As the first month of 2015 ended last night, the division within the Metropolitan Division held further true. The fifth place Philadelphia Flyers have been hot with four straight wins. The divide is so massive that four-straight wins have cut the gap between them and fourth place to nine points. To win a lot and barely be in the picture speaks volumes about the wills and will-nots for the division's playoff picture. Therefore, I added two new columns to the weekly snapshot for the rest of the season.
|Team||GP||W||L||OT||ROW||Pts.||Last Week||Ptl. Pts.||Weeks Won||Playoff||% Lottery|
Source: NHL.com - Links to SBN Blogs
The first new column, Playoff, lists what the playoff match-up that team would be in if the postseason started today. The New York Islanders would host one of the wild card teams; Boston, in this case. The Washington Capitals would take the other wild card spot in the East; they would go to Tampa Bay. The #2 and #3 spots will face each other for a forced division playoff series, so Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers. These four making the postseason almost looks ironclad at this moment. The closest team outside of the wildcard is Florida, and they're eight points behind Washington right now. The Panthers have three games in hand, but that's a tough hill to climb.
There will be drama among the top four. The Pittsburgh Penguins had a good week and they're right behind the Islanders in first. They'll get an extra game this week, so the Pens could retake first place. Especially if the Isles slip up. But it may not be a two-team race for long. The Rangers still have games in hand on both teams and they're only four points back. That's possible to make up. The Washington Capitals are not only jockeying for position for the other wild card spot; but they're not that far back either. Should they get hot and/or the other teams in front of them struggle, they could make up ground before you know it. So there's reason to pay attention to the top of the Metropolitan the rest of the way.
The second new column is clumsly named % lottery. As in, the percentage odds of the team winning the 2015 NHL Draft lottery. No one is really going to catch the Buffalo "no points in Janaury" Sabres or the Edmonton "Kevin Lowe says he knows a lot about winning but his team had 35 points" Oilers. But the changes in positions will make a percentage difference (or more, depending on the rest of the league) to getting that coveted #1 pick. The Flyers' winning streak - which makes them the most successful in the division in this past week - has moved them a bit towards respectability. Again, they're so far behind the Capitals that it would take a miracle run to get close. The New Jersey Devils won their first week that was more than one game long, so they jumped a bit past the Columbus Blue Jackets. Slightly more respectable, but still very much entrenched in the bottom ten. The Blue Jackets saw their chance get a slight benefit. The Carolina Hurricanes continue to bring up the rear, though they at least split their prior week.
I hope the two new columns provide further perspective of where all eight teams are in the league. To that extent, here's the upcoming schedule for all eight teams in the division. Games within the division are in bold.
|NYI||vs. FLA||@ PHI||@ BOS|
|PIT||vs. NSH||@ EDM||@ CGY||@ VAN|
|NYR||vs. FLA||vs. BOS||@ NSH|
|WSH||vs. STL||vs. LAK||@ OTT||vs. ANA|
|NJD||vs. OTT||vs. TOR||@ MTL|
|CBJ||vs. ARI||vs. STL||@ OTT|
|CAR||@ ANA||@ ARI||@ SJS|
Those who like games within the division will be out of luck as there's only one: the Philadelphia Flyers visiting Long Island on Thursday. It's the only game for the Flyers, so they'll at least have a lot of time to prepare for that one. The Islanders may need that one to ward off the Penguins, Rangers, and Capitals for another week. Speaking of the Isles, they'll also want to get results over Florida (Boston would be pleased) and Boston (Florida and Washington would be pleased) to do so. The Pittsburgh Penguins get the benefit of an extra game now and mathematically could get past the Isles. They'll take on Nashville first before heading on a road trip through Western Canada.
Behind them, the Rangers will also have an effect on what little challenge for the wildcard spot in the Atlantic Division with games against Florida and Boston. The Rangers will go to Nashville by week's end. Due to the schedule, they will get another game in hand on not only Pittsburgh but also Washington. It'll be hard for the Caps to get too far ahead on paper. The Capitals get a tough week where they're hosting three of the best teams in the Western Conference, and the last one comes after a quick trip up to Ottawa. Definitely not easy, but if they can have a positive week, then it'll serve some notice that they're good.
Down in the lower half, the Flyers' extremely short week could put their undesirable fifth-place spot in some risk. Depends on the other teams do. The Devils will wrap up a five-game homestand with Ottawa and Toronto before heading up to Montreal on Saturday. The Blue Jackets will host a flailing Arizona team before a similarly tough back-to-back set with Ottawa and St. Louis. The Hurricanes won't be catching anyone short of an awesome week coupled with Columbus having a terrible one. They will make the effort on the road out west with games in Anaheim, Arizona, and San Jose.
What do you think of the new additions to the weekly Metropolitan Division snapshot? Will the Islanders hold on to first place for another week? Can the Rangers and Capitals close a not-that-large gap to the top a little bit more? What about the bottom half, will the Devils catch the Flyers or will the Flyers remain as they are? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the week that was and the week that will be in the Metropolitan Division. Thank you for reading.