New York Islanders Fall Again in Metro Power Rankings
The Metropolitan Division features both the Stanley Cup Playoffs champions and the Presidents Trophy winner from 2015-16. And the New York Islanders find themselves floundering near the bottom.
The New York Islanders have won a game against the Vancouver Canucks. Cue the celebration, get the ticket tape, the Stanley Cup has been won, and the Islanders are the champs.
Wait. A single victory against a team that’s lost eight in a row doesn’t mean the narrative has turned? Oh. My bad.
Forgetting that minor victory against the Canucks the Isles look terrible. They shouldn’t be this bad, but they certainly are. With that win though the Isles have done one thing, it delayed the doomsday clock by at least another game.
The rest of the Metro though is starting to pass the Islanders by. With Pittsburgh and the Rangers building a nice eight point cushion already. The Blue Jackets are on par with Isles and the Jackets hold three games in hand.
The Capitals and the Devils, both ahead by a five and three-point margin respectively both hold a game in hand too. That’s four teams well ahead of the Islanders with a healthy cushion.
The potential for playoff hockey looks bleak so far this season. If the ship doesn’t turn now for the Isles, we, the fans, might be in for a long season.
Last week: 1-3-2
Last rank: 8 (0)
The Carolina Hurricanes are the worst team in the league. Not the worst current team, and future worst team in the league in the Vancouver Canucks.
The Canes rank 30th thanks to a -10 goal differential. Thanks in large part to their sub-standard goalkeeping from duo Cam Ward and Eddie Lack. The same duo they had last season that was ranked 29th in the league with a .902 SV%.
Now they sit in 28th with a .883 SV%. Which means some teams are oddly enough worse that the Canes in goaltending department.
But combine that terrible save percentage with an equally bad forward line that just can’t score goals and the two create the perfect duo to sink a team.
If it wasn’t for Jeff Skinner and his 12 points who knows where this could rank. Well, it would still be 30th. But they’d be last by a long shot.
Their 2-2-2 record since the last power ranking is the worst in the division and so to the bottom they go.
New York Islanders
Last week: 3-5-0
Last rank: 6 (-1)
Yup. How the mighty have fallen. Ok, maybe not mighty but how about “the-former-100-point-team”? Better? It’s certainly more descriptive.
This New York Islanders team shouldn’t be as bad as this. But you know what? When the team’s power play is 10.8% efficient and their penalty kill is as equally woeful sitting at 77.1% games are bound to swing the other way.
And they have. With a 2-1-2 record since the last ranking, the Isles have fallen to 7th in the division with the playoffs a far cry with this type of pace.
But the season is young. The team still has time to improve and make some ground in the division and push for a spot in the post-season come April.
Andrew Ladd got his first goal, so maybe his new found accuracy can add to the Islanders attack and change these one-goal losses into victories. Maybe the road trip to Florida will galvanize some partnerships throughout the lineup.
Maybe the road trip to Florida will galvanize some partnerships throughout the lineup. Maybe that translates on the ice. Maybe. And a maybe isn’t going to put those team higher in the rankings.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Last week: 3-3-1
Last rank: 7 (+1)
The Blue Jackets are on the move up the standings in the Metropolitan Division. John Tortorella lives to, maybe literally, fight another day.
This is probably the highest rank the Blue Jackets have achieved in the Metro since the 2014-15 season when they finished just outside of the playoff picture. What’s the deal, is this the Columbus from 2013-14, when they made the playoffs?
That year the Blue Jackets got excellent goalkeeping from Sergei Bobrovsky and outstanding production from captain Nick Foligno.
Former Vezina winner Bobrovsky is seemingly back to form after a terrible 2015-16 season. The Jackets are ranked top of the league in terms of save percentage with .937% and Bob is the main reason for that with a .947 SV%.
In the case of Nick Foligno, it seems he’s also remembered he can be a better player than he was in 2015-16. That season he posted the lowest shooting percentage oh his career with 8.1%. That’s after two consecutive years shooting above 16%.
This season Foligno is at 28.6%. That 10-0 game against Montréal certainly helped.
Last week: 3-4-0
Last rank: 5 (0)
The Philadephia Flyers are exactly what we thought they were. I fell like an ex-Arizona Cardinals coach saying it. But the Flyers aren’t anything more or less than what was expected of them.
But with that being said there’s still upside to be had within this Flyers that’s right in the thick if things within the Metropolitan Division.
For one this team is getting underwhelming goaltending. The duo of Mason and Neuvirth hasn’t been great. The Flyers are dead last in save percentage in the league with a .871 SV%. These two are better than this. And by the end of the season, this save percentage will be rectified.
Even with bad goaltending, though, the Flyers are still winning. Thanks to their veteran forwards producing according to their pay scale.
The was a dig at Jakob Voracek. Just fresh off an eight-year $66 million dollar contract the then 26-year-old forward had a down year with 55 points.
Fast-forward to this year and Voracek is leading the team with 15 points. Not to mention Mark Streit’s 10 points. And rookie Travis Konecky’s none points. Oh, and Giroux, Simmonds, and Gostisbehere have a combined 36 points.
