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A view from the parapet: A break in the winter campaign

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Our bi-weekly (usually) look at the rest of the Metro division

2020 NHL All-Star Skills Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Being a blog about the Columbus Blue Jackets and being read primarily by Blue Jackets fans, it’s perfectly natural that our focus remains inside our own lines. However, this season, we’ll take a peek over the breastworks to see just what the opposition is doing. This bi-weekly series will give a our fellow Cannonites a little intelligence on the rest of the Metropolitan Division

*Game results listed from 1/1 through 1/25

Carolina Hurricanes

1/3 – Loss to Washington

1/5 – Loss to Tampa Bay

1/7 – Beat Philadelphia

1/10 – Beat Arizona

1/11 – Beat Los Angeles

1/13 – Loss to Washington

1/16 – Loss to Columbus

1/17 – OT Loss to Anaheim

1/19 – Beat NYI

1/21 – Beat Winnipeg

At the end of 2019, the Hurricanes held a slim 1 pt lead over Philadelphia and held the 1st WC. Now they still have that 1 pt cushion, but they sit in the 2nd WC spot. Carolina had a 5-4-1 January segment, but only 2-3-0 against Metro opponents. That really demonstrates how tough it can be to make up ground – the CBJ’s rise is so impressive! The Canes had some highs and lows in the month on the player personnel side. We know about the loss of Dougie Hamilton in the game against Columbus, but they also gained a Justin Williams for the stretch run. Can Williams overcome the loss on the blue line? We tend to think ‘probably not’, but Carolina has shown to be a team of resiliency in the past

Where they rank in the Metro: Mid-World (Wild Card)

Trending: Down

Canes Country General Mood: “Are we surprised about Gritty? There were only 2 possible ways this whole thing could’ve gone down: the kid was being a little turd or Gritty is a sociopath.” Why not both?

New Jersey Devils

1/2 – Beat NYI

1/4 – Beat Colorado

1/7 – OT Loss to NYI

1/9 – Loss to NYR

1/11 – Beat Washington

1/12 – Beat Tampa Bay

1/14 – Loss to Toronto

1/16 – Loss to Washington

1/18 – Loss to Columbus

It’s tough to think of anything new to write about the Devils. It’s a season the fans probably want to erase from memory as soon as possible. However, the month of January did include some things to cheer about. A 4-1-1 run to start the month included beating the Capitals and Lightning on a B2B. That’s not easy! Perhaps it sapped the rest of the team’s energy for the month, though. The Devils ended the stretch with 3 straight losses, including a 5-0 shutout against Columbus.

Where they rank in the Metro: At the bottom

Trending: Even

All About the Jersey General Mood: “If you’re somebody who believes the Captaincy means something, Nico Hischier is probably the logical candidate.” Early salvo in the discussion on the next Devils Captain. Andy Greene isn’t long for the team – age or the trade deadline should have him moving along soon.

New York Islanders

1/2 – Loss to New Jersey

1/4 – Loss to Toronto

1/6 – Beat Colorado

1/7 – Beat New Jersey

1/11 – OT Loss to Boston

1/13 – Loss to NYR

1/14 – Beat Detroit

1/16 – Loss to NYR

1/18 – Loss to Washington

1/19 – SO Loss to Carolina

1/21 – Beat NYR

The downward slide has continued for the Islanders and their games in hand cushion isn’t what it was. A 5-5-2 stretch in January contributed to their continued lull in the standings and it is made worse by the 2-4-2 mark against Metro teams. They’ve slid to 3rd in the Metro behind the Penguins. The trouble with the NYR probably stings the local fans a bit more than any of the other losses. The positive are that the defense has stiffened up a little bit. NYI gave up more than 3 goals only twice in those 12 games, but half the games were of the 1-goal variety. That’s a tough blade edge to navigate. The Islanders need to straighten up and fly right – they are being chased down.

Where they rank in the Metro: Top three

Trending: Down

Lighthouse Hockey General Mood: “Starting tonight is the stretch that will define the season. The next 13 are Minn, Wash, NJ, Tor, Col, NJ, Bos, NYR, Det, NYR, WSH, CAR, NYR. At minimum they need 16 points out of that stretch.” I’m leaving this comment here again because it turned out to be pretty prescient. The NYI only gained 14 points in that stretch. We’ll check back in a couple of weeks to see if that really did define their new course.

