At every turn, the Metropolitan Division has been the most interesting division in the National Hockey League. Each team has seen a major rise or fall in the standings throughout the year, which alludes to the competition not just within the Metro, but the entire NHL.
Leading up to the trade deadline, each Metro team had a crucial commitment to make, whether to be buyers or sellers. Minus the NY Islanders, every Metro team made that exact decision one way or the other. Trade winners and losers from the deadline can be found here.
Teams Looking To Next Year: New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers
The Devils season ended quite early after the undisclosed injury to Taylor Hall has seen him miss the last 36 games. They did, however, end up with two extra second-round picks from rentals Brian Boyle and Marcus Johansson. Fan favorite Mats Zuccarello and top-six center Kevin Hayes yielded the New York Rangers a first, second, and
Washington Capitals — 89 pts (13 games remaining)
Despite an inconsistency-filled title defense through mid-February, the Washington Capitals have officially turned into postseason mode. The Caps have won nine of their last ten and recently reclaimed the top spot in the Metro division. Although questioned as a potential playoff outlier just a month ago, the Caps now look more likely for another deep postseason run.
New York Islanders — 87 pts (13 games remaining)
You’d think a team losing its heart and sole would fall from mediocrity to the bottom of the league, right? In reality, Barry Trotz has taken the Tavares-less Islanders from the worst defense in the NHL, to the best, and an average team to a staple in the division. Trotz is turning into a lock for the Jack Adams trophy, especially if the Islanders can capture top spot in the Metro.
Carolina Hurricanes — 83 pts (13 games remaining)
Small market aside, “bunch of jerks” aside, the pride of this Carolina Hurricanes team is undeniable each and every night. Carolina has led the NHL in shots and shots given up throughout the entire season, and have finally looked like a team reaching its full potential. A fast and energized team with an unorthodox goaltending duo, Rod Brind’Amour has this Hurricanes team looking like a dark horse contender for a deep playoff run.
Pittsburgh Penguins — 83 pts (13 games remaining)
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have never missed the playoffs together. In fact, they’ve never been this close to doing just that. The Penguins playoff chances have looked brighter recently, however, going 8–2 in their last ten games after spending several weeks without either Olli Maatta or Kris Letang. With injuries a theme for Pittsburgh, it will take an MVP-caliber Crosby to take this team to another playoff berth in a crowded race.
Columbus Blue Jackets — 79 pts (13 games remaining)
After going 3–4 since the trade deadline, the all-in Blue Jackets are tied for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Jackets traded everything but their future in order to secure the franchises first ever playoff series win, and if they don’t even make the playoffs… no good. With the hardest schedule of any team on this list and a severe chunk remaining against the Metro division, the talent needs to shine through sooner rather than later in order to avoid a debacle of epic proportions.
Philadelphia Flyers — 76 pts (13 games remaining)
After parting ways with fringe star Wayne Simmonds and losing rookie goalie sensation Carter Hart to injury, the Flyers have defied all odds and remain a contender in the Metropolitan and Wild Card playoff race. Philly has relied on a plethora of goal scorers as journeymen Brian Elliot and Cam Talbot continue to keep the Flyers in games. I simply don’t see the same talent and consistent goaltending of the five other teams on this list, but they have thirteen games left to prove me wrong and convert on a shock playoff berth.