Behind Enemy Lines – Around the Central Division
Jan 26, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (65) skates in on Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason (1) during the third period at Nationwide Arena. Chicago defeated Columbus 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Blackhawks leads the league and the Central Division in points this week, having 12 points and a franchise record 6-0-0 start to the season! History is being made, folks! But here’s a look to see how our Central Division foes spent their week.
The Red Wings won in Minnesota on Friday by a score of 5-3. The Wings survived Zach Parise‘s 2-goal game by scoring two power play goals and then some – something they failed to do Sunday night in Chicago going 0 for 6 on the power play. In a tight game of defense against the Blackhawks where the momentum swung back and forth, the Red Wings tied up the game in the third period to force an overtime but saw their record drop to 2-2-1 after Nick Leddy nabbed his first goal of the season. Detroit sits atop the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Central Division standings, which means Detroit is in fourth place.
The Blue Jackets started off the season with an impressive shootout win in Nashville but have lost every game since and have a record of 1-3-1 after five games. On Wednesday, the Blue Jackets faced the Phoenix Coyotes and Mike Smith for all of nine minutes until an injury suffered in warm-ups rendered Smith unable to continue. The Jackets might have preferred Smith, who gave up six goals to Chicago, to Jason LeBarbera who only let in one Columbus goal on Wednesday. Steve Mason gave up five goals to Phoenix but also made 37 saves in his first game of the season. The Columbus offense and defense didn’t get much better on Thursday in Colorado as they were blanked by the Avalanche in a heated game with a final score of 4-0. Then poor Columbus hosted Chicago, put on a strong fight against a frazzled Blackhawks team, had a goal disallowed on a questionable call, and lost any chance of getting a point out of it. The Blue Jackets are safely nestled at the bottom of the Division standings – for now.
The Nashville Predators have a losing record of 1-1-3 with all but one of their losses coming in shootouts. The only loss that wasn’t in a shootout was against division rivals – the St. Louis Blues. That loss came in the form of a sound 3-0 shutout and is the second time that Predators have lost to the Blues already this season. Nashville then traveled to Anaheim to face the Ducks and their third shootout loss in five games.
The Blackhawks have fared the best out of all the Central Division this past week, but not far behind are the St. Louis Blues. The Blues have a 5-1-0 record with 10 points, their only loss courtesy of the Blackhawks. The 3-0 shutout against the Predators on Thursday marks the second shutout that the Blues have had this season – only six games played! Both at the hands of Jaroslav Halak and both were in St. Louis. They won a game of give and take against the injury ridden Dallas Stars (Jaromir Jagr and Derek Roy) on Saturday by a score of 4-3. In their first real game on home ice, the Blues faced the Minnesota Wild in a game that coalesced into shootout where the Blues walked away with a 5-4 victory.
The St. Louis Blues are by far the most dangerous opponent for the Blackhawks so far and will probably remain so throughout the season.
Biggest surprise – The Blackhawks are 6-0-0! Keep it up, boys!
Biggest disappointment – Although they are division rivals, I was somewhat rooting for the Columbus Blue Jackets to worm their way up the Western Conference standings. It’s a little sad they’ve lost every game since their surprising win against the Nashville Predators.
What are your biggest surprises and disappointments from last week?
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