Metropolitan Division Notebook: Multiple Key Scratches This Week, Unhealthy or Not

By Andy Anders on November 24, 2017 at 1:45 pm
New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh
Aaron Doster – USA TODAY Sports

After their longest winning streak of the season, the Columbus Blue Jackets sit atop the division. Other teams are hot on their trail as this continues to be the tightest race in the NHL.

McDonagh Down

New York Rangers fans anxiously await the results of Ryan McDonagh's meeting with team doctors after he missed Wednesday's game against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Rangers captain has been experiencing abdominal pain that has not gotten better over the past few weeks, and now it has become serious enough to take him out of the lineup.

“It’s something that has been there for a little bit, doesn’t seem to be getting better right now,” New York Rangers Head Coach Alain Vigneault said. “So we just want to check it out. I’ll have more for you tomorrow.”

When asked if McDonagh would be out for longer than a game, Vigneault said he had “no idea.”

McDonagh averages 23:31 on the ice for the Rangers and has arguably been their best defenseman for the last half-dozen years.

Rask but no Reward

Before the season, Carolina Hurricanes faithful (however few they may be) were buying some stock in Victor Rask as a potential top-line center to take them to the next level.

That hasn't been the case.

After going eight games without a point and struggling through the first month of the NHL season, the Carolina Hurricanes finally did what long needed to be done with Victor Rask. They sent their alleged second-line center to the press box to watch.– Luke Decock, News and Observer

That's right, the man the Hurricanes thought could be key to becoming a playoff team again was a healthy scratch for Saturday's game against the New York Islanders. After a meager five points in 18 games, head coach Bill Peters had seen enough.

The move is one that seeks to week out some of the complacency in the Hurricanes' locker room, as the team looks to improve and stay in the hunt for the Metropolitan Division. Because as things stand, they are far from out of it.

The Wrong Foot

Kyle Palmieri
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Palmieri will miss the next 4-6 weeks for the New Jersey Devils after breaking his right foot on Monday in Minnesota. It's the second injury of the season for Palmieri and by far the more devastating one, as he missed six games to start the season after hurting his left foot in practice.

Palmieri earned over 50 points for the Devils in each of the past two seasons and has nine points through 13 games this year. The Devils will look towards Drew Stafford and Jimmy Hayes to step up in his absence.

Up, Down, and All-Around

The Philadelphia Flyers continue to shift players around between the big club and the AHL Lehigh Valley Phantoms, this time sending down forward Matt Read in favor of forward Danick Martel and sending down defenseman Mark Alt in favor of defenseman Samuel Morin.

Morin made his NHL debut last season, playing nearly 18 minutes and taking two shots in a game against the Devils. Martel has yet to play a game in the NHL. Read has over 400 games of NHL experience, but has failed to record a point in four games this season, and Alt has played six of his seven career games with the Flyers this year.

Island of Success

The New York Islanders are another team right in the thick of things in the Metropolitan Division race, and a win over the NHL's best team (by record) can only serve to swing momentum in a positive direction.

On Saturday, the Islanders went to Tampa Bay and got a victory, something very few teams have managed to do this season. Their offense was on a roll too, as they soared out to a 4-0 lead and held on for a 5-3 win.

Penalties, Penalties

A primary issue for the Washington Capitals that needs repaired is their (lack of) discipline.

The team’s penalty kill percentage is 76.7, and the Capitals have been shorthanded 90 times. Only the Nashville Predators have been shorthanded more often, 94 times, and they have played two fewer games than Washington.– Isabelle Khurshudyan, Washington Post

This is one of a few things the Capitals have to improve if they want to once again finish on top of the Metropolitan – but it's going to be tough.

Five New Contracts

In conjunction with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Penguins GM Jim Rutherford signed five young players to one-day contracts on Tuesday. The youngsters got to practice with Penguins players and had a front row seat for the Penguins' practice that day.