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NHL Central: Toughest In the NHL?

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Top to bottom, I believe this will be the hardest division to compete in, grab a playoff spot out of, and possibly, beat in any Championship series.

