Things are starting to heat up in the Central Division. Teams are fighting for every point with American Thanksgiving approaching. All the top teams are within two or three points of each other which leads to exciting hockey games. Let’s take a look inside in the division by recapping the week that was.
Blues Keep Rolling
It should not shock anyone out there that the St. Louis Blues are still atop the Central Division. The Blues picked up two wins during the week. Many players feel they had their worst performance of the year against the New York Islanders in a 5-2 loss. That loss can be attributed to the players’ minds being elsewhere. During the day on Saturday, the Blues learned of the passing of Arianna Dougan. She was the little girl who was battling cancer and befriended Vladimir Tarasenko. So please forgive the Blues that night for being off. With the team hitting the road for Western Canada, St. Louis will look to continue their winnings way. Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko are on record-setting paces as the season hits the quarter mark.
Jets Still Flying High
Winnipeg embarked on a three-game road trip this past week. The Jets found new heights as they fly home for a mini-homestand. Winning two of three games on the road will be looked at as successful for any team. Though Winnipeg wanted to win all three games, picking up four points was good enough. The Jets did lay an egg against the Vegas Golden Knights, but mostly every team loses in Vegas, so Winnipeg should not feel that bad. The Jets boast the two best trios in the NHL as Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine lead the way. Winnipeg has a three-game homestand prior to hitting the road for four games so they will be looking to pick up as many points as possible.
Music City Vibes
Music City is feeling good these days. Nashville in is the midst of a four-game winning streak that has propelled them to third in the division. After feeling the effects of the Stanley Cup hangover, Nashville is finding its groove again. Like most teams, Nashville had to adjust to adding new players to their system. It took some time but now things are falling into place. Winning solves all the problems a team might be having. While the team may still have some flaws, most believe Nashville can continue to in the playoff picture. Though Ryan Johansen has not scored a goal yet, it is only a matter of time before he gets one and the goals start piling up.
Fading Stars in Dallas
The Dallas Stars are fading quickly in a tough Central Division. Dallas needs to start putting a winning streak together or else they will find themselves on the outside looking in come playoff time. The Stars found themselves on the wrong end of a 4-1 blowout loss to the Winnipeg Jets. The team rebounded nicely to defeat the Islanders 5-0. Dallas has plenty to play for this week. The Stars head on a road trip that brings them through Carolina and Florida before returning home to play the Oilers. This is the time to make up ground with other teams not playing many games.
Chicago Fire is the not the name of the show but what is going on in Chicago right now. It is strange to see the Chicago Blackhawks struggle so much. The Blackhawks can’t seem to get into a rhythm. Patrick Sharp believes things are starting to fall the right way for the Blackhawks. And while nobody should feel sorry for the Blackhawks and their struggles, who is to blame for this sudden downfall? It is the coach, general manager, or the players themselves. Starting with the general manager. Stan Bowman composed this team and made trades that made the team better or worse depending on who you speak with. Bowman has been up against the salary cap, but it is the coach that ultimately puts the lineup together. If Coach Q is losing the locker room, now would not be the time to make that change.
No Rocky Mountain High
After such a great start, the Colorado Avalanche have come back to the pack. Back to back losses to the Ottawa Senators in Sweden does not help the cause either. Right after the trade was made with the Senators, everyone pointed out the fact, Matt Duchene would be facing Colorado right away. Though the team had a great experience, Colorado wanted to get more than one point out of this trip. Now that the Duchene saga is over, players like Nathan MacKinnon and Alexander Kerfoot are finding their own. MacKinnon is back to playing at a high level, while Kerfoot is coming into his own. Samuel Girard, one of the players that came over in the trade, is here to stay. His play on the ice has solidified Colorado’s defense and he will be a player the Avalanche will build around going forward.
Wild’s M*A*S*H Unit
The M*A*S*H unit for the Minnesota Wild is starting to play better and better with each game. With four games during the week, the Wild picked up four points. Though they would have preferred to pick up six points out of eight, four is good for a team that is dealing with so many injuries. The most outstanding player the Wild have during this stretch is Jason Zucker. Zucker is in the midst of a four-game point streak scoring six goals. He has elevated his game to help the Wild get through this period. Zucker is on pace to pass the 20 goal plateau again this season with the way he is playing.