The State of the Metropolitan By @LuigiLemieux

The State of the Metropolitan

Article by Kyle Fritz (@LuigiLemieux) for Pens Initiative

After a long week of little game action, made even longer by a fruitless and somewhat ponderous non-effort in New York City against the Rangers, I find myself searching for something to boost my spirits. Nothing takes care of that quite like looking at the division standings and seeing our beloved Skating Penguin sitting high and proud atop the calamity that has become known as the rest of the Metropolitan.


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The Penguins have found themselves in an enviable position through 16 games of the 2013-2014 campaign, and that is sitting high atop a disappointing Metropolitan Division. As the Flyers continue to drop like a Scott Hartnell fairway drive, the Pens continue to do what they need to in order to rack up essential points. Elsewhere in the division however trouble is stirring, and some familiar names are beginning to rise to the occasion.

To make a little more sense of where exactly we stand in the grand (or not so) scheme of things, let's take a look at what is making some teams dangerous, what we have to look forward to, and try to make sense of the Flyers... eh never mind about that last one.

 Here is how the Metro currently stacks up:

1. Pittsburgh Penguins           (11-5-0)
2. Washington Capitals         (9-7-0)
3. New York Rangers          (8-8-0)
4. Carolina Hurricanes          (6-7-3)
5. NY Islanders                    (6-7-3)
6. New Jersey Devils            (4-7-4)
7. Columbus Blue Jackets     (5-10-0)
8. Philadelphia Flyers            (4-10-1)

1. The Pittsburgh Penguins

 Aside from the nightmarish thumping in Manhattan this week at the hands of the Rangers, the Pens have looked very solid despite having a worse injury bug problem than that planet in Starship Troopers. Fleury is solid in net, and the defensive players that are still skating are doing very well. Olli Maatta has been incredibly impressive and has shown more poise and dedication than any 19 year old I have seen in forever. James Neal looks like he may soon make his first start since the first game of the season. Young guys like Megna are stepping up, and Deryk Engelland has more goals at forward than Glaude Ciroux. I think that's his name anyway. Next game is a big one against a good St. Louis Blues squad. Mark it on your calender if it is not already.

2. The Washington Capitals

Uh oh... here they come. The Capitals have looked scarier and scarier as the games have gone by. 24 year old net minder Brayden Holtby has won 4 of his last 5 decisions and the Capitals are starting to find ways to get the job done one way or the other. Alex Ovechkin has 13 goals and 6 assists in 14 games. and Niklas Backstrom is doing a great Sidney Crosby impression dolling out the assists (15) at a torrid pace. These Caps look like they might be the closest thing to competition that the Met has to offer.

3. The New York Rangers

If the Capitals are the closest thing to competition for the Penguins, the Rangers are just a smidgen behind them. although in terms of making me nervous, the Rangers are climbing every day. I honestly hope they continue to play better and make this division something to watch. The Rangers always play the Pens well, as evident on Wednesday night. After starting 2-6-0 they now sit even at 8-8-0, and seem to be getting better every game.

4. The Carolina Hurricanes

Jordan Staal once played for the Penguins. That was a while ago though, now he plays for the Hurricanes, who aren't as good. At 6-7-3 the Canes have put together a couple hard fought wins in the past few days. They don't score often, however they have been getting solid enough efforts out of goalie Justin Peters to make the ones they do get count. We will have to see just how far they can ride the hot handed net minder before offensive production becomes a bigger issue.

5. The New York Islanders

After the back and forth competitive affair that was the first round of the 2012-2013 playoffs, A whole lot of us thought that this year would see an emergence of the NY Islanders as a young competitive team out to make a name for themselves. While there still may be hope yet for this young squad and their talented Captain, They have yet to show me enough to take them as a serious threat in the division. I have been wrong before and I sure hope they make things interesting. Fun team to play.

6. The New Jersey Devils

After they went and got Jagr I pretty much stopped paying attention, The Devils have yet to make me regret that decision.

7. The Columbus Blue Jackets

 Let me start by saying how much I love the way the Jackets play the Pens. Such a fun series between these two teams. I think that the Blue Jackets will be competitive in the future, just not this year in terms of divisional success, however with the records that lie in front of them it might not be completely out there to think that they could jump a few spots and remain in the thick of things. Might be a better rivalry series than the Interstate Classic this year against none other than...

8. The Philadelphia Flyers

How many players in the NHL have at least one goal? I'm not sure, however I am certain Claude Giroux is not one of them. I better just bite my tongue though. It's been a rough week and the last thing I need is Ray Emery coming at me like a Velociraptor.

My fellow Hockey Fans, The State of the Division is.. Well... Anything but strong. However as a fan of the Penguins you have to feel confident that this team can continue to lead the race for the foreseeable future. Keep an eye on our old friends in D.C. and stay ever vigilant on keeping tabs on the Blueshirts of Manhattan.

If the Hockey Gods have taught us anything through the scripture of the NHL it's that if things look like a sure thing early on in the season, you should either be hanging on to the edge of your seat, or have never actually watched a full season of hockey.

May Mario be with you (and also with you).

Amen.

Let's Go Pens.
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