The Washington Capitals are currently on a four-game win streak and have a record of 17-7-3. You might expect them to be jumping out to a mondo Metropolitan Division lead just like they did last year. But as NHL.com reported Monday morning, the Metro division cumulatively went 17-1-0 last week, and the Caps gained no ground despite their win streak. They sit in fifth place in the division despite their solid record, although they have games in hand on everyone other than the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Philadelphia Flyers are on a nine-game win streak. The Penguins are 7-3-0 in their last ten and feature the league’s current leading goal-scorer in Sidney Crosby (20 goals in 22 games). The New York Rangers have a plus-35 goal differential, and the Blue Jackets are somehow plus-31. This is not last year’s Metro division.
Cumulatively the division is 124-70-31, which is a great record. But it is a bit misleading because it includes games within the Metro itself. As it turns out, the Metro is dominating their competition around the league as well.
When only looking at games played by Metro teams against non-Metro teams the division currently has a record of 95-47-25 through 167 games. Through the same number of games in 2015-2016, the Metro was on a 56.3 points-percent pace against non-Metro teams, while this year they are off to a 64.4 percent start. The division is even better against the Western Conference, with a 59-24-12 record and 68 points percent pace, so far.
This chart shows the Metro points percent through the first 167 games both last year and this year.
The Metro’s goal differential is even more improved. Last year at this time, the Metro was exactly even in goal scoring against non-Metro teams. Right now the division is an outrageous +69 goals. That number is bolstered by the Blue Jackets demolishing the Montreal Canadiens 10-0 and the Rangers scoring in bunches every game… but still. Impressive.
The Capitals are trending up and looking much better, especially over the last two games. But so far the margin of error is lower than ever this year, and any extended losing streak will be risky in a Metro division that is very much “en fuego.”
Metro Boomin'. pic.twitter.com/Rdu4h4b12d
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) December 12, 2016
And here’s where this matters. Last year, due to the NHL redoing the playoff format, the President’s trophy-winning Capitals had to go through their divisional rivals instead of getting the worst seeds in the conference. Judging by the Metropolitan Division’s early start, it’s looking like the Caps will need to get through even tougher competition to get out of the second round this year.
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