Tag: Metropolitan Division

James Van Riemsdyk Panning Out For Flyers

The Flyers are in the hunt for a playoff spot but there is no guarantee they make the playoffs in 2018-19 let alone make a deep playoff run. Either way as up and down as the Flyers season has been they are seeing a few positives out of this season. One of them being James Van Riemsdyk. After missing basically all of October and getting off to a slow start, Van Riemsdyk has been catching fire lately and carrying the load for the Flyers.

In March alone JVR has more goals than he did in the first three months of the season. Already, just 18 days into March, JVR has 8-goals in eight games played. Over the last three months JVR has 20-goals in 34 games. Of the Flyers 31 goals in March, JVR has 8 of them making up around 25% of the Flyers goals. Of his 20 goals over the last 3-months and the Flyers 107 goals over those three-months, JVR has comprised of 18% of the Flyers goals.

It is fair to say aside from a slow start and more so a slow two months JVR has been off and running since. This month has been his best to date, with eight goals in eight games and only one of them coming on the power play JVR is finding the back of the net 5 on 5 which is extremely important for teams in order to be successful.

Van Riemsdyk is signed until 2023 on a 7 million dollar annual average value. With a cap hit of 28 million over the next four-years at 29-years-old right on the edge of his prime but still with plenty to give the Flyers signing of JVR this off-season is panning out and looking to be worthy. To assume he will do this until 2023 at age 33 is very likely based off the game he plays. JVR is not an overly physical forward, he is not someone with a ton of speed and he is not a forward that possess a flashy skill-set. He is a better version of Wayne Simmonds per say (I know that may sting for Flyers fans) but it is true. He plays in front of the net, hangs out around the crease and makes his living off the front of the net. With JVR’s current style of play we can assume he will be a 25+ goal scorer for the better of three years.

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What Could The New York Islanders Rental Options Be At The Trade Deadline?

The New York Islanders have exceeded well above their expectations this season. They are currently first place in the Metropolitan division, 29-15-4, 62 points and fifth in the NHL as well. They are currently on a five-game winning streak, 8-2-0 in their last ten and 14-3-0 since December 15th, 2018. They have a slew of players chipping in from Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizkas to Michael Dal Colle to Jordan Eberle to Matt Barzal to every one in between, on the back end and a two-goalie tandem that is playing unbelievable. It has been an all-team effort for the Islanders, Barry Trotz has made this team a well oiled machine from line one to line four on the front end and a defense that is playing well above their expectations.

But still, the Islanders and Lou Lamoirello believe they can be better and they want to improve. Right now the Islanders have a pretty tough line up to crack with Barzal centering Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Nelson centering Lee and Eberle, Filppula centering Leo Komarov and Michael Del Colle and the fourth line that won’t be touched. Therefore where and who would the Islanders get to fill in on the front end? As far as the back end, Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk have been together for quite sometime now, Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech then Scott Mayfield and Devon Toews as the third line. I can see a veteran defenseman sliding in for Pelech maybe, but right now Mayfield and Toews are playing too well to ruin their confidence and game with a veteran defenseman to help add some experience. It has to be a forward in my opinion but who? These five forwards are rentals I can see the Islanders going after.

1. Derick Brassard: He provides some center depth, can play either the bottom six or top six, does not cost a whole lot and the Penguins really are looking to get rid of him. My only concern is that he is a little cold right now and if the Islanders go out and get a cold forward to bring into this hot team it may not work out well. Like the Bruins and Nash last season.

2. Kevin Hayes: This may be the last thing to ever be done a Rangers-Islanders trade but Hayes would be a perfect fit for the Islanders can play the wing or center, is having an expectational year, almost plays like a Komarov just better and younger. Would be a good play-making winger to slide with Bailey and Barzal.

3. Gustav Nyquist: The Islanders could use a player of Nyquist’s caliber, experienced in the playoffs, can be a play-maker/goal scorer, can play the wing well and can really be slotted with any of these Islanders top three lines. Nyquist is used to playing with younger guys therefore a Nyquist-Barzal-Bailey does not sound all that bad.

4. Wayne Simmonds: The Islanders have one player like this a Cal Clutterbuck type of guy but Simmonds can play really well below the goal-line, plays a strong, physical game that the Islanders could use a little more of from their top two lines. Would fit well with Trotz’s system and is on the market.

5. Ryan Dzingel: The situation in Ottawa is pretty clear they have to sign Matt Duchene and Mark Stone if they do not sign both then it makes sense to keep Dzingel but if both sign there is no room for Dzingel on the cap. Therefore he becomes a trade piece. A player that is young, with a ton of potential who would benefit greatly from a good young team. This is a shot in the dark but my final option as to guys who would fall as rentals with some possibility to sign back after the year.

