As the holiday approaches, things in the NHL’s Metro Division are heating up. With teams jockeying for position, every point matters so much this time of year. It is time to recap and breakdown the latest stories from week 6 for the Metropolitan Division.
NHL Metro Division Notebook
Chronicles of a Young Team
The New Jersey Devils have been one of the most surprising teams in the NHL season this season. With little to no expectations entering the season, New Jersey still finds themselves sitting atop of the Metro Division. The Devils are in the midst of wrapping up their four-game road trip. After starting off the trip strong with a win in Chicago, New Jersey lost back-to-back games to Toronto and Winnipeg. Though they picked up a point against Toronto, the Devils wanted two points with the effort they had. Speaking of effort, the same effort they had in Toronto was seen in Winnipeg. But a poor stretch in the second period cost the Devils the game in Winnipeg. New Jersey would like to finish the road trip with a win in Minnesota Monday night as they head home for the holidays.
Blue Jackets Firing on All Cylinders
It was an exciting week for the Columbus Jackets. With wins over the Canadiens and Rangers, the Blue Jackets have found themselves tied with the Devils for first place in the Metro Division with 25 points. Columbus has been always one of those teams expected to be in the playoff picture and they are finally playing like. The team announced a contract extension for star forward Cam Atkinson. Atkinson is vital to the success of the Blue Jackets. Atkinson’s work on and off the ice is finally paying off as he was rewarded with a seven-year $41.25 contract extension. One player who has lifted his game during Columbus’s wining streak is Sergei Bobrovsky. In order for Columbus to be successful, Bobrovsky must be on his game. Right now he is playing better than last year when he won the Vezina Trophy.
Back to Normalcy
The Pittsburgh Penguins are another team tied atop the division standings with 25 points. After a rocky start to the season, Pittsburgh finds themselves tied with Columbus and New Jersey for the division lead. Who would have thought the Penguins would ever get back to this place after playing so poorly. The Penguins championship mindset is at the forefront during Pittsburgh current run. It all starts with Sidney Crosby. After not scoring in 11 games, Crosby finally ended that streak, which allow others on the team to relax and start scoring. This mindset has allowed the Penguins to win two of three games during the week. Other players that have been snake bites were Connor Sheary and Jake Guentzel. For a team filled with star players, it was necessary for role players like that to score as it takes the pressure off the stars from always having to score.
Brooklyn Not Far Off
Don’t look now, but the New York Islanders are only one point behind the Devils, Blue Jackets, and Penguins. Currently, the Islanders in the midst of a three game winning streak and have outscored their opponent, 16-9 over that span. Not only have the Islanders been scoring goals, their defense and goaltending has been stepping up. When the Islanders decided to put John Tavares back with Anders Lee and Josh Bailey, it helped spark Tavares. So, head coach Doug Weight decided to put Jordan Eberle with Matthew Barzal to help wake up Eberle. Nobody thought this pairing would work. Well, Eberle has been a major contributor for the Islanders. Since November 5, Eberle and Barzal have combined six goals and 11 assists over that span. This combination will be vital for the Islanders to have continued success.
Climbing the Hill
Another team that is starting to find their groove is the Washington Capitals. One things is for sure, the Capitals are not the same team they have been the last couple of seasons. And despite all their struggles, the Capitals sit just two points behind the division leaders. It was another roller coaster week for the Washington Capitals. During a mini two-game road trip the Capitals gave up 12 goals in two loses to Nashville and Colorado. Washington was able to follow those two loses up with a win over Minnesota. However, in order for the Capitals to be successful goaltender Braden Holtby must be better and he knows. Holtby was not happy with his performance against Nashville. Like the rest of the players on the team, they know they must starting putting wins together now if they want a shot at the playoffs come the spring.
Hurricane Warning Coming
Carolina, everyone’s surprise pick to make the playoffs this season, are starting to play like it. The Hurricanes have won three of four games so far this week. Their only loss came against the Islanders. If Carolina can inch closer to the teams at the top of the division come the holiday season, the Hurricanes will have a real good shot at the playoffs. However, it all depends on Scott Darling. At the beginning it appeared Darling did not feel comfortable as the starting goalie. As time has gone he is filling into that role nicely. Another player that is finding his own is Teuvo Teravainen. It has taken some time but Teravainen is turning into a star for the Carolina Hurricanes. During a game against Dallas, Teravainen recorded his first NHL hat trick. He is player to watch for the Hurricanes as the season progresses.
Regression in the Big City
After a six game winning streak, which saw the New York Rangers climb up the standings in the Metro Division, the Rangers have lost two in a row. The Rangers put in all this work to inch close to the top teams and find themselves in the same position they started in prior to the winning streak. New York competed well against the Blackhawks and Blue Jackets, but just could not muster enough goals to win the game. During the game against Chicago, the Rangers showed great resiliency to battle back down 4-1. The Rangers were able to cut the Blackhawk lead to one, before Chicago pulled away. New York was right there in the game against Columbus. If it wasn’t for the play of Sergei Bobrovsky, the Rangers might have won that game. With a big home-stand coming, the Rangers are hoping to make up some ground.
The Philadelphia Flyers find themselves at the bottom of a very tough Metro Division. It was a tough week for the Flyers. Philadelphia was lost all three games they played, but were able to pick up two points. This was not good enough for a team that had playoff expectations. In their loses to Winnipeg and Calgary, the Flyers blew leads in both of those games in which they seem to have complete control. Just a momentary lapse can cost a team a game in the NHL. Despite the loses, the Flyers did welcome back Nolan Patrick back into the lineup. Nolan picked up his second goal of the season against Calgary, but it was not enough. It appears Brian Elliott was not the answer for the Flyers in goal. Who will the Flyers look to next to solve this major problem?