How Tough Will The Central Division Be For The Hawks?

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CHICAGO, IL - For the 2023-2024 season the Hawks will play 26 games against the central division. These games are very important as they take up about 1/3 of the Hawks schedule.

The Central has some powerhouses in the division like the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, and the Minnesota Wild. The Predators, Jets, Coyotes, and Blues are looking to have bounce back years as everyone but the Jets missed the playoffs last year.

With an improved roster, the Hawks are looking to show the central division that they are on the rise and ready to win. That being said, let's look at the matchups for the Hawks against each team in the central

Arizona Coyotes, Central Division, Chicago Blackhawks
Arizona Coyotes / Zac BonDurant/GettyImages

Arizona Coyotes:

10/30/23: Blackhawks @ Coyotes, 9:00PM CT

3/5/2024: Blackhawks @ Coyotes, 8:00pm CT

3/10/2024: Blackhawks vs Coyotes, 5:00pm CT

The Arizona Coyotes are in rebuild mode but they have lots of young talent in forwards Clayton Keller, Dylan Guenther, Logan Cooley, defensemen J.J Moser, Jusso Valimaki, and goaltender Karel Vejmelka.

New additions like defensemen Matt Dumba and Sean Durzi are sure to help out their back end as well.

Last season they shocked some people in beating teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Boston Bruins who won the president's trophy.

So don't be shocked if they do the same thing this year against good teams as well as have an improved record.

Blackhawks vs Coyotes prediction: 2-0-1

These are two teams that are in a rebuilding stage best also have a lot of young talent so expect a lot of high scoring in these three games.

Colorado Avalanche, Central Division, Chicago Blackhawks
Colorado Avalanche / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

Colorado Avalanche:

10/19/2023: Blackhawks @ Avalanche, 9:30PM CT

12/19/2023: Blackhawks vs Avalanche, 7:30PM CT

02/29/2024: Blackhawks vs Avalanche, 8:00PM CT

03/04/2024: Blackhawks @ Avalanche, 8:00PM CT

It's safe to say that the Colorado Avalanche are one of the scariest teams in the NHL. Stars like Nathan Mackinnon, Cale Makar, Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen, and Devon Toews make this team a cup favorite for years to come.

The Avalanche are a team that make few mistakes and capitalize when their opponents make mistakes so if the Blackhawks have any chance in competing with the Avs they will need to match their intense speed and play smart hockey.

Blackhawks vs Avalanche prediction: 1-2-1

The Hawks will give the Avalanche a fight in these games but the Avs are too star-studded and have a better core than the Hawks do which will result in only 1 (2 wins max) against the Avalanche.

Dallas Stars, Central Division, Chicago Blackhawks
Dallas Stars / Richard Rodriguez/GettyImages

Dallas Stars:

12/29/2023: Blackhawks @ Stars, 7:00PM CT

12/31/2023: Blackhawks @ Stars, 7:00PM CT

01/13/2024: Blackhawks vs Stars, 7:00PM CT

04/06/2024: Blackhawks vs Stars, 3:30PM CT

The Dallas Stars will be competing with the Avalanche and the Wild for the top spot in the central. This team is big, tough, and has a lot of talent to take them far into the playoffs especially with the new acquired Matt Duchene.

While Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are starting to fall out of their prime other players like Jason Robertson, Wyatt Johnston, and Miro Heiskanen have been electric for the Stars.

They also brought in veteran forward Matt Duchene who will be a great 2nd or 3rd line center for this squad.

Lets also not forget the brick wall in net in Jake Oettinger. The 24 year old is making a name for himself as a top 5 goalie in the league as he posted a .919 save% and a 2.4 GAA across 62 games with 37 wins in the 2022-2023 season.

His name echoed across the hockey world during the 2022 playoffs when he finished with a .954 save% and a 1.8 GAA in the seven game series against the Calgary Flames. Although his teammates couldn't help him win game 7, players and fans aside realized how special this goaltender will be.

