Penguins off to hot start in lackluster Metropolitan Division
The newly formed Metropolitan Division is giving cities everywhere a bad name.
Aside from the favored Penguins, who have started the season strong, the Metropolitan Division has produced occasional mediocrity mixed with a steady dose of horrific play.
“I certainly didn't see this coming,” right wing Craig Adams said. “I actually thought that our division was going to be strong.”
The division is a combined 46-55-10, but those numbers are flattering.
Most of those victories have come in games when two Metropolitan Divisional opponents have faced one another.
Against the Western Conference, Metropolitan Division teams are 10-24-6.
Traditional powers are among the teams struggling the most.
The Philadelphia Flyers (4-9-0, 8 points), New Jersey Devils (3-7-4, 10 points) and New York Rangers (6-8-0, 12 points) have been among the NHL's worst teams.
A victory over the Rangers on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden would give the Penguins (11-4-0, 22 points) a 12-point lead against the Rangers.
Maybe it wouldn't qualify as a knockout punch, but the Penguins believe a victory in this game could go a long way toward eliminating the Rangers as a team that could catch them for the division title.
“It's a little early to be watching the standings,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “But, we have an opportunity to bury some of these teams beneath us. If we keep winning, it could get some of those teams in the bottom of the standings out of our hair.”
Only the New York Islanders (6-5-3, 14 points) and Washington Capitals (7-7-0, 14 points) are within single-digit point totals of the Penguins, and neither team has started the season strong fashion.
The statistics don't lie, and some of the numbers simply baffle a number of Penguins who expected this division to be better.
Through the season's first month, the Metropolitan Division has amassed 39 victories played in regulation time. The Central and Pacific Divisions have accounted for 49 each, while the other division in the East, the Atlantic Division, has produced 48 regulation wins.
Although the win-loss numbers are a black eye for the Metropolitan Division, the goal-differential numbers speak volumes.
The Metropolitan Division's combined goal differential is minus-46. Take away the Penguins, and that number worsens to a minus-61. Every other division is a minus-5 or better.
“I don't think anybody expected this to be the case with the division,” right wing Pascal Dupuis said. “But I do think teams are going to start playing better at some point.”
The Penguins would like to find themselves firmly in the driver's seat before other teams in the Metropolitan Division find themselves. They're on the verge of making that a reality, and a hot November could essentially put away teams like the Rangers.
“There are teams that haven't gotten off to good starts but are probably better than their records indicate,” Adams said. “The Rangers are probably one of those teams. We all know there are going to be good stretches and bad stretches for us. The more points you have in the bank makes those last couple of months easier.”
Coach Dan Bylsma's Penguins have only lost three times during the past five seasons with captain Sidney Crosby in the lineup against the Rangers. Another win will keep the Rangers — and the rest of the struggling division — that much farther away from catching them.
“I think the Rangers are going to start playing better,” center Brandon Sutter said. “But the more we win now, the better.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Downie, Farnham bringing a much-needed edge to the Penguins
- Ex-Penguins defenseman Niskanen still miffed by coaches’ firings
- Pouliot scores in NHL debut as Penguins tame Panthers
- Minor league report: Other prospects on Penguins’ radar