The NHL’s Central Division is a little competitive this year and week 5 of the NHL Power Rankings is a list that explains why.
1.) The Chicago Blackhawks are winning like Charlie Sheen wishes he was. at 12-0-3, they are scoring and their defense and goaltending are providing the protection they need to be a +20 goal differential. Crawford has been shutdown for them between the pipes while Patrick Kane has notched 21 points this season. With no end in sight for their winning ways, the Hawks are the clear quarter-season favorites.
10.) St. Louis started the 2013 campaign off with a bang going 6-0-1 only to completely waste that blazing start by dropping 4 at home at the start of February. The Blues had been able to dominate other teams at Scottrade over the past two seasons. With Halak out with a groin injury, Brian Elliot fell to pieces mentally allowing 26 goals which forced the coaches to call on rookie Jake Allen from Peoria. It also didn’t help that the Blues offense was non-existent during that same period. Allen showed up and has simply stolen the show going 3-0 in his first three starts. Couple that with the offense working again and that spells playoffs.
11.) The Nashville Predators have established that they are a serious contender in this greedy central division. Last year, they knocked out the Redwings in what could be considered one of the most physical series of the 2012 playoffs. They began they year slowly and more recently have given the Blues something to contend with as the clubs fight over second and third place. Pekka Rinne is playing out of his mind and Colin Wilson has 12 points on the year to help the Preds stay in the fight just ahead of the Wings.
12.) I despise the Detroit Red Wings more than most things on this planet, but I have to give them credit for being the modern day NHL power house. For as long as I can recall, they have owned the central division. This year, they took a hit having lost their stud defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom to retirement, but with names like Datsyuk, Abdelkader, Samuelsson and Zetterberg still filling out that roster, it’s difficult for even the most passionate fan to count those hated Wings out of anything. Their goaltender, Jimmie Howard, is in his 7th season with the club and does his best to back up the team’s front man for all things defense, Niklas Kronwall. Not quite where they were in 2007-08, the Wings seem to always pose a significant threat to any other team winning a Stanley Cup.
It’s been an emotional season so far and it doesn’t appear as though things are going to be changing anytime soon. Calling on my most unbiased abilities, I believe the Blues are deserving of the ranking they were put at this week. Hopefully, it’s a reckoning for them and one that serves to get them to produce. With Halak coming off injury this week, the Blues need to find more paths to the back of the net. Defense wins championships, but no championship is won without goals.