I keep looking at the teams in our division and sighing. The Capitals and Penguins are again in line to be the toast of the metropolitan division. Playoff record aside, the Washington Capitals look like they could follow up a 120 point regular season with a very similar result. The Penguins really came together at the end of last year with a speed style of play that is/will become the standard in the NHL. Your bruisers can’t do any bruising if they can’t catch the opposing players.
I don’t think it shocks anyone to say that I think the idea of winning the Metropolitan Division is out of reach for the CBJ. Too much talent on the top end teams. I do however, against many of the national pundits, think that a wildcard spot is well within reach and we have a good chance of finishing third in the Metro division. Last year the teams who took the Eastern Wildcard playoff spots (Islanders, Flyers) made it with a season point totals of 100 (Islanders) and 96 (Flyers). I think the Blue Jackets will be firmly in (or above) this hunt (also I will surmise why I believe that to be in the case in my CBJ Team Preview – posting tomorrow).
I believe Carolina is most likely to be in line for a lottery selection in next year’s draft and that Philadelphia’s surprise playoff birth last year is followed by a whole lot of misery in the city of brotherly love. Ranger’s strong net play (Lundqvist) keep them in a lot of games and a wildcard threat. Islanders average team age of 28.8 starts to become a liability and Okposo’s departure is not adequately filled by a 30+ old Andrew Ladd. Islanders miss the playoffs. Devils punch above their weight, but not enough to be a post-season threat.
My prediction for end of season standings of the Metropolitan Division:
- Washington Capitals
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- New York Rangers
- New Jersey Devils
- New York Islanders
- Philadelphia Flyers
- Carolina Hurricanes