Are The New York Islanders For Real?

I said this about three weeks ago when I wrote about how the Islanders will make the playoffs in the wild card spot. Although I do believe the Islanders are a solid team, I was not under the impression they would be the metropolitan divisions first place team at the moment.

With their win in Washington Friday night. Not just any win, a shutout win for Thomas Greiss and a 2-0 Islanders victory. The Islanders jumped the Capitals for first place with 60 points. Barry Trotz made his return to Washington a sweet one, perhaps not so sweet in the eyes of Capitals fans. While the Islanders lead the Metropolitan with 60 points and tied with the Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference as well. The more shocking piece of news to me is that the Islanders are (1) doing this all without John Tavares, (2) doing this all without a forward paid over 6 million a year, (3) have seven forwards with 20 plus points (4) have the least goals against in the NHL with a defense consisting of four first to second year players.

The Islanders have been on a ridiculous tear as of late, winning 8 of their last 10 on a four-game winning streak, posting a record of 15-6-2 between December and January. Their last two games are Anaheim and Chicago to finish off January until the All-Star break.

The Barry Trotz affect…

It is tough to say if the Islanders are for real, they definitely deserve a lot of recognition right now, after being projected to be a bottom of the barrel team, multiple acquisitions of the team being nothing without Tavares and having low expectations to now be 47 games in and in first place with 60 points is outstanding. Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello have certainly used their wisdom and years of experience to the betterment of this Islanders team but all coaching and management aside. The Islanders players from top to bottom are all chipping in.

From top to bottom the Islanders are getting it done…

Jordan Eberle is starting to turn a corner, Brock Nelson is having a great year, Anders Lee is stepping into some big shoes quite well, Matt Barzal turned the reporters who said he was not going to be the same player this year into chumps, Valtteri Filppula is having a surprising year, Casey Cizkas is the best fourth line player in hockey, along with Cal Clutterbuck. Ryan Pulock, Nick Leddy and that Islanders blue line is not the same as last year. Thomas Greiss and Robin Lehner have looked unbelievable. There are a lot of factors that go into the Islanders success, yes we have 35 games left but the Islanders are going to be in the playoffs in my opinion. In a top-three Metro spot, I don’t know but either way they will be there. It should not come as a major surprise to many but Barry Trotz could go down as one of the best modern day coaches if he manages to make this Islanders team into a consistent playoff team and more.

Islanders month of February looks like, Tampa Bay, Kings, at Boston, at Devils, Colorado, at Minnesota (back to back COL, MIN), at Buffalo, at Columbus, Edmonton, at Calgary, at Edmonton (back to back), at Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto.

Right now they need to worry about their last two January games but if the Islanders can come out of the All-Star break and take February away with a record of 9-5 they will put themselves in a perfect spot for the playoffs and pretty comfortable heading into the last full month of action.

NHL Eastern Conference Playoff Predictions; Metropolitan, Atlantic and Wild Card Teams…

This may be the year the Eastern Conference is officially weaker than the Western Conference. For years the Rangers, Canadiens and Islanders were top 15 teams in the NHL, but this year the Western Conference seems to be a little tougher and tighter in terms of the playoff race.

Taking a look at the Eastern Conference Metropolitan Division it is heavily dominated by three teams the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals. It has been a major shock to the East that the Pittsburgh Penguins are a non playoff team right now as well as the Flyers being out of contention and struggling this season. Another big surprise is the Canadiens start, coming out now 35 games into the season and being in the second wild card spot and six points out from the three seed in the Atlantic.

The Atlantic division playoff teams 

The Buffalo Sabres are off to a surprising start, yet after going on their win streak, they dropped six straight and now are 3-4-3 in their last ten. Are we sure the Sabres are legitimate playoff contenders? Or will they be out of the race come March? Personally after seeing what the Sabres have done and are capable of, they can easily be a playoff team. Realistically they need to stay above .500 for the next month or so to stay in the race and when it continues to tighten up and get closer, they will pull a few games out of their back pocket and make a push. With that, I don’t think they stay #3 in the Atlantic though, the Bruins are five points behind and have yet to hit their full stride this season. If the Bruins get healthy soon, they will knock the Sabres out of three, but this means Bruins stay three and Leafs stay two it will be another Bruins vs Leafs first round match up. The Leafs are not catching the Lighting (54), the Lightning have essentially clinched first place and will have an easier first round than other teams. Out of the Atlantic I think we see Lightning (1), Leafs (2), Bruins (3), Sabres (4), Canadiens get bumped out of the playoffs by either the Penguins or Islanders. Which brings me to the second part of this article.

