Chicago Blackhawks Fall: Central Division Power Rankings
By Joel Santelli
Where do the Chicago Blackhawks currently rank in the Central Division?
The Chicago Blackhawks compiled a record of 2-4-1 since the previous power rankings. The parity is beginning to widen between the top and bottom teams in the league. Let’s take a look at how the Blackhawks fare in the latest edition of the Central Division Power Rankings.
1. Nashville Predators | Record 8-3-1 | Previous Ranking: 2
Last year, Nashville struggled to put the puck in the back of the net. This year, they lead the Western Conference in goals, averaging 4.08 goals per game through thirteen games.
After announcing an eight-year, $72.4 million dollar extension for their captain, Roman Josi, the Predators extended their current winning streak to four wins, as they embarrassed the Blackhawks in their most dominating win of the season. The Nashville defensemen are contributing offensively in a major way, as Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis lead their team with 13 points each.
Starting net minder, Pekka Rinne, remains undefeated in regulation with a record 7-0-1. With the combination of superb goaltending and defensemen contributing offensively, the Predators are looking like an early Stanley Cup contender.
2. Colorado Avalanche | Record 8-2-2 | Previous Ranking: 1
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The Avalanche are in first in the Western Conference, but with injuries to their star wingers, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, this may give other teams an opportunity to take advantage of a weakened lineup. Rantanen is week-to-week, but Landeskog is out indefinitely, which could have severe implications for the Avalanche going forward.
In their first two games where the wingers were absent from the the lineup, the Avalanche had a goal differential of -4. Their 5-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks was the first time the team lost by more than two goals this season.
Nathan Mackinnon leads the team in points with seven goals and ten assists through twelve games. He will look to continue to lead by example as the Avalanche eagerly wait for their top players to return.
3. St. Louis Blues | Record 7-3-3 | Previous Ranking: 3
Blues fans’ hearts shattered after the announcement that superstar winger, Vladimir Tarasenko, will be out of the lineup for five months as he undergoes shoulder surgery. The Blues will need to have everyone in their lineup step up as they prepare for life without Tarasenko.
Ryan O’Reilly is continuing his superb two-way play, and the surprise point-per-game production from Brayden Schenn and David Perron through the first twelve games are keeping the Blues in playoff contention. The loss of Tarasenko may crush the dream of back-to-back Stanley Cups, but the Blues have showed perseverance before as they were in last in the league in January of the prior season, and ended up celebrating with the Stanley Cup. Who’s to say they can’t do it again?
4. Winnipeg Jets | Record 6-7-0 | Previous Ranking: 4
The days of being a perennial powerhouse in the Central Division may be coming to an end for the Jets. After all of the roster turnover from this past offseason, the Jets look like an average team at best.
The offense has dried up, as they have averaged only two goals per game over their last seven games. Patrik Laine has cooled down after his hot start, and their top players, Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele, have a combined goal differential of -15. It’s still early, but unless the jets obtain some help on their back-end, they appear to be a bubble playoff team at best.
5. Dallas Stars | Record 5-8-1 | Previous Ranking: 6
After an atrocious start to their season, the Dallas Stars are gaining momentum as they have picked up four wins in their last five outings. Although the Stars are trending upward, they have not recorded a win against a team that is expected to make the playoffs.
Young stars, Roope Hintz and Miro Heiskanen, continue their strong play; however, captain, Jamie Benn, and defenseman, John Klingberg, are currently playing far below expectations. Alexander Radulov has struggled as well and was relegated to the third line, but after a breakout four point game in a win against the Minnesota Wild, look for him to get back to his usual form.
6. Chicago Blackhawks | Record 3-6-2 | Previous Ranking: 5
A couple of short weeks ago, the Chicago Blackhawks were a team glistening with hope and potential. That hope and potential has quickly turned into uncertainty for the club’s future, as the Blackhawks suffered their most embarrassing loss of the season to the Nashville Predators.
After Connor Murphy was taken out of the lineup and placed on Long Term Injury Reserve, the Blackhawks have been seemingly exposed. There have been frequent collapses in defensive zone coverage that result in high danger chances. The power play has been abysmal, having not scored a goal in their last sixty minutes of 5-on-4 ice time.
Captain, Jonathan Toews, does not have a single point in 5-on-5 play this season. After endless line shuffling, a system that does not appear to be working, and an unhappy Brent Seabrook, head coach Jeremy Colliton’s seat may be starting to heat up.
The one positive going for the Chicago Blackhawks is Robin Lehner. Lehner has given the the ‘Hawks a chance to win every night. Not only are the netminder’s stats solid with a .936 save percentage, he also provides a strong voice in the locker room. If Lehner continues the way he is playing, the Blackhawks will want him as the goalie of the future.
7. Minnesota Wild | Record 4-9-0 | Previous Ranking: 7
The Wild’s struggles continue as they dropped back-to-back games against a pair of Central Division foes. In six outings against Central Division rivals, the Wild are 0-6. Fans reached the tipping point after the Wild forfeited six unanswered goals in a game where they were up 3-0 against the Dallas Stars. General Manager, Bill Guerin, can only remain patient for so long.
After Kevin Fiala’s latest healthy scratch, the Wild may be shopping him and others as they look to try and inject some life in this team.