As the NHL trade deadline inches closer, the St. Louis Blues continue to make history. The Blues have made a complete turnaround and nobody expected this to happen. In addition to the Blues, the Blackhawks continue to roll as well. Not to mention, the guarantee made by Bruce Boudreau. Also, the Jets and Predators continue their battle at the top of the division. Let’s go inside the NHL Central Division Notebook to look at the St. Louis Blues and their amazing run.
NHL Central Division Notebook: Blues Continue to Create History
Winnipeg Jets – The Winnipeg Jets have a good team on paper, but they have not captured the form they had last season. Something seems to be missing. Granted Patrik Laine is not scoring for the Jets. He need to score for the Jets to be successful. Laine has never gone through a slump like he is on now. After having great months in November and December, many thought Laine was back to scoring goals at a high rate. All of sudden though, Laine began to struggle. Most of the goals Laine scores is on the power play. When that is not clicking and he is not scoring, Laine is a liability on the ice especially 5-on-5. Laine has only one goal since January 13th of this year. Winnipeg needs to get Laine going somehow. Nothing seems to be working.
Nashville Predators – Here is another team that needs to get going too. Nashville could be in first place, but can’t capitalize on the fact that Winnipeg is losing. With home-ice meaning so much in the Central Division, Nashville needs to stop this trend of winning one game and losing the next. The Predators were able to stop a three game losing as they beat Montreal, but then laid an egg against Vegas on the weekend. Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson, and Filip Forsberg continue to lead the Predators offensively. Those three will make sure the Predators have home ice come the playoffs. It will be interesting to see what David Poile does come the trade deadline. While Poile has made some moves, the impact has not been felt just yet.
St. Louis Blues – At this time last year, the Blues were on a free fall they could not figure out of stopping. Now after being left for dead, the Blues have won 10 games in a row. During this 10 games winning streak, Vladimir Tarasenko has a 12-game point streak. Tarasenko was named second star of the week with four goals and six assists. Not only is Tarasenko scoring goals, he is buying into the system and playing at a level he has never reached before. To go along with Tarasenko, Blues goaltending have recorded three consecutive shutouts. Jordan Binnington set a new Blues franchise record for consecutive wins by a rookie goaltender with 8. Also Binnington is the 7th goaltender in NHL history to record 4 shutouts in his first 14 starts.
Dallas Stars – Things did not go exactly as planned for the Dallas Stars on the road. Picking up only one win and three points on a five game road trip. If the Stars cannot figure out things on the road, it will be the main reason why Stars do not make the playoffs. Instead separating themselves from the pack, Dallas is coming back to the pack. With things so close at the bottom of the Western Conference playoff picture, Dallas needs to start putting wins together and fast. To make matters worse, Ben Bishop continues to deal with an upper body injury. The Stars can be cautious as Anton Khudobin is playing well as the backup this season. If can continue replicate his play from last year with Boston, the Stars can find themselves in the playoffs.
Minnesota Wild – Last week, head coach Bruce Boudreau guaranteed the Minnesota Wild would make the playoffs. Since then the Wild have lost both of their games on in overtime. If the Wild really want to make the playoffs, blowing a 4-1 lead to the New Jersey Devils is not the way to get things started. The Wild had everything in control in that game before the Devils made the comeback. Things just spiraled out of control in their loss to the Blues on Sunday afternoon. One of the major concerns for the Wild is goaltending. Devon Dubnyk is not playing on the same level as previous years. Dubnyk must play well in order for the Wild to make the playoffs.
Colorado Avalanche – After Colorado’s fast start, things have not gone too well. As a matter of fact, it feels the Avalanche are playing .500 hockey or just below that mark. After a tough loss to the Leafs on Tuesday night, the Avalanche went into Winnipeg and played one of their better games of the season, and won. Unfortunately, Colorado fell to the Blues on Saturday night. Colorado only sits three points out of a final playoff spot. However, if the Avalanche do not figure out a way to put some wins together, Colorado could be on the wrong end of history. Having the best line in hockey does not mean anything if there is no secondary scoring.
Chicago Blackhawks – Then there is the Chicago Blackhawks. Another team that is only three points out of the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. Chicago had their winning streak halted by Boston, but were able to get back on the winning ways beating the Devils. However, could not put two wins in a row losing to Columbus on Saturday night. It is amazing what Chicago has done over the past month. Thanks in large part to Patrick Kane. Over the past 17 games, Kane has recorded at least one assist. Even when the Blackhawks were struggling, Kane was putting up points. Chicago will be a team to watch at the trade deadline as will the Blackhawks be buyers or sellers?