Blackhawks vs Stars prediction: 2-2-0

The Stars are a very rough, rowdy, and skilled team which could be problematic for the Hawks but with the new additions of Connor Bedard and Taylor Hall they could steal a game or two from the Stars.

Minnesota Wild, Central Division, Chicago Blackhawks
Minnesota Wild / David Berding/GettyImages

Minnesota Wild

12/03/2023: Blackhawks @ Wild, 1:00PM CT

02/07/2024: Blackhawks vs Wild, 8:30PM CT

04/07/2024: Blackhawks vs Wild, 2:30PM CT

The Minnesota Wild lost a key piece to their team in veteran defenseman Matt Dumba but they still remain a powerhouse in the central nonetheless.

Kirill Kaprizov has been their bread and butter ever since he entered the league in 2021. He took off running and hasn't stopped since as he has been a point per game player in his first couple of years in the NHL.

The Wild also have young guns who are looking like star players like 22 year old Matt Boldy and goaltender Filip Gustavsson

Matt Boldy had a breakout year in 2023 with 31 goals and 32 assists for 63 points in 81 games. He is also in second place in Minnesota Wild rookie history with 39 points in 47 games during the 2021-2022 season.

After being acquired from the Ottawa Senators, Filip Gustavsson has been a rock for the Wild.
In the 2022-2023 season he had a record of 22-9-7 with a .931 save%, 2.10 GAA, and 3 shutouts through 39 games.

Blackhawks vs Wild prediction: 1-2-0

These three games will be a lot closer than people think but with Minnesota having better depth and goaltending they will 2 games out of 3 in this season series.

Nashville Predators, Central Division, Chicago Blackhawks
Nashville Predators / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages

Nashville Predators:

11/18/2023: Blackhawks @ Predators, 1:00PM CT

12/05/2023: Blackhawks vs Predators, 7:30PM CT

01/02/2024: Blackhawks @ Predators, 7:00PM CT

04/12/2024: Blackhawks vs Predators, 7:30PM CT

The Nashville Predators have had a busy offseason. Barry Trotz came in as the new GM to take over for the long tenured David Poile and his first move was to buy out Matt Duchene's contract and move a predator favorite in Ryan Johansen to the Avalanche for Alex Galchenyuk.

A big signing from Trotz was inking forward Ryan O'Reilly to a 4 year $18 million contract. O'Reilly is a big name player and will be a leader for this team as they try to make it back to the playoffs.

Nashville's strong suite has always been their defensive core and will be again in the 2023-2024 season. Players like Roman Josi, Tyson Barrie, Ryan Mcdonagh, and an elite goaltender in Juuse Saros make it tough for opposing teams to score 3+ goals on them.

One of their weaknesses is their offensive core. Filip Forsberg has been a great first line forward for them since he joined the team in 2012 but other than Matt Duchene Nashville has had a hard time finding an offensive piece to help Forsberg.

Blackhawks vs Predators prediction: 1-2-1

The Predators are a tough team to beat and when they do lose it's rarely by more than 2 or 3 goals. If the Hawks can find their rhythm on offense they can potentially sneak out 2 wins but overall Nashville is built better to win right now than the Hawks are.

St Louis Blues, Central Division, Chicago Blackhawks
St Louis Blues / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

St. Louis Blues:

11/26/2023: Blackhawks vs Blues, 1:00PM CT

12/09/2023: Blackhawks vs Blues, 7:00PM CT

12/23/2023: Blackhawks @ Blues, 7:00PM CT

04/10/2024: Blackhawks @ Blues, 7:00PM CT

The rivalry between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues is a bitter one. These two teams hate each other's guts and each game is gritty to the final buzzer. Mark these four games on your calendar because these are some of the most fun games to watch all year.

