As we wind down on the official first half of the 2016-17 NHL season the Metropolitan Division continues to produce drama each and every night. With the All-Star Game a mere week and a half away, the metro remains the league’s best and toughest division. Let’s dive into the latest installment of the Super Two Sports Metropolitan Division Power Rankings: 1. Washington Capitals (29-9-6) 64 Pts
So what does a 9-0-1 streak in your last 10 games do for you? How about a jump from #4 to #1 in the Power Rankings and a share of first place in the Metro Division? Despite an exciting 8-7 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Capitals are on fire. Goaltender Braden Holtby has six of the Capitals last nine wins with three of them coming by shutout. Alex Ovechkin has nine points (3G, 6A) in his last five games. It took a while but Washington is rolling now.
2. Columbus Blue Jackets (30-9-4) 64 Pts
Since that historic 16 game winning streak was snapped by the Washington Capitals the Blue Jackets are a .500 team in their last six. The Jackets are in the midst of a three game home-stand and will then hit the road for five games including three in division against the Islanders, Rangers and Penguins. After a resurgent start to his season, center Sam Gagner has gone 11 games without a goal. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky continues to impress by winning nine of his last 10 starts.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins (27-11-5) 59 Pts
After a five game winning streak dating back to Dec 23, the Penguins had lost three in row before their wild win Monday against the Capitals. Pittsburgh is first in the league in goals scored (3.51) and first in the league in shots per game (34.7). However, their goals allowed (3.02) is good for 25th. Sidney Crosby has 14 points (5G, 9A) in the team’s last 10 games. There are rumblings out of Pittsburgh that the team will look to unload goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in the offseason.
4. New York Rangers (28-16-1) 57 Pts
The Rangers used their bye week to get healthy. Forwards Rick Nash and Pavel Buchnevich returned last Friday and Mika Zibanejad returned Tuesday night to score two goals in a wild 7-6 home loss to the Dallas Stars. Despite the lineup boost the team has lost three straight and is 5-5 in their last 10. Defense and goaltending are a huge concern in New York. Henrik Lundqvist has a GAA of 2.89 and has given up four or more goals in six of his last 7 starts. Back-up goalie Antti Raanta has been the better goalie by far, but he is out with a lower body injury for 7-10 days.
5. Carolina Hurricanes (21-16-7) 49 Pts
The Carolina Hurricanes continue to be one of the league’s nice surprises. A team many experts felt was a few years away from competing is right in the thick of the Eastern Conference wild-card race. Carolina had a four game winning streak (all at home) snapped in Columbus Tuesday night. Cam Ward continues his comeback year winning six of his last 10 starts. If the Hurricanes stay in this race, look for them to add some scoring punch at the trade deadline.
6. New Jersey Devils (19-18-9) 47 Pts
New Jersey just closed out a four game road trip including three games in Western Canada. After dropping the first game in Edmonton the Devils won the next three including a 4-3 win in Minnesota Tuesday night. Corey Schneider has found his game, allowing three goals or less in his last eight. Winger Kyle Palmieri found his scoring touch with five points (2G, 3A) on the four game road trip. New Jersey is another team that may look to add scoring at the deadline.
7. Philadelphia Flyers (22-18-6) 50 Pts
Despite having more points than both Carolina and New Jersey the Flyers drop to 7th in the rankings. Philadelphia has only two wins in their last 11 games. As is always the case in Philadelphia, goaltending is a huge issue. The Flyers are 27th in the league in goals against at 3.13. Furthermore, goalie Steve Mason sports a save percentage under .900 (.897) with zero shutouts on the season. Fans in Philly have seen this story once or twice before.
8. New York Islanders (17-17-8) 42 Pts
A 4-0 win in Boston on Monday was not enough to save Jack Capuano’s job. The long-time head coach of the Islanders was relieved of his duties on Tuesday. His 227 wins are second all-time in franchise history behind legendary head coach Al Arbour. Doug Weight was named interim coach. Islanders fans can only hope this move wakes up their team, a team that sits 28th overall in the NHL.
This post was written by Scott Burke.