Metropolitan Division second-place battle: Rangers vs. Pens vs. Isles

AP
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There’s zero drama involving the Metropolitan Division title – the Washington Capitals have that one locked up, folks – but things get juicier from second place and on.

That wasn’t always the case, yet recent trends for the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders really ratchet up the drama. Potentially, at least.

2. Rangers – 40-24-8, 88 points, 37 ROW in 72 games played
3. Penguins – 39-24-8, 86 points, 36 ROW in 71 GP

WC1. Islanders – 38-23-9, 85 points, 34 ROW in 70 GP
WC2. Red Wings – 36-25-11, 83 points, 34 ROW in 72 GP

Out right now: Flyers – 34-24-12, 80 points, 32 ROW in 70 GP

(Obviously, the Red Wings aren’t in the Metro, but wild card standings may matter to the runt of the order.)

As you can see from the standings, these teams are close, especially when you ponder the fact that each squad faces a different number of remaining games. So how does each road ahead look? Glad you totally asked.

(For the sake of simplicity, we’ll keep the Flyers out of this post, but they could easily get back in the mix. Cool?)

Rangers’ road

The Rangers may only have 10 games remaining, but to some degree, it’s a pretty cushy situation.

Starting Monday, three of their next four games are at Madison Square Garden. More broadly speaking, they have seven home games and just three away dates remaining.

They face the Penguins and Islanders in one home game apiece, as well, their only head-to-head meetings with those teams.

(None against the Flyers, in case you’re silently guessing at Philly’s chances, too.)

Ahead for the Penguins

You can basically use your calendar to split the Penguins’ remaining 11 games. The rest of March is theoretically beneficial: four of six contests at home.

April stands as a challenge, on the other hand. Four of five games are on the road. They face Philly at home and on the road (so even that home game could be intense) while they open April at the Islanders.

The Capitals might just snap out of cruise control to try to thwart them during an April 7 date in DC, too.

Isles in a decent spot

After a road-heavy schedule, the Islanders now have a chance to mop up points: six of their next eight games are in Brooklyn. Actually, it’s Isles-friendly overall, with eight of 12 at home.

They get to “control their destiny” a good bit, with two games against the FLyers, one against the Penguins and one against the Rangers.

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These races could go any number of ways, so it should be interesting to watch the ebb and flow of each team. Buckle up for a fun final push.