The second week of the Metropolitan Division is in the books. There have been no changes at the top. The Pittsburgh Penguins are still your division leaders. Surprising to, well, everyone, the Philadelphia Flyers are right behind them. The remainder of the division was successful save for the Carolina Hurricanes splitting the points in their week and the New York Islanders falling to 1-2-0. The New Jersey Devils, Washington Capitals, and Columbus Blue Jackets had some successes to have a little more hope going forward.
Here is an overview of the schedule ahead for all eight teams. Games within the division are highlighted and in bold as those games can provide swings in the standings if decided in regulation. There are five coming up in this week; expect to see some swings within the standings based on those games in particular.
Here is the week that was and week that will be for all eight teams.
What Happened Last Week: On paper, the Pittsburgh Penguins had an easy week lined up. A road game against hapless Montreal, a home game with Los Angeles, and the start to a road trip in Columbus. Of course, the game is played on the ice. The Canadiens stunned Pittsburgh with a comeback win. After Evgeni Malkin scored twice in the second period, Montreal tied up the game in the third period with an early goal by Nick Suzuki and a late one by Cole Caufield. In OT, Pittsburgh took a penalty and Kirby Dach punished them to hand the Pens a 3-2 OTL. If that bothered the Penguins, then they absolutely took it out on Los Angeles last Thursday. They stormed the Kings with three goals in the first period and never let up as they added three more to win 6-1. Yesterday, they visited Columbus to start their trip. The Pens went down early with a goal allowed to Boone Jenner and a shorthanded goal to Jack Roslovic in the first period. Josh Archibald got the Pens on the board, but Kent Johnson scored on the next shift to put Pittsburgh down 3-1. The Penguins then decided to show no mercy. Jan Rutta and Danton Heinen scored to tie it up within the second period. In the third period, Sidney Crosby, Heinen, and McGinn all scored to pull the game away for a decisive-looking 6-3 win. The win was enough to take first place by a point as well as win their week.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Pittsburgh will remain on the road all week. They will leave America from Ohio and up to Alberta to continue their road trip. The Penguins will get a very difficult back-to-back set with Edmonton on Monday night and Calgary on Tuesday night. After two days off, the Penguins will go play a Vancouver team in disarray on Friday and then head back to America to play Seattle on Saturday. The second back-to-back will be easier on paper. However, the Penguins are looking for points on the road and anything taken will be earned.
What Happened Last Week: The Philadelphia Flyers were on the road last week, first going to the state of Florida and then stopping in Tennessee last night. A nasty back-to-back against Tampa Bay and Florida last Tuesday and Wednesday seemed to portend two losses. That did not happen. The Flyers came back from a Steven Stamkos PPG-only two-goal deficit in the second period. Scott Laughton put the Flyers on the board past the halfway mark of the period. In the third period, James van Reimsdyk scored a PPG to tie it up. Noah Cates became the hero with a tie-breaking score for a 3-2 Flyers win in regulation. The Panthers would serve the Flyers their first loss, though. Carter Verhaeghe put the Flyers down two scores with two fairly quick goals in the first period. The Flyers would come back with a Nick Seeler goal in the first period and a PPG from van Reimsdyk in the second. But the deadlock would be broken by Florida - a third period goal by Rudolfs Balcers. Josh Mahura scored later in the third to give the Panthers some insurance. Travis Konecny would score with 3 seconds left to make the score look close. It was still a loss, 4-3, to Florida. Last night, the Flyers went to Nashville. They got off to a good start and never looked back. Kevin Hayes and Zack MacEwen scored in the first period and Joel Farabee scored in the third period. Matt Duchene provided a goal that ended up being a consolation goal as the Flyers won 3-1 in a solid fashion. The Flyers won their second week in a row and are in a surprisingly good position in the standings. I am not saying they should be hopeful but better to be here than not.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Philadelphia will get to enjoy being at home all week with their three games coming up. Tonight, they will host San Jose. This game may be impacted by both team’s fatigue as they played on Saturday. San Jose’s game was in the afternoon so they will have a little more recovery time. The schedule picks up later in the week. Philly will host a really good Florida team on Thursday and a really good Carolina team on Saturday. Florida already beat the Flyers once last week. It was close, but there is at least an incentive for revenge. It is still a tall task, but if the Flyers have a theme for this season so far, then it may be “nothing to lose, everything to gain.” So far, they have gained quite a bit and lost only once.
