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Sunday Standings: December arrives

Checking in on the Metropolitan Division

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Philadelphia Flyers v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The pack is tight in the Metropolitan Division as December begins. The gap between third place Washington and seventh place New Jersey is just four points, with the Islanders, Flyers and Penguins all in between (although with some differing amount of games played for all). This past week featured many divisional games for a reward in the scheduling to see some important games sprinkled in.

New York Rangers (2-1-0): The era of good feelings continues in Manhattan, where new coach Peter Laviolette has worked his usual early stint magic to have the Rangers as the top team in the NHL right now based on points%

Carolina (3-0-1): And here come the Hurricanes! A successful division-heavy week saw Carolina defeat Columbus and Philadelphia and get a loser point out of a game against the Islanders. Add in a victory last night against Buffalo and the Canes jump from fourth place in the division last week back up to second.

Washington (2-2-0): The Caps are a tough team to figure out, as perfectly illustrated in the past week by losing to last place San Jose and then following it up by handing Los Angeles just their fourth regulation loss of the season. Backup Charlie Lindgren is playing out of his mind and giving them a chance to get some results.

New York Islanders (2-1-0): The Islanders had a good week by beating two tough teams Carolina and Florida, and very nearly a perfect week if they hadn’t blown a two-goal third period lead to New Jersey and somehow losing in regulation. The arrow is pointing up overall for NYI, who have avoided regulation losses in eight of their last nine games.

Philadelphia (1-1-1): After dropping games to Carolina and New Jersey earlier in the week, the Flyers badly needed to stabilize things last night against the Penguins. And they did, getting the shootout victory after a back-and-forth battle.

Pittsburgh (1-0-2): It’s been a trouble for the Pens to pickup points in losing efforts - this week featured their first two extra time losses of the year. Avoiding regulation losses and getting something out of games is always important. Pittsburgh would like and need to turn those into wins, but 2OTL = 1 win in the big picture.

New Jersey (2-1-0): Just when it looked like the Devils had turned the corner with important divisional victories against the Islanders and Flyers this week, they go out and lose to San Jose last night. New Jersey might be on the verge of putting it together and making a move up the standings like Carolina did, but as of now they aren’t quite there yet.

Columbus (2-2-0): The trend this week of surprising results was seen here as well when the last place Blue Jackets handed Boston only their fourth regulation loss of the year. CBJ added a win against Ottawa lat night to help to keep pace with the tail end of the pack.

Playoff projections

The Pens are 8-4-2 since a 3-6-0 start, and as a result their playoff outlooks are starting to trend back up.

(Doesn’t include last night’s results)

This model isn’t a huge fan of the Capitals and Islanders at this point but sees the Pens and Devils eventually overtaking them.

(Pittsburgh has risen to 63% as of December 1st in the latest update).

Though the waters are always choppy, if the Penguins keep going like they have in the last 4-5 weeks and keep getting results in games they will be able to keep climbing and heading towards what should be their goal of ending up as close to 100 points this season as possible (and likely 95+ that will be required to ensure a playoff spot).