NHL Central: The Bruisin' Keeps Cruisin'

Published on 30-Oct-2016 by Chips 10
NHL / NHL Daily Review

Yes, it's that vicious in the Central.

As usual, so much for best overall record.

That distinction went to the Dallas Stars last season, but it didn't help them in the playoffs when they see the same team night after night.

St Louis knocked them onto the golf course.

There's no reason to believe the Stanley Cup contender laden NHL Central will be any different this year.

The Chicago Blackhawks didn't know what to do with themselves after being eliminated from the Stanley Cup hunt so early last spring.

Their core of Patrick Kane, Jeff Toews, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford is still intact, so there's no reason to think anything other than the way out of this division still runs through the Midway.

Ken Hitchcock's already announced he's hanging up the clipboard after this season, so if he's gonna lead the Blues to their first-ever Stanley Cup, it's now or never.

Their roster will look strange without David Backes on it, but young guns like Paul Statsny and Vladimir Tarasenko with Kevin Shattenkirk anchoring the blue line could keep them in the mix deep into the playoffs. And with Brian Elliott gone, it's Jake Allen between the pipes.

The Stars, with players like Jamie Benn, Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, and Jason Spezza will be a force in the division and conference again.

They also have two goaltenders who've played well in the league for years. Antti Niemi won a Stanley Cup in Chicago in 2010, while fellow Finland native Kari Lehtonen has been steady between the pipes since 2006 with the then-Atlanta Thrashers.

Nashville has become a hockey hotbed, and the Predators are getting closer to Cup-hoisting every year.

Pekka Rinne is a world class goalie for coach Peter Laviolette, and with PK Subban patrolling the blue line, if they get steady contributions from Mike Fisher, James Neal, and Filip Forsberg, dudes could have a Grand Ole Springtime.

Minnesota is the best of the rest in the Central Division and has a new coach in Bruce Boudreau.

Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signed big contracts in 2012 but the Wild haven't made it past the second round since. Newcomer Eric Staal may help, but the Wild must get better goaltending from Devan Dubnyk and Darcy Kuemper.

Winnipeg and Colorado have a ways to go, with the Jets the better of the two teams.

Patrick Laine will be a star in the league while Dustin Byfuglien already is, but Winnipeg is still short overall on talent.

Colorado has a new coach in Jared Bednar, but the glory days of Peter Forsberg, Joe Sakic, and Patrick Roy are long gone. They need to add more talent to go with players like Semyon Varlamov, and Nathan MacKinnon.

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