Let's be clear: This year's Metropolitan can't be called a bad division.
No, that would be too kind. Last year's Southeast was a bad division, but it doesn't exist anymore, thanks to the league realignment that broke it up and stuck half its teams in the old Atlantic with the Columbus Blue Jackets. That gave us the brand-new Metropolitan, a division that makes the Southeast look like the late 1988-89 Smythe.
So, no, the Metropolitan isn't bad. It's terrible. Horrid. Abysmal. It's … [flips through thesaurus to find more synonyms for "bad"; reaches a page that just says "see Metropolitan Division"; sighs heavily and closes book] … look, it's just really very bad.
But why? How did we get here? And is there any hope it can turn things around? And what does it mean for the division's one and only good team?
Let's play a round of 12 questions and see if we can figure it out.
1. Just how bad is the Metropolitan?
Pretty bad. The overall record of the division's eight teams is 49-58-11, for 109 points in 118 games. That's a points percentage of .462, which would average out to 76 points over a full season.
To put that in perspective, in 2011-12, not a single Eastern Conference team had fewer than 78 points. This year, an entire division is looking up at that total.
But as bad as it sounds, that overall record is actually misleading, since it includes the 25 games when the Metro teams were playing each other. In matchups against teams in the other three divisions, the Metro is just 24-36-8, a 67-point pace. Those are draft lottery numbers. And remember, we're including a very good Penguins team in all of this.
Granted, it's still early. But through the season's first month, the Metro hasn't just been bad, it has been historically bad.