Over the last several seasons, the Metropolitan Division has been one of the most competitive divisions in the NHL. One can argue that it has been the toughest and most competitive division. The 2019-20 season is shaping up to be the same way for this division. Some of the league’s top stars play inside this division. Some of the best storylines happen within this division. Multiple Stanley Cups have been won by teams in this division. One thing is for sure: it is shaping up to be a dogfight down the stretch as six teams look to compete for an opportunity at the Stanley Cup playoffs.
CURRENT STANDINGS AND OBSERVATIONS
As of January 22, the Metropolitan Division has six teams competing for the top three spots and the final two wildcard spots.
Currently, Carolina and Columbus hold the final two wild card spots, with Philadelphia just on the outside looking in. Philadelphia and Columbus both have 60 points. Carolina has 61 points.
The Penguins are showing that they can survive even without some star players in their lineup. Sidney Crosby has been away from the team for a little bit this year, and recently returned to the lineup. Currently, star winger Jake Guentzel is on the injury shelf for the next few months. The Penguins also have missing blueliners, as Brian Dumoulin and Justin Schultz have missed extended lengths of time.
Columbus has rallied in recent weeks out of the doldrums. Goaltender Elvis Merzlikins has come in and given the Blue Jackets some confidence in net. Seeing the Blue Jackets still in the mix is very impressive considering they lost goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky last offseason. The Jackets have won five in a row, and have won eight out of their last ten games.
The Flyers are in the mix, but their record could be considered a little deceiving. While they have the same number of points as Columbus, the Flyers have also been involved in the most shootouts of any of the Metropolitan Division teams. Currently, the Flyers have a 5-5 record in the shootout.
VERY LITTLE SEPARATION
Three points separates the third seed from the six seed. Currently, the New York Islanders hold the third seed in the Metropolitan Division with 63 points. They have Carolina, Columbus, and Philadelphia right behind them.
The divisional matchups down the stretch between these teams will dictate who sneaks in and who is left out. Every point earned is critical in the latter stages of the regular season. The standings battle in March and April will be feisty, and it should be fun to watch.
By: George Foussekis