As we near the Christmas holiday it’s pretty clear that Santa has been very good to most of the teams in the Metropolitan division in the National Hockey League. As of December 22 five of the eight teams in the division are locked into playoff spots. The competition has been fierce between the teams and it will only continue as the season moves on. We have seen a little bit of everything this season from the Metro from double digit win streaks to goalie controversies. With most of the teams a little more than 1/3 of the way through their schedules, let’s take a look at the first installment of our Power Rankings for the best division in the NHL.
1. Columbus Blue Jackets (21-5-4)
John Tortorella has his team playing at an unbelievable level right now. Winners of 10 in a row, the Blue Jackets have the best points to games played ratio in the NHL. Cam Atkinson has taken a huge step forward averaging more than a point per game through 30 games played. Huge games on tap this week with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (21-7-5)
The defending Stanley Cup Champs made a statement Tuesday night with a 7-2 drubbing of a short-handed New York Rangers team. Matt Murray is the unquestioned #1 goalie in the Steel City. Sidney Crosby has 22 goals in 27 games.
3. New York Rangers (23-11-1)
The Rangers are tied atop the division but are also tied with Philadelphia for the most games played with 35. Rick Nash is sidelined again with a groin injury. Michael Grabner continues his career resurgence leading the team with 14 goals. After sitting out four games in a row, Henrik Lundqvist won three in a row allowing only three games during that span.
4. Washington Capitals (19-8-4)
Winners of six of their last eight, the Capitals are making a push towards the top of the division. Washington is third in the league in goals against average at 2.13. Alexander Ovechkin has only two goals in his last 10 games. After being a healthy scratch for three games Andre Burakovsky scored a goal for the first time in 27 games Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers.
5. Philadelphia Flyers (20-11-4)
After winning 10 games in a row the Flyers have lost two of their last three. Wayne Simmonds leads the team with 16 goals and Claude Giroux leads with 31 points. Despite the recent success the Flyers remain on the outside of the top three in division. Philadelphia should be fighting for a wild-card spot all season.
6. Carolina Hurricanes (13-11-7)
One of the league’s pleasant surprises the Hurricanes have gotten points in seven of their last 10 games. Cam Ward has found his game with a 2.30 GAA and two shutouts on the season. Jeff Skinner has also reminded the league of his ability with 12 goals and 26 points in 30 games. Carolina may fall short this season, but he Hurricanes are a team on the rise.
7. New Jersey Devils (12-13-7)
After a very impressive start to the season the Devils have lost seven in a row to fall to 7th in the division. New Jersey, as it has been in the past, has had trouble scoring, averaging 2.28 goals per game. Taylor Hall has three goals in his last 10 games and only one point in his last six.
8. New York Islanders (12-14-6)
One of the NHL’s biggest disappointments the New York Islanders sit last in the Metropolitan division and 28th overall in the NHL. They are rotating three goalies, Andrew Ladd has struggled and they have been unable to replace the production of Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen. Head Coach Jack Capuano is certainly on the hot seat.
This piece was written by Scott Burke.