Realignment in the National Hockey League sought to restore geographic sanity to the league’s divisions, introduce a rivalry-based playoff format and maintain the parity that’s kept postseason races intense deep into the season for over 15 years.
But realignment has also given us the Metropolitan Division, which is as terrible in play as it is in name.
As of Thursday, Jan. 9, only the Pittsburgh Penguins had better than 55 points, with 65 points in 45 games; the Atlantic, Central and Pacific all had at least three teams. (The Pacific currently has four, in fact.)
Sonnets will be written one day about how the Western Conference has pummeled the East, with 12 of 14 teams at .500 or better against the East. But in particular, the West has been cruel to the poor, poor Metro-terrible Division.
There are 10 teams in the 14-team West that have two or fewer regulation losses to the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Capitals, Hurricanes, Devils, Blue Jackets and Islanders. Flip that script, and there are only three of 16 teams in the East that have four of fewer regulation losses to the Central Division, the weaker of the two out west.
So which teams have feasted on the Least of the East?
Heading into Thursday, here’s the NHL vs. the Meh-tro, and how these teams fare without the Metro-cushion.
|Team||Record vs. Metro||Winning % vs. Metro||Record vs. non-Metro||Winning % vs. non-Metro|
|St. Louis Blues||6-1-0||.857||24-6-5||.757|
|Chicago Blackhawks ||6-1-1||.813||23-7-8||.711|
|Los Angeles Kings||5-1-1||.786||21-12-4||.622|
|Detroit Red Wings||6-3-3||.625||13-11-7||.532|
|New Jersey Devils||9-6-3||.583||8-12-6||.423|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||9-7-1||.559||10-13-3||.442|
|San Jose Sharks||2-2-1||.500||25-9-5||.705|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||6-6-2||.500||15-12-3||.550|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||5-6-1||.459||21-7-3||.725|
|New York Rangers||5-8-3||.406||17-12-0||.586|
|New York Islanders||3-10-3||.281||13-12-4||.517|
Yes, 23 teams have a .500 or better record against the Metro. Ouch.
Among the teams that have benefited most from the Metropolitan’s crap-tastic season: The Calgary Flames, who would have just a .368 winning percentage against the rest of the league; the Colorado Avalanche, who are winning at a .857 clip vs. the Metro and .639 vs. everyone else; and the Washington Capitals, who are in a playoff spot thanks to their dominance of divisional foes but who are a .500 team elsewhere.
So, yeah, it’s pretty much the new Southeast.
The New York Islanders remain one of the most inexplicable stories in the NHL on a number of fronts, but their divisional record is at the forefront. Sure, they were 7-9-2 last season in the Atlantic, but three regulation wins in 16 games is the fewest within their own division for any NHL team outside of Edmonton.