We have officially reached the halfway point in the 2018-19 NHL season and the Penguins are on absolute fire, winning eight straight contests. This win-streak began back on December 19th when the Penguins defeated the Washington Capitals 2-1 in DC. Since that game, the Penguins have been winning by being tenacious on defense and Matt Murray is making Pens fans almost forget how bad he looked the first several months of the season with his domination between the pipes since his return from injury.
The Penguins haven’t allowed more than two goals during this win streak and Matt Murray is 7-0 with a .962 save percentage while only allowing 9 goals on 235 shots during the streak to go along with two shutouts. The Penguins as a team have combined for five shutouts through 41 games. This recent run has catapulted the Penguins to a tie for first in the Metro with Washington with 52 points each.
The Metropolitan Division has been sorting itself out over the last few weeks and there is a clear cut-off from the contenders and pretenders in the Metro this season. The top-four teams all have 50+ points and are only separated by two points. Meanwhile, the bottom-four are all hovering around 40 points and are showing no signs of reversing their fortunes over the last several weeks.
Instead of breaking down each team over the last week, this week I’ll be showing what each team will have to do over the second half of the season in order to make the Playoffs.
Last season, the New Jersey Devils and Columbus Blue Jackets were the two Wild Cards in the East with both teams finishing with 97 points. The Florida Panthers were the first team out and finished with 96 total points.
Two years ago, the Rangers were the first Wild Card and finished with a whopping 102 points. The second Wild Card team was the Toronto Maple Leafs with a total of 95 points. The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning were the teams that missed the cut with 94 points each.
Three years ago it was the Islanders as the first Wild Card with 100 total points and the Philadelphia Flyers totaling 96 points. The Bruins were the first team out with a total of 93 points.
If you take the average total of points of the two Wild Card teams in those three seasons, it averaged 97 points to make the playoffs. Not surprisingly, 97 points would have made the cut in each of the last three seasons, and that will likely be enough to make it to this year’s big dance as well. Below I will list how many points each team will have to accumulate over the second half in order to reach 97 points and likely a playoff berth.
24-12-4 record thru 40 games
52 points / 1.3 points per game
The Capitals will need to average 1.07 points per game to reach 97 points
23-12-4 record thru 41 games
52 points / 1.27 points per game
The Penguins will need to average 1.1 point per game to reach 97 points
Columbus Blue Jackets
24-14-3 record thru 41 games
51 points / 1.24 points per game
The Blue Jackets will need to average 1.12 points per game to reach 97 points
New York Islanders
23-13-4 record thru 40 games
50 points / 1.25 points per game
The Islanders will need to average 1.12 points per game to reach 97 points
18-17-5 record thru 40 games
41 points / 1.025 points per game
The Hurricanes will need to average 1.333 points per game to reach 97 points
New York Rangers
17-16-7 record thru 40 games
41 points / 1.025 points per game
The Rangers will need to average 1.333 points per game to reach 97 points
New Jersey Devils
16-17-7 record thru 40 games
39 points / 0.975 points per game
The Devil will need to average 1.38 points per game to reach 97 points
15-20-6 record thru 41 games
36 points / 0.878 points per game
The Flyers will need to average 1.49 points per game to reach 97 points
As of today, the New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres are the two Wild Card teams with 50 points each. The Montreal Canadiens are the only team within striking distance at the moment, behind by only one point.
The Islanders are currently on a 102 point pace and the Sabres are currently on a 97 point pace. The Canadiens are right behind the Sabres and currently on a 95 point pace. The rest of the Eastern Conference is 8 or more points behind as of today, which seems like it may already be too big of a difference to catch up with those three teams down the stretch. The Islanders, Sabres, and Canadiens are above or near even in goal differential while the rest of the East currently has a double digit negative differential.
Will one of the Eastern Conference teams not currently in the playoff picture be able to make a run for it in the second half, or should they start considering what spare parts will be worth trading and which will be worth holding onto? Will one of the top-four in the Metro start to stumble and lose their spot in the playoff race? There’s half a season for those answers to sort themselves out. Be sure to check back each week as the season is coming down the back stretch.
As always, thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to vote for your Metro game of the week!
23-12-6; 52 pts; 144 Goals For (T-5th in the NHL; 7th last week); 117 Goals Against (T-9th; 13th in the NHL)
3-0 record last week
Penguins close 2018 with 3-2 win over Minnesota Wild
Pittsburgh scores seven to win seventh straight
All I do is win, win, win no matter what. Pittsburgh shuts out Winnipeg for 8th straight
Sunday, January 6 - vs CHI, 8 p.m.
Tuesday, January 8 - vs FLA, 7 p.m.
Friday, January 11 - @ ANA, 10 p.m.
Saturday, January 12 - @ LAK, 10:30 p.m.
- 10/13/18, D Justin Schultz - IR; fractured leg
24-12-4, 51 pts; 141 GF (7th; T-3rd); 119 GA (12th; 6th)
0-2-1 record last week
Caps skid into the New Year in 6-3 loss
St. Louis Hands Washington A Decisive 2-5 Loss
DAL: 2 OT
Seguin Strikes Twice to Down Washington
Sunday, January 6 - @ DET, 5 p.m.
Tuesday, January 8 - vs PHI, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, January 10 - @ BOS, 7 p.m.
Saturday, January 12 - vs CBJ, 7 p.m.
