As the calendar goes from October to November, things are starting to heat up inside the NHL Metro Division. Teams are starting to make their move in the standings. It is time to recap and breakdown the latest stories from week 5 for the Metropolitan Division.
Jackets March to the Top
Columbus finds itself sitting in first place after a successful week. The Blue Jackets were able to pick five of six points on the week. Columbus picked up wins over Boston and Florida before losing to Tampa Bay in a shootout on Saturday night. Columbus held a 3-1 lead over Boston on Tuesday night before the Bruins tied the game. The Blue Jackets were able to salvage the game by winning in the shootout. Though head coach John Tortorella was happy with the win, he knows his team needs to play better defensive hockey. Columbus showed great compete in their loss to Tampa Bay battling back from a two goal deficit. Defenseman Seth Jones and forward Artemi Panarian lead the team in points with 11 points. One player who had a stand out week was Oliver Bjorkstrand. His improved play has allowed Columbus to climb in the standings.
Status Quo in Jersey
Taylor Hall said prior to the Western Canadian Road trip that “This trip for the Devils will make or break their season.” Looking back now claiming three out of six points could be called successful for most teams. However, for the Devils it was not good enough. Players on New Jersey have a new attitude and do not like to lose and hold themselves accountable for what happened last year for such a poor season. Last season’s Western Canadian road trip for the Devils was poor. This trip for the Devils was better they wanted more. Devils went 1-1-1 in Western Canada, winning in Vancouver while losing in Edmonton following that up with a shootout loss in Calgary. So in the eyes of most players it was just an OK trip. New Jersey have a big week coming up which will determine if they are contenders.
Real Problems in Pittsburgh
The road has not been kind to the Penguins so far this season. Pittsburgh has only picked up three points on their current road trip. Following a win in Edmonton on Wednesday night, the Penguins fell to Calgary in overtime on Thursday night. Now Pittsburgh is 0-5 in back-to-back games. The Calgary game was by far the best game of the back-to-back games Pittsburgh has played losing 2-1 in overtime. Pittsburgh looked to end the road trip on a high note in Vancouver. Sadly, the Penguins fell to the surprising Canucks. One of the most concerning things for Pittsburgh should be their goal differential. It is -16, which is one of the worst in the league. To make things worse the Penguins top players all have a negative plus/minus rating. Scoring goals seems to be an issue as well. These things must change if the Penguins want to stay contenders.
Signs of Life in Brooklyn
Don’t look now but the Islanders are just one point behind the top teams in the Metro Division. With wins over Vegas and Colorado surely will help the cause.A tough loss in Washington rounded out the week. It should come as no surprise that head coach Dough Weight decided to put Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, and John Tavares back together on a line. They were magic last season, and have found that magic again this season so far. Tavares and Bailey are tied as team leaders in points with 18. Anders Lee is second in the team in scoring with 15 points. Goaltending has also played a role for the Islanders. Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss have improved greatly since the season first began. Both will be vital if the Islanders have any hope of sniffing the playoffs.
Not so Brotherly Love in Philadelphia
It was a rough week for the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers fell victim to being the first team to lose to the Arizona Coyotes. While the team was able to climb back and earn a point in the game, the Flyers knew they underestimated the Coyotes in the game. Philadelphia followed that loss with a loss in Chicago, before ending the undefeated streak for the St. Louis Blues at home. Another loss for the Flyers would cap off the week off. Though the Flyers were able to pick up a point losing in a shootout to Colorado. In each game the Flyers felt they played well at times but did not play a complete. That is something the team must work on as the season progresses. With each point the Flyers pick up the closer they inch towards to being in the playoff picture.
For the Washington Capitals coming back from Western Canada did wonders for the team’s confidence. Back-to-back wins will help for sure. Washington only played two games and won both of them. First over the New York Islanders then over their playoff rival the Boston Bruins. By far these two games were the best games Washington played all season. Braden Holtby is rounding into form nicely for Washington. After a rough start, Holtby is starting to find his game that led him to win the Vezina trophy. Finally Washington is getting some scoring from their third and fourth lines. We know Alex Ovechkin will score his goals, but Washington just can’t rely on their big guns to win games. The Capitals must continue to scoring from the rest of their lineup in order for the team to keep winning.
New York State of Mind
Coming into last week, the Rangers season and coach was hanging on a thread. All it took to salvage the season and give their coach some relief was a three game winning streak. The Rangers are starting to play like the team everyone expected them to prior to the season starting. With wins over Vegas, Tampa Bay, and Florida, the Rangers are starting to climb up the standings in the division. It is no surprise the play of Kevin Shattenkirk has led to the Rangers resurgence. Shattenkirk is linked to the Rangers success because of the contract he signed in the off-season. It may have taken Shattenkirk some time to adjust to the new system and teammates. If these are signs of things to come for the Rangers, New York will be contending for a playoff spot.
Back in the Bottom
The start to the season is not how many around the Carolina Hurricanes thought it would begin. Those inside the organization thought the Hurricanes would be much better, but alas it is just the same old same old in Carolina. Another week and two more loses for the Hurricanes, even though they picked up a loss in a shootout loss to Arizona. Something needs to change in Carolina soon because something is not working. Again, not calling for a coach to be fired, but something needs to happen. A change in attitude or culture would help. Also having player accountability can help change the attitude in the locker room. There are great fans in Carolina and the city loves hockey, but if the team isn’t winning, the fans will look elsewhere. The time is now for change in Carolina.