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Sticking with the times. Onto the serious stuff.
The Metropolitan Division is the best division in hockey. Personally, it's shocking, but is it expected?
Last season, the President Trophy winning Washington Capitals came from this division. The reigning Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins came from this division.
As of Wednesday night, there are four teams with winning streaks in the division. The Philadelphia Flyers have won an amazing ten games in a row. The Columbus Blue Jackets have won seven straight. The Pittsburgh Penguins have won seven consecutive. The Washington Capitals on an a five game win streak.
The Flyers seem to be this with come from behind efforts and overtime. Four of the nine games went into extra time. Five of the other games, the Flyers trailed and came back to win. The only one where they were ahead and stayed ahead for an entire game was the first game of the streak.
With Columbus, six of seven of their games were winning the game in regulation. Only one room extra time, and that was a shootout effort where they set a franchise record sixty shots in a game. Also, more of those games were on the road, and against Western Conference competition. The Blue Jackets have been able to win with unity of scoring from all four lines, a catalyst in the form of young defensemen, and solid goaltending, that have been able to keep this team going.
The Penguins have won every game they have played in December so far, and in a very fashionable way. In five of six games, they scored five goals or more. In two of those five, they scored seven or more. The other one, they scored four. It's dominant, high scoring, old fashioned hockey that has gotten Pittsburgh through this month.
The Washington Capitals have been able to beat three of the bottom five times in this stretch, and one of those teams twice. The first two games of the five were also taken into extra time. This stretch has been able to get this team back to the way they were last season- dominant.
With these four teams winning in the way they are now, what does this mean?
It seems that any team from the Atlantic hoping to squeeze into a wild card spot has been diminished. There won't be a backing into the playoff effort that happened after the final horn sounded in the final game of the season. They will have to fight within their division for playoff spots to battle each other in the first round. As for Carolina, New Jersey, and the New York Islanders, time to look ahead to the Entry Draft; and the Expansion Draft. (same with Buffalo and Toronto, but that's a whole different ball of wax)
Also, did fans in the AHL see this coming too?
Continuing with the four teams on winning streaks, their farm systems have shown their development in unique ways.
Last season, the Cleveland Monsters (affiliated with the Columbus Blue Jackets) and the Hershey Bears (affiliated with the Washington Capitals) squared off in the Calder Cup Finals.
The Monsters won the cup, and the Jackets are seeing the rewards pay off this season. Three guys who were on that roster last season have carved out NHL jobs this season- Zach Werenski; Lukas Sedlak; and Josh Anderson. Other guys have also been able to see ice time as well with injuries and illnesses, including Sonny Milano; Oliver Bjorkstrand; and Markus Hannikanen.
The Hershey Bears were the runner ups, but are still having their young guys develop as the Capitals have more veteran guys on their roster. Zach Sanford; Jakub Vrana; and Madison Bowey are the three guys they could fill potential spots later on with the big club.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins won the Stanley Cup last season with guys getting promoted form their minor team. They promoted their head coach, and he brought his young speedy players with him in the NHL. They are all secondary players, but have helped immensely with the salary cap issues in Pittsburgh. Connor Sheary; Bryan Rust; and Tom Kuhnachl are the three guys that Mike Sullivan brought up.
The Flyers general manger, Ron Heztall, wanted to bring what he learned with the Los Angeles Kings to this team. And it all starts with the minors. Hextall has been able to bring young defensemen and goalies into the Leigh Valley Phantoms' system, and have been able to develop them in the NHL. The Flyers saw what Shayne Gostisbehere did for them last season. A second half success story, and a playoff round against Washington. The Flyers also saw what Anthony Stolarz has done during this streak, with two wins and a shutout.
But what do the Bears, Baby Pens, and the Phantoms all have in common? They are all tied for first overall in the AHL.
The current success of these farm systems is helping out the big clubs in these four cities.
What are your thoughts on the Metropolitan Division?
More to come...
Notes: Fans, for more information on me and for updates of the game, follow me on Twitter @djzmac12161
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