Four points separate first place from second place in the Pacific Division. Four points separate first place from second place in the Central. Three points separate first place from second place in the Atlantic. In the Metropolitan Division, however, five points separate first place from…sixth place.
About a third of the way into the season, one division stands out with a traffic jam atop the standings. The Columbus Blue Jackets sit in first place with 39 points, the New York Rangers are in sixth with 34 and in between are the Washington Capitals (37), New Jersey Devils (36), New York Islanders (35) and Pittsburgh Penguins (35).
No other division in the NHL comes close to how crowded things are in the Metro.
Given the way Washington started the season, the fact that they have been able to climb all the way back into second place by early December is a testament to just how good they have been of late.
The good news for the Caps is that, because of how tight the division is they were able to climb the standings fairly quickly even after a tough start. The bad news is that now there is little margin for error.
Washington enjoyed sitting atop the division for a handful of minutes on Friday before Columbus retook the top spot. The Devils have been one of the biggest surprises of the season, but three losses in four games has dropped them from first place to third. The Rangers have won seven of their last 10 games and that has them sitting only in sixth.
Having so many teams battling for supremacy of the division should make for a compelling race all season long. The only thing is no team better get down for too long. Otherwise, there are five other teams ready to leave you in the dust.
The Capitals have won eight of their last ten games to climb to second place in the division. Where did they climb in this week’s Power Rankings? Find out here.