The Chicago Blackhawks are back in the old central division this season, will that move help the team?
The short answer is probably yes for the Blackhawks. Not having the Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes, and Florida Panthers on the schedule eight times per team will be a good move this year. Plus more flexibility and new opponents every game will be a nice change of pace after only playing divisional opponents every night.
So here is the new division for Chicago: Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues, Arizona Coyotes, Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators, and Winnipeg Jets. Arguably there is a good chance that five out of those eight teams can find their way into the postseason, as the Pacific is a rather weak division.
Chicago’s goal needs to be one of those five teams, if not a part of the top three in the division, then that fourth spot to secure a matchup in the Pacific Division bracket depending on how things go this season.
Who is a lock for the top?
Arguably Colorado is the favorite to win the division having not even played a game yet. They should probably be that top dog, after that though it is pretty wide open. Winnipeg had a good playoff run, but that might have been smoke and mirrors because it was against Edmonton after Winnipeg barely got into the postseason.
Realistically, everyone outside of the Arizona Coyotes could make it into the postseason, but I think it will end up being the Avalanche, Blues, Jets, Blackhawks, and Wild in that order. Meaning the Stars, Predators, and Coyotes will be on the outside looking in. Now hold onto this as once the season ends and I am completely wrong I am sure I will hear about it, if not from you in the comments then from the rest of the staff at Blackhawk Up!
No one knows what will end up happening, but when looking at the division realistically speaking Chicago should have a fighting chance at making it into the postseason. They are arguably just as good as the other teams around and with the moves they made this offseason they will be more competitive than before.
This will be like playing a completely different Hawks team this season as a lot of the opponents in the division have not played each other in over a year and none have played Chicago with Jones, McCabe, and Fleury on the roster.
"The 2012-13 Blackhawks are still the best during a shortened season"
Being in the old central division definitely will be a positive for the Hawks this season. Having three great teams in Tampa Bay, Carolina, and Florida changed that division a lot last year making it a race for that final spot, now things are a lot more wide open from the start.