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      For the first time this year in KUWTM, a team not named after the Devil is in first place in the Metro. Thanks to the Devils struggling with the three easiest opponents in the NHL this week, John Tortorella’s Blue Jackets are in first place with their 4 point week. The Devils will have chance for redemption, however, as Columbus and New Jersey square off in a home and home this week in what should be a real glimpse of what kind of team the Devils intend to be this year. The Jackets seem to be the real deal based off the last few years. The Devils will do their best to make that leap this year and the Jackets will be a good measuring stick for the Devils this week. 
      Meanwhile in Pittsburgh, it’s been somewhat of a bittersweet week again. There’s not much to complain about when going 3 0, but losing Matt Murray to a lower body injury is anything but good news. Tristan Jarry has been more than impressive in his handful of NHL games, however, the Flyers and Sabres have a combined 14 wins this season. I’m not taking anything away from the Pens or Jarry by saying that, just putting it in perspective. Those were statement wins in all three of those victories.

      The Penguins are closing the gap in the goal differential after many weeks with an embarrassingly low number in that category. It’s always nice to see the Penguins rebound, and even better having the Philadelphia Flyers as the catalyst for that as they were last Monday in another dramatic meeting between the two teams. It looks like the teams on opposite sides of the state are also going in opposite directions as well.

      The Islanders have been fortunate to continue to get scoring from all over, and most notably from defenseman Nick Leddy who is currently 2nd in the NHL in scoring by a defenseman with 21 points, one behind John Klingberg. Leddy also has 6 goals, which is tied for 3rd most by a defenseman. The Isles have a very tough week ahead of them this week with 4 away games in 6 days at FLA, TBL, PIT, and BOS. They play the Panthers and Lightning back to back on Monday and Tuesday, then fly to face a rested ! Penguins team before facing a rested Bruins team. The Islanders will also play 8 games in the next 14 days, so it won’t be getting any easier for them the next two weeks.

      In a somewhat surprising story line this season in the Metro, only the Blue Jackets and Hurricanes are in the top half of the league in goals against. The biggest surprise to me has been the Capitals, who are 22nd out of 31 teams in goals against. However, the problem has not been Braden Holtby with his .919 sv , which is just .002 points lower than his career average. Many people were predicting their defense to take step back with all the turnover last off season, and it seems we’re looking at it. Sorry, not sorry.

      The Rangers had a rather quiet week last week, only playing in two games, splitting the decisions in regulation. The Rangers have a good chance to make up some ground in the Metro with 3 games this week, all against Metro opponents starting with a meeting at PPG Paints on Tuesday against the Pens followed by a date with the Caps in DC on Friday night. The Rangers then head home to face another rival in the Devils the following night at MSG. The Rangers could disrupt the top half of the standings if they were to be successful this week.

      The Hurricanes look to have some trouble on the horizon. Pay attention, because it’s hard to believe that the NHL would put them through this the next couple weeks. The Canes are now starting a stretch where 8 out of the next 9 and 10/12 counting last week will be on the road starting with Vancouver on Tuesday and then continuing on to the three California teams before facing the Knights on the 2nd half of a B2B with Anaheim. They’ll then return back east in Buffalo before heading back to Carolina the next night to play the Jackets. Merry Christmas Phil Kessel Jersey, Carolina!

      No need to report on the Flyers. They still suck. I’ll update again if/when they win another game.

      Until next week, thanks for reading folks and lots of good games to vote on this week, don’t forget to vote for the game of the week!

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