What Happened Last Week: The Carolina Hurricanes continued their road trip into Western Canada in this past week. After winning in the Bay Area, they opened the week in Seattle. This was a beating. The Hurricanes made it rain points on the Kraken. Seth Jarvis opened the scoring. Sebastian Aho, Andre Burakovsky, and Andrei Svechnikov (twice) all scored within three minutes of each other to end the second at 4-1 for Carolina. Jordan Martinook tacked on one more in the third period for the 5-1 win. Great. On Thursday, they visited Edmonton. This one was a goal fest. Zach Hyman started it off with a PPG in the second period. While Svechnikov tied it up early in the second period; Ryan McLeod scored a shorty and Evander Kane scored in even strength to make 3-1. Svechnikov scored again to keep the Canes within one. But Carolina would end up chasing the game. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins made it 4-2 early in the third. Svechnikov picked up a hat trick with a PPG shortly after. Then Leon Draisaitl scored a PPG. Then Martin Necas scored a PPG to keep the Canes within one with about 11 minutes left. There would be no tying goal; Connor McDavid iced the game with an ENG with 10 seconds left for Carolina’s first loss: a 6-4 defeat. Last night, the Canes tried to recover in Calgary. The first ten minutes or so went well enough with goals by Aho and Calvin de Haan. Then the Flames responded with a Nazem Kadri PPG in the first and a Brett Ritchie score in the second. Overtime was needed and Tyler Toffoli ended it all with 30 seconds left in the fourth period. The Hurricanes lost 3-2 in overtime. The point earned meant they split the week’s potential points on this trip. They are just holding onto third due to goal differential.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The West Coast trip will end with a visit to Vancouver on Monday night. Given how much it has been a struggle for the Canucks this season, the Hurricanes may have a good chance to end their trip on a high note. Seriously, I have no idea why the Canucks are what they are right now. After three days off, Carolina will play a back-to-back set within the division. They will return to Raleigh on Friday night to host an Islanders team still figuring things out. Then, they will go to Philadelphia to take on a surprising Flyers team. Carolina may relish their chances in these games; but they still have to take care of business and not look past either. Especially Philly, who has showed up much better than expected. The Canes can continue to claw back up in the division; but any dropped points could mean a setback in the standings.
What Happened Last Week: The New York Rangers had two games to play, both at Madison Square Garden. They were both against Pacific Division teams with little expectations. The Rangers took care of Anaheim on Monday night, but it was not without some drama. While the Rangers got up 2-0 in the first period with a pair of PPGs from Vincent Trocheck and Mika Zibanejad, Frank Vatrano scored later in the first and Trevor Zegras tied it up early in the second period. It was in the second period where New York pulled away. Kaapo Kakko restored the lead before the halfway mark; Alexis Lafreniere scored his first of the season late in the period, and Artemi Panarin made it 5-2 going into the third period. While Max Comtois pulled the Ducks within two, a Zibanejad PPG restored the sizeable lead. Derek Grant scored a consolation goal as the Rangers prevailed 6-4. On Thursday, the Rangers hosted a then-winless San Jose team. The Sharks frustrated the Rangers all night long. Logan Couture scored the game’s first goal. While Filip Chytil and Panarin restored a lead for New York, it did not last through the second period. Radim Simek tied it up. The score stood and overtime was needed. A breakdown in coverage led to Erik Karlsson scoring just 49 seconds into the fourth period for San Jose’s first win of the season and New York’s first post-regulation loss. New York still won their week, but they may rue that loss to a then-winless San Jose team.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Rangers will have a far busier week of games after just the two last week. This evening, they will host Columbus for an inter-division game that could play some role in the division’s early shape. After that, they will have a tough back-to-back with a home game against Colorado on Tuesday and their hated rivals in the Islanders on Wednesday. The Avs are defending champions and are still quite good. Playing a fresh Isles squad in a rivalry game is not ideal. On Saturday afternoon, the Rangers will begin another back-to-back set with Dallas. The Rangers will be tested a little more in this coming week; we shall see how well they pass.
