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.
The Nashville Predators have quietly positioned themselves as one of the hottest teams in hockey as they defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 thanks to a Cody Franson shootout goal. Barry Trotz’s bunch are now on a three game winning streak and won 10 of their last 12 games.
Nashville 3, Edmonton 2 (SO)
It’s not like the Predators are taking advantage of a Lightning-like homestand, either. They are now four games deep into their six-game road trip, earning three games in that span.
Alexander Sulzer and Joel Ward scored for Nashville while Taylor Hall and Andrew Cogliano provided Edmonton’s goals. Pekka Rinne and Devan Dubynk both allowed two regulation goals, with Rinne making 22 stops and Dubnyk earning 26 saves.
The Predators are in a great position to hold onto a playoff spot and might even have a chance to take the Central Division lead from the Detroit Red Wings. Nashville played 28 road games versus only 20 at home so far and only trail the Red Wings by four points and two wins at the moment. Considering Detroit’s injury issues, the Preds could put some serious heat on their division rivals.
Meanwhile the Oilers are on a five game skid, leaving them dangerously close to the very bottom of the NHL considering the fact that the New Jersey Devils are suddenly heating up and the fact that the New York Islanders are sporadically spunky.