- 12/11/18, D Christian Djoos - IR; Thigh surgery
(3)Columbus Blue Jackets
24-14-3, 51 pts; 135 GF (8th; T-11th); 126 GA (17th; T-15th)
2-1 record last week
Five Goal Third Period Fuels Blue Jackets Win
Comeback Effort Comes Up Short as Jackets fall to Hurricanes
CBJ: 4 OT
Blue Jackets Best Panthers in Overtime, 4-3
Tuesday, January 8 - @ TBL, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, January 10 - vs NSH, 7 p.m.
Saturday, January 12 - @ WSH, 7 p.m.
- 12/29/18, LW Nick Foligno - Day-to-day; Personal reasons
- 1/4/19, D Scott Harrington - Day-to-day; Illness
(4)New York Islanders
23-13-4 50 pts; 121 GF (19th); 107 GA (1st; T-1st)
3-0 record last week
Closing out the year with a win
NYI: 3 OT
Toews’ first NHL goal is a Coliseum winner
Stolen victory in St. Louis
Tuesday, January 8 - vs CAR; Nassau Coliseum, 7 p.m.
Thursday, January 10 - @ NYR, 7 p.m.
Saturday, January 12 - vs NYR; Barclays Center; 1 p.m.
- 10/2/18, LW Matt Lorito - IR; Undisclosed
- 11/13/18, LW Andrew Ladd - IR; Right leg
- 12/16/18, D Thomas Hickey - IR; Upper-body injury
- 12/30/18, C Valtteri Filppula - IR; Upper-body injury
18-17-5, 35 pts; 103 GF (T-29th; 30th); 114 GA (T-6th; T-9th)
3-0 record last week
Hurricanes close out 2018 with home-ice win over the Flyers
Canes stave off late surge in Philly to defeat Flyers 5-3
McKegg makes instant impact, Canes survive comeback bid in win over Jackets
Sunday, January 6 - @ OTT, 1 p.m.
Tuesday, January 8 - @ NYI; Nassau Coliseum, 7 p.m.
Thursday, January 10 - @ TBL, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, January 11 - vs BUF, 7:30 p.m.
- 12/22/18, C Jordan Staal - IR; Upper-body injury
- 1/3/19, C Clark Bishop - Day-to-day; Lower-body injury
(6)New York Rangers
17-12-7, 41 pts; 114 GF (T-25th; T-22nd); 136 GA (25th; T-22nd)
1-2 record last week
Henrik Lundqvist Steals the Show in St. Louis
Rangers Blown Out on Home Ice By Penguins 7-2
Rangers Embarrassed in Colorado, Lose Second Straight Game
Sunday, January 6 - @ ARI, 4 p.m.
Tuesday, January 8 - @ VGK, 10 p.m.
Thursday, January 10 - vs NYI, 7 p.m.
Saturday, January 12 - @ NYI; Barclays Center, 1 p.m.
- 1/3/19, C Kevin Hayes - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury
(7)New Jersey Devils
16-17-7, 39 pts; 120 GF (T-20th; T-22nd); 134 GA (23rd; 25th)
2-1 record last week
Mack to Mack: Blackwood Leads New Jersey Devils in Second Straight Shutout 4-0 over Vancouver Canucks
New Jersey Devils Broken Down by Dallas Stars in 4-5 Defeat
NJD: 3 SO
Desert Devils: New Jersey Devils Defeat Arizona Coyotes 3-2 in SO
Sunday, January 6 - @ VGK, 4 p.m.
Tuesday, January 8 - @ BUF, 7 p.m.
Thursday, January 10 - vs TOR, 7 p.m.
Saturday, January 12 - vs PHI, 1 p.m.
- 11/22/18, RW Joey Anderson - IR; Fractured ankle
- 12/16/18, G Cory Schneider - IR; Abdominal strain
- 12/20/18, LW Marcus Johansson - IR; Upper-body injury
- 12/26/18, LW Taylor Hall; IR; Lower-body injury
- 1/4/19, G Mackenzie Blackwood - Day-to-day; Lower-body injury
15-20-6, 36 pts; 116 GF (23rd; T-20th); 148 GA (T-28th; 28th)
0-3-1 record last week
Happy New Year, says who?
New year, same Flyers
Flyers lose fifth straight game in an almost comeback vs. Carolina
CGY: 3 OT
Flames down Flyers in overtime yet again
Monday, January 7 - vs STL, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, January 8 - @ WSH, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, January 10 - vs DAL, 7 p.m.
Saturday, January 12 - @ NJD, 1 p.m.
- 9/27/18, C Pascal Laberge - IR; Hip
- 10/1/18, D Samuel Morin - IR; Knee
- 10/26/18, C Corban Knight - IR; Dislocated collarbone
- 11/15/18, G Brian Elliott - IR; Lower-body injury
- 12/12/18, G Anthony Stolarz - IR; Lower-body injury
- 1/2/19, D Andrew MacDonald - IR; Lower-body injury
- 1/3/19, G Michal Neuvirth - Day-to-day; Undisclosed injury
Which Metropolitan game is the most intriguing?
This poll is closed
1.6.19 - CHI @ PIT, 8 p.m. ET
1.8.19 - CAR @ NYI; Nassau Coliseum, 7 p.m.
1.8.19 - PHI @ WSH, 7:30 p.m.
1.8.19 - CBJ @ TBL, 7:30 p.m.
1.10.19 - WSH @ BOS, 7 p.m.
1.10.19; 1.12.19 - NYI @ NYR, 7 p.m.; NYR @ NYI; Barclays Center, 1 p.m.
1.12.19 - PHI @ NJD, 1 p.m.
1.12.19 - CBJ @ WSH, 7 p.m.