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Monday, October 18, 2021

NHL 2021-22 Metropolitan Division preview: Islanders look to increase playoff run

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The NHL 2021-22 season kicks off Tuesday with a full 82-game schedule set to run till April 29. This 12 months 32 groups, with the addition of the Seattle Kraken, will battle it out with the hopes of hoisting the coveted Stanley Cup in what would be the first common season because the pandemic struck midseason in March 2020. 

The league is break up into two conferences — the Jap and Western conferences — and returns to its unique 4 divisions: the Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central and Pacific, with eight groups in every. 

CLICK HERE FOR MORE NHL COVERAGE ON FOXNEWS.COM  

Learn under for a breakdown of the Metropolitan Division.

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NEW YORK ISLANDERS

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New York Islanders Jakub Skarek (1) is congratulated by New York Islanders proper wing Scott Mayfield (24) after defeating the New York Rangers Sept. 26, 2021, at Madison Sq. Backyard in New York.
(Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports activities)

The Metropolitan Division is crammed with playoff contenders, however essentially the most constant drive over the previous few seasons has been the New York Islanders. 

The Islanders completed fourth within the East Division final season with a 32-17-7 file and made the playoffs for the third straight season — no coincidence that coincides with Barry Trotz’s time as head coach. After defeating the division champion Penguins, the Islanders would energy previous the Bruins and be eradicated by the eventual Stanley Cup champions within the Jap Convention Finals. 

The Islanders’ playoff possibilities look strong once more. Lead scorer Mathew Barzal will probably be joined by Anders Lee, who’s getting back from a knee damage that sidelined him the ultimate two months of the season. Offseason strikes added veteran Zdeno Chara and Zach Parise to the lineup, however the departure of Jordan Eberle, who was chosen by the Kraken within the growth draft, will doubtless be a noticeable change within the lineup.  

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CAROLINA HURRICANES 

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce (22) skates with the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning in game two of the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs June 1, 2021, at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C.

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce (22) skates with the puck in opposition to the Tampa Bay Lightning in recreation two of the second spherical of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs June 1, 2021, at PNC Area in Raleigh, N.C.
(James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports activities)

The Canes proved themselves as severe contenders final season after ending prime within the Central Division earlier than being eradicated by the Lightning within the second, spherical however a busy offseason reveals the group’s dedication to maintain the ball rolling. 

After dealing away Calder Trophy finalist Alex Nedeljkovic, Carolina added two recent faces within the web: Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta. Boosting their ahead line, the Canes signed Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Derek Stepan and defensemen Ethan Bear, Ian Cole and Tony DeAngelo, who joins former Rangers’ teammate Brady Skjei. 

The most important hurdle to beat for the Canes would be the departure of Dougie Hamilton, who scored 42 factors final season. 

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WASHINGTON CAPITALS

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson (74) shoots the puck on Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Martin Jones (35) during the third period Oct. 8, 2021, at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson (74) shoots the puck on Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Martin Jones (35) through the third interval Oct. 8, 2021, at Capital One Area in Washington, D.C.
(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports activities)

The Capitals made no vital strikes within the offseason, however why repair what isn’t damaged? Washington stands as one of many greatest threats within the Metropolitan, having captured 13 division titles — 5 of which have been again to again from 2015-2020. 

The Caps completed second of their division final season however would get eradicated by the Bruins within the first spherical. Any hope of shaking off final 12 months’s woes took a large blow through the offseason after prime scorer Alex Ovechkin was injured throughout Washington’s closing preseason recreation. 

He suffered a lower-body damage that would sideline the 36-year-old for the season opener in opposition to the New York Rangers on Wednesday. Along with his absence, the Capitals can doubtless count on to be with out veteran Nicklas Backstrom to begin the season as he heals from a hip damage from final season. 

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PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Drew O'Connor (10) skates up ice with the puck during the third period against the Buffalo Sabres Oct. 1, 2021, at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York.

Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Drew O’Connor (10) skates up ice with the puck through the third interval in opposition to the Buffalo Sabres Oct. 1, 2021, at KeyBank Heart in Buffalo, New York.
(Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports activities)

The Penguins discover themselves in the same place because the Capitals — maybe worse. Pittsburgh will probably be with out its prime scorers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for a while as each gamers get better from surgical procedure.

Crosby is recovering from wrist surgical procedure to restore a nagging damage and will miss the season opener on Tuesday in opposition to the Lightning. Malkin’s outlook is much less interesting. He might miss at the very least the primary two months of the season following surgical procedure on his knee through the offseason. 

Forwards Jake Guentzel, Jeff Carter and Bryan Rust will doubtless take the beginning line to open the season with Carter stepping in for Malkin when Crosby returns. 

