Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks: Central Division Power Rankings

By Joel Santelli
Patrick Kane #88, Jonathan Toews #19, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Patrick Kane #88, Jonathan Toews #19, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Where do the Chicago Blackhawks currently rank in the Central Division?

The Chicago Blackhawks have not made the playoffs since 2017 and haven’t won a playoff series since 2015. The pressure to make a postseason appearance in 2020 is at an all-time high.

With the Central Division being touted as the toughest division by many analysts this season, let’s take a look at how the Blackhawks stack up, in the first edition of Central Division Power Rankings series.

1.  Colorado Avalanche (5-0-1)

After a solid run in the playoffs last season and with a young core group of talent, many thought the Avalanche would be the favorites in the Central Division this season. The Avalanche have lived up to the hype by winning their first five games.

Rookie defenseman, Cale Makar, has looked dominant and will likely be a contender for the Calder Memorial Trophy this season. Makar has put up six points in his first six games and there will be more to come while playing alongside star players, Nathan Mackinnon and Mikko Rantanen.

The knock on the Avalanche last season was their second line, but after adding Nazem Kadri, Joonas Donskoi, and Andre Burakovsky, that weakness no longer exists. The Avalanche will be a force to be reckoned with.

2 . Nashville Predators (4-3-0)

Free agent acquisition, Matt Duchene, appears to be the missing cog the Nashville Predators needed. The Preds’ offense has been dynamic, with everyone in the lineup contributing. Twelve different players have over four points in the first seven games, with Matt Duchene leading the team with nine.

The backup goalie, Juuse Saros, has been a problem, as he is 0-3 to start the season compared to his counterpart, Pekka Rinne, who is 4-0.

The loss of P.K. Subban was big for the Predators, but it will give a team who was last in the league in power play efficiency in 2018-19 a chance for some new looks.

3.  St. Louis Blues (3-1-3)

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The reigning Stanley Cup champions, St. Louis Blues, have looked solid considering the short off season. The team is mostly the same as last season, aside from the addition of Justin Faulk and the loss of Patrick Maroon.

The Blues’ penalty kill has been very impressive and have not given up a goal in their first six games. The team will be looking to players like Sammy Blais, Robert Thomas, and Robby Fabbri to take on bigger roles this season.

The Blues are 0-3 in overtime games this season. After their most recent shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks, Coach Craig Berube might want to start drilling some more 3-on-3 hockey in practice.

4. Winnipeg Jets (4-5-0)

The Jets have been top contenders in the league the past few seasons, but have been inconsistent to start the 2019-20 season. Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, and Nikolaj Ehlers have come out strong, putting up a total of 28 points through their first 9 games.

The Jets’ defensive core was decimated this off season. Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers, and Ben Chiarot all found new teams, and Dustin Byfuglien has been out of the lineup while contemplating retirement.

Momentum is trending downwards for the Jets and I’d expect General Manager, Kevin Cheveldayoff, to make a move to acquire a defenseman to try and spark his team.

5. Chicago Blackhawks  (1-2-1)

After coming up short in their first 3 games, the Chicago Blackhawks grabbed their first win of the season against the previously undefeated Edmonton Oilers. The ‘Hawks looked like the struggling defensive team they were last season in their first 3 games, but looked very solid defensively in their last outing.

With the additions of Andrew Shaw, Calvin De Haan, and Zach Smith in the offseason, the ‘Hawks have added some much needed grit. In their first four games, the Blackhawks have out hit their opponents 132-105.

Jonathan Toews has started off the season slow, but if he can get back to his normal self, the Chicago Blackhawks could be a dark horse in the Central Division.

6. Dallas Stars (1-6-1)

With the additions of Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry, as well as breakout seasons from Miro Heiskanen and Roope Hintz, the Stars were thought to be true cup contenders this year.

Terrible would be an understatement for the Stars’ performance to start the 2019-20 season. Their top guns have not produced, and their additions have not been as impactful as they would have hoped.

Through the first eight games, Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Alexander Radulov and Joe Pavelski have a combined total of twelve points. If the Stars have any hope of turning the season around, these players need to step up.

The players are frustrated, the fans are disappointed, and the front office is losing their patience.  The next couple of weeks could get interesting for Dallas.

7. Minnesota Wild (1-6-0)

The Minnesota Wild were thought to be bad this season, and boy, are they bad. Former GM of the Wild, Paul Fenton, left the team in a rough state.

The Wild have come out victorious only once this year and that was to the Ottawa Senators, who most believe will be the last place team in the league again this season.

Minnesota can’t score, the goaltending is awful, and the lineup has been all over the place. Brad Hunt is their leader in points with four points though seven games. The starting net minder, Devan Dubnyk, has a save percentage of .867 in 5 starts. Three of the players acquired through trade, Kevin Fiala, Ryan Donato and Victor Rask have all been healthy scratches at some point.

The fact that this empty net goal is one of the team’s highlights, says everything you need to know about the Wild’s season thus far.

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