Sunday, July 21, 2013

Metro Mania

The 2013-14 schedule is out, now that an Olympic agreement has been reached.  The NHL players will play in the Olympics, and the schedule will be compressed to allow the time for an Olympic break.  All of this is covered pretty well by @OhioHockeyDog over on the Union Blue, and it would be foolish of me to try to recreate such a good synopsis of the schedule.  Its a good read, check it out.  And of course, @RockmanHalo has been ranking all the Eastern Conference match ups over on Full Mental Jackets from a bit of a different perspective.

I was anxiously awaiting the schedule and the new division name, and I have to confess that it didn't 'Wow' me when I first heard it.  The "Metropolitan Division" to me seems to come out of left field.  But then one of my relatives asked me who was in the Division.  So I started reeling off the names - New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers .... and at that point I started to realize there might be something to the name.  Throw in Columbus, Pittsburgh, and the Raleigh area as a group of 'lesser Metropoli' (Metropolises?) and you have the Division.  So I can see the sense in it, but it doesn't sing to me.  And I know I'm always gonna call it the Metro Division anyway.  Metropolitan is too big a mouthful, so why name a division something that is going to be shortened?

But, there it is, and I'm sure I'll get used to it.  And I'm already looking forward to the Divisional competition.  There was something sweet about seeing New Jersey self-destructing with the whole Kovalchuk thing.  I think it was the notion of a powerful divisional foe shooting themselves in the foot, and thus weakening themselves.  The Devils will recover, and they are sorting out their goal tending issues, and likely we can look for a series of 1-0 games against them, but I don't want to try to predict which way that will go.

There are already story lines developing for the upcoming year, and I look forward to it getting started.  Philadelphia looks like a wreck, sitting $2 million over the cap (thanks CapGeek).  But they will get it down, and once the puck drops they will start playing some good hockey.  We will get to see how the old Blue Jackets would have been if they would have had some defense and goal tending when the Rangers come to town.  You can bet Brass will have one of his best games of the year.  Of course, maybe Arniel will bench him, so we got that going for us.

Boston showed the way for how to beat Pittsburgh in the playoffs this year, and for the nonce they don't look quite so formidable.  But that's playoff hockey, not regular season hockey, and the Pens will likely revert to being the prohibitive cup favorite.  Be that as it may, the next time someone brings up the fact to you that the CBJ got swept out of the playoffs by Detroit, you might want to point out to them that the mighty Penguins duplicated that feat this year, being swept out of the playoffs without ever holding a lead.

Unfortunately, the Islanders young talent seems to be coming of age at an inopportune moment. Those should be some interesting games as they are one of the teams we have not historically played well against.  And it will be interesting to see the match up against 'Team Staal' down in North Carolina.  And somehow, someway, I'm going to have to resurrect that Hitler rant from when we played the Capitals back in 2008-09.  That was an all time classic.  I hope I can find it.

Here's hoping that the first season in the Metro Division goes well for the Blue Jackets.  We aren't part of anyone's rivalry list yet in the Eastern Conference.  We need to beat people to make them pay attention, and we may have the wherewithal this year if we can find the scoring.  It will certainly be entertaining, and I look forward to the season getting started.


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