What Happened Last Week: The New Jersey Devils faithful were not in a happy place going into this week. Two 5-2 losses. Bad goaltending. A lot of attempts with little to show for it. Can the third game of the season be a must-win game? It looked bleak as Anaheim visited the Devils and scored two goals on four six shots in the first period no thanks in part to a faceoff loss creating the first goal for Jakob Silfverberg. And Silfverberg not being covered on the second goal. The Devils would respond, though. Ondrej Palat finished close to the net to get the Devils on the board and give them hope. Nico Hischier did the same later in the second period to tie it up. Dougie Hamilton finished an excellent pass from Jesper Bratt for a go-ahead goal just 33 seconds into the third period. Dawson Mercer chipped a puck past Anthony Stolarz for an important insurance goal. The Devils won their first game, 4-2, and the fans at the Rock were more pleased. The fans would be even more excited with the Devils’ trip to Long Island on Thursday night. They absolutely dominated the Isles in their building for the better part of three periods. Ilya Sorokin did his best but the Devils broke him. First with a breakaway by Jack Hughes. Then a pair of goals by Palat. While Lee dashed in a puck late to snap Mackenzie Blackwood’s shutout bid, Hischier ended the game with an ENG for a 4-1 win. The Devils hosted San Jose on Saturday afternoon with a chance to sweep the week. The Devils stormed the Sharks and forced Kaapo Kahkonen to be great. Which he was. But Yegor Sharangovich scored off a steal in the second period and Dawson Mercer put in his own rebound for a PPG to give the Devils a two-goal lead. Kevin Labanc immediately responded with a goal off a 2-on-1. The score held, thanks to Kahkonen, leading to a testy and nerve-wracking ending in New Jersey. But the Devils and Mackenzie Blackwood held on for the 2-1 win. Three games, three wins, and a move up to fifth place. You cannot ask for much better than that.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Devils’ schedule will get much harder from here on out. They will play some teams that made the playoffs last season and are likely to do it again. First, they will host Washington on Monday night. The Caps have been a problem for the Devils in recent seasons. A good performance against them would send a good message that maybe this season will be different. After that game with the Capitals, the Devils will head to Detroit. It is the Devils’ first back-to-back set and they will play a Detroit team that will be fresh and beat the Devils 5-2 earlier this month. This will not be easy either. On Friday, the Devils will be back home and host the defending Cup champions in Colorado. That will not be an easy game either. How the Devils perform in this coming week will reveal how much better this season may go.
What Happened Last Week: Alex Ovechkin finally scored a goal for the Washington Capitals. Not that anyone doubted it would happen. But he scored the first goal against Vancouver. Then things went badly for the Caps. Elias Pettersson scored late in the first period to tie it up. Lars Eller restored the lead 8 seconds into the second period. Then, Bo Horvat and Curtis Lazar scored on back-to-back shifts. J.T. Miller converted a power play to have the Canucks lead Washington 4-2 going into the third period. Of course, Vancouver would botch this lead. Dylan Strom got the comeback started early in the third with a PPG. John Carlson scored to make it 4-4. Conor Sheary scored to make it 5-3. Late, Ovechkin ended it with a goal for a 6-4 win. A big comeback win and more misery for the Canucks. Good for Washington. The good times would not last. On Thursday, they went into Ottawa and had a tough time with the Sens. It started off well with T.J. Oshie and Anthony Mantha scoring PPGs on back to back shifts in the first period. But Drake Batherson responded with a pair of PPGs of his own in the second period. Ottawa pulled away in the third period with goals by Shane Pinto, Tyler Motte, and Alex DeBrincat. Washington remains winless on the road with a 5-2 loss. Last night, the Caps returned to D.C. to play L.A. This one was a stressful affair for the home team. After a score-less first period, Sean Durzi and Phillip Danault scored for the Kings to put the Caps down two goals. Washington would respond with three goals early in the third period from Nic Dowd, John Carlson, and Lars Eller. However, Viktor Arvidsson tied it up shortly after Eller’s goal. Would the Kings go up again? Would the game go to overtime? No, said Marcus Johansson. He scored with 5:25 left in regulation and the Caps held on for a 4-3 win. The Capitals won their week, although a result on the road still eludes them.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Capitals will begin a four-game road trip. It begins in nearby Newark, where they will visit the New Jersey Devils. Which Devils team will they see? Who knows. On Thursday, the Capitals will head to Dallas to play the Stars. This is followed by a trip to Nashville on Saturday night. These are not games where the Capitals should feel a ton of pressure. For a team still seeking a result on the road in this early season, failures in these games may build up some frustration for Washington.
