Staff Predictions for the Chicago Blackhawks 2020-21 season
By Jimmy Lynch
The top four teams in the central division at the end of the season will be…
Tampa Bay Lightning, Dallas Stars, Carolina Hurricanes, and Columbus Blue Jackets
They were all good teams last year, and there’s very little reason they won’t be on top again this season as well. It would be surprising if one or more of those four suddenly became less competent, and dropped in the standings, but it could happen.
Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Florida Panthers
The Discover* Central Division’s top three teams will be, in this order; the Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars. The fourth team is where it gets more interesting because realistically speaking, it’s up for grabs between the Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators, and Florida Panthers. Of the three, I think Florida is the one that squeaks in. Led by the 2nd winningest coach in NHL history in Joel Quenneville and all-star talent yet still underrated Aleksander Barkov, anything close to NHL starter average goaltending from Bobrovsky sees them race up the standings to the fourth spot.
Tampa Bay Lightning, Dallas Stars, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Carolina Hurricanes
With the realignment of the divisions in the wake of Covid-19, I just don’t see any way for the ‘Hawks to be at the top of the pack. They’re competing with teams that are just way better than they are. The Bolts are still rock-solid coming off of their Stanley Cup win, and the Stars, Blue Jackets, and Hurricanes are all solid teams as well. The rest of the division starts to thin out a bit, with the Panthers, Predators, ‘Hawks, and Red Wings likely to fall in the bottom half of the division.
Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets
There is a clear divide in the talent pools in this division, which will certainly make it interesting as they battle throughout the year. To be candid, I had a hard time once I moved past who I see as being the top two of Tampa Bay (1) and Carolina (2), in that it seems there can be a case made for many of the others to sneak into third and fourth. I even began convincing myself that the Blackhawks might snag that last spot but didn’t want to get ahead of myself before we see how their new set-up actually takes shape.
The top four teams in the Central will be Lightning, Stars, Hurricanes, and the Blue Jackets. The defending Stanley Cup champs are poised to make another deep run. I think the Stars drop off a bit but Heiskanen and the rest of the d-core will make them competitive. If the Hurricanes find a goalie, they can make serious waves. Tortorella will find a way to sneak the Bluejackets into the fourth spot regardless if they retain Pierre-Luc Dubois.
I expect the top four teams in the Central to be Tampa Bay, Carolina, Columbus, and Dallas. I feel like the fourth and final spot will be a dogfight between Dallas, Nashville, and Florida, but I’m going with the Stars to narrowly beat out the Preds and Panthers.
I believe the top four teams in the central division will be Tampa Bay, Columbus, Dallas, and Carolina. All of these teams have the star-power and depth to have good seasons. I think the Hawks could win a game or two against these teams, but since they play them eight times, expect that these teams will win most of the games.
Tampa Bay, Carolina, Dallas, and Nashville
These four teams very well could run away with the Central Division this coming season, but I do think teams like Columbus and Florida will be knocking on the doorsteps for the third and fourth spots in the division.