NHL Metro Division Notebook: Rangers on the Rise

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The first full week of November is in the books. Teams inside the NHL Metro Division are fighting for position as American Thanksgiving approaches. The Metro Division is living up to the hype as being one of the toughest in the NHL. It is time to recap and breakdown the latest stories from week 6 for the Metropolitan Division.

Back to the Pack

After experiencing a four game losing streak, the New Jersey Devils are back on their winning ways over the weekend with wins over Florida and Chicago. New Jersey’s win over Chicago was a character win. Being down 4-1, the Devils rallied for a 7-5 win. This is the type of win that can propel the Devils to bigger and better things. The Devils were going to face adversity at some point this season. Responding to the adversity would show a true test of character. It has been touch and go for the Devils in the last six games. New Jersey’s three-game home stand did not start off on the right foot. Losing back to back games to the Blues and Oilers, did not help their confidence. New Jersey is in the midst of a four game road trip and the Devils feel at home on the road with a 6-1-1 record.

The March Has Stalled

Head Coach John Tortorella is not happy with the way his team is playing as of late. After a hot to the season, Columbus had their first poor week of the season. Coach Tortorella knows it is a long season. However with each poor performance his team has, the Blue Jackets will find themselves slipping down the standings. After a four game losing streak, Jack Johnson stopped the bleeding leading the Blue Jackets to a 2-1 shootout win over Detroit on Saturday night. Losing streaks will happen during the season, but responding with a character win like the Blue Jackets had against Detroit will propel them to better things. If Columbus can continue to gather points prior to American Thanksgiving they will find themselves in a good position for the playoffs.

Time to Question the Offense and Leadership

There is trouble brewing in Pittsburgh. Who would have thought losing Nick Bonino, Matt Cullen, and Trevor Daley would such an effect on the Penguins. Scoring goals was never a problem for Pittsburgh. With the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel on the roster, there was so shortage of fire power. Now in the midst of two game losing streak, Pittsburgh are now questioning the leadership inside the locker room. Even though the Penguins picked up three points during the week, the main concern right now is Sidney Crosby. Though Crosby is picking up points in these games, he has been held without a goal in the last 11 games. As a team Pittsburgh is feeling the pressure of trying to win again. Look for the struggles to continue if Pittsburgh can’t score more goals.

Status Quo in Brooklyn

Despite losing two of three games during the week, the Islanders find themselves still in fourth place. Even with the two losses, the Islanders were able to pick up three points. After coming off a big win against Colorado, the Islanders fell to Edmonton 2-1 in overtime, then followed that up by their worst performance of the year in a 5-0 loss to Dallas on Friday night. New York headed into St. Louis looking to end a mini two game losing streak. That is exactly what the Islanders did defeating the Blues 5-2. The hottest line in hockey continues to stay red hot. John Tavares, Anders Lee, and Josh Bailey have been one of the best trios in the NHL since being reunited. With Jordan Eberle finding his scoring touch again, don’t be surprised to see the Islanders finding their way into a playoff come the end of November.

Movin’ on Up

The hottest team in hockey resides in Manhattan as the New York Rangers are in the midst of a six game winning streak. The Rangers find themselves tied with the Islanders in points with 20 and only three points away from the top spot in the Metro Division. One of the reasons the Rangers have been so such successful has been the play of Henrik Lundqvist. It has been a rocky road for the veteran goal-tender. Lundqvist did not get off to the greatest of starts, but has settled down nicely and has been the backbone for the Rangers during their winning streak. Not only are the Rangers scoring goals, but New York has one of the best power plays as well. Pavel Buchnevich is finally finding his groove as a Ranger. Having being elevated to the top line, Buchnevich has scored goals in three straight games.

Middle of the Road

All of the departures are catching up with the Washington Capitals. It appears the Capitals are just a middle of the road team. And this could be a good thing for those in Washington. Having struggles now will help Washington later on if they get into the playoffs. The last couple of seasons Washington has just cruised into playoffs now facing adversity. When the pressure came in the playoffs, Washington failed. Facing the adversity now, will make the Capitals stronger and help them get through that adversity once the playoffs come. Washington picked up three wins during the week and one over their rival the Pittsburgh Penguins. As Washington starts putting wins together, they will be a dangerous team and one that could challenge for the division title.

Falling Behind

It was a quiet week in terms of games for the Philadelphia Flyers. Having only two games during the week, the Flyers went 1-1. The Flyers picked up a win against the Chicago Blackhawks and followed that with a loss to Minnesota. While the top line of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Jakub Voracek has been dynamic, it has been the performance of the other three lines and the young defense corps that has been the story this year for the Flyers. Players like Wayne Simmonds, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Ivan Provorov are having stellar seasons. One concern for the Flyers is the status of first round pick Nolan Patrick. Patrick has been out of the lineup with an upper body injury. He could be back in the lineup if all goes well during practice on Monday. Patrick will add another dimension to the lineup that has been missing

Room for Improvement

As each game passes, the Carolina Hurricanes are improving. The Hurricanes picked up five of a possible six points during the week. Carolina picked up wins over Florida and Carolina, and lost to Chicago in overtime on Saturday night. Carolina knows they let one slip away against Chicago as they held the lead late in the third period. With such a young team Carolina will need to learn how to finish games. Carolina will compete night in and night out and will be a tough team to play against. No matter what happens in the game, Carolina will make you earn every inch of ice. Despite being at the bottom of the Metro Division, if the Hurricanes get on a winning streak, they could be right back in the playoff picture.

 

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Photo Credit: By Robert Kowal (Flickr: Henrik Lundqvist) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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