As the NHL regular season begins the final wind down to the playoffs, it’s time to take stock on where each team in the Metro Division stands and what (if any) postseason chances do they have to lift the Stanley Cup come this June? The NHL power rankings and the overall standings paint a telling story on who’s moving up and who’ll be enjoying the playoffs from the comfort of their living rooms.
- Carolina Hurricanes – 44-14-8, 96 points. #2 Power Ranking) The ‘Canes are pretty much on cruise control right now but a recent 6-4-0 slide in the last ten games allows other teams, aka the Devils and Rangers, to take advtange of every miscue the Hurricanes have from now through the end of the season. Losing Andrei Svechnikov to a right knee injury doesn’t cast a hopeful shadow on Carolina but they are a rock-solid club and should go to the third-round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
- New Jersey Devils – 44-17-7, 95 points. (#3 Power Ranking.) The Devils are just waiting for the Hurricanes to stumble and with a great overall season, the Devils could be facing the Rangers in the first round of the playoffs if they don’t move up quickly and overtake Carolina.
- New York Rangers – 39-19-10, 88 points. (#7 Power Ranking.) Originally, the Patrick Kane trade looked like a bust but Kane is on fire right now with three goals in the last four games and the Blueshirts are on a 3-0-1 run with Kane scoring. The Rangers sit comfortably with an eight point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins right now in the wild card race but the Rangers will face a tough opponent no matter what inthe first round of the playoffs. Time to see if the Kane and Tarasenko sweepstakes will pay off.
- PIttsburgh Penguins – 34-24-10, 78 points. (#15 Power Ranking.) The Pens should make the playoffs and that’s about all I have to say about them. They will make the postseason but Pittsburgh fans can get ready for the Pirates because baseball will be the only sport being played around that town come the first of May. Goalie Tristan Jarry has been pulled multiple times lately -not a good sign as a team heads to the final stretch of the season.
- New York Islanders – 35-27-8, 78 points. (#17 Power Ranking.) Could the ‘Isles make the postseason? I expect them to squeak in with the last Eastern Conference wild card – just in time for a first round exit. I could be wrong but at least Bo Horvat will get to probably play in a playoff game this season.
- Washington Capitals -33-29-7, 73 points. (#21 Power Ranking.) The Caps are barely holding on and have lost six in a row without Alex Ovechkin playing. The Great Eight is the physical and emotional center of the Washington Capitals and without him on the ice, this team is just a group of aging veterans skating towards a big rebuild. They could slip into the last wild card spot but if they don’t turn things around in the next couple of games, see you in training camp in September.
- Philadelphia Flyers – 24-32-11, 59 points. (#28 Power Ranking.) Hey, the Flyers aren’t at the total bottom of the NHL and let’s face it, nobody counted on Philly making the playoffs this year anyways. GM Chuck Fletcher is gone and new interim GM David Briere has taken over. How long Briere stays remains to be seen as he’s got some family damage control to deal with right now as well. The Flyers should be improved next season; however, I may be saying that againt his time next year too.
- Columbus Blue Jackets – 21-39-7 – who cares about the points. (#32 Power Ranking.) I wonder if Johnny Gaudreau has seller’s remorse right now? The Blue Jackets can be pesky at times but they are only one race right now – the race to win the NHL draft lottery and claim Connor Bedard.