The Metropolitan Division in the Eastern Conference once again is a blood bath this season in the NHL. If the NHL regular season ended today, there would be five teams from that division in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. However, it is still 2022 and we are still miles away from that in 2023 however.
If the season ended today, the New Jersey Devils would face the New York Rangers, the Pittsburgh Penguins would face the Carolina Hurricanes, the New York Islanders would face the Boston Bruins, and the Toronto Maple Leafs would face the Tampa Bay Lightning. Teams that are still in the chase are the Washington Capitals, the Detroit Red Wings, and the Florida Panthers.
There is still a lot that has to be played out and it will be interesting to see how the seeding is going to work. At the current moment, the NHL Standings in the Metropolitan Division look like this:
Who has a shot and who doesn't?
Teams Who Have No Shot
Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Philadelphia was fools gold early in the season but has many holes on the roster despite the fact John Tortorella is a very good head coach. Goalie Carter Hart isn't the problem and other things around him are. Record in 29 games played, 9-13-7 with 25 points (Seventh in Metro).
Columbus thought they were going to take a massive step forward with Johnny Gaudreau at the helm but they have taken a massive step backward. This is still a rebuilding hockey team after all and has no light at the end of the tunnel for this season. Record in 27 games played, 10-15-2 with 22 points (Eighth in Metro).
Teams On the Bubble
Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, and New York Islanders
Washington had a ton of injuries on the year but is playing much better as of late to get themselves back in the race. They are not far behind but their season feels like an Alex Ovechkin goal-chasing race more than a postseason race. Record in 30 games played, 14-12-4 with 32 points (Sixth in Metro).
The Rangers are a team that is not very good 5-on-5 but they have won their last four games. They can't be relying on goalie Igor Shesterkin all the time to bail them out and win hockey games. Record in 30 games played, 15-10-5 with 35 points (Fourth in Metro).
The Islanders have cooled off a little bit and the offense is a hit-or-miss mystery that could be their downfall. Mathew Barzal has been average at best this season and Ilya Sorokin can't afford to get worn down in the net and bail them out every single time also. Record in 29 games played, 17-12-0 with 34 points (Fifth in Metro).
Teams That Feel Safe
Carolina Hurricanes, Pittsburgh Penguins, and New Jersey Devils
Carolina is one of the best young teams in the NHL that is in win-now mode. The Hurricanes don't care who is in their lineup, they always step up and that includes goalie Pyotr Kochetkov. Record in 27 games played, 15-6-6 with 36 points (Third in Metro).
Pittsburgh appeared to have many problems a month ago, but they are now one of the best teams in the NHL riding a six-game winning streak. Sidney Crosby is having a Hart Trophy-caliber season and a lot of that is thanks to Rickard Rakell and Jake Guentzel. Record in 29 games played, 17-8-4 with 38 points (Second in Metro).
New Jersey is one of the best young teams in the NHL. Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, and Dawson Mercer cause problems for other teams on a night-to-night basis along with their blueline and goaltending as well. Record in 28 games played, 21-5-2 with 44 points (First in Metro).
At the end of the day, it wouldn't be surprising to see five teams make it to the 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs from this division. It is all going to depend on the wild card situation in the Eastern Conference because of the Atlantic Division as well. It feels as if the fourth and fifth-best teams in the Metropolitan Division are better than the ones in the Atlantic Division.
The teams that will be out of five make it: Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, and Columbus Blue Jackets
The teams that will be out of four make it: New York Islanders, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia, and Columbus Blue Jackets.
It will highly be unlikely there is a scenario where only three teams make it from this division. This division is too tough and too good. At the end of the day, the Metropolitan Division finish will be 1. New Jersey Devils, 2. Carolina Hurricanes, 3. Pittsburgh Penguins, 4. New York Rangers, 5. New York Islanders, 6. Washington Capitals, 7. Philadelphia Flyers, and 8. Columbus Blue Jackets.