With the teams coming back from their breaks, the NHL’s unofficially second half to the season has begun. Things in the Metro Division got a little more interesting after the recent events of the past week. Not only has the second half begun, the NHL trade deadline is approaching. Let’s go inside the NHL Metro Division Notebook to see where teams stand back from the break.
NHL Metro Division Notebook: Back from the Break
New York Islanders – Going into the All-Star break, the Islanders sat in first place. Coming out of the break, that is where the Islanders remain. In the first two games since the break, the Islanders went 1-1. New York was able to pick up three points. In the team’s loss it was a great goaltending battle between Tampa Bay and the Islanders. Losing in a shootout is never fun. However, that did not stop the Islanders. As a matter of fact, the Islanders would win the following night. The Islanders continue to increase their lead in the Metro. It would not shock anyone if they added a piece or two at the deadline.
Pittsburgh Penguins – The Penguins has an interesting week coming off the break. The Penguins continue to improve their team and this week’s trade was no different. Pittsburgh traded Derick Brassard and Riley Sheahan to Florida for Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann. While this may not be a blockbuster trade, Pittsburgh is always improving. The Penguins were able to stay competitive by staying younger. Brassard was not fitting in with the Penguins, now with players like Bjugstad and McCann, the Penguins are a little more physical in the tough areas of the ice. Pittsburgh is not done making moves.
Washington Capitals – Coming out of the break, the Washington Capitals were able to end their seven game losing streak. Going to the All-Star game was a blessing for Braden Holtby. During those two mini games, Holtby was able to gain confidence which he carried into the second half of the season. Though Washington split games, Holtby was solid for Washington. The Capitals are tied with points with Pittsburgh in the standings. Hopefully Washington can start accumulating points to avoid playing their rival in the first round of the playoffs.
Best of the Rest:
Columbus Blue Jackets – Here is a team in a complete free fall as of late. The Columbus Blue Jackets are on a five game losing barely holding on to one of the one card positions. Head coach John Tortorella is not happy with his team’s play as of late. With the news dropping that Artemi Panarin is not going to talk about a new contract until after the season is over, the Blue Jackets have some serious thinking to do. Panarin had a little scare Saturday night when he got hurt for a brief moment. However, he returned to the game immediately. The Panarin Watch will be on now until the trade deadline. Let’s see how the Blue Jackets respond after this slide.
Carolina Hurricanes – The Carolina Hurricanes are inching closer and closer to a wild card position. Over the past 11 games, the Hurricanes are 6-4-1. That record has allowed Carolina to climb up the standings. Not to mention the teams in front of them are not them are not winning. While everyone is focusing on their post game celebrations, the team needs to ponder what it will do come the trade deadline. It will be interesting to see what the team does with Micheal Ferland. Ferland is a free agent to be, so if Carolina is moving in a different direction, the time is now to move him.
Philadelphia Flyers – Don’t look now, but here come the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers have now won seven games in a row. As we said at the beginning of the season, the Flyers are a streaky team. They either go on good streaks or bad streaks. Right now the Flyers are on a good streak. Carter Hart is playing amazing hockey. Hart set the record for a rookie goaltender as he has won six games in a row. Considering he is just a rookie, Hart is continues to prove he has the mentality of a player that has been in the league for five years. However, with the deadline looming, do the Flyers make any moves like trading Wayne Simmonds away?
New York Rangers – Looking back the New York Rangers won the Derick Brassard trade where the Rangers received Mika Zibanejad from Ottawa. Zibanejad has been the perfect fit for the Rangers as they look to get younger. Through 51 games, Zibanejad has 50 points. He is on pace to be a point per game player. Playing with Mats Zuccarello is definitely helping. These two have chemistry. Zibanejad has also made Chris Kreider a better player too. As the Rangers continue to get younger, it will be interesting to see what moves they decide to make at the deadline.
New Jersey Devils – Without Taylor Hall in the lineup, the Devils offensively are not the same team. Rest assured Devils fans, Hall will not be going anywhere anytime soon. Over the weekend, Shero made it clear he will not be trading Taylor Hall at the deadline. Though there is no timetable on when he will return to the ice. However, Hall is not the only player that could have been traded. As a matter of fact, looking at the Devils roster, the team could get some assets by moving four players that are UFAs. Players like Kyle Palmieri and Nico Hischier are stepping up. Hischier put the Devils on his back in the win against Montreal. He will need to do more of that.