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NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Winnipeg Jets James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

Metropolitan Division Weekly Roundup: New Jersey Devils Extend Historic Win Streak

The New Jersey Devils have matched their franchise best 13-game win streak last night to extend their Division lead to eight points.

1. New Jersey Devils: 32 Points (16-3-0)

With a win Monday night, the New Jersey Devils have tied a franchise record with their 13th straight win and now have a commanding eight point lead over the rest of the Metropolitan Division.

Their current streak started on October 25th after starting 3-3-0 to start the season. Goaltender Vitek Vanacek has been in net for nine of the 13 wins and has had a .933 sv% and a .181 GAA, both put him in the top two of the league with Linus Ullmark. The great goaltending play has influenced the Devils +29 goal differential which ranks second in the league.

During this streak, three players are scoring over a point per game pace: Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, and Jesper Bratt. Those three have combined for 20 goals and 29 assists. Hischier and Hughes play on separate lines, so they aren’t always duplicating points on the same play, so the Devils have two lines that are generating great offense.

2. Carolina Hurricanes: 24 Points (10-5-4)

The Carolina Hurricanes started the season 8-2-1, but have since gone just 2-4-2 which has seen them drop from the top of the division to just three points away from being out of a playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

Since November 6th the Canes have the league worst power play percentage at just 8% and have a -3 goal differential. The date also coincides with the time the Canes lost starting goaltender Frederik Andersen.

The losses are more of a correlation and not causation as the Canes offense has completely dried up too. The Canes only have 2.25 goals per game which ranks 27th in the league but their 2.63 goals against per game ranks 10th since November 6th. Just looking at Monday night’s loss against the Winnipeg Jets, they let up three of their four goals, including the game winner from breakaway goals.

It’s apparent that the Canes know they are struggling on offense which is causing them to grip their sticks too tight. An Andrei Svechnikov dangle gone wrong and a missed pinch by multiple players created two of those breakaways. These are due to happen to players that are trying to do too much and not sticking with the system to score goals.

It took the Canes being aggressive and pulling the goalie with five minutes left to generate those three goals. While its frustrating to watch the Canes right now and everything looks futile, the shooting percentage should regress to the mean over the long term.

3. New York Islanders: 24 Points (12-8-0)

Despite a fast start to the season, the Isles have to be disappointed in the performance of Josh Bailey. Bailey is one of three players to play over 1,000 games with the New York Islanders, but has been healthy scratched multiple times this season already.

This happened most recently last Thursday in a 5-4 loss to the Nashville Predators. Bailey is in the second to last year of his current deal which carries a $5 million cap hit and is an alternate captain yet is still being relegated to the press box.

This season Bailey has just four goals and two assists and has been healthy scratched three times. At the quarter mark of the season, he is on pace to score just 20 points which would be the least he has scored since he put up 19 points in the 2012-13 season which saw him play only 38 games. He has only failed to score more than 30 points three times in his career. Now he may fail to put up 20 points for the first time in a non-injury shortened season for the first time in his 15 year career. What makes this season’s performance even more surprising, he had 44 points just last season.

4. New York Rangers: 24 Points (10-6-4)

The New York Rangers 2021-22 season was one marked by low underlying numbers but boosted by a high shooting percentage. This season has been quite the opposite for the Blueshirts. The Rangers 53.19% Corsi ranks sixth in the league, but their 37 even strength goals rank just 19th. The Rangers are seventh to last in the league with 7.41% shooting at even strength. Defenseman Adam Fox currently leads all rangers in even strength goals with five. To put this in perspective the Canes have three players with more even strength goals.

What they have lacked at even strength has been made up for by their 10th ranked powerplay that is succeeding on 23.5% of their chances. This is nothing new, as they have been a top 10 team on the power play every season since the 2019-20 season and have not slowed down. Four of their top five point scorers this season have had at least half of their points come on the man advantage. Both Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin have 12 power play points while having 22 points each.

5. Pittsburgh Penguins: 21 Points (9-7-3)

The Pittsburgh Penguins had a three game road trip last week in which they came out a perfect 3-0-0. The Penguins won by a combined score of 14-7 and had a shutout win over the Winnipeg Jets. The road trip also saw a huge career milestone for longtime Penguin Evgeni Malkin. On Sunday, Malkin played in his 1,000th NHL game against the Chicago Blackhawks. Malkin has played all 1,000 games with the Penguins.

Over his career he has scored 452 goals and 714 assists for 1,166 total points. Heading into this season there were questions about his productivity. Both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons he had only recorded 22 and 20 points respectively. Those seasons also saw him miss significant time with injuries as well. However, this season he has rebounded with a productive season. He has eight goals and 12 assists for 20 total points through 19 games. He has an active seven-game point streak and has 12 points in his last 10 games.

6. Philadelphia Flyers: 18 Points (7-8-4)

The Flyers lost both Travis Konecny and Scott Laughton to injuries last week and are considered day-to-day. They are now down six forwards including their entire top line. This has forced Morgan Frost to center the top line with wingers Joel Farabee and Owen Tippett and also seen Noah Cates center the second line.

This hasn’t been great news for a team that was already ranked 30th in the league in goal scoring before these losses and have led to the Flyers losing their last eight games.

Goaltender Carter Hart has also come back down to Earth after a blistering start to the season. After starting 5-0-0 on the season with a .947 sv% and a 2.00 GAA, Hart has a record of 1-3-4 with a .903 sv% and a 3.04 GAA. Seven of those starts he has not had a save percentage better than .895. The Flyers’ recent losses do not sit squarely on his shoulders since he has not gotten much goal support and the defense in front of him has been shaky, but now they are no longer winning games that they shouldn’t.

7. Washington Capitals: 17 Points (7-10-3)

On Sunday morning the Washington Capitals loaned forward Connor McMichael to the AHL Hershey Bears. McMichael has only played in six games this season and has not recorded a single point. McMichael played 68 games last season and recorded nine goals and nine assists. This season he made the Capitals out of camp despite being just 21 years old. The Caps were hoping he would take the next step in his development this season but he has not gotten nearly enough ice time. He is now skating with the second line with the Bears.

His usage this season is confusing. With so many injuries McMichael should have gotten an increased role to play in the top six, but the team opted to play him on the fourth line when he was actually played. The other factor here is the Caps lost two of their prospects on waivers to start the season. At the time they decided to keep McMichael on the NHL roster despite being waiver exempt and lost both Brett Leason and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby to waivers. The coaching staff and the front office don’t appear to be on the same page when it comes to their younger players.

8. Columbus Blue Jackets: 15 Points (7-10-1)

The Columbus Blue Jackets just can’t seem to shake the injury bug. This week defenseman Jake Bean was added to IR with a shoulder injury with no timetable has been set for his return. He joins fellow defensemen Adam Boqvist, Zach Werenski, and Nick Blankenburg who are all out long term. The Blue Jackets will also be without their starting goaltender, Elvis Merzlikins for the next week or so with a lower-body injury. Even with eight players on IR or LTIR, they have gone on to win three of their last four games which also includes an impressive win over the Florida Panthers on Sunday.

One healthy player who has completely disappeared though is Jack Roslovic. The center has been demoted to the fourth line and was healthy scratched last Thursday before missing two games with an illness over the weekend. The center is coming off of a 45 point season, but with one goal and five assists through 15 games Roslovic looks to have stalled out.

This is not the first time this has happened to him, as he had periods of falling out of favor in Winnipeg and with previous coach John Tortorella. Columbus hoped that bringing in a player oriented coach in Brad Larson would help get him to the next level, but for now he is being benched in favor of AHL call ups.