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A streaky month for the Metropolitan Division pushed the Penguins towards being out of a playoff spot

While the Capitals, Hurricanes and Rangers climb the standings, a poorly-timed slide has the Penguins close to the outside looking in.

2023 Discover NHL Winter Classic - Pittsburgh Penguins v Boston Bruins
Tristan Jarrytends net against the Boston Bruins during the Winter Classic at Fenway Park on January 2.
Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images

It’s been a streaky for the Pens on both sides of the win column.

They dropped seven in a row to start out November, then won five in a row later that same month. Earlier in December, they strung together seven wins in a row.

Now, their loss at Fenway Park on Monday marks their fifth consecutive loss.

2023 Discover NHL Winter Classic - Pittsburgh Penguins v Boston Bruins
Marcus Pettersson looks on as the Boston Bruins celebrate their win during the Winter Classic on January 2.
Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images

The Penguins are not the only Metropolitan Division team having a streaky December.

The Hurricanes are currently cruising through a dominant 11-game win streak, which has included four shutouts. (They are going to look to stretch that to 12 against the Rangers tonight at Madison Square Garden.)

After wrapping up their 13-win game streak in November, the Devils stumbled enough to slip into a six-game losing streak in December. (They still aren’t quite back to their former selves— they’ve dropped three of their last five.)

The Rangers ended a seven-game win streak with a loss to the Penguins on December 20. (During that stretch, they exploded to score six or more goals three times.)

The Capitals have stacked up two separate five-game winning streaks this month. (In fact, they have only lost twice— one of those losses in overtime— in their last 13 games, going all the way back to December 5.)

The Blue Jackets finally broke a seven-game losing streak on New Year’s Eve. (That included brutal losses to the struggling Blackhawks and Flyers, and probably isn’t a good sign for their odds of climbing out of the Metropolitan Division basement.)

NHL: DEC 30 Devils at Penguins
Sidney Crosby takes a face-off during a game against the Devils on December 30.
Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Unfortunately for the Penguins (44 points), the slumping Blue Jackets (24 points) are not exactly a playoff threat.

On the other hand, the Capitals (47 points) and Rangers (46 points) are, and their recent surges have allowed them to leapfrog the Penguins in the standings. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes (56 points) are padding their division lead, while the Devils (49 points) built up enough of an early cushion to maintain their spot for now.

In a division this tight, a few consecutive wins or losses are enough to change everything. Right now, win streaks in Washington, New York and Carolina and a losing one in Pittsburgh has been enough to knock the Penguins out of a playoff spot.