Feb 10, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) defends the goal against the Nashville Predators during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. The Blackhawks beat the Predators 3-0. Mandatory credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Behind Enemy Lines - Around the Central Division

The Chicago Blackhawks remain in first place in the Central Division, the Western Conference, and the league. You already know that, but it’s fun to say. With a record of 10-0-2 and 22 points, the Blackhawks are definitely the team to beat, and while they’re red hot, other teams in the Central Division are going through climate changes of their own. Here’s a look of what happened with our division rivals last week.

The Detroit Red Wings are starting to show signs of life with a nice little winning streak after two back-to-back losses to a couple of the lowest ranked teams in the NHL. Coming off of a 4-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Wings took on the Calgary Flames where they allowed the Flames captain, Jarome Iginla, to score his first goal of the season. The Wings suffered a 4-1 loss in that game but had to regroup quickly as they traveled to one of the most difficult arenas win in if you don’t have a St. Louis Blues jersey on your back. The Wings found their pride and took their revenge on the Blues for a second time with a sound 5-1 victory. The Red Wings played the next two games in Detroit, first hosting the Edmonton Oilers and winning 2-1, then beating the struggling Stanley Cup champions LA Kings 3-2. Although the game against LA was much closer and was 5 seconds away from overtime, the news here is that the Wings are heating up again. They worked their way up to the second spot in the Central Division and fifth in the Western Conference with a record of 7-4-1.

While the Red Wings are heating up, the St. Louis Blues have had the equivalent of a bucket of cold water to the face. They faced the Nashville Predators at home, let 3 goals stack against them in the first period, and finished the game with a pulled goalie and on the wrong side of a 6-1 final score. It didn’t get any better as they hosted the Red Wings two days later and suffered the 5-1 loss. From there, the Blues’ offense improved somewhat as they scored 5 goals against the Anaheim Ducks, but their struggling defense allowed 5 goals as well, and they lost the game in the sixth round of a shootout. The Blues fall to 4th in the Central Division and seventh in the Western Conference with a record of 6-4-1.

The Nashville Predators, who were looking for their offensive touch, found it in St. Louis with the 6-1 win over the Blues. They followed that up with a 3-0 blanking of the LA Kings in Nashville. But soon, the offensive spurt left them when they traveled to Minnesota and lost 2-1 in overtime, and of course getting shut out on home ice by Corey Crawford and the Chicago Blackhawks (that’s right!). With a record of 5-3-4, the Predators sit third in the Central Division and sixth in the Western Conference.

Finally, the Columbus Blue Jackets just can’t seem to catch a break, losing all three games on home ice since their 4-2 win over Detroit. They provided a little relief for the LA Kings by hosting a 4-2 loss against the defending champs in which former Blue Jacket Jeff Carter scored a goal to help LA to a much needed victory. Two days later they put up a good fight against a similarly struggling Calgary Flames, but lost 4-3 in overtime. On Sunday, the Blue Jackets lost 3-1 against the Edmonton Oilers, dropping their record to 3-7-2. The Jackets are last in both the Central Division and the Western Conference.

It’s interesting to note that as of 12 games (or a fourth of the way) into the season, four of the five Central Division teams make up the top 8 playoff spots in the Western Conference. Three are from the Pacific Division, and then, of course, Vancouver is the sole representative for the Northwest Division.

How do you feel about such a strong Central Division a quarter of the way into the season?

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