Central division through March third
The NHL’s central division has been one of the surprises so far as some of the teams from the division have really played differently than expected. In this article, we are going to take a look into how each team is doing starting from the top of the central division and working our way down.
The Florida Panthers are a near top ten in goals per game average and near top ten best in goals-against average also. The Panthers have been a huge surprise as last year they ended fourth in their division and were largely mediocre during the year. Their offense was the shining piece last year. This year they have turned not only to their offense but now they aren’t allowing anywhere near as many goals in their net as last year was a disaster in that category. Florida is currently fighting for playoff positioning and was unexpected, to say the least.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The juggernaut is on the role once again and though they are in the Central Division it is no different. The Tampa Bay Lightning are showing no signs of slowing down after last year’s Stanley Cup victory. With the core intact and even without Nikita Kucherov, the Lighting are consistently a force to be reckoned with.
Well dang, the goaltending issues the Carolina Hurricanes have dealt with in the past have vanished…at least for now. Petr Mrazek has been phenomenal in net along with Alex Nedeljkovic. Their combined save percentage is .936% which is insane! I want to see more from James Reimer though. In the big picture perspective, the Hurricanes are 3rd in the division and fighting for playoff positioning. Well done.
Man and we thought the Panthers were a surprise. What should have been seventh place out of eight squads has been something completely different. Without their captain Jonathan Toews, the Blackhawks have managed to attain 28 points in 23 games and sit 4th place in the central division. That means if the playoffs were to start today, they would be in it. Quite impressive considering the extremely low expectations. In addition, this campaign has also featured Patrick Kane. Kane scoring his 400th career goal was a highlight in an unexpectedly positive season.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets have to be better than this if they hope to make the playoffs. The fact is they have stalled out winning only 9 of 24 games. Patrik Laine has turned out to be a good pickup so far as well as Jack Roslovic however to this point they have not been enough to lift the Jackets out of mediocrity. All in all, the current state in Columbus isn’t good enough, end of story.
Despite being lower in the standings the Nashville Predators actually have a better win-loss ratio than the Columbus Blue Jackets. However, as of now, the Predators offense has been atrocious. They are 28th in the league in goals per game average. This of course is unacceptable. On top of that, they are letting many goals into their own net and their power play is not playing sufficiently. Their 10-11-0 record has them out of the playoffs if those were to start today and I don’t see them getting into a spot this year.
Detroit Red Wings
Easily the worst of the bunch the Detroit Red Wings are nothing short of miserable. The Red Wings are currently scraping together one of the worst records in hockey at 7-15-3. Though Bobby Ryan has been a bright spot for them along with Jonathan Bernier the overall situation of the Red Wings remains tanking, HARD.
Before anybody gets too scared about the fact that the Dallas Stars are at the bottom of the standings I would like to note they have played significantly fewer games than the rest of the teams in the division outside of Tampa Bay. Regardless this performance from the Stars is not thrilling, to say the least. The Stars, much like last year, have opened the gates sluggish. This is disappointing, to say the least. They could turn it around like they did last year but this time they have fewer games to do it in.