And the Flyers are right in the thick of things in the Metro for it. So when that goaltending gets sorted out the Flyers might surprise a few.
New Jersey Devils
Last week: 3-2-2
Last rank: 4 (0)
Let’s just address the elephant in the room here. Yes. P.A. Parenteau has five goals and six points so far for the New Jersey Devils. And yes, it’s annoying.
Not because there’s any ill will towards Parenteau. He deserves all the success he earns. It’s just the Islanders could have used those five goals.
It’s not like we have to think of some convoluted and ridiculous scenario where that would have been possible, like getting Taylor Hall on the roster. (I’ll get to him in a second). The Islanders did all the hard work in the offseason to sign Parenteau to a nice little deal, and then let it go.
And then the Islanders send Mathew Barzal, the kid that essentially forced Parenteau from the roster, back to the WHL. Not only do the Isles not have Barzal, but they also don’t have Parenteau.
The Devils are a deep team, up front at least. Taylor Hall, Mike Cammalleri, Adam Henrique, and Travis Zajac. Hall aside these players aren’t going to break any scoring record on their own. But what they will do is score a minimum of 30 points each.
Then add Hall to that mix and you have a Devils team that’s turning heads and proving that it’s 3-1-1 recent track record isn’t a fluke.
Last week: 3-2-1
Last rank: 2 (-1)
The Washington Capitals just keep on going. It’s like the regular season isn’t even there. They aren’t steamrolling teams. They don’t have to. But like I’ve said a number of times, the regular season is already decided for the Capitals. It’s all about the playoffs.
They’re getting elite level contributions from their forwards like that was ever going to be a debate. Alex Ovechkin is on pace to score 47 goals this season. A down year for Ovie, but a record pace for just about anyone else in the league.
Vezina winner Brayden Holtby is righting the ship on his game, clipping at 2.19 GAA and .920 SV%. Behind Holtby, the Caps are getting great service from Philip Grubauer with a 1.00 GAA and .953 SV%.
For Washington, it’s less about them being worse than last week and more about other teams being better than them.
And you know what, Barry Trotz and his boys are probably a-ok with that. Let the other teams deal with the spotlight, the weight of expectations, and the crushing disappointment when they don’t reach everyone else’s narratives.
The Caps are just fine with that. Their focus is five months away to April. The regular season is just part of the process to the final goal: the Stanley Cup.
New York Rangers
Last week: 3-2-1
Last rank: 3 (+1)
The New York Rangers weren’t supposed to be this good. But here we are with the Rangers tied with the Penguins for the lead in the Metro division.
J.T. Miller wasn’t supposed to be on pace to score 76 points on the season. This is a player who’s career year was 36 in 2015-16. Wait that was Kevin Hayes. Kevin Hayes had a career year with 36 points last season.
Sorry, I get my overachieving New York Rangers confused. J.T. Miller is the other player on pace for 76 points. His career year was also last season, but he scored 43 points. My bad.
Jimmy Vesey wasn’t supposed to be this good either. The recent Hobby Baker winner is a good player. But to go from the NCAA to the NHL and still produce wasn’t in the script.
And this year it isn’t on Henrik Lundqvist. Unlike most years King Hank isn’t carrying this team. He’s certainly been good, but his 2.39 GAA and .908 SV% are lows for Henrik.
It’s that overproducing forward corps that’s carrying the Rangers. Their +24 goal differential and 55 goals for confirms as much. No other team in the NHL is even close to those numbers.
This could all come crashing down, because, like I’ve alluded to, this was rather unexpected. Or they can just keep going, and we can all bask in the wonder that is Alain Vigneault and Jeff Gorton.
Last week: 4-2-1
Last rank: 1 (0)
For another week the Pittsburgh Penguins sit atop our Metropolitan Divison power ranking. The Rangers made a good case for top spot, but the Pens haven’t lost since out last ranking.
Since our last power ranking the Pens are 5-0-1. Outscoring opponents 25-13 in the process. The forward powers that be are clicking on all cylinders for the Pens. With Evgeny Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Sidney Crosby all at the top with 34 points between the three.
More important to Pittsburgh cause is the return of Ken Dryden version 2016, Matt Murray is back from a hand injury he suffered in the World Cup of Hockey. And he’s been fantastic.
Since his return, he’s put up a 1.33 GAA and .957 SV% over a three game sample. Making Marc-Andre Fleury’s 3.07 GAA and .908 SV% look as downright pedantic as it sounds. Don’t worry about Fleury, Las Vegas is going to be a great place for him to go to.
I almost forgot about Kris Letang. He’s back from injury too. So that injury bug that was running around the Pens locker room last week, it’s all gone now.
With the forwards going and the crease secured the Penguins should be a force in the East. And such they are. Sitting just three back of the conference leading Montréal Canadiens.
The Penguins are the team to beat in the Metropolitan. But should they slip up even a bit both the Rangers and the Capitals can make a case for top spot in the division. Maybe the Islanders can fly under the radar as these power knock each other around and swoop in. That’s possible right? It works in Risk, it can work in the NHL, right?