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If you look up and down the league, there is one division that stands out amongst the rest. The Metropolitan Division has three of the top 10 teams in the NHL and five of the top fifteen. The last-place team in the Metro, the New Jersey Devils, has more points than any of the other bottom-dwellers in the league.
The Metro also features the Washington Capitals, the NHL’s best team, boasting a record of 13-2-4, which is good for 30 points.
Despite the Islanders winning at a torrid pace, they still remain five points behind the aforementioned Capitals. New York’s red-hot stretch of 9-0-1 in their last 10 games has been matched by the Capitals and Flyers, who are 8-0-2 and 7-2-1 respectively. There is no breathing room in this division, especially with the level of play that all the teams are currently playing, making this ridiculous start by the Islanders even more important.
While the Islanders may be on a 120-point pace for the season, the Capitals are on pace for an absurd 130 point campaign. History has shown that time will eventually even out these numbers, but the start the Islanders have gotten off to gives them a huge advantage in the standings as we approach the quarter mark of the season.
Now, there is an inevitable slump coming both Washington and New York’s way, but both teams look as if they are poised to be battling each other atop the Metro all season. With five points separating the two squads, the three meetings between them become all the more integral to who will win the division.
As of now, the Islanders cannot afford to leave any points on the table in those matchups, but with the first meeting not until late December, there is time for a dramatic change in the standings before then.
The goaltending duo of Semyon Varlamov and Tomas Greiss has picked up right where Robin Lehner and Greiss left off last season. Greiss is first in the league in both goals-against average (1.88) and save percentage (.942), while Varlamov is tenth in both goals-against average (2.37) and save percentage (.924). This tandem might be the best in the league, and under head coach Barry Trotz, one can believe these two goaltenders can keep up their play.
Goaltending and defense win championships, and right now, the Islanders need to ride both of those positions in order to keep their hot start and chances of winning the Metro alive.