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Metropolitan Division Weekly Roundup: Thanksgiving Leftovers

The Carolina Hurricanes start to build separation from the pack in the Metropolitan Division.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Philadelphia Flyers Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

1. New York Rangers: 31 Points (15-4-1)

The New York Rangers will get their top defenseman, Adam Fox, LTIR, and is expected to return tonight. However, they have added forwards Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko to LTIR. Kakko left Monday night’s game in the second period after falling awkwardly into the boards and was unable to put any weight on his leg. The good news for the Rangers is the injury does not seem to be season-ending, but he will miss significant time. Chytil’s LTIR dates back to November 3rd to give the Rangers more Cap Flexibility.

The Rangers take on Patrick Kane’s new team, the Detroit Red Wings tonight. Kane was a splash trade deadline acquisition for the Rangers where he scored six goals and 12 assists in 26 games combined between the regular season and postseason. Kane was bothered by a hip injury all season and had off-season surgery to repair the damage. Kane was hoping to re-sign with the Rangers this season at full strength but was denied due to cap reasons. Kane limited his teams this season to Eastern Conference teams to reduce the travel required and it was reported down to the Florida Panthers and the Detroit Red Wings before he signed his new one-year deal with Detroit.

2. Carolina Hurricanes: 26 Points (13-8-0)

With a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers, the Carolina Hurricanes are starting to separate themselves from the middle of the pack in the Metropolitan Division. Now with two straight wins, they have a three-point lead over the Flyers and a four-point lead over two other teams. While this isn’t a full safety jacket the Canes gain some much-needed breathing room.

The win over the Flyers shows some much-needed consistency out of a Hurricanes team that has struggled to stitch consecutive performances together. The Canes were able to earn a win with Pyotr Kochetkov in net and had the frequent healthy scratch, Brendan Lemieux, contribute on the score sheet. This is everything the Canes need to do to contend for another division championship.

Over the last two games, the Canes have had six different goal scorers with the only repeat being Jesperi Kotkaniemi. The Canes are starting to get production up and down the lineup which helps them overcome weaker teams like the Flyers and Blue Jackets. It shows what Rod Brind’Amour preaches is true. Patience pays off, the team is doing the right things they just need the bounces and goals to start flowing.

3. Philadelphia Flyers: 23 Points (11-10-1)

Morgan Frost’s up-and-down season for the Philadelphia Flyers continues. After three points in two games, he struggled against the Vegas Golden Knights on November 18th. He was then scratched for three straight games before playing Saturday against the New York Islanders. On Saturday he logged 16:42 of ice time the second most in any game he has played this year, and the most since October 30th. However, he was a -1 against the Hurricanes last night which could see him slip out of the lineup yet again.

Unfortunately for the Flyers, it seems this is where reality sets in. They have been in the top three of the Metro standings most of the year. Now they are just one point ahead of the Washington Capitals who have four games in hand. The Flyers were never really going to be contenders for the division and now they are starting to see what reality looks like. The good news is John Tortorella looks to have created a competitive winning culture that can outplay their actual skill with consistency.

4. Washington Capitals: 22 Points (10-6-2)

The Washington Capitals opened their West Coast road trip with a 2-1 loss to the bottom-dwelling San Jose Sharks. This also marks the second straight loss for the Caps. They are without forward T.J. Oshie who did not travel with the team for the trip. He was injured in the second period of their 5-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Friday. He has just a single goal this season, but his absence means a young player will have a chance in the top six.

The Capitals have made massive changes to their power play unit after going 0-5 against the Oilers. The Caps’ power play unit has also been held goalless in their last 11 games and only has a 5.7% success rate on the season. Alex Ovechkin will remain in his signature spot but “everything else is on the table” according to head coach Spencer Carbery. Carbery has had success running power play units in the past and had the Toronto Maple Leafs in the top two of the league in each of the last two seasons.

5. New York Islanders: 22 Points (8-7-6)

For the second season in a row, the New York Islanders will be without Adam Pelech for a significant time. Pelech injured his arm in Friday night’s game against the Ottawa Senators, He has since been placed on LTIR. Pelech averages 19:37 of ice time per game and typically plays on the top pairing with Noah Dobson. For reference, in 21 games without Pelech last year, the Isles went 7-9-5. To replace Pelech, the Isles claimed defenseman Mike Reily off of waivers on Monday.

Reilly was previously with the Florida Panthers this season but had only managed to play two games in Sunshine. Before signing with the Panthers this offseason he previously spent three seasons with the Boston Bruins. Reilly is known as a puck-moving defenseman and has 12 goals and 86 assists in 341 career NHL games. Reilly slotted in the third pairing with Grant Hutton as he made his debut for the Islanders last night against the New Jersey Devils.

6. New Jersey Devils: 21 Points (10-9-1)

Nicho Hischeir returned to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday for the first time in nearly a month. Hischier wasted no time making his presence felt by scoring a goal and an assist in his first game back against the Buffalo Sabres. The game was the first time both Hischier and Jack Hughes played a game together since October 27th and the win ended a three-game losing streak.

The good fortune continued last night with a 5-4 win over the New York Islanders. Hughes and Hischier combined for another two goals and an assist. This is what the Devils have been expecting to do all year. This is also without top-six Timo Meier who is still on IR. The Devils are just two points behind the Flyers for the final Metropolitan Division playoff position and will only look more dangerous in the coming weeks.

7. Pittsburgh Penguins: 21 Points (10-10-1)

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ power play has struggled all season, but it looks to be getting worse by the minute. The Penguins have the seventh-worst power play scoring just 12.1% of their opportunities. That sugar-coats how bad they have been recently. Since the start of November, they have a 9.7% success rate and have been held without a power-play goal in their last eight games. That is with the addition of Erik Karlsson to the team that was supposed to boost the power play.

The Penguins got winger Bryan Rust back from an injury yesterday. In his return, he scored a goal in the Pens' 3-2 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators. Rust was only out for a week which is good for Pittsburgh. The winger has 10 goals and seven assists in only 18 games played. Even with the missed time, he ranks second on the Pens in goals and fifth for total points. His return to the top power-play unit could be just what the doctor ordered.

8. Columbus Blue Jackets: 18 Points (7-12-4)

The last two weeks have been tumultuous for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Last Sunday, forward Patrik Laine, was benched against the Philadelphia Flyers. Laine was caught off guard and shocked by his benching. He has been known to be sensitive about feedback in the past, so the benching is a big risk for the Jackets.

Laine was also moved from wing to center this year, so it also seems odd they would bench him rather than move him back to the wing to get him going. The benching seemed to work short-term term as he scored in his first game back but has yet to score in their three most recent games. He has just three goals and two assists through 13 games. He is signed through the 2025-26 season with an $8.7 million cap hit.