Rankings of Power: NHL Central Division: December 2, 2014


The Western Conference is starting to see the cream rise to the top, but the playoff picture is certainly still a bit milky this early in the season. That being said, teams more than 5 points outside of the playoff picture on Thanksgiving, rarely make it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Interestingly, both the Central and Pacific Divisions have picked up 200 points, making things extremely even. The powerhouse Central Division, perhaps, hasn’t been quite as dominant as they were last season. However, aside from Edmonton, all 14 teams in the conference are currently within 5 points of the final wild-card playoff spot.

The month of December will be critical for the Central Division, as teams like Colorado and Dallas look to turn around slow starts, and Nashville and Winnipeg look to cement their solid first two months of the season, into the tangible accomplishment of playoff hockey. Would be huge for both of those fanbases.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at where the power lies in the division, on this early December day.

1. team. 94. The Blackhawks are back. Alright fine, they were never really gone. Everyone knew this team is one of the elite squads in the west, despite their mediocre start. Well, look out Central Division, because the Blackhawks are cooking now. They have won 8 of 10, and are leading the Central with 74 goals and a +24 goal differential. In my opinion, this is their division to lose.. (15-8-1). Previous: . Chicago Blackhawks

St. Louis Blues. 3. team. 99. Welcome to St. Louis, Martin Brodeur. With Brian Elliott suffering an injury expected to keep him out for at least a few weeks, and rookie Jake Allen as the only other legitimate goalie in the fold, the Blues went out and signed the most experienced goaltender on the market. Will be weird seeing Marty in blue and yellow, rather than the black and red he wore his entire career with the Devils. Will also be interesting to see how much he has left in the tank, since his save percentage had slipped to 0.901 in each of his final two years in New Jersey. . (16-6-2). Previous:

Minnesota Wild. 4. team. 98. The Wild continue to be the possession darlings of the NHL, but it isn’t leading to a very consistent brand of hockey. They just don’t seem to have the finishers, despite having a lot of Finnish forwards, to make that jump from the middle of the pack out west, to the top of the pile. Tomas Vanek was brought in to be one of those goalscorers, but he only has 2 goals this season. The Wild are a good team, and a difficult team to play against, but I’m not convinced that they have the firepower to keep pace with the best in the west. . (13-9-1). Previous:

(12-9-4). Previous: . Winnipeg Jets. 5. team. 107. They have been treading water for the past couple weeks, with a 4-4-2 record, but they haven’t been knocked down a Winni-peg yet. The Jets struggle to score goals. They are dead last in the Western Conference with 52 lamp lighters on the season. Fortunately for them, their opponents aren’t scoring either. Winnipeg excels at playing low scoring, defensive hockey games, and it has them winning some games. They also might have something, with young goaltender Michael Hutchinson. Remember that name.

(9-11-5). Previous: . Colorado Avalanche. 6. team. 103. The Avs have won 5 of 8, and the 3 losses were all tie games with less than ten minutes to go in the third, that resulted in one-goal losses. The zone defensive scheme seems to have helped the team turn a corner, and better hockey is being played by the boys of the Mile High City. Unfortunately, 5-3 isn’t good enough to make up ground in the playoff chase. This team needs a winning streak. Calvin Pickard was valiant in his two weeks of relief for Semyon Varlamov. Now Varly is back, and he needs to put this team on his back.

7. team. 119. The Stars aren’t looking like a very good hockey team, despite star performances from Tyler Seguin (NHL goalscoring leader), and Jamie Benn. There’s no D in Big D right now, with Dallas surrendering an NHL high 89 goals. Anders Lindback may very well be the worst goalie in the NHL right now. He has allowed 17 goals on 112 shots in his last 4 appearances, including a 5-2 loss in Colorado on Saturday night. To think, Avs’ fans think they have it bad with the struggling Reto Berra. It’s messy in Dallas right now, and things seem to be trending in the wrong direction.. (9-11-5). Previous: . Dallas Stars