March 3, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) scores the game winning goal on Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) during a shoot out at the Joe Louis Arena. Chicago won 2-1 in a shoot out. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Blackhawks have an astounding record, and it seems almost unfair to compare them to other teams in the NHL, never mind their Central Division rivals that have been struggling as of late – or since the start of the season, really. The Blackhawks have a record of 20-0-3 and are first place in the Central Division and the Western Conference. Here is a look at what the other four teams have been up to lately.
The Detroit Red Wings played 4 games in the past week – every single one of the ended in a 2-1 score. They visited the LA Kings on Wednesday in the first of two back-to-back games. After taking a 1-0 lead in the first period, the Red Wings gave up 2 in the third to allow the Kings their 5th straight win of the season. On Thursday, they traveled to San Jose to take on the Sharks in a game that went scoreless until the third period where each team scored less than two minutes apart. The Red Wings managed to get both points by winning in a shootout.
Next up, the Wings went back home to Detroit and hosted the best team in hockey right now – the Chicago Blackhawks. In arguably the best game of the NHL season, the Red Wings were nearly 2 minutes away from ending the Blackhawks’ record point streak but couldn’t stop the quick stick of Viktor Stalberg or the laser shot of Patrick Kane who had the tying goal. With both goaltenders playing exceptionally well, the game went into a shootout for the second straight game for Detroit, and this time Detroit gave up the second point losing 2-1. The Red Wings managed to hold off the Colorado Avalanche in Detroit on Tuesday, scoring 2 goals in the second period and hanging on for the 2-1 win.
The Red Wings have a record of 11-8-4 and are 6th in the Western Conference and 2nd in the Central Division.
The St. Louis Blues have arguably been the most inconsistent team in the Central Division. They started on Thursday by hosting the Chicago Blackhawks, giving up the game winning goal just 12 seconds into the first period. The Blues suffered a 3-0 shutout loss on home ice. The following night, they hosted the young Edmonton Oilers and fell behind 2-0 after the first period. Someone must have said something important in the locker room because the Blues tied it in the second and piled on two more goals in the third, winning 4-2.
The Blues then took on the Dallas Stars to kick off a 5 game road trip. They struck first but gave up a goal in the first period to tie the game and then three more to lose 4-1. In LA two days later, they surrendered a 3 goal lead on the Kings (4-1) and allowed 4 goals in the third period to lose the game 6-4.
The Blues are 11-9-2 on the season and are 9th in the Western Conference and 3rd in the Central Division.
The Nashville Predators are the only Central Division team to not take on the Chicago Blackhawks in the last week, but they didn’t fare any better because of it. Their only win came in overtime on home ice against the Dallas Stars who scored all 4 of their goals in the third period alone. The Predators tied it up in the third to send it to overtime and win it in the first 30 seconds 5-4. It was all downhill from there as they started their road trip in California, first visiting the Anaheim Ducks. Kyle Palmieri recorded his first NHL hat trick at the Predators’ expense in a 5-1 Nashville loss.
Offense again ran short in San Jose as the Predators took on the Sharks and were out-shot 39-19, losing 2-1. In LA two days later, the they allowed Jeff Carter of the LA Kings to record another hat trick in yet another 5-1 loss.
The Predators have a record of 9-9-5, are 11th in the Central Division and 4th in the Western Conference.
The Columbus Blue Jackets saw each of their last 4 games over the past week go into overtime, winning two of them. First, they hosted the Dallas Stars in an offensively charged game where Columbus tied it up with 90 seconds remaining in the third period but lost 3 minutes into overtime. Three days later, the Blue Jackets visited Chicago and kept the Blackhawks on their heels for most of the game but again lost in overtime, 4-3.
Next, the Colorado Avalanche stopped by Columbus and forced the Blue Jackets to tie it up in the third period and finally win in overtime. Then, Columbus won for the second straight game on home ice, defeating the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 in a shootout on Tuesday night. The Blue Jackets now have just 2 fewer wins than the struggling Nashville Predators.
The Blue Jackets have a record of 7-12-4 and are 15th in the Western Conference and 5th in the Central Division.
The Blackhawks and the Blues are the only two Central Division teams currently in playoff spots. All 5 Pacific Division teams have a spot.
It’s crazy how much I’m rooting for the Columbus Blue Jackets to just not be the last team in the NHL when all is said and done this season. They have been playing every team hard and losing games that they should win. But unfortunately for Columbus, “close” doesn’t count. And fortunately for Chicago, it doesn’t either.
What do you think of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ close calls?