NHL Metropolitan Division Preview

Story posted October 17, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Meghan Strange

The NHL is back with a full season. With the return comes the original division names and teams. As the season kicks off, let’s break down the Metropolitan Division.

Pittsburgh Penguins

After clinching the division and a playoff berth last season, the Penguins should be a contender for the cup yet again this year. 

In the 2020-21 season, Captain Sidney Crosby led the team in goals, points and tied defenseman Kris Letang in assists. 

The Penguins are always a force in the division, however, based on the stats, Crosby appears to carry the team alone.  Additionally, they were upset by the Islanders in the first round of the playoffs, 4-1. 

Pittsburgh will play competitive hockey, but another disappointing playoff run may be on the horizon.

Washington Capitals

The Capitals were led by a stellar offense.  Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson were among team leaders in points, goals, and assists. 

These headliners will continue to push Washington to the playoffs time and time again. 

Carolina Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes will return to the Metropolitan Division in 2021, after a thrilling previous season.  The Hurricanes clinched the Discover Central division and advanced to the second round of playoffs before falling to the Stanley Cup champions, Tampa Bay Lightning. 

All-star goaltender, Alex Nedeljkovic propelled the Hurricanes to their playoff success.  Nedeljkovic led goaltenders across the league with only 1.90 GAA. 

However, in an offseason trade, he was moved to the Detroit Red Wings.  This exchange could potentially haunt Carolina in a playoff push. 

New York Islanders

The Islanders had a thrilling season last year, advancing to the semifinals and forcing a game seven against the current champion Lightning. 

The Islanders also had a league-leading goalie, Semyon Varlamov.  Varlamov had the fourth-lowest GAA, 2.04, a .929 save percentage, and league-high seven shutouts. 

Despite finishing fourth last year in the division, the Islanders’ goalie will make them a defensive opponent this season. 

New York Rangers

The New York Rangers finished middle of the pack last season, and we can expect more of the same this season.

The Rangers’ defenseman Adam Fox was their only league leader; defensemen in points with 47.  Additionally, their team-leading scorer, Mika Zibanejad only had 24 goals. 

These mediocre stats illustrate what Rangers fans will see this season.

Philadelphia Flyers

Despite once being division leaders, the Flyers failed to make the playoffs in 2021.

Philadelphia was plagued by injuries and the heaviest toll was on Carter Hart. Hart was unable to stay healthy, but when he was, simple goals were allowed in.

Hopefully, with new rookies and a full, healthy squad, Philadelphia will be able to earn a spot in the playoffs.

New Jersey Devils

The Devils finished at the bottom of the pack, just ahead of the Buffalo Sabres who moved back to the Atlantic Division. 

One hope for New Jersey is rookie Yegor Sharangovich. He was the fourth leader in points (30) in the NHL last season. He had 16 goals and that is just the beginning of what he has to offer. His talent and skills can potentially push the Devils to a higher place this season. 

Columbus Blue Jackets

After finishing last in the Discover Central division, the Blue Jackets will look to improve in the Metropolitan this season. 

Right Wings Oliver Bjorkstrand and Cam Atkinson were the top goal scorers on the team, who will only improve with the longer regular season.  Additionally, Patrik Laine, a previous leader on the Winnipeg Jets, should help boost the Jackets from the bottom of the division.

Meghan Strange is a freshman majoring in journalism.  To contact her, email her at mgs5649@psu.edu.