For the past several seasons, the toughest division was always in the West, whether it was the Pacific or Central. The East was the weak link, much like in the NBA. It’s a whole new story this season. The toughest division is now in the East. The Metropolitan Division is stronger than ever; I don’t think I have ever even seen this tough of a division before.
As of this moment, there are three teams that have won at least seven straight games. They are the Penguins, Blue Jackets, both at seven, and the Flyers, whom, after a win last night, have won ten straight games. The Capitals have won five in a row. To put it in perspective, the final wild card spot in the East would be the second seed in the entire Western Conference with 40 points, and would still have games in hand.
To add on, the rest of the Metro (the Devils, Hurricanes, and Islanders), whom would be either in playoff position or a couple points out in the West, are ten points out in the East. Fortunately for them, they have games in hand on the Flyers (eleven points ahead), which, if they capitalize on, could pull them within five points. They need at least one of the teams to cool off, however, to still have that chance. It’s almost not fair to these teams. The Hurricanes are 9-5-2 since their 3-6-4 start, including an eight game stretch where they went 3-3-2 without their most important player in Jordan Staal. Just a couple nights ago, they overcame their worst period in years by playing their best in years, scoring six goals and erasing a three goal deficit to defeat the Canucks 8-6. The Islanders are on the rise, also, having won 5 of their last 7 or 8 games. The Devils are keeping steady.
Like I’ve stated, there have always been very strong conferences, usually in the West, but I have never seen something like this before. Three teams in the same division all having won at least seven straight, another with a five game win streak, leaving other playoff-caliber squads behind. That’s just plain remarkable.