The top spot in the Metropolitan Division now belongs to the Columbus Blue Jackets after an impressive 4-1 victory.
I think it’s always appropriate to keep a close eye on the standings and see where the Columbus Blue Jackets fall but following the New Year is generally the mark where it’s considered appropriate to watch playoff positioning battles like a hawk.
Following the Jackets 4-1 win over the Devils and combined with losses from the Capitals and Penguins, Columbus vaulted to the top of the standings with 59 points in 46 games. The Capitals are on a three game losing streak including a loss to the Jackets on January 12th in Overtime. In the last nine games the Caps are only 3-4-2.
The Penguins have also hit a rut. After winning eight straight in December, Pittsburgh has lost three of their last five games including their last two by a combined score of 10-4. The Penguins have dropped from second in the Metro Division all the way to the last wild card slot with 56 points in 46 games.
The Islanders also have 56 points but have a game in hand on the Penguins giving them possession of third place in the Division. Who would have thought that the Islanders, after losing John Tavares in the offseason, would be in a playoff position? A crazy 9-2-0 run in the last eleven games though has the Islanders thinking about the playoffs.
It’s worth noting that all of these teams are so close right now that in just two days, any of the teams could move from the last wild card slot the top of the division. Also worth noting is the surging Carolina Hurricanes who are 7-3-0 in their last ten and now find themselves only seven points out of a playoff spot. While it still is a ways to go, this new found success might be all it takes for the Canes to go from sellers to buyers at the deadline.
The Columbus Blue Jackets four game winning streak has them back on top of the standings for the first time since November. They have two winnable games left before the long All-Star and NHLPA breaks that come together at to end January. Finishing atop the division will be a huge accomplishment for the Jackets and give them their best chance of advancing past the first round in franchise history.