It’s Thursday and that means one thing: it’s Central Division power rankings time. It’s an opportunity to look around the division to see what teams may be on the rise and which teams are sinking.
Another great week of hockey is behind us and the Central Division posted an overall combined record of 9-8-3, one of the division’s worst week in quite some time. Some teams continued their winning ways and some teams hurt themselves and their playoff chances as the season slowly but surely is reaching its end.
Three stars of the week
1. Nathan MacKinnon (COL) – four goals, zero assists for four points
2. Jamie Benn (DAL) – one goal, five assists for six points
3. Erik Cole (DAL) three goals, one assist for four points
Highlight of the week
1. Nashville Predators (41-13-7) LR: 1
The Predators continue to be division’s best, both in our power rankings and the division standings. Nashville did have some hiccups this week, losing to the New York Islanders 5-2 on the road and followed that up with a shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. They bounced back however with a win over the Buffalo Sabres and a dominant performance Tuesday night against the Colorado Avalanche. The Preds combined to out shoot the Sabres and Avalanche by a combined total of 42 shots, out shooting each team by 21 shots a piece.
2. St. Louis Blues (38-18-4) LR: 2
Just like the Predators, the Blues stay put in the same spot they were in a week ago. St. Louis took on three Eastern Conference teams this past week and didn’t come out looking so good. The Blues dropped games to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens in poor fashion, both on home ice. They did pick up a win over a struggling Boston Bruins team at the start of the week. The Blues suddenly find themselves nine points behind the first place Predators.
3. Minnesota Wild (31-22-7) LR: 4
This isn’t a typo, Minnesota is third in the rankings this week. They’ve certainly had some help with some teams falling off a bit but they’ve also played fantastic hockey this entire month. The Wild 2-1-0 this week to push their February record to 9-2-1. They defeated the Edmonton Oilers once and fell to them once this week. They also took down the Dallas Stars after scoring six goals in the third period. Devan Dubnyk continues to man their crease in extremely impressive fashion.
4. Chicago Blackhawks (36-20-5) LR: 3
Chicago has just been a weird team lately. They are 1-2-1 in their last four games and went 1-2-0. They lost to the Avalanche and Bruins and were out scored by a combined 10-3 in the losses. The ‘Hawks lone win this week was a 3-2 shootout victory over the Florida Panthers, but it was an extremely costly win as Patrick Kane left the game with an upper-body injury and it’s not looking so good.
5. Winnipeg Jets (31-20-11) LR: 5
The Jets are another team that’s been a bit weird lately. Winnipeg put together a 1-1-1 week with the overtime loss coming at the hand of the Toronto Maple Leafs. They did manage to defeat the Dallas Stars on Tuesday after a solid performance in net from Micheal Hutchinson. The Jets are hanging onto the top wild card spot at the moment and added Jiri Tlusty from the Carolina Hurricanes to help their cause.
— SportsCentre (@SportsCentre) February 25, 2015
6. Colorado Avalanche (26-24-11) LR: 7
The Avalanche have climbed the stairs out of the power rankings basement this week after a 2-1-0 week. Their two wins were very impressive in beating the Blackhawks 4-1 on the road followed by a 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. They did get dominated by the Predators on Tuesday 5-2, but the Avalanche might be putting somewhat of a game together going 4-2-0 in their last six games.
7. Dallas Stars (27-25-9) LR: 6
The Stars are struggling, more than struggling. The problem they’ve had all season long is rearing its ugly head yet again with Stars’ netminders not being able to stop the puck. New Dallas goaltender Jhonas Enroth had a very rough go of things in his second start in a green sweater allowing six goals on 35 shots faced. Despite the poor performance the Stars threw him in net the following game against the Jets where he allowed three goals on 24 shots.
It also doesn’t help Tyler Seguin is still sidelined with an injury.