The weak Metropolitan playoff teams

The Metropolitan is extremely weak, of the four divisions in the NHL the Metropolitan is by far the weakest. The Capitals with 43 points lead the Metro, yet in any other division would be third in the division. The Metro is basically run by the Capitals who lead the division by just four points but I do not see the Capitals dropping out of that one spot. The Blue Jackets come in at number two (39 points) and they have been very inconsistent this season, they struggle to stay consistent and string together wins over multiple games and number three is the Islanders (38 points) who are on  three-game win streak and surprising a lot of people right now. Based off what we have in front of us right now, I would have to assume the Islanders get knocked out of three by the Penguins and top three in the Metropolitan are Capitals (1), Penguins (2), Blue Jackets (3), the Metro is so weak that the Penguins can start of the season below .500 and still be in contention for a playoff spot. Out of the Metro it will probably be Capitals (1), Penguins (2), Blue Jackets (3), Islanders (4).

Playoff prediction in the Eastern Conference: 

Tampa Bay Lightning (1) vs New York Islanders (WC2) 

Washington Capitals (1) vs Buffalo Sabres (WC1) 

Pittsburgh Penguins (2) vs Columbus Blue Jackets (3) 

Toronto Maple Leafs (2) vs Boston Bruins (3) 

Was last year a fluke for the New Jersey Devils? Or will they turn it around?

It has certainly be a rough start for the Devils. They are 9-10-3 with 21 points, they sit 8th in the Metropolitan division, 14th in the Eastern Conference and 26th in the NHL. They rank 23rd in goals for (65),  11th in goals against (72), 13th in power play percentage (20.8), 18th in shots against per game (30.8) and it seems like things are not getting any better for the Devils. 

In the last ten games the Devils are 4-3-2, scoring 29 goals and allowing 32 goals. Of those 29 goals the Devils have scored they have had 12 different goal scorers. Taylor Hall scored 6 of the 29 goals, Brian Boyle had four, Kyle Palmieri had three, Pavel Zacha had four, Travis Zajac had four. The point behind this is the big reason the Devils are struggling is because of depth scoring and defensive scoring. Of the 29 goals there was only two goals by defenseman. Will Butcher and Damon Severson, as well Nico Hischier only had one goal, Marcus Johansson had only one goal. The heroic story of Jesper Bratt has seemed to slow down, Hischier has only 4 goals in 18 games this year, Johansson has just 3 goals in 21 games, Miles Wood has been near irrelevant with just 5 points in 21 games. The Devils are lacking depth scoring and back end scoring. 

Devils lacking defensive contribution 

Of the Devils 65 goals this season the defense has contributed 5 goals to that 65 total. The Devils have two defenseman leading the way essentially are Butcher with 8 points in 22 games and Severson with 14 points in 22 games. Yet, Butcher’s 8 points is a major drop off to what he was last year at this point, being almost a point per game player and an impactful force. Unless Butcher is on the power play he is not going to produce it seems, as he has just 2 points this season five on five. Sami Vatanen has only 9 points in 19 games, they did bring this guy in to be more of an offensive defenseman who can be a solid power play two option as well as help lead the play out of the defensive end. Vatanen has not lived up to much in New Jersey. After the three mentioned above, Andy Greene has only 5 points in 22 games, sure he is not a production type player but with Butcher struggling, Vatanen slow to start and Ben Lovejoy and Egor Yakovlev only producing a combined 4 points. The Devils defense contribution struggles and it is hurting the team early on here. 

Scoring depth absence for New Jersey 

You may be saying but Blake Coleman is chipping in, Brian Boyle too, Pavel Zacha came back hot they are going to be fine. How realistic is it to imagine Brian Boyle scoring 25 plus this season? Slim. Zacha can be at least a 20-goal player but consistency has killed the young forward and Blake Coleman will probably be the only one to actually consistently produce month by month. Anyways when looking at the Devil’s top six scorers, Taylor Hall (23), Kyle Palmieri (21), Travis Zajac (14), Demon Severson (14) Blake Coleman (13), Nico Hischier (13) after those six there is a major drop off, to players with 8 points, 6 points and 5 points, they lack depth scoring and there has been very little offensive production besides Hall and Pals this season. The Devils other 10 forwards have a combined 23 goals. Without Brian Boyle’s 7 goals that would make it 16 goals between nine forwards. This is a clear suggestion that the Devils need to either shake lines up or talk to their struggling forwards like Bratt, Woods, Johansson and Hischier to get on the board more and consistently. The Devils do not get some depth scoring in the coming months they will be finding themselves looking out sooner than later and it could be a long off season for New Jersey fans.  

