It's the best time of year!
Before the last couple years, the Central was by far the weakest division in the conference. Outside of Detroit and Nashville, the division lacked much firepower. But now there is a lot of youth and excitement in Chicago and St. Louis, while the Jackets made the playoffs in 2008/09. As we sit here on the cusp of a new season, you can make an argument that it’s the best division in the West with some great young goaltenders throughout.
Without further ado, here’s a quick glance at the Central Division for 2010/11...
Detroit Red Wings
2009/10 was a down-year by Detroit’s standards. For the first time all decade, the Wings failed to win the Central Division. They suffered a lot of key injuries last season as guys like Niklas Kronwall, Johan Franzen, and Tomas Holmstrom missed significant time. Mike Babcock’s crew is bound to return to their usual self this season, though. GM Ken Holland made a couple nice depth additions up front, while the back end is still strong. Look for the Wings to bounce back and reclaim their division crown.
Final prediction: 108 points; 1st Central, 2nd West
Just in case you’re curious, the Stanley Cup hangover is real. However, with this young batch of Blackhawks, they still may be hung over from all of their parties with Lord Stanley this summer! GM Stan Bowman had some re-tooling to do, courtesy of the salary cap. It’s safe to say they survived the cap purge, but it won’t be an easy task to try to repeat as division or Cup champs. If anyone can do it, it’s Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Don’t expect another run to the final in Chicago, though, this year.
Final prediction: 104 points; 2nd Central, 4th West
How does Nashville do it every year? They always lose quality players to free agency or trades, but still manage to grab a playoff spot. It’s because of the stability at the top with GM David Poile and Coach Barry Trotz. Once again, they have put together a solid group of players that fit the Predators’ mold. Pekka Rinne is ready to shine as a starting goalie in this league and Shea Weber now has the captaincy. If this team improves on special teams, Nashville should be in the playoff mix for the sixth time in seven years.
Final prediction: 101 points; 3rd Central, 6th West
St. Louis Blues
Are the Blues ready to take the next step? If so, they’ll certainly be a playoff team in 2010/11. Davis Payne, a perfect fit with St. Louis, begins his first full season as an NHL coach. After replacing Andy Murray, Payne went 23-15-4 in the second half of last year. Jaroslav Halak was the biggest addition in the off-season; the Blues hope they can get the Halak from the playoffs, but that may be stretching it a bit. The ultimate x-factor is the young core. If they all improve together, St. Louis could be a dangerous team.
Final prediction: 94 points; 4th Central, 8th West
Columbus Blue Jackets
After surprising everyone in 2008/09 by making the postseason, 2009/10 was a different story. Steve Mason seemingly took a step back after claiming the Calder, which doomed this team right from the get-go. Ken Hitchcock was fired as bench boss and has since been replaced by Scott Arniel, who will bring a new energy to the Jackets franchise. Even though they had a lot of injuries on the blueline last season, it isn’t any better. The offense may have to score 3-4 goals per game to even have a chance to reach the playoffs.
Final prediction: 75 points; 5th Central, 14th West
Division Rank: 2 of 6
Photo credit: Getty Images
at 9:00 AM
Tauchen Sie in der Welt von blackjack online ein und lassen Sie sich mit online casino spielen vergnügen.