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 (usually) bi-weekly series will give our fellow Cannonites a little intelligence on the rest of the Metropolitan Division
*Game results listed from 2/25 through 3/9
In an attempt to reach out to our Latvian readership (Sveiki!), I’ve done a little research into Latvian cuisine. I found an item that is guaranteed to perk up the majority of our Cannon readers.
Piragi! Or, as I’ve seen them called, Latvian Bacon Rolls. Here’s a recipe!
So your assignment, dear readers. Make this. Taste it. Tell us if this is good. If you’re a Latvian cuisine expert (Elvis!), tell us if this is legit Latvian food! The name alone makes me wonder why the heck it isn’t well known in the States. Anyway, on to the standings.
Carolina Hurricanes (79 pts, 67 GP)
2/25 – Loss to Dallas
2/28 – Loss to Colorado
2/29 – OT Loss to Montreal
3/5 – Loss to Philadelphia
3/7 – Beat NYI
3/8 – Beat Pittsburgh
Carolina was one of several Metro teams that decided to go on a bit of a slump in February. The Canes may be coming out of it though after beating the Islanders and the Penguins. This team has the best weapon for a stretch run possible – multiple games in hand and a schedule that includes Detroit, New Jersey, Buffalo, Buffalo, Ottawa, and New Jersey again. 6 of 16 games that should be gimmes for a team making a push. Carolina made bold moves at the TDL, including one decision to stay put with the goalies. They come out of it alright as Petr Mrazek could be back soon.
Where they rank in the Metro: Mid-Table (Wild Card 2)
Canes Country General Mood: “Michael Smith reported that Reimer is in gear today at practice.” Mrazek was also slated to play against Detroit, so the Canes may be getting healthy in the right spot at the right time.
New Jersey Devils (Jagr pts, Jagr GP)
2/25 – Beat Detroit
2/27 – OT Loss to San Jose
2/29 – OT Loss to Los Angeles
3/1 – Beat Anaheim
3/3 – Loss to Vegas
3/6 – Beat St. Louis
3/7 – Beat NYR
The New Jersey Devils had another good stretch of games. 4-1-2 is pretty good, all things considered. It just seems like a bit of a waste. It would be helpful if they can keep that kind of play up against Carolina x2, NYI x2, and Florida. 10 points from those games would be the bee’s knees.
Where they rank in the Metro: At the bottom
All About the Jersey General Mood: “Embracing the spoiler role.” This is a title of an article, perhaps a series of them, on the AATJ blog. As long as they spoil the teams we need them to spoil.
New York Islanders (79 pts, 67 GP)
2/25 – OT Loss to NYR
2/27 – OT Loss to St. Louis
2/29 – Loss to Boston
3/3 – Loss to Montreal
3/5 – Loss to Ottawa
3/7 – OT Loss to Carolina
Whooooo. Some more of this, please! The Islanders are in the midst of a wonderfully timed rough stretch. 0-3-3 against a mix of division rivals AND a couple of poor teams? Excellent. Next up for the Isles is the Western Canada roadtrip. The schedule after that isn’t all that easy either with 3 more games against playoff teams and then a Metro swing (@NJ, CAR, @PHI). The Islanders have a pretty good set of odds to get to the playoffs, but it’s also easy to see the slump continue. If their next 6 games are like their last 6, it might be a deep enough hole to really help the Jackets. New York does have 3 games in hand on Columbus, so they have a little leeway.
Where they rank in the Metro: Mid-Table
Lighthouse Hockey General Mood: “They just keep passing and passing and passing and passing and….” The Islanders’ power play strategy may need a little work.
New York Rangers (76 pts, 68 GP)
2/25 – Beat NYI
2/27 – Beat Montreal
2/28 – Loss to Philadelphia
3/1 – Loss to Philadelphia
3/3 – Loss to St. Louis
3/5 – Beat Washington
3/7 – Loss to New Jersey
After surging forward in February, the Rangers hit a Gritty-sized pothole and have yet to really recover. Back to back losses to the Flyers helped one team shoot up the standings and kept the Rangers in the basement…relatively. The Rangers sit 3 points behind Carolina and 5 points behind the Blue Jackets, but they have played two fewer games than the CBJ. They have to hop two teams in the Metro, and possibly one in the Atlantic, but it still seems doable. The schedule is…interesting. They have THREE games left against the Penguins along with a Washington/Florida team trifecta of road games. Buffalo is their breather in the midst of this.
Where they rank in the Metro: Bottom three
Blueshirt Banter General Mood: “A Komodo dragon with no male partner gave birth to three hatchlings.” Hm.