NHL News; Can the Canucks, Oilers and Islanders continue their success?

Not many expected the standings to look the way they do right now. Besides the Predators, Lightning and Maple Leafs being a top the standings, the rest of the top-10 has some unexpected teams in it.

(6) Vancouver Canucks: 9-6-0; 18 points

  • What has been the Canucks reason for success? Well we know the answer is obvious they are getting supplemental scoring along with decent goaltending. The two biggest reasons the Canucks have struggled for so long is due to not enough depth scoring and inconsistent goaltending. Now, through 15 games the Canucks are ranked 9th in goals for (46) and 6th in goals against (50) but they also rank 19th in goals for per game (3.07), 16th in power play percentage (20.4) and 29th in shots on goal per game (26.9). The Canucks shoot the puck on net the least among all teams besides three, they have a decent power play percentage, rank in the middle to low end of the pack in terms of goals for per game. Along with the fact they are a team that allows a ton of goals against, essentially the only way the Canucks continue this performance is if Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson and Jake Virtanen can continue on this reign of doing all the heavy lifting for Vancouver. Along with the fact Jacob Markstrom and Andres Nilsson can continue to be a solid two-goalie tandem. Right now the Canucks are performing at an extremely unbelievable rate that is destined to fall apart soon. They have 5 players who do all the offensive work for them, with Boeser, Horvat 11 points and Pettersson’s 15 points the next guy up is Markus Granlund with 6 points. It will be tough for Vancouver to continue down this path, I personally do not see this being sustained all year.

(7) Edmonton Oilers: 8-4-1; 17 points

  • After a disappointing 2017-18 season the Oilers made it clear in the offseason they

    Edmonton Oilers 2018-19
    Ryan Nugent Hopkins able to continue his hot start? RNH has 14 points in 13 games thus far…

    were not going to let that happen again. Although they did not acquire many players to their team, they have come out the gate flying looking like a team on a mission. Of course their success comes from the one and only Connor McDavid. McDavid has 21 points in 13 games, 9 goals and 12 assists, after McDavid comes Leon Draisaitl’s 14 points in 13 games and Ryan Nugent Hopkins(RNH) 14 points in 13 games. Aside from McDavid, Draisaitl and RNH the Oilers next line of production is Tobias Rieder with 7 points(7 assists), Alex Chiasson and Oscar Klefbom who also have 6 points(6 assists) and Drake Caggiula who has 5 points(5 goals). The Oilers have very little secondary scoring after McDavid and Draisaitl which is a big concern and was a big issue for them last season. On top of that the Oilers rank 20th in goals for(40) but also 8th in goals against(34), they average just above 3 goals a game while allowing just under 3 goals against. The Oilers are like many teams seeing great production from three players right now, it is early and will these guys continue? We can all guarantee McDavid will, Draisaitl is good for 80 points, can Ryan Nugent Hopkins come out of his shell and break out? Potentially he can but it is not a guarantee obviously. Other than that Cam Talbot will need to pick up his play a tad and find a way to bring back his 2016-17 self to help the Oilers continue on this trend. Personally I see this as a possibility, I see the Oilers falling off around the All-Star break though, bubble playoff team.

(8) New York Islanders: 8-4-1; 17 points

  • As we all know the big question for the Islanders coming into the year was what are they going to be able to do without John Tavares? Well it seems they have answered that question pretty nicely through the first 13 games. The Islanders have seen distribution of production across the board leading the team is Josh Bailey with 15 points, then captain Anders Lee with 13 points, sophomore Matt Barzal with 12 points, Brock Nelson with 9 points, three guys with 7 points and two guys with 6 points. They rank 16th in the goals for category among the league with 41 goals and have the second lowest goal against among all NHL teams. They average around 3.15 goals for and 2.31 goals against, their power play is ranked 13th (22.5). On top of it all their goaltending has been much better, Thomas Greiss has a 1.85 goals against in 6 games started and a .944 save percentage along with Robin Lehner’s 2.45 goals against in 7 games started and .928 save percentage. The Islanders are certainly the opposite of what they were last year, they are actually playing defense, getting support from their goalies and not blowing leads. Many may overlook the Islanders with no John Tavares but it seems as if the players they have now are out to prove something. Plus with a tough Metropolitan division the Islanders can go one of two ways this season middle of the pack or a playoff team. The Islanders are a team that will compete with their divisional opponents and raise their level of play when it comes to other Metropolitan/Atlantic division teams. It is now staying consistent for the Islanders all year round, not just three months. I see the Islanders sustaining this and being a big surprise to many.

