The Chicago Blackhawks lead the Central Division and the league once again with a record of 17-4-4 and 38 points, but the St. Louis Blues are gaining ground fast. The Colorado Avalanche are only 4 points behind the top spot with three games in hand.
The St. Louis Blues won their three games last week with two statement games against Central Division opponents. But first they went to Boston, where they won 3-2 in a shootout. Then back in St. Louis, they hosted the Dallas Stars for a 6-1 victory followed by a 3-0 shutout win over the Minnesota Wild. They have a point less than the Blackhawks and have played 2 fewer games.
Next in the Central Division standings are the Colorado Avalanche with 22 games played and 34 points. Their two game last week went into overtime, and the visiting Avs skated away with the extra point. First against the Phoenix Coyotes, the Avalanche won 4-3 in OT, then kept it scoreless in Los Angeles against the Kings two nights later. Five minutes of extra hockey was enough for the Avs and they won the game 1-0.
The Minnesota Wild are tied with the Avalanche at 34 points but have played 3 more games. They played all three games on the road last week. They won 4-3 against the Ottawa Senators and won a shootout in Winnipeg 3-2. They ran into trouble in St. Louis where they were shutout 3-0.
The Dallas Stars have played 23 games, have 26 points and are 5th in the Central Division. They lost 2 of 3 games last week but broke out with a strong performance in their third matchup. They lost 3-2 hosting the NY Rangers and lost even bigger in St. Louis 6-1. But a big 5-goal third period in Anaheim against the Ducks gave them a 6-3 victory over one of the top teams in the league.
Tied with the Stars in points are the Nashville Predators. They topped off a three game winning streak with a 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs and broke the streak with a 2-0 loss against the NY Rangers at home. They’ve had enough of losing streaks for a while though, and won 4-2 at home while hosting the Coyotes. They’ve now won 4 of their last 5 games directly after their 4 game losing streak when they were outscored 17-2.
The Winnipeg Jets are also tied with the Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators with 26 points on the season. They followed a 4 game winning streak with a 4 game losing streak. The Chicago Blackhawks handed them their third straight loss 6-3, but the Jets earned a point in a 3-2 shootout loss against the Wild. They finally broke their losing streak with a 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils. The Jets are in last place in the Central Division with the most games played.
The theme of the week seems to be rebounds from close calls or big losses and has kept the race in the Central Division extremely close. Who do you think will be in first by this time next week?