NHL Central Division Notebook: Where Teams Stand Now

NHL Central Division

It was a wild and crazy week for the teams in the NHL Central Division. St. Louis leads the division with five teams tied with the same number of points in the standings. Let’s take a look inside in the division by recapping the week that was.

No Singing the Blues in St. Louis

Is this the year for the St. Louis Blues? Through four weeks of the NHL season, the Blues are the best team in the NHL. No other team can compare. St. Louis won all three of their games this week recording six points keeping them atop the Central Division. Two of their wins came against playoff quality teams in Calgary and Columbus. The Blues win against Columbus came the night after a tough win against the Hurricanes. St. Louis is getting balanced scoring from all four lines. The team is led by Jayden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Alex Pietrangelo. Brayden Schenn has been a nice addition to the Blues as he brings depth scoring. The goalie tandem of Jake Allen and Carter Hutton is the best in the NHL that no team can touch.

Jets Flying High

Don’t look now but the Winnipeg Jets are starting to fly high. After picking up four of a possible six points during the week. Winnipeg’s stars of the week will be Connor Hellebuyck and Steve Mason. Head coach Paul Maurice has decided that Hellebuyck is the number one goalie in Winnipeg now. With Winnipeg having back to back games this week, Maurice went to Steve Mason and Mason played his best game in a 2-1 overtime loss to Columbus. Winnipeg played the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins twice splitting the regular season series losing one game in overtime and winning the other game 7-1. The core young players are starting to find their wings and that will be dangerous as the Jets look to continue to fly even higher with the weeks to come.

Avalanche Marching Towards the Top

Coming off a miserable week, Colorado bounced back nicely winning two of three games earning four points. What is impressive about these wins are the fact they are divisional wins. These wins will help towards the end of the season if Colorado is fighting for a playoff spot. If Colorado can win the season series against teams inside their own division, the Avalanche will have a better chance of making the playoffs. Right winger Mikko Rantanen leads the team in points with 10 followed by a healthy Tyson Barrie. It is a good sign that Barrie is healthy for the Avalanche because he has a history of being injury prone. Colorado’s lone blemish on the week was a blowout loss to the Vegas Golden Knights. Though every team seems to be losing to Vegas these days, so Colorado should not feel that bad.

Stars Fading Light

This was not a great week for the Dallas Stars. As the team is in the midst of a five-game road trip having only one win to show for themselves is really disappointing. Granted going on the road and playing through Western Canada is no easy task. Just ask any team in the league. What headlines this week for the Stars was when head coach Ken Hitchcock pulled Ben Bishop in the middle of the Colorado when the team was trailing 3-2. Bishop was not playing bad, but the coach felt he needed a momentum shift. The decision did not pay off and Dallas lost the game. Dallas followed that loss with another to Edmonton before ending the losing skid in Calgary. Goaltending must improve for the Stars in order for to take strides this season. That is the reason Bishop was brought in.

Stuck in a Rut

You can see Nashville is clearly fatigued after having a deep run into the playoffs last season. This should not shock anyone. It will take some time before Nashville recovers and adjusts to becoming the hunted. Chemistry is another factor for Nashville. Having new additions and faces can change a way a team plays. Nashville is not the same team they were last season. The Predators still boast a great goalie in Pekka Rinne, but he is getting older. Nashville continues to win over Chicago, but loses to Calgary in a shootout and getting embarrassed by the Islanders on home ice washing out that great win. In order for Nashville to improve in the standings, the star players must start scoring on a consistent basis.

Woes in Chicago

The winds be a changing in Chicago. After a dreadful week for the Chicago Blackhawks, the team will need to change some things up in order to find the scoring necessary to get back where they need to be. Now to bring everyone back to reality, Chicago will be just fine if their big boys of Toews and Kane can start scoring more. Chicago is a team that can outscore its problems. However, not every problem can be fixed by outscoring teams. Chicago needs to get back to basics in what won them Stanley Cups. Separating Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook is not the answer. Losing depth on the backend is an issue. Not having guys like Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya on the backend hurts. Lots of games left so don’t overreact Blackhawk fans.

Staying Above Water

With all the injuries Minnesota has sustained so early in the season, the Wild are trying to keep their heads above water so to speak. Winning will help keep the Wild within a distance of the playoffs as they wait for players like Charlie Coyle, Zach Parise, and Nino Niederreiter to come back from injury. It is unclear how long Parise will be out after having back surgery last week. Minnesota won two of three games this week. Both wins came against the Eastern Conference. One of the wins was against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Minnesota could have won all three games, but could not find the scoring against Vancouver. It is scoring by committee right now in Minnesota. Don’t count out the Wild just yet. This team is dangerous night in and night out.

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Photo Credit: By Sarah Connors (ERI_4678Uploaded by Dolovis) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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