Rangers look to pick up first win of the road trip vs Anaheim

The New York Rangers continue their road trip with a matchup against the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks are coming off a beat down from the Sharks as the Rangers are coming off a terrible loss vs the Kings. The last time these two met was December 19, 2017, except this was on the Rangers home ice and the score was 4-1. A lot has changed since then for both teams, the Ducks were banged up, missing a ton of weapons and now the Rangers are in the same spot the Ducks were in.

The Rangers come into this game with a record of 24-19-5, 52 points, the second wild-card spot and on a two-game losing streak. The Rangers are 4-6-0 in their last ten and post a 7-11-2 road record. Meanwhile, the Ducks come into this game with a 22-17-9 record, 53 points, and four points away from a wild-card spot. The Ducks are 6-3-1 and 12-9-3 on home ice.

If I were to assume anything it would have to be that the starters are most likely going to be Henrik Lundqvist(21-13-4) and John Gibson(16-14-5), these two goalies are coming off enough rest to start this game and I believe Gibson did not even start last game for the Ducks. The game airs at 10:00 PM (EST), all action can be caught on MSG+, a major test for the Rangers as their back is against the walls.

A look at the Rangers…

New York RangersThe Rangers rank up as a middle of the pack team right now, not performing well and doing just enough to get by. On the season the Rangers are within the top 15 for most team statistics. They are ranked 15th for power play percentage(19.6), 12th for penalty kill(82.1), 15th for faceoff percentage(50.5), 13th for goals for per game(2.94) and 17th for goals against per game(2.83). The harrowing statistic though over the course of this season though is how terrible the Rangers play five-on-five, after last games 23 shot attempts, the Rangers are now the worst team in the NHL when it comes to shot attempts per 60 minutes during the five-on-five action. This just shines a light on the Rangers lack of forwarding depth and lack of depth scoring. A team that was once averaging three-plus goals per game and had little trouble scoring. The odd thing about the Rangers awful shot attempts per 60 minutes is that they still rank within the top 15 for goals on the year(141).

A look at Anaheim…

Anaheim, now they are a team that has been just barely getting by and a playoff spot does not look hopeful for them. They went a majority of the season battling some major injuries, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Jakub Silfverberg, Rickard Rakell, Corey Perry all these players were injured at some point and at one point the Ducks were missing three to four of their top six forwards. So, for a team that has battled these many injuries and still posting an above .500 record, kudos to them. The Ducks have struggled on the power play this season ranking 23rd among all NHL teams(17.1), have a rather successful penalty kill at 82.6 percent(9th), rank 10th for faceoff percentage(51.2), 25th for goals for per game(2.69) and 12th for goals against per game(2.71). Therefore the Ducks do not score an awful lot but they also do not let up a ton of goals either as they have allowed 130 goals on the season.

Key Takeaways…

New York RangersThe Rangers will be most likely getting back Kevin Hayes as he did join the Rangers on their road trip, Hayes has sat out the last two games with a lower-body injury.  Hayes has been among the more consistent forwards for the Rangers this season posting 10 goals, 8 assists and 97 shots on goal this season and has played just about any position they need him too. The Rangers will also have Marc Staal back as he did play against L.A. the other night and collected 16 minutes of ice time, with Shattenkirk out all Rangers defenseman that are healthy are good enough. They need as many defensemen as they can get. Another takeaway is that with Marc Staal back Anthony DeAngelo is the 7th defenseman as Steve Kampfer is the healthy scratch. De’Angelo has played a total of 10 games in the NHL this season collecting two assists both on the power play. His last assist came the last game vs L.A. The 22-year-old defenseman is definitely more so offensive minded, but he adds the spark to the Rangers back end that I believe is needed right now. He is playing power play two alongside Brady Skeji and seeing around 17 minutes the last two games.

No injuries to be reported out of Anaheim as they will have a healthy lineup tonight, which means their top-six consists of Rakell-Getzlaf-Perry, Cogliano-Kesler-Silfverberg. When healthy the Ducks are dangerous, not a team the Rangers can take lightly.

No game can be taken lightly from here on out. Because as the Rangers play tonight so do the Flyers, Penguins, and Devils. A Rangers loss, a Penguins win pushes the Ranges out of a wild-card spot and climbing their way back in. The Rangers are only separated by three points for a top-three Metropolitan spot. They trail the Flyers by one point and are tied with Pittsburgh and the Islanders with 53 points. The Rangers need a huge win tonight, a confidence-boosting win, a win before they hit the break because their next game is vs San Jose and it won’t get any easier after tonight.