Philadelphia Flyers (89 pts, 68 GP)
2/25 – Beat San Jose
2/28 – Beat NYR
3/1 – Beat NYR
3/4 – Beat Washington
3/5 – Beat Carolina
3/7 – Beat Buffalo
The Flyers had a hell of a segment. After beating Columbus in back to back games, the Flyers decided they wanted to keep everything fair – so they went ahead and won four more games against divisional opponents. The regulation Carolina win was nice, in particular. Everything seems to be working for Philly right now and some models have them as the Stanley Cup favorites. I feel like that might be a kiss of death for the Flyers, but maybe the Eagles broke that curse a few years back. The Flyers don’t have a particularly harrowing slate of games. Some tough opponents mixed in with some mediocre or bad opponents. Playing Boston and Tampa Bay on the 10th and 12th of March might be the toughest pair of the stretch run.
Where they rank in the Metro: Top 3
Broad Street Hockey General Mood: “In Philly every day is Festivus.” Some really legit optimism in Philly these days, but something has to happen to the goalkeeping, right? That’s tradition.
Pittsburgh Penguins (84 pts, 68 GP)
2/26 – Loss to Los Angeles
2/28 – Loss to Anaheim
2/29 – Loss to San Jose
3/3 – Beat Ottawa
3/5 – Beat Buffalo
3/7 – Loss to Washington
3/9 – Loss to Carolina
Like the Jackets, Islanders, and Hurricanes, Pittsburgh ended the month of February in a tailspin. Those three losses were part of a 7 game losing streak (real losses, walter). The Pens beat Ottawa and Buffalo, as they should, before promptly falling to two more division foes. At this point, I’d much rather see the Pens beat a team like Carolina, though. The Pens have another ‘get right’ game against New Jersey before going on a tour of the Metro division - @CBJ, @CAR, NYI, @NYR, NYR, WAS, CAR. It’s interesting – if Columbus can string together a few wins, and Pittsburgh really struggles against this slate of divisional games, they could find themselves on the outs. Their 5 point lead over Carolina and the Isles could disappear quickly.
Where they rank in the Metro: Top three
Pensburgh General Mood: “I get the irritation of JJ but Schultz has been an unmitigated disaster.” I don’t get how they keep finding worse defenders than JJ. I just don’t buy it.
Washington Capitals (90 pts, 69 GP)
2/25 – Beat Winnipeg
2/27 – Loss to Winnipeg
3/1 – Beat Minnesota
3/4 – Loss to Philadelphia
3/5 – OT Loss to NYR
3/7 – Beat Pittsburgh
3/9 – SO Loss to Buffalo
A 3-2-2 stretch allowed the Caps to stay just a point ahead of the Flyers. This is a bit surprising. It’s tough to tell if their ‘slump’ is important or not. Washington had such a huge lead on the Metro for most of the season that it wouldn’t be a surprise if they lost focus for a bit. Still, they should pick it up. There’s a big difference in a series vs a wild card team vs having to likely face the Penguins in Round 1. Washington’s closing kick is pretty easy, though. Detroit x2, Chicago, Ottawa, Buffalo should be enough to keep everyone but the Flyers at bay. As far as the Jackets go – the Caps can only really help Columbus 2 or 3 times. The Caps play the Jackets next week and still have the Rangers and Toronto on the docket.
Where they rank in the Metro: Top of the Metro
Japer’s Rink General Mood: “A seven round So is one of those times when both teams deserve a point, and neither team deserves the extra point.” I can agree with that.
A little bonus content!
Toronto Maple Leafs (81 pts, 70 GP)
2/25 – Beat Tampa Bay
2/27 – Beat Florida
2/29 – Beat Vancouver
3/3 – Beat San Jose
3/5 – SO Loss to Los Angeles
3/6 – Loss to Anaheim
3/10 – Beat Tampa Bay
The Toronto Maple Leafs are currently in the third spot in the Atlantic, but only have 81 points. If Florida wakes up, the Leafs could become Wild Card contenders and that’s why they matter to us. You may notice that I have their 3/10 result! It just went final as I wrote this. But this is good – beat Tampa keeps Toronto nicely in that 3 spot, just ahead of Florida. Toronto’s final kick could be helpful to the CBJ as well. They play the Jackets, the Islanders, and the Canes. Those results could hugely help/hurt the boys in Union Blue. Toronto should be a team we root for going forward, except against Columbus.
Where they rank in the Atlantic: 3rd
Florida Panthers (78 pts, 69 GP)
2/25 – Beat Arizona
2/27 – Loss to Toronto
2/29 – SO Loss to Chicago
3/1 – Loss to Calgary
3/5 – OT Loss to Boston
3/7 – Beat Montreal
3/9 – Beat St. Louis
The Florida Panthers looked like they were throwing in the towel after the TDL moves, but apparently not. 3-2-2 isn’t a great line, but it’s better than the Jackets have put up. The Panthers remain firmly in the wild card picture, though they don’t have the benefit of multiple games in hand. This is a good offensive team with incredibly bad defense. So is Toronto – but the Leafs’ highs are higher than Florida’s and their lows aren’t as low as Florida’s. The Panthers can’t do much to help Columbus. They play the Rangers once. So we can basically root against this team the rest of the way. The schedule doesn’t look too bad, but when a team has zero defense – anyone can beat them.
Where they rank: WC contender
Thanks for reading. Here’s your palate cleanser.