You know all about Chicago and Detroit and their game last night shows why they’re still the marquee matchup in the Central Division, but things are different this year.
Detroit’s win put them back in first place but it’s a lead that’s perilous at best as both Chicago and St. Louis are equal to them in points with 53. Factor in the Nashville Predators with 48 and you’ve got a division race that’s set up to be one of the best in the NHL this year.
With Ken Hitchcock taking over St. Louis and helping the Blues realize their potential, it’s no longer just Detroit and Chicago treating the other three teams like also-rans. The steady improvement of Nashville over the years and the Blues return to glory have made the Central Division into a four-way dance for one of the top spots in the Western Conference. Sorry Columbus, but your bad season couldn’t have come at a worse time.
After seeing the Pacific Division manage to put four out of five teams in the playoffs last year, the Central is where it’s at this season.
In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.
For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.
Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.
Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.
They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.
Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.
Taking three games to score your first NHL goal isn’t a big deal, unless you’re someone like Connor McDavid.
The mega-hyped wunderkind must feel relieved to finally find the net, as he tied tonight’s Edmonton Oilers – Dallas Stars skirmish with a 2-2 deflection goal, which you can watch above this post’s headline.
To no surprise, there were plenty of reactions, including Pierre LeBrun’s tweet (which inspired part of this headline).
Of course, there were the inevitable Wayne Gretzky comparisons:
Interesting thing you might not consider: Stars fans will have to stomach this one even more frequently than that time Patrik Stefan biffed that empty-netter (also against the Oilers):
McDavid may have also delivered his first questionable check, too: