Reaction from the Metropolitan Division from the week that was in the NHL.
The National Hockey League season is only five days old and the NHL Metropolitan Division is living up to the hype of being the toughest in the league. Every point matters. As a team in the Metro Division you do not want to fall behind this early in the season. Points are hard to make up.
Lets take a look at how the teams have fared thus far through five days:
The Washington Capitals look like a team on a mission. Especially Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin has recorded seven goals through two games. He is the fourth player in NHL history to record a hat trick in each of the teams first two games. Ovechkin is also the first player since 1917 to accomplish this feat. Playing with Evgeny Kuznetsov is helping the ‘Great Eight.’ Kuznetsov has taken Ovechkin’s game to new heights. Its only two games, but the Capitals are proving why they are still a contender for the Stanley Cup.
The Penguins will be just fine. Despite losing their first two games, the Penguins were able to right the ship. The Penguins lost a tough game to the St Louis Blues in overtime on the opening night of the NHL season. The following night the Penguins were embarrassed by Chicago losing 10-1. The Penguins were not satisfied by their performance. Pittsburgh took their frustration out on Nashville by dominating them to get their first win of the season. Antti Niemi better find his game quickly or else the Penguins will be looking for another option behind Murray.
The Philadelphia Flyers opened the season with the deadly California road trip. For the Flyers it was a successful road trip at that. Philadelphia secured four of six points as they head back east. The Flyers opened the season defeating the San Jose Sharks 5-3. They followed that up with a 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings the following night. The Flyers closed the road trip by defeating the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 in overtime. First round pick Nolan Patrick picked up his first NHL point against Anaheim. Wayne Simmonds is in mid season form. He recorded four goals in three games, including a hat trick against the Sharks.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils may be the surprise of the Metro Division. The team has only played one game, and it was against Colorado. However, the signs of progress shown in the preseason carried into the first game of the regular season. New Jersey’s fast attacking forechecking system was evident early. The Devils converted on three of four power plays. Rookie defenseman Will Butcher became the first player in franchise history to record three points (3 assists) in his NHL debut. Rookie winger Jesper Bratt also recorded his first two NHL points, including scoring his first NHL goal. Nico Hischier was not scared of the big moment. Though he did not score, his presence was felt everywhere on the rink.
New York Islanders
Through two games the Islanders are 1-1. They were blown out by the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday by a score of 5-0. On Saturday night against the Buffalo Sabres, captain John Tavares made sure the fans would see a win in the home opener. Tavares recorded two goal, while the Islanders penalty kill unit recorded two short handed goals. A concerning aspect for the Islanders was their power play. The team surrounded two short handed goals of their own. The team seems to play better in front Jaroslav Halak. Got to believe Halak will play more games going forward with the struggles of Greiss in the opener.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus is also sitting with a 1-1 record through two games. In the Blue Jackets opening night 5-0 win against the Islanders, Artemi Panarian recorded three assists playing on the top line with Cam Atkinson and Alexander Wennberg. Panarian became the fastest player in franchise history to record three points. Also of note in Columbus’s first win, goalie Sergei Bobrovsky is now the all time leader in franchise history with 20 shutouts. He passed former Blue Jacket Steve Mason to claim the top spot. The following night the Blue Jackets ran into the buzz saw known as the Chicago Blackawks. The only bright spot was Sonny Milano. He recorded his second goal of the season in as many games. Panarian was held pointless in his return to Chicago.
New York Rangers
After a sloppy start to the season, the Rangers were able to salvage the weekend. The Rangers goaltending became a question mark as they gave up 12 goals in two games. New York lost to Colorado 4-2 in their home opener this past Thursday. Then against Toronto on Saturday night they lost 8-5. New York bounced back nicely with a 2-0 win against the Canadiens on Sunday night. Their penalty kill will need to improvement going forward. The Rangers have given up four power play goals through three games. The Rangers showed resiliency against Toronto battling back from a 5-1 deficit. However, the mountain was too far to climb. Mika Zibanjed has four goals through three games. Defense and goaltending will need to be solidified for New York to be successful. The Rangers will be just fine, so everyone in New York can stop worrying.
The Carolina Hurricanes we are able to sent their fans home happy as they defeated the Minnesota Wild by a score of 5-4 via the shootout. Though Carolina got the victory, they will be disappointed with their performance. The Hurricanes gave up the game tying goal with only a second left in the third period. Scott Darling looked shaky in his debut for the Hurricanes. Darling should settle down and prove why Carolina traded for his services. However, this team is not even close to a playoff team. Carolina has holes defensively. Carolina will need to find consistent scoring like they had opening night in order for this team to contend.
The NHL Metro Division will be a compelling division to watch. Any team that makes the playoffs from this division will have to earn their spot. There are no nights off when teams in the Metro Division play.