Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks Roundtable: Central Division And Cameos

By Colin Likas
Jan 24, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell (51) takes a shot during the first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 24, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell (51) takes a shot during the first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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Gail Kauchak

Question 1: I think the standings at the end of the season will be the same as they are right now. The Nashville Predators are currently in third place, with only 58 points. I don’t foresee either Winnipeg or St. Louis (especially with the Robby Fabbri injury for the Blues) giving them any trouble.

It’s very hard to imagine the Preds catching up to the ’Hawks (69 points). They’re just too far behind, and even with the ’Hawks’ inconsistencies, they’re pretty consistent about winning more often than losing.

Chicago Blackhawks

That being said, I don’t think the ’Hawks will be able to catch the Wild (73 points). The Wild are on fire right now, and even though they will hit some rough patches and start losing some games, they’re still going to win the Central.

So it will be the ’Hawks and the Preds in the first round of the playoffs, just like 2015. Except this time the Hawks will have home-ice advantage, and they won’t need Scott Darling.

Question 2: I have a pretty creative family, because we came up with this together over dinner the other night. Bear with me, I’m no good at screenwriting. Please note that this episode takes place outside.

Brian Campbell: “Welcome back to another episode of “Soup And A Sandwich.” My co-host, Artemi, and I have worked some things out since last episode (shoots Panarin a dirty look). He now fully understands his role as co-host, and mine as host.”

“OK, so as you can see, we are outdoors today (swats at an apparent mosquito) to show you some activities us hockey players enjoy in the great outdoors (swats at another mosquito). Artemi, could you show us (swats at a mosquito) … geez, what’s with the mosquitoes out here! I need some Off!”

Enter Artem Anisimov, who goes straight up to Campbell and swats a mosquito off the back of his head. Campbell storms off the set, and Panarin and Anisimov look at each other and shrug.

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Get it? I need some Off and Anisimov. I’ll show myself out.

Colin Likas

Question 1: The Blackhawks seem destined to keep up their run of not winning the Central Division. I think they’ll stick in second place the rest of the way, getting home-ice advantage in just the first round of the postseason.

Even if the Blackhawks manage to win all three of their remaining games against the Wild — a heck of an order considering the struggles Chicago has had with this opponent — Minnesota is going to ride its seemingly never-ending hot stretch to a division crown.

The three games in hand will wind up making a world of difference, especially if the Blackhawks do solve the Wild in these remaining regular-season games. The Blackhawks will more than likely watch the Wild pile up more points while playing a few fewer games.

Nashville is the only legitimate threat to second place for the Blackhawks, and that just doesn’t seem to be a terribly legitimate threat at this time.

Question 2: Niklas Hjalmarsson. I feel like Hjammer is secretly one of the funniest guys on the team but just hides it behind bigger personalities. He’s had some fun with food before as well.

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I think Campbell would bring in Hjalmarsson expecting to get some support from his fellow blueliner, but Hjammer would end up just making more trouble with Panarin, causing Campbell and storm off set. I’d watch it.

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