For the Fourth Time in Five Years, the Metropolitan Division Could Send Five Teams to the Stanley Cup Playoffs

By Dan Dukart on January 27, 2020 at 10:15 am
Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin talk with referee Wes McCauley
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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Folks, the Metropolitan Division is at it again.

In three of the past four seasons, the Metro has staked a claim to both Wild Card spots as the final two teams from each conference to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If today's standings hold, make it four of five. 

Currently sitting in a Wild Card, the position isn't exactly new territory for the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have been a Wild Card team in each of the past two seasons.

Consider that, if the Blue Jackets were in the Western Conference's Pacific Division, Columbus would be in first place. In the Central and the Atlantic they'd be in third place, a far better placement than their current predicament of fourth, one and two points better than the Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers, respectively (but having played one more game than each).

However, they are also trailing the New York Islanders (one point), Pittsburgh Penguins (five), and the Washington Capitals (nine), who seem destined to lock down the #1 seed.

This isn't to say the Blue Jackets are looking for an excuse. Per the expanded standings tool at hockey-reference, the Blue Jackets have the fourth-best ranking in the league against the Metropolitan Division at 10-5-3. If anything, they've played their best hockey against their own division, as we've seen with their 2-0-1 record against the Capitals and their 3-0-0 record against the Hurricanes.

Even still, their odds of making the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season are just 63.4% per MoneyPuck and 61% per The Athletic's Dom Luszczyszyn.

At the same time, it sure would be nice if the Blue Jackets got some help along the way from their Atlantic, Pacific, and Central division friends, with a nod to the fact that the Toronto Maple Leafs are four points back of Columbus but with a game in hand.

With 31 regular-season games left to play, the postseason is far from a foregone conclusion for Columbus. For the Blue Jackets to clinch a playoff berth, they'll need to continue their strong play in divisional play, and hopefully, find some help along the way from their less proximate rivals.

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