Yep, the Central Division looks formidable again


If you’re looking at nightly schedule, and your favorite team is facing someone from the Central Division, are you really ever comfortable?

OK, the Winnipeg Jets are dealing with some issues finishing chances and stopping pucks. And, yes, the Colorado Avalanche are struggling with growing points post-Patrick-Roy.

Still, there’s not really a soft team in this division, a point that Thursday really hammered home.

Hossa and Crawford hoss up

On paper, a 4-0 Blackhawks win against the Avalanche follows the script you would expect, even if the Blackhawks enjoyed the added wrinkle of Marian Hossa continuing to enjoy a small-sample-size resurgence (two goals on Thursday, four goals and one assist for five points in his past four games).

Even with score effects almost certainly factoring in, it must be noted that Colorado didn’t necessarily roll over here, though; the Avs generated a 38-21 shot differential. They just couldn’t solve Corey Crawford on Thursday.

The Blackhawks are on a five-game winning streak and have won five of six (5-0-1) and seven of nine (7-1-1).

Stars build momentum

It’s true that both St. Louis (5-4-2) and Dallas (4-4-2) did not expect such modest records to begin 2016-17. Still, both teams are showing flashes of the brilliance they are capable of, with Dallas breaking a troubling three-game losing streak and a trend of losing five of its last six.

The Stars stand as an interesting barometer for the division in the short term: their next two games involve a back-to-back set against the Blackhawks and then a road game against the Winnipeg Jets.

(They also face a tough five-game road trip after Saturday’s home game against Chicago … so Dallas would earn some plaudits if they don’t hit the wall too hard through mid-November.)

Predators make progress

The Arizona Coyotes beat the Nashville Predators 3-2 via a shootout on Thursday. Louis Domingue is a story in his own right as the main factor in Arizona’s streak of winning three of four.

Still, you have to tip your cap to the Predators to some extent. They’ve generated three of four points in the last two games to somewhat salvage a debilitating five-game road trip (1-2-2).

They now get to enjoy four games in a row in Nashville and seven of their next 10 at home after boosting their confidence a bit these past couple nights.

Does it mean that they’ve justified their status as a chic Stanley Cup pick? Maybe not, but they’d probably settle for another step toward respectability.

From the look of things, in this Central Division, you might not be able to afford too many dry spells.