New York Rangers

1/2 – Loss to Calgary

1/4 – Loss to Vancouver

1/7 – Beat Colorado

1/9 – Beat New Jersey

1/11 – Loss to St. Louis

1/13 – Beat NYI

1/16 – Beat NYI

1/19 – Loss to BJORKSTRAND

1/21 – Loss to NYI

At the start of 2020, the Rangers had been swapping positions with Columbus. A 4-5 January has seen that gap widen considerably. We actually thought the Rangers had a better month until we looked at the record – the recent success over NYI clouded that a bit. NYR continue to be generally competitive and entertaining for their fans – but that leads to some angst since it’s possible to see how the team could be a playoff contender this season. Offensively, they are very good with a T10 power play unit and T10 in goals scored overall. What’s that? Artemi Panarin has 26-42-68 and has a 25 (!) point lead over the next point scorer in Manhattan? Well, at least he’s fun to watch. The Rangers are still a year away but one wonders if the current intrigue around Alexandar Georgiev will set them back. The young backup has been good but is clearly not considered the future at goal. The decision around that position could be the one to make or break them.

Where they rank in the Metro: Bottom three

Trending: Even

Blueshirt Banter General Mood: “All Star Weekend went as well as those All Star Jerseys/Sweaters looked.” I assume this means bad? Bland?

Philadelphia Flyers

1/2 – Loss to Vegas

1/4 – Loss to Arizona

1/7 – OT Loss to Carolina

1/8 – Beat Washington

1/11 – Loss to Tampa Bay

1/13 – Beat Boston (SO)

1/15 – Beat St. Louis (OT)

1/16 – Loss to Montreal

1/18 – Beat Los Angeles

1/21 – Beat Pittsburgh

The Philadelphia Flyers kept pace with Carolina by sporting a 5-4-1 mark in January. They remain 1 pt back of the Canes. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to keep them in the WC spot since Columbus has surged past both teams. We don’t keep track of the nature of victories, but for the 2nd time this season – and going forward – we will do so for the Flyers. Philadelphia doesn’t lose in OT more than the average team, but they WIN in extra time a lot. Their 18 Regulation Wins is only better than New Jersey in the Metro and behind all the playoff contenders. Their ROW isn’t much better. The Flyers are likely to lose any tiebreaker to any team in the Metro. They need to start winning in regulation.

Where they rank in the Metro: Best of the Bottom Three

Trending: Down

Broad Street Hockey General Mood: “If your only exposure to primates was this board you’d struggle to believe there are any intelligent apes on earth.” A response to a commenter who believes in the existence of Bigfoot. Apparently, there was a sighting in Washington State.

Pittsburgh Penguins

1/2 – OT Loss to San Jose

1/4 – Beat Montreal

1/5 – Loss to Florida

1/7 – Beat Vegas

1/10 – Beat Colorado

1/12 – Beat Arizona

1/14 – Beat Minnesota

1/16 – Loss to Boston

1/17 – Beat Detroit

1/19 – Beat Boston

1/21 – Loss to Philadelphia

Another good month for the Penguins as they ride a 7-3-1 January segment to 2nd in the Metro. There clearly wasn’t enough silver in the bullet to keep this beast down. The Pens survived their injury woes and are now back to strength with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin leading the charge. They continue to be Top 7 in Goals For despite a bottom half power play unit. There’s room for their offense to improve. Where the question marks reside in Pittsburgh is in net. Matt Murray hasn’t been great – even drawing some boos – and Tristan Jarry seems to be the current darling in net for them. Given the CBJ situation in goal, we’ve decided that doubting anyone’s young netminder isn’t our cup of tea this season. Jarry looks good. The Pens are only 4 points behind the Capitals. The top of the Metro hasn’t been interesting in a couple of months – it could be again and soon.

Where they rank in the Metro: Top three

Trending: Up

Pensburgh General Mood: “Only in Pittsburgh do people spend so much time lamenting a recent record of 25% on the power play xD.” I think the PP/PK is something that can always have critics/supporters. It’s one of the fun parts of hockey fanhood. We always think the PP can be better.

Washington Capitals

1/3 – Beat Carolina

1/5 – Beat San Jose

1/7 – Beat Ottawa

1/8 – Loss to Philadelphia

1/11 – Loss to New Jersey

1/13 – Beat Carolina

1/16 – Beat New Jersey

1/18 – Beat NYI

Rack up another good month for Washington – a 6-2 mark keeps them trucking along. They did lose ground to the Pens, but Pittsburgh played 3 more games during the same stretch than the Caps. The schedule has been odd for Washington as they had played more games than anyone else in the Metro for most of the season, but they were one of the teams with the early bye week, so that should normalize for the last 30 games. Their offense is great, John Carlson is still clicking, and the penalty kill unit is #2 in the league. Washington is sitting in a good place and yet…the Pens are closing in. The two teams face off on February 2nd.

Where they rank in the Metro: Top of the Metro

Trending: Even

Japer’s Rink General Mood: “If I were a TBL fan, I’d have wanted Cooper fired after last year...” They are on the bye week, so I can just pick something funny for CBJ fans.

Thanks for reading. Here’s your palate cleanser.

NHL: JAN 24 All-Star Skills Photo by John Crouch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images