a road trip. Heading into a big Western Canadian road trip, the Capitals look to rebound from tough loses. Washington lost two of three games this week. The game that the Capitals won, they had to come from behind to win the game in overtime. Braden Holtby has looked sharp for the Capitals early this season. Holtby knows there are goals he would like have back. Rest assured Holtby’s confidence is not shaken whatsoever. Washington’s usual suspects of Ovechkin, Backstrom, Oshie, and Kuznetsov have been producing. It is the depth up front for Washington that needs to pick up the scoring. Western Canada has always been good for Washington. The Capitals are hoping this trip can help jump-start their season.
Hope in Carolina
This past week was an important week for the Carolina Hurricanes. The season was riding on the line for the Hurricanes. Every year it seems Carolina digs themselves into a hole they can’t dig out of. This year will be different. Carolina has a successful road trip winning two out of three games. With wins over Edmonton and Calgary Carolina is riding high. A balanced attack has been a key to Carolina’s early success. Having Justin Williams, a three-time Stanley Cup winner, back in the locker room has helped settled this young group down. The reemergence of Jeff Skinner has been an added bonus for Carolina. Skinner leads the team in points with six. Expectations has weighted Carolina down in the past. Carolina will be a dangerous team if they can continue to play with no pressure on them.
Big City Blues
The New York Rangers are singing the blues. After two heart breaking loses, the Rangers ended the week on a high note with a win over the Nashville Predators. Many were questioning if it was time for New York to make a coaching change. That talk is just premature. As each game passes, the Rangers continue to improve. Take a look at Tuesday’s game against Pittsburgh. New York was able to climb back numerous times to force overtime. Again Lundqvist failed to deliver for his team in the critical moments. This has been a problem all season for the Rangers. Lundqvist must be able to find his old form or the Rangers are going to have real issues. Outside of Mika Zibanejad, the Rangers offense has been dormant. As each game has gone by the offense continues to improve.