Oct 21, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene (9) wards off Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) while handling the puck during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Colorado Avalanche won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Behind Enemy Lines - Central Division Separation


Here is this week’s rundown of the Chicago Blackhawks’ Central Division opponents. The top three teams are guaranteed a playoff spot, and although it’s still really early, there are a few patterns showing up.

The Colorado Avalanche are still the team to beat in the Central Division with an 8-1-0 record. Their only loss came against the Detroit Red Wings, losing 4-2. They reversed the outcome with a 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres and held the Pittsburgh Penguins scoreless in a 1-0 shutout by Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

The St. Louis Blues have had a few close games after losing to the San Jose Sharks 6-2. They won in Chicago 3-2 in a shootout and lost to the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 in another shootout. They have a 5-1-1 record and have an entire week off before playing the Vancouver Canucks on Friday.

Nashville was the busiest over the week and fared pretty well. They took a point in a 2-1 shootout loss against the Los Angeles Kings but added two wins with a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens and 3-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets. Their only regulation loss came in the 2-0 shutout in Minnesota. Their record is now 5-4-1.

The Minnesota Wild have a 4-4-2 record after their 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning and a 2-1 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers. But their 2-0 win by Josh Harding over the Nashville Predators gave them their first shutout of the season.

The Winnipeg Jets’ shootout win over the Blues was their only addition to the win column last week. They lost to the Nashville Predators 3-1 and suffered a 5-4 shootout loss after a high-tempo back and forth game against the Washington Capitals. Their record is now 4-5-1.

The Dallas Stars gained another win by handing the San Jose Sharks, one of the hottest teams in the NHL, their only shootout loss, 4-3. But they failed to carry any kind of momentum and followed it up with a 5-2 loss to the LA Kings, then a 6-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

In the first 8-10 games, there has been a little separation appearing in the Central Division. Colorado, Chicago and St. Louis seem to be pulling ahead of the remaining four teams. Do you think this separation will widen or stay close throughout the season?

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Tags: Central Division Chicago Blackhawks