A trip around the Metropolitan Division: Oct. 12- Oct. 19



What was expected to be the most hotly contested, physical division in hockey is off to a rough start.

Disappointing starts by Philadelphia, New Jersey and Washington are making the division look poor in the early going. But how long will that continue?

This week has created some interesting story lines within the division. Let's take a look team-by-team.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins (6-1-0)

The Penguins continue to roll. They have lost only once this year, a 6-3 loss to the Panthers on the road.

This week, the Penguins took care of the Lightning on the road, the disappointing Oilers in Pittsburgh and the free-falling Flyers.

Pittsburgh will face the Canucks in a Saturday matinee, puck drop is set for 1:00 p.m.

The Penguins currently boast a three game winning streak and a +11 goal differential, good for fourth best in the league.

Marc-Andre Fleury is shutting down opponents so far this year. He has been in net for all six of the Penguin's wins and brings a 1.67 goals-against average and .932 save percentage into Saturday's duel with Vancouver.

Sidney Crosby is off to a torrid start. Among his NHL-leading 14 points, he has six goals and eight assists.

Evgeni is riding a five game point streak, Pascal Dupuis a four game point streak and Chris Kunitz a three game point streak.

The Penguins have been without the services of Kris Letang, Beau Bennett, James Neal and Matt D'Agostini. Letang and D'Agostini both fully practiced on Friday.

Fleury told that the team is focused on picking up points every night.

"It's where you want to be," Fleury said to "We're not thinking too far ahead, just getting two points every night and go from there."

2. Carolina Hurricanes (3-2-3)

The second place Hurricanes prepare for a Saturday night battle with the division rival New York Islanders after a come-from-behind road win over the Mapleleafs on Thursday.

3. New York Islanders (3-2-2)

New York beat the Oilers 3-2 on Thursday night to snap a three game skid that saw them lose by one goal every night. They did pick up a point in a shootout loss to the Sabres. It was Buffalo's first win of the year.

Saturday's matchup against the Hurricanes is the third in a four game homestand for the Islanders.

New York has had trouble closing teams out, especially at home. The Islanders blew third-period leads in two of their first three games at Nassau Coliseum and would go on to lose in shootouts.

John Tavares is riding a six-game point streak after extending the streak with an assist and a goal in the win on Thursday.

Tavares was pleased with the effort of his team in the third period against Edmonton, which saw them outshoot the Oilers 15-8 in the final period.

"We obviously talked about it the last couple days and we stayed aggressive in the third," John Taveres said to "It was good to see us come up with a pretty complete game."

The Islanders report no injuries.

4. New York Rangers (2-4-0)

There's been no such thing as the comforts of home for the Rangers.

Saturday night's game against the Devils in New Jersey will be the seventh straight road game for the Rangers.

New York's -14 goal differential is the worst in the Metropolitan.

Ryan Callahan dove out to block a shot in a 2-0 win over Washington and was diagnosed with a broken thumb. He is expected to miss 3-4 weeks, a tough blow for New York.

The Rangers are also without the services of Rick Nash after he took an elbow to the head and was diagnosed with a concussion. Carl Hagelin is nursing a shoulder injury and will not be eligible to return until Oct. 29.

Brad Richards is off to the best scoring start of any Ranger. He has seven points (4 G, 3 A) in the Ranger's six games.

The road-weary Rangers will look to keep the Devils winless on Saturday night.

5. Columbus Blue Jackets (2-4-0)

The Blue Jackets have started slow. However, they play eight of their next nine games at home where they look to string together some wins.

Both of the wins for Columbus in the early going have come on the road.

The Blue Jackets have lost both of their first two home games.

Columbus is on a three game losing skid. They trailed the Canadiens 3-0 on Thursday night, battled back to tie it, but would end up losing 5-3.

Young forward Boone Jenner scored his first two NHL goals against Montreal. However, he and his linemates Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson finished with a combined -8 rating.

Many pundits predict major line shuffling to come for the Jackets.

Marian Gaborik did not play Thursday, sitting out with the flu. He did practice on Friday.

Nick Foligno is not with the team, citing personal reasons.

Forward Calvert is on the injured reserve nursing an abdominal issue.

Columbus will face the Capitals on the road Saturday night and will host the Canucks on Sunday.

6. Washington Capitals (2-5-0)

The Capitals started off last season 1-5-1 and ended up winning the Southeast Division last season.

Things are expected to be tougher, however, in the Metropolitan. Washington is looking to find their stride.

The Capitals will close out a five-game homestand against the Blue Jackets on Saturday night, before embarking on a five-game road trip.

After a 2-0 loss to the Rangers, the Capitals shook things up in practice on Friday, moving Martin Erat to the second line with Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer. Erat has no points in seven games and has played fewer than 10 minutes in all of those games. He led the Predators in scoring in 2011-2012 with 58 points, so the Capitals are searching for a way to ignite his potential.

Mikhail Grabovski was bumped to the third line with Jason Chimera and Joel Ward.

Alex Ovechkin ranks second in the NHL in goals with six, but hasn't scored in two of his last three games.

Defenseman John Erskine is questionable for Saturday with an upper body concern. Jack Hillen is recovering from surgery.

Both Washington netminders, Braden Holtby and Michael Neuvirth, have goals against averages of more than 3.25 and save percentages lower than .900.

7. New Jersey Devils (0-4-3)

The Devils are desperately searching for their first win of the season. Their home game against the Rangers on Saturday night is only their second home game of the season.

The Devils are the only team left without a win in the NHL.

New Jersey is scoring 1.86 goals per game, which ranks them 27th in the NHL in that category.

The New Jersey powerplay clocks in at a dismal 9.1 percent.

Defenseman Marek Zidlicky leads the team in points with five. All five of his points are assists.

Damien Brunner leads the team in goals with three, but hasn't scored in four straight games.

8. Philadelphia Flyers (1-7-0)

The Flyers have a long time to reflect on four consecutive losses.

After the firing of Peter Laviolette earlier this month, Philadelphia beat the Panthers 2-1 on Oct. 8.

That was the last time the Flyers won.

They don't play again until Oct. 24 when they host the Rangers.

Philadelphia has scored 11 goals on the season which ties them with the Rangers for lowest in the division.

Kimmo Timonen left Thursday's loss to the Penguins with a lower body injury.

He will join the already injured Scott Hartnell and Vinny Lecavalier.

Head coach Craig Berube expressed frustration with the Flyer's inability to play a full 60 minute game after the team's showing against the Penguins on Thursday.

The team will have a few days to think things over before facing the Rangers.

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