With about a month left in the NHL regular season, the playoff picture is taking shape in most divisions. Most divisions. As it has been all year, the Metropolitan division race from spots 2-6 is as wide open as could be. Just 6 points separate New Jersey (71 pts) and Philadelphia (77 points). 1st place Pittsburgh are far and away the leaders of the Metro and 8th place NY Islanders find themselves pretty much out of it, while Carolina is just hanging in there in the 7th spot, though not in the thick of the race.
Columbus, with 76 points, finds themselves in a playoff spot chasing Philly, but they also have NY Rangers breathing down their neck with 76 points as well. After that, Washington is right on their heels with 74 points, and New Jersey is looking for a big run with 71. So who’s gonna make it, and what’s it gonna take?
Consistency. The magic word that separates the winners and the losers. Sure, anyone can win a few games, but its winning several that earns you a playoff spot. So far, we’ve seen consistent winning from Pittsburgh, and it shows in their 15 point lead in the standings. For Columbus, that means more winning streaks. Sure, you’ll lose a few games, but you’ve gotta bounce back. Losing streaks in the Metro Division spell disaster.
At the end of it all, I think Pittsburgh, Columbus, and NYR will earn the divisional spots with Philly taking a wild card spot. Pittsburgh is all but guaranteed a playoff spot at this point, and CBJ have just seemed better built than the other teams around them. The Blue Jackets players are believing in their chances and in the system set by Todd Richards, and it’s translating to wins.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that I am completely wrong. Who knows, maybe the Islanders will come all the way back to take a wild card spot or something. Crazier things have happened. Got an opinion? Share it in the comments below.