It was another wild and crazy week for the teams in the NHL Central Division. St. Louis leads the division with four teams tied for third place in the division with the same number of points. Let’s take a look inside in the division by recapping the week that was.
Blues Marching to Their Own Tune
The St. Louis Blues continue to march to the beat of their own tune. The Blues continue to be the best team in the NHL. Even with a slight hiccup in a loss the Flyers, the Blues remain in first place with wins over Los Angeles and Toronto. Head coach Mike Yeo has got his team flying on all cylinders as the hockey season heads into November. Jayden Schwartz is on pace for a career year for the Blues. Is it possible for Schwartz to sustain this point production? The answer is yes. He plays on a dynamic line and there is no reason for him to slow down. He wants to prove he is a top player in the league. Schwartz is even overshadowing his own teammate Vladimir Tarasenko. Top to bottom the St. Louis Blues play such a complete game, no team compares in the NHL.
Jets Surging Higher
What once was a weakness has now turned into a strength for the Winnipeg Jets. Connor Hellebucyk is the real deal. It may sound like a broken record, but the only reason Winnipeg is sitting in second place in the division is that of Hellebucyk’s suburb play. It took some time, but Hellebuyck is turning into the guy Winnipeg wanted him to be last year. This season he has a veteran goalie like Steve Mason to lean on when things get tough. Even without the production from Patrik Laine, the Jets are still finding ways to score. However, every since Laine made the comments about his scoring struggles, he has found the back of the net on a more consistent basis. This is dangerous for the rest of the teams in the league.
Stars Shining Brighter
Don’t look now, but the Dallas Stars are starting to play the hockey everyone expected them to at the beginning of the season. Ben Bishop is finally settling into his role as being the guy in Dallas. Bishop had a nice bounce-back week for the Stars that allowed them to win two of three games. With each passing game, the Stars continue to improve. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are the forces that drive the train in Dallas. With Alexander Radulov just waiting in the weeds. If Radulov can start putting more consistent games together, the Stars are a real threat to climb to the top of the standings.
Room for Growth in Colorado
Here is another team tied with 16 points in the Central Division. The big news for Colorado came on Sunday night as the Matt Duchene saga ended. Duchene was traded to the Ottawa Senators. The nightmare is now over for Colorado and Duchene. On the ice, the Avalanche has been playing well. That trend continued as they won two of three games. Their only loss came in the second game of back-to-backs. Nathan MacKinnon is finally starting to play like the player of old as he has compiled 14 points in 14 games. To those within the organization, the play of Alexander Kerfoot has surprised a lot of people. As each game passes Kerfoot is getting more and more comfortable playing in the NHL. Kerfoot’ stock is only trending up.
No More Hangover
The Nashville Predators have been dealing with losing in the Stanley Cup Final ever since the season began. The so-called Stanley Cup Hangover has affected their play on the ice. However, things are starting to look good for the Predators. After completing a successful California road trip winning two of three games against Anaheim and Los Angeles, Nashville finds themselves right in the thick of things in the Central Division. The addition of Kyle Turris will surely help the Predators scoring. As Filip Forsberg leads the way in points for Nashville, the rest of the lineup can’t produce. Ever since the team lost James Neal to Vegas, Nashville has not replaced his services. Turris will be able to raise the game of others on the team.
Flying Under the Radar
The Chicago Blackhawks are quietly starting to get their game together. With wins over Philadelphia and Minnesota, Chicago has gotten their groove back. Though Chicago lost to Montreal, it was the second game of a back-to-back. The Blackhawks are still struggling to score goals, but they are winning thanks to the play of Corey Crawford. Crawford posted back-to-back shutout wins over the Flyers and Wild. He needs to continue to play great in order for the Blackhawks to be successful this season. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are showing why they are the team leaders. Every time the Blackhawks need a big goal, they either score one or set up the game-winner. Both will need to be more consistent as the season goes on.
Not-So-Wild in Minnesota
The Minnesota Wild are a walking M*A*S*H unit. Each week there is another player getting hurt. Time is starting to run out on the Wild’s playoff chances. Two more losses this week to division rivals have them still sitting at the bottom of the division. Minnesota will need to look for a spark as they head into the rest of November. Players returning will definitely help the Wild’s chances, but by then it could be too late. What must have is that the Wild need to play a complete game with the players they have in the lineup now.