Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
First Place: St. Louis Blues
First and foremost, I would like to apologize to the rest of the sane world that still exists for this one. Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz both had breakout seasons last year. Schwartz even missed part of the season with a broken foot and was still impressive. Whether we like it or not, these guys are just flat-out good and may be ushering a new era for the St. Louis Blues where the goal is to shoot the puck at the net and not punch everyone in the face or cross-check them when the ref isn’t looking. But until David Backes is gone, until Ryan Reaves and Steve Ott realize that you put the puck in the back of the net to win the game, and until all evil is gone from the world and rainbows and puppies overflow across the earth, that will not happen. While they have gotten rid of Jackman, they did unfortunately add former ‘Hawk Brouwer, whose role on his new team won’t go unnoticed by ‘Hawks fans.
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As always, their success will be due to their defense making up for a joke of a goaltender in Brian Elliot or Jake Allen. But there is good news on the horizon. St. Louis will continue to buy water fountains because there are no (Stanley) Cups in sight. There is so much wrong with this team when it comes down to it, but they still always find a way to ruin everyone’s day. Good news for Blackhawks fans? We get another year of the rivalry we love to hate.
Well, there we have it. Like the rest of you, I would admittedly be utterly shocked if this is how the season ended. After seeing what the Avs did in 2013-14, I do not see why any of these teams can’t win the division. The only thing that we can be certain of at this point is that five teams from the Central will be in this year’s playoffs. Everyone is entering this season with a chance. It should make it a fun one to watch.
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