Dec 3, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) makes a save agains Chicago Blackhawks right wing Ben Smith (28) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Blackhawks still lead the Central Division to start off the month of December. They have a 20-5-4 record and a league-leading 44 points. Their opponents have had a less than stellar week going 8-8-4 overall.
The St. Louis Blues played all three of their games on the road and suffered their first back-to-back regulation loss off the season. They had a decisive 4-1 victory in Colorado but followed it up with a 6-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks. Three nights later, they lost to the LA Kings, 3-2. The Blues sit 5 points behind the Blackhawks with 39 points in 26 games and have an 18-5-3 record.
Behind the Blues are the Colorado Avalanche who fared slightly better winning 2 of their 3 contests. Their 4-1 loss against the Blues was the only dark spot followed by a 2-game matchup against the Minnesota Wild. The Avs won the first game in Minnesota 3-1 and hosted the Wild the next night, winning 3-2 in a shootout. The Avalanche are one point behind the Blues in the Central Division standings with 38 points in 25 games and a record of 19-6-0.
The back to back losses against the Avalanche proved to be costly for the Minnesota Wild. The losses came on the heels of a 3-1 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes but followed by a shutout win over the Philadelphia Flyers, 2-0. The Wild trail the Avalanche by one point with 37 and a record of 16-8-5 after playing 29 games.
The Dallas Stars gave the Blackhawks a bit of trouble in Chicago with a 3-1 victory for the visitors. That win followed an 11 round shootout loss against the Blackhawks in Dallas and another shootout loss against the Edmonton Oilers. The Stars are 7 points behind the Wild with 30 points in 26 games and a record of 13-9-4.
The Winnipeg Jets played 3 games on the road in the northeast last week and started it off with a 3-2 win against the NY Islanders. Two nights later, they lost 2-1 against the Philadelphia Flyers but rebounded with a 5-2 win over the NY Rangers. The Jets are tied with the Stars at 30 points but have played 29 games. They have a 13-12-3 record and take the 6th spot in the Central Division.
Finally, the Nashville Predators are the only team in the Central Division that played 4 games last week and came out with 3 points. They started off well with a 4-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, but were shut out in a 3-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers. The Preds earned a point in a shootout 3-2 shootout loss against the Flyers and wrapped up the week with a 3-1 loss against the Vancouver Canucks. Nashville trails the Jets with 29 points in 28 games and a 13-12-3 record.
The Blackhawks’ successful road trip helped them widen their lead in the Central Division, but the week of struggles for the rest of the division didn’t hurt either! The Blues and Avalanche will rebound soon and tighten up the race once again.