What Happened Last Week: The New York Islanders started this past week by hosting San Jose. This went quite well. While the visitors scored first, Anders Lee and Zach Parise scored in the second period to give the Isles the lead. Evgeny Svechnikov briefly tied up the game for San Jose. However, Oliver Wahlstrom scored within the final minute of the second period to give the Isles the 3-2 lead. Wahlstrom scored another goal in the third to make it 4-2. Cal Clutterbuck scored to make it a 5-2 final score against a then-winless Sharks team. The Isles surely had to feel confident as they prepared for New Jersey on Thursday night. The Devils absolutely smoked them. 41 to 17 in shots. Ilya Sorokin standing on his head and finally cracked with second period goals by Jack Hughes and Ondrej Palat. A third goal by Palat provided insurance. Anders Lee provided a brief bit of hope with an extra skater goal late in the second. The Devils ended that hope when Nico Hischier sailed in an ENG to hand the Isles a 4-1 loss. After a 2-2-0 start at home, the Isles hit the road for the first time with a trip to Tampa Bay on Saturday night. It was a close game there until it was not. Brayden Point scored first to open the scoring. Matt Martin responded with a goal of his own; but Brandon Hagel lit the lamp near the end of the first to put the Isles down 2-1. In the second period, Corey Perry scored to make it a two-goal lead. Anthony Beauvillier pulled the Isles within one, but Nick Paul scored a last-second goal to make it 4-2 going into the third period. Ryan Pulock scored early in the third to make it a one-goal deficit, only for Alex Killorn to restore the two goal lead later in the third. The Isles lost 5-3, resulting in the division’s only losing record for the week.
What’s Coming Up This Week: The Islanders will not only have four games to play, but perhaps have one of the most difficult weeks of anyone’s schedule. Right after playing Tampa Bay, they are visiting the Panthers tonight. The Panthers beat the Isles in the Islanders’ home opener. They could make it 2-for-2 this evening. The Isles will return home on Wednesday to play their hated rivals in the Rangers. The Isles will have the advantage of not playing the night before; but it is a rivalry game and the Rangers have been successful so far for a reason. After that, the Isles get to visit Carolina on Friday and then host Colorado on Saturday. Yes, that’s two Cup contenders in back-to-back games, home-and-away. Yes, this whole week is against teams with high expectations for 2022-23. Good luck, Islanders.
What Happened Last Week: The Columbus Blue Jackets spent this past week at home and searched for their first win. They would get it on Tuesday night against Vancouver. It did not seem that way early on as Bo Horvat (on a shorty!) and Elias Pettersson scored in the first period. But the story for the Canucks so far is that no lead is safe and the Blue Jackets chipped away at it. Justin Danforth got the Jackets on the board in the second period. Zach Werenski scored to tie it up in the third. Horvat scored shortly after that to restore the lead for Vancouver - only for Johnny Gaudreau to respond a little later to make it 3-3. Overtime was needed and Vladislav Gavrikov scored in OT to give Columbus their first win. On Thursday night, the Blue Jackets hosted Nashville. Again, the visitors went up 2-0 in the first period with goals by Tanner Jeannot and Ryan Johansen. Unlike the Tuesday game, while Jake Bean put Columbus on the board, Yakov Trenin scored to make it 3-1 going into the third period. But Columbus would come out on fire in the third period. Gaudreau put the Jackets within one on a breakaway; Danforth tied it up with just under 8 minutes left; and Nick Blankenburg scores with 1:23 left in regulation to give Columbus the lead. A Gaudreau ENG sealed a 5-3 comeback win to stun the Preds. Last night, they had a chance to sweep the week against Pittsburgh. They started off well enough with goals by Boone Jenner and Jack Roslovic, who did it shorthanded. While they conceded a goal to Josh Archibald early in the second period, Kent Johnson restored the two-goal lead on the next shift. Then it all went awry as the Penguins scored five unanswered goals. Rutta, Heinen (twice), Crosby, and McGinn all turned a 3-1 lead for Columbus into a 6-3 score with about five minutes left. The score held there, leading to Columbus’ one loss of the week. It was a positive week for the Blue Jackets, who really needed it. You can say they are trending up. But as you can see in the standings, that is not enough. They need to keep getting points to move up. It is early in the season but the Blue Jackets would be wise to make a move sooner rather than later.
What’s Coming Up This Week: Columbus will take a short trip to New York right after hosting Pittsburgh before returning home for the week. They will visit the Rangers for a 5 PM start today. After then, the Blue Jackets will host a hapless Arizona team on Tuesday. Provided they take them seriously, they should get a result in that one. Their week ends on Friday night with a much tougher game against Boston. The Blue Jackets salvaged their poor week to some degree, but catching up in this league is hard precisely because you have to keep on succeeding. Will the Jackets do so? This week will tell us whether they can or not.
That was the second Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2022-23 season. What do you expect to happen in this week coming up? Will Pittsburgh still be in the division leaders by next week? Will Philadelphia remain in second? How well will the Devils do; can they surpass the Rangers? Will Columbus remain at the bottom for another week? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the eight teams in the week that was and the week ahead in the comments. Thank you for reading.