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A trip around the Metropolitan Division: Nov. 2- Nov. 9

There was some moving around in the division this week. Washington keeps on moving up, while the Islanders and Blue Jackets have stumbled a bit. Have the Penguins been able to keep up their dominant pace?

Cam Atkinson checks Michael Del Zotto as he tries to block a shot during an NHL game Thursday between the Blue Jacktets and the Rangers.
Cam Atkinson checks Michael Del Zotto as he tries to block a shot during an NHL game Thursday between the Blue Jacktets and the Rangers.
Kirk Irwin

1. Pittsburgh Penguins (11-5-0)

Pittsburgh played twice this week, blanking the Blue Jackets on the road in a 3-0 win before losing to the Rangers 5-1.

The Penguins have a Saturday night duel with the Blues tonight that will pit Sidney Crosby, the league leader in points (23), against Alexander Steen, the league leader in goals (14).

Crosby had his four game point streak snapped against the Rangers on Wednesday.

Chris Kunitz, who notched an assist in that game, increased his scoring streak to five games.

Evgeni Malkin has not scored a goal in three weeks. However, he has assists in his last three games.

Pascal Dupuis left the game against the Rangers with an apparent injury, but is probable for Saturday night. Bea Bennett has been practicing with the team and has been nursing a lower body injury.

After traveling to St. Lous, the Penguins will host the Flyers and Predators before another Saturday night road game against the Devils next week.

2. Washington Capitals (9-7-0)

The Capitals are riding high. As winners of four straight, their 7-3 record in their last ten games has them in second place in the Metropolitan Division after a shaky start.

The home cooking seems to have helped the Capitals out. Their three straight wins this week, over the Panthers, Islanders and Wild, all came in Washington.

Alex Ovechkin, who returned from a shoulder injury against the Islanders, scored twice in his return on Tuesday. He also opened up the scoring against Minnesota.

Niclas Backstrom has a four-game point streak, during which he has amassed eight points.

Washington will have a tough back-to-back on the road, facing the Coyotes and Avalanche.

Rounding out next week, the Capitals will also face the Blue Jackets and the Red Wings.

Jack Hillen and John Erskine remain out for the Capitals.

3. New York Rangers (8-8-0)

The Rangers went 3-1 this week, taking advantage of having three home games.

New York took care of Carolina, Pittsburgh and Columbus, outscoring them 14-4.

Their only loss of the week came in a 2-1 game against the Ducks.

Brad Richards remains the highest scoring Ranger with 13 points.

New York had a scare on Thursday night after Marc Staal took a puck to the chin and skated off.

However, he would find his way back into the game and did not miss a shift the rest of the game.

The Rangers will host the Panthers on Sunday and the Devils on Tuesday.

4. Carolina Hurricanes (6-7-3)

For the Hurricanes, winners of two straight after a long skid, it's been about Justin Peters.

Goals have been at a premium with Jeff Skinner injured, and Peters has answered the bell.

On the current Carolina homestand, Peters has stopped 49 of 50 shots for a .980 save percentage.

"I feel confident, and I feel really confident in this team. I feel really confident in the trust we have in each other, and that's been building for a while now," Peters said in an interview with "It's nice for the guys to get rewarded with the hard work they're doing, the way they're playing and the trust we have in each other."

The homestand continues this week with games against the Wild, Avalanche and Ducks.

Coach Kirk Muller says Skinner is about two weeks away from returning.

Ward, Khudobin and Gleason have been skating during off-ice workouts. Kevin Westgarth has been nursing an injury, as well.

5. New York Islanders (6-7-3)

The Islanders were victorious over the Bruins last Saturday, but back-to-back divisional losses on the road have the team sagging in the standings after riding in second place.

After losing 6-2 to Washington, the Islanders were shutout by Peters and the Hurricanes, 1-0.

New York's powerplay has not connected in its last 21 attempts. The extra man is also 0-18 since acquiring Thomas Vanek, who had five powerplay goals with Buffalo.

Goaltender Kevin Poulin has allowed only one goal in each of his past two starts.

Lubomir Visnovsky is still injured with a concussion. The defenseman has missed three weeks.

Brian Strait is on injured reserve. Cal Clutterbuck missed Thursday's game against Carolina with an injury.

This week, the Islanders will face the Blue Jackets and Canadiens on the raod before hosting the Predators and Kings.

6. New Jersey Devils (4-7-5)

After a 1-0 home loss to the Flyers, the Devils went 1-1-1 on a three game road trip last week.

New Jersey was blanked 4-0 by the Wild, shutout the Flyers 3-0 and were edged in a shootout by the Maple Leafs.

Michael Ryder scored the lone goal of the game for the Devils in the third period of Friday's loss to the Leafs.

Stephen Gionta crashed into the boards on Friday night in the second period and was helped off the ice.

This week, the Devils will host the Predators, face the Rangers on the road. They will also welcome the Kings and Penguins to New Jersey next weekend for a back-to-back.

7. Columbus Blue Jackets (5-10-0)

The Blue Jackets are slumping.

They've lost five straight and Coach Todd Richards criticized his team's efforts against the Rangers on Thursday.

The team had an extra half-hour of off-ice meetings after Friday's practice, according to

The Blue Jackets will look to stop their skid when they host the Islanders Saturday night.

This week also pits the team against Washington, Boston and Montreal.

Boone Jenner and Matt Calvert are injured and have been skating, but are not ready for full practice.

8. Philadelphia Flyers (4-10-1)

Speaking of struggling, the Flyers are 1-3-1 in their last five games.

The skid has pushed the Flyers to last in the Metropolitan standings and 29th in the league standings.

Philadelphia averages a league-worst 1.47 goals per game offensively.

A 1-0 win over the Devils was the only win this week for the Flyers. They lost to Carolina in overtime, and were shutout by the Devils in a rematch.

After the shutout loss on Thursday, the team had a players only meeting.

Claude Giroux has a -11 rating this season, which is tied for third-worst in the league. Dating back to last season, he has gone 21 games without a goal.

"It's the same story every day. Just got to enjoy the game. Obviously it's hard to enjoy the game when you're playing like we are playing right now, but we need to enjoy it a little bit more. We go to games, and obviously when you do one bad shift or one bad power play and the crowd starts booing you put a little more pressure and you want to do even more. And I think we need to just play the game," Giroux said in an interview with

The Flyers host the Oilers for a Saturday matinee before embarking on a three-game road trip with a back-to-back against the Senators and Penguins, and a trip to Winnipeg to face the Jets.

Steve Downie remains day-to-day with a concussion.