With American Thanksgiving in the books, the Metro Division is up for grabs. Only mere points separate the first place team from the last place team. It is important for teams at the top to keep winning and avoid any major losing streaks. It is now time to take a look inside the weekly NHL Metro Division notebook.
Surprise No More!
Since October 28th, the New Jersey Devils have occupied either the first or second place spot in the Metro Division. Through the quarter mark, New Jersey was one of the surprise teams in the NHL, but that is not the case any longer. The Devils are truly a contender. Winning three of four games and picking up points in all four those games have allowed the Devils to stay a top of the division. Things do not get any easier for the Devils as they will play 19 divisional games in the coming months. Taylor Hall has been a man on mission for the Devils. Last season due to being traded, Hall was not his normal self. This season however, Hall has found new life. The Devils would not be in the position they are in without Hall playing at such an elite level.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are playing leap frog with the first place New Jersey Devils. Despite winning five straight games, the Blue Jackets sit in second place and only one point behind the Devils. After their head coach called his offense out for not being good during stretches in games prior to the break, the Blue Jackets offense exploded in the last game. During their winning streak, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has been the Blue Jackets best player. Bobrosvky is playing at an All Star level. At the beginning of their winning streak, Columbus won games because of Bobrosvky’s stellar play. The offense is coming alive again and must continue to play with more consistency if the Blue Jackets want a chance of passing the Devils.
On the Cusp!
The New York Islanders are sitting in two points behind the Devils and playing some great hockey as of late. After their four-game winning streak ended at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes, the Islanders were able to win three in a row to keep pace with the division leaders. During their current winning streak goalies Thomas Greiss and Jaroslav Halak are becoming one of the better tandems in the league. Both goalies are pushing each other to be better and this has allowed the Islanders to continue to win. Josh Bailey is having a career year for the Islanders. He leads the team with 28 points with John Tavares right behind him with 26 points. New York is a more dangerous team if they have balance across the lineup and that must continue if the Islanders want to keep their spot in the top three.
From the start of the season, there was something off about the Washington Capitals. All of the sudden the Capitals are finding their mojo again and have won three straight games. This current win streak has catapulted them into fourth place in the division and sitting in the first wild card spot. For the first 20 games, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom were split up. In order to get back to playing Capitals hockey, Barry Trotz decided to put Ovechkin and Backstrom back together and it is paying dividends. Ovechkin is back to playing like his old-self. With Oshie and Kuznetsov now being paired this has given the two dynamic scoring lines. Once the Capitals get rolling they will be a dangerous team to play against.
The New York Rangers have won 10 of their last 12 games and eight straight on home ice. It has been a hard climb up the standings for the Rangers. New York’s hard work has finally paid off as they occupy the final playoff spot. New York is winning because of their well-balanced offense. At the beginning of the season Mika Zibanejad was the talk of the town. While Zibanejad is still playing well, others in the Rangers lineup have picked up their game. One player in particular has been Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist is back to playing at a Vezina Trophy level. He has been the backbone for the Rangers during their current winning streak. The Rangers must continue to play a team game in order for them to continue to climb the standings in the Metro Division.
Best of the Rest
-Pittsburgh finds themselves on the outside looking in as the second quarter of the season gets underway. The Penguins have issues that need to be fixed and one big one is their penalty kill. The Penguins are taking too many penalties and are not able to kill them off. Another struggle for the Penguins which is hard to imagine is goal scoring or lack there of. Who would of thought the Penguins would have trouble scoring goals with such an high powered offense? Mike Sullivan will need to find ways to fix this for the Penguins to get back in the mix.
-Carolina sits eight points out of the division lead. In order for them to climb back into the standings the Hurricanes must find more consistency in their game. As the team embarks in a major road trip, the Hurricanes were able to end their home stand with a win. The Hurricanes will want to get more contributions from their offense and goaltending. Those two areas have been inconsistencies for the Hurricanes all season. Once those issues are fixed maybe the Hurricanes can put more than two wins together at once. ‘
– The Philadelphia Flyers have found themselves back at the bottom of the Metro Division after seven straight loses. Though the Flyers picked up some points in those loses, they have not been able to pick up any ground on the teams in front of them. A matter of fact, the Flyers have been losing ground as the other teams in the division continue to win. Consistency at the goaltender position will need to be addressed if the Flyers want any chance of getting back in the playoff discussion.