The season has not yet started, but I think it would be fun to take a look at the teams in the central division and which ones could be in the playoffs. The Blackhawks, in my mind, could be in the mix.
The central division looks a little bit different this year for the Blackhawks.
After playing in a central division last year that included teams like the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes, this year’s central division is back to normal with teams from the midwest. Of course, the division is adding one team this year in the Arizona Coyotes, but maybe they would be better off elsewhere in 2022.
The Central consists of the following teams:
Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, Arizona Coyotes, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, Chicago Blackhawks, Winnipeg Jets, and Dallas Stars.
There are a lot of teams in this division that think they will be in the postseason, but there are only five spots when counting the two wild-card spots. So which teams will make it?
This is what I think the standings could look like:
1. Colorado Avalanche
The Avalanche are the clear pick to not only win the Central Division but probably have the best record in the western conference. However, there is a reason the teams need to play the games. Anything can happen.
2. Minnesota Wild
Kirill Kaprizov coming back is definitely a positive thing for the Minnesota Wild. If they can continue off of last season’s success then there is no doubt they can be a top team in the division with home ice in the first round. The only issue is whether or not they can stay hot again this season. Hopefully, Cam Talbot can be consistent again and help lead the Wild to victory.
3. Winnipeg Jets
The Jets handled the Oilers in the first round of the playoffs showing how strong of a team they can be defensively, and they only got better this offseason. Winnipeg is a team that has usually had Chicago’s number with their defensive and physical style of play. If the Hawks can make a difference this season and beat the Jets then maybe they can jump them in the standings.
4. Chicago Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks in my mind can be a playoff team in 2021. With this spot in the standings, the Blackhawks would probably be rematching the Vegas Golden Knights in round one. While that series definitely favors Vegas I do not think it would be a quick five-game series like in 2020.
5. St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues are an interesting team because of the situation revolving around Vladimir Tarasenko. If Tarasenko has a bounce-back season with the Blues after asking for a trade then maybe this team can be even higher in the standings.
Nashville, Dallas, Arizona on the outside looking in. Nashville and Dallas could potentially push a team for a spot, but until we see the teams play a game we won’t know what the lineups actually are going to look like.
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In my mind, the Blackhawks could be as high up as the third spot in the division. While they most likely won’t be getting home ice this season, watching the team push for the playoffs would be a lot of fun this coming Spring!