The Penguins’ greatest problem this season may very well be their goaltending state of affairs after Tristan Jarry’s lackluster efficiency within the playoffs. 

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NEW YORK RANGERS

New York Rangers left wing Sammy Blais (91) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal against the Boston Bruins during the first period Oct. 2, 2021, at the TD Garden in Boston.

New York Rangers left wing Sammy Blais (91) celebrates together with his teammates after scoring a objective in opposition to the Boston Bruins through the first interval Oct. 2, 2021, on the TD Backyard in Boston.
( Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports activities)

The Rangers have lengthy been caught within the “rebuild” section, however a busy offseason might result in a much-needed breakthrough. 

New York hosts one of many youthful rosters within the league with forwards Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko anticipated to see some severe ice time this season. The additions of veterans Barclay Goodrow and Ryan Reaves ought to provide some path in addition to an aggressive presence on a crew that’s lacked true grit over the previous few seasons. 

The Rangers additionally prevented letting their greatest star stroll away subsequent season by signing Mika Zibanejad to an eight-year contract on Sunday. He joins Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider because the crew’s premier gamers. 

Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox may even be a powerful level for the Rangers’ protection, however New York’s success will all come down to 1 factor. Can this budding crew adapt to new head coach Gerard Gallant in time to make the playoffs?

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NEW JERSEY DEVILS 

New Jersey Devils center Dawson Mercer (18) shoots the puck wide of New York Rangers goaltender Adam Huska (32) during the second period Oct. 1, 2021, at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

New Jersey Devils middle Dawson Mercer (18) shoots the puck broad of New York Rangers goaltender Adam Huska (32) through the second interval Oct. 1, 2021, at Prudential Heart in Newark, New Jersey.
(Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports activities)

The Devils missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season after ending seventh within the East Division, solely forward of the imploding Sabres

Bottoming out with simply 45 factors after ending 19-30-7, the Devils made an enormous transfer in signing defenseman Dougie Hamilton to a monster seven-year, $63 million contract. The veteran guarantees a lift to the Devils struggling energy play. He’s scored 104 power-play factors in 607 NHL video games, totaling 18 final season alone. 

Hamilton will doubtless be a part of Ryan Graves on the identical line — one other offseason addition. 

With a view to stand an opportunity in opposition to their division rivals, the Devils’ younger forwards should create extra scoring alternatives. They ranked twenty sixth within the league final season with simply 145 targets scored and fifth with targets allowed. 

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PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

Washington Capitals center Nic Dowd (26) checks Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier (14) during the third period Oct. 8, 2021, at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.

Washington Capitals middle Nic Dowd (26) checks Philadelphia Flyers middle Sean Couturier (14) through the third interval Oct. 8, 2021, at Capital One Area in Washington, D.C.
(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports activities)

The Flyers did a serious overhaul this offseason after ending sixth within the division, lacking the playoffs after making a second-round look in 2020. Following a number of first-round exits, the Flyers went on a signing spree in hopes of fixing that. 

Cam Atkinson, Derick Brassard, Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen are amongst only a few additions the Flyers are hoping may have an instantaneous influence on the ice.  

Nonetheless, the Flyers could have missed the mark on the subject of the crew’s greatest gap: goaltending. 

Carter Hart completed on the backside of the league with -22.57 targets saved above common and a save share of simply .877. Regardless of the dismal efficiency, the membership signed Hart to a three-year contract in August and added Martin Jones as a backup. 

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COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks (80) makes a save in net against the Detroit Red Wings in the second period May 8, 2021, at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks (80) makes a save in web in opposition to the Detroit Purple Wings within the second interval Could 8, 2021, at Nationwide Area in Columbus, Ohio. (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports activities)
(Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports activities)

The Blue Jackets have been trending downward since their second-round exit in 2019, and this season, sadly, appears to be headed in the identical path. 

Columbus completed on the backside of the Central Division after going 18-26-12 within the common season. It missed the playoffs fully, and the Blue Jackets and head coach John Tortorella mutually agreed to half methods after six seasons. Brad Larsen, who beforehand served because the crew’s longtime assistant coach, has taken ove,r which received’t be a lot of an adjustment for Columbus. 

The Blue Jackets have a fairly vital gap of their prime strains after the midseason commerce of Pierre-Luc Dubois despatched him to the Winnipeg Jets. Max Domi will make a return approach forward of schedule after present process surgical procedure again in June to restore a shoulder damage — he was initially anticipated to overlook at the very least six months. 

The offseason trades of prime defenseman Seth Jones and ahead Cam Atkinson may even be notable absences, however the return of Jakub Voracek after 9 seasons with the Flyers will hopefully create extra scoring alternatives for Columbus.



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