Mar 21, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (65) is congratulated by his teammates for scoring the game winning goal in overtime against Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo (1) at the United Center. The Blackhawks beat the Canucks in overtime 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
With a shortened season of reportedly 48 games, it will be very important for the Blackhawks, like almost every other franchise with playoff and Stanley Cup aspirations, to get off to a good start when the puck drops on January 19th. When the new revised schedule is released probably on Thursday expect a lot of division games to be part of the 48 game slate. Last year the Blackhawks had the best record within the Central division going 16-6-1 which was heavily aided by sweeping lowly Columbus. The Hawks will need a repeat performance against the division to get back to the playoffs. Here are some quick hits around the division.
Detroit Red Wings
The biggest change with the most hated of our rivals is that Nikolas Lindstrom will not be wearing a red and white jersey for the first time in what seems like forever. Besides Lindstrom the Red Wings are a team that keeps getting older without much youth coming up to fill in the gaps. They were expected to make a big splash in free agency before the lockout, but were pretty much shut out of all he big names. They are a very proud franchise with talent so expect them to make the playoffs like they do every season.
St Louis Blues
The biggest surprise of the division last season mainly behind their stingy defense and great goal-tending. As boring as Nashville can be to play against and watch, the Blues under Hitchcock are a true horror to contend with. Eventually this method gets exposed especially if they get behind early in a contest and they have to open things up. I see them as the biggest chance to not make the playoffs unless their goalies stand on their collective heads for 48 games.
The team I really dislike to watch the most from their horrible jerseys to tight system. They lost one of their best defenders when Ryan Suter decided to move back home to Minnesota. They still have the system and goal-tending which will probably land them back into the playoffs as a 7 or 8 seed with little chance at the Cup.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Steve Nash is gone to New York, which should make Viktor Stalberg’s favorite team to play against even easier to deal with. The Blackhawks own this franchise which really got the hose job by the NHL lockout by losing the All-Star game festivities. They seem to have a plan in place but it will be years before any fruit wll be on the tree.
Last season four teams from the Central made the playoffs, but I only see three making it this year. What is your prediction for playoff teams coming from the Central division?
Let’s Go Blackhawks!!
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