That being said, the St. Louis Blues have steadily fallen off since their Stanley Cup Final win in 2019. This is the first year they've missed the playoffs since 2018 and it doesn't look like they will be a playoff team anytime soon.

They parted ways with star Ryan O'Reilly at the 2023 trade deadline, trade rumors have been swirling around their top defenseman Torey Krug, and Jordan Binnington hasn't lived up to his 2019 self.

Despite the negatives of this team, they are still a sound team altogether. Forwards like Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas, Brayden Schenn, Sammy Blais, and Pavel Buchnevic have been an excellent young core for St. Louis.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong also had a decent offseason bringing in forwards Kevin Hayes and Kasperi Kapanen to strengthen their depth.

Blackhawks vs Blues prediction: 2-2-0

Like I stated before, these games are going to be bloody and won through grit and determination. I'm willing to bet the game winner in 3 out of the 4 games will be a greasy rebound goal with bodies flying all over the crease.

Hawks and Blues games are intense as could be which make this rivalry one of the best in the NHL.

Winnipeg Jets, Central Division, Chicago Blackhawks
Winnipeg Jets / Jason Halstead/GettyImages

Winnipeg Jets:

12/02/2023: Blackhawks @ Jets, 2:00PM CT

12/27/2023: Blackhawks vs Jets, 8:00PM CT

01/11/2024: Blackhawks @ Jets, 7:00PM CT

02/23/2024: Blackhawks vs Jets, 7:30PM CT

The Winnipeg Jets have had a busy 2023. They squeaked into the playoffs as the second wildcard, lost in 5 games to the cup champs Vegas Golden Knights, let long time Jet Blake Wheeler go in free agency, and traded one of their top forwards, Pierre Luc Dubois, to the LA Kings for forwards Alex Iaffalo, Gabriel Vilardi, and Rasmus Kupari.

There's also been tons of trade rumors with their goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. Many thought he was going to be moved at the NHL draft but he remains a Jet to this day. The question is will he be a Jet coming opening night for Winnipeg.

Looking at Winnipeg's team they still have a bunch of talent capable enough to be a wildcard team or snag a top three spot in the central.

Forwards Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Mark Scheifele light the lamp for the Jets and have being do so consistently for years now. Also, defenseman Josh Morrisey had his breakout year last season with 16 goals and 60 assists for 76 points breaking his career high of 37 points from the 2021-2022 season.

As long as Connor Hellebuyck stays in Winnipeg this team should never be doubted in making the playoffs. Since the 2017-2018 season, Hellebuyck has not had a save percentage lower than 9.10 and has kept a GAA of 2.97 or lower with about 4 shutouts per season. He is an elite goaltender who steals about 10-15 games each year for the Jets.

Blackhawks vs Jets: 0-3-1

I have to be honest, I don't like the Hawks odds against the Jets at all this year. In my opinion, Winnipeg got a lot better in the offseason and they are looking to be the surprise team of the NHL this season.

They still have their top forwards in Scheifele, Ehlers, and Connor and have added to their forward depth to strengthen their 3rd and 4th lines.

Their defense has been solid for the last couple of years now and that isn't looking to change with Josh Morrisey, Neal Pionk, Brendan Dillion, Dylan Demelo, Nate Schmidt, and Logan Stanley as their top 6.

The Chicago Blackhawks do not have an easy division to compete with this year. It seems like everyone in the central got better this offseason so it will be interesting to see not only how the Hawks will do in their own division, but also how the central will look come playoff time.

This is exactly what the young Hawks players need to experience this early in their career. Going up against teams that will be bigger, faster, stronger, and more experienced than them will help them learn what it takes to play in the NHL and how to succeed in the NHL by watching these opponents.

I hope the Hawks can surprise me by blowing my predictions out of the water but I won't be too upset if I'm right on par with them.

The Hawks are not ready to compete for the cup just yet, but this is a great opportunity for everyone to create chemistry with one another and for the new kids to gain some NHL level experience without having the pressure of winning.