Another week in the NHL season has come and gone. Teams in the Metropolitan Division are battling for position. The is no clear picture on what team are truly contenders this season. Lets take a look inside the notebook from Week 2 for the NHL Metro Division.
Cardiac Kids are Alright
Surprisingly the New Jersey Devils sit atop the division after the first full week of action. New Jersey is relying on the youth movement to carry them this year. Will Butcher and Jesper Bratt continue to lead the way for the Devils. Butcher is the first rookie defenseman in NHL history to record at least eight assists in his first five career games. Bratt has six points through five games. The Devils have four balanced lines that can score. Defense will always be a concern. Each game the defense corps is improving. Resiliency is the theme of the week. Time and again the young Devils have shown they can bounce back when adversity is knocking on the door. Can they keep this up for the rest of the season?
Back to Business
To no one’s surprise the Columbus Blue Jackets are sitting right where they need to be in the Metro Division. Columbus is tied with New Jersey for best record in the division at 4-1. Anteri Panarian is fitting right in with his new team. Panarian has seven points in five games. Sergei Bobrovsky is having another season worthy of the Vezina Trophy. Columbus know they have a workhorse in goal. Another surprise to begin the season is Sonny Milano. Milano leads the team in goals with four. He is being put out on the ice in all situations as he gains the trust of head coach John Tortorella. Zach Werenski is having a nice start to his season. Werenski is out to prove that he can avoid a sophomore slump.
Champs are Sitting Pretty
Pittsburgh is right where they want to be through five games. Sitting in third in the division with a record of 3-2. Pittsburgh still has remove for improvement especially in the second game of back to backs. Pittsburgh will play a record 19 back-to-back games this season. So far the Penguins are 0-2 in the second games of those back-to-backs. Pittsburgh have shown early in the season they can bounce back with a win after a heartbreaking loss. Following a loss this season, the Penguins are 2-0. Sidney Crosby continues to get better with each game. The big question that will face Pittsburgh all season will be the backup goalie position. Antti Niemi must be able to play well enough in order for Matt Murray a night off.
Consistency in the Capital
Head coach Barry Trotz is looking for more consistent play from his Washington Capitals. One night the Capitals look like the great. The next night they do not show up and get embarrassed. Trotz would like his team to be play a full 60 minutes. Alex Ovechkin is off to a hot start. Ovechkin has nine goals in six games to lead the NHL. Teammates Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov are tied atop the leader board with 11 points each. Washington’s offense and goaltending will be just fine. However, the defense for Washington has some flaws that will need to improve for Washington to be successful. Matt Niskanen will be lost for a month with an upper body injury.
Broad Street Rebuilding
It was a almost a perfect road trip for the Flyers to be the season. Starting the year with an impressive California road trip, the Flyers followed that up with a tough loss to the Nashville Predators. Losing always stings especially how the Flyers lost this game. Trailing 3-0 to Nashville, Philadelphia rallied to take a 5-3 lead. Unfortunately, the Flyers could not hang on to the lead and lost 6-5. How you handle losing a tough game shows the character of a team. The Flyers bounced back nicely with an 8-2 win over the Washington Capitals. Claude Giroux, Sean Coutourier, and Jakub Voracek have been the best line for the Flyers this season. Defesenman Shayne Gostibehere is having a nice start to the season after having such a poor season last year. Brian Elliott must stabilize the goaltending position in Philadelphia.
Disappointment in Carolina in Nothing New
Through three games, the Carolina Hurricanes have one win. The team that was suppose to be surprise of the season has been a disappointment. Carolina needed a good start and they have not. Carolina is in the midst of a four game road trip, which includes a trip through Western Canada. After scoring five goals in the first game, Carolina has only scoring two goals in two games. Most noteworthy for the Hurricanes the play of Scott Darling has stood out. He has been the reason Carolina is been in every games. In order for Carolina to be successful, the Hurricanes must be able to give him goal support. While it is too early to say whether or not Carolina’s season is in jeopardy, this road trip will determine a lot for the Hurricanes this season. Ideally anymore ground will be hard to make up.
Big Trouble in the Big Apple
To say the New York Rangers have been a disappointment would be an understatement. The Rangers are in big trouble. Starting the season 1-4 and playing this poorly during this losing streak is a receipt for disaster. One of the most troubling signs has been their star goalie Henrik Lundqvist. He has has not looked like himself at all season. Though to make matters worse the team in front of him has not played either. Everyone knows Lundqvist is getting older, so Ondrej Pavelec, who started the game against the Devils must be able to come in and guide the Rangers to victory. Through stretches of each game, the Rangers have been a dominant team. Though most of the time, New York has been outplayed by their opponent. Could a coaching change be in the works? Not necessarily, but if the Rangers do not improve Alain Vigneault could be out.
Islanders on the Clock
Time is starting to run out for the New York Islanders and John Tavares. Tavares has not gotten off to a good great. Neither has the rest of the team. Several factors could be in play, which include their arena situation. The fact that Tavares has not signed an extension yet is also troubling. Despite winning two games, the Islanders have not played well at all this season. California has been kind to the Islanders as they lost two of three games. One bright spot for the team has been Josh Ho-Sang. He has generated four points so far this season. Ideally the Islanders would like to have a number one goalie. Right now, New York has two number goalies. Neither Thomas Greiss nor Jaroslav Halak wants to grab the starting job. The Islanders need to decide on one guy and have him run with the position.
Photo Credit Doug Kerr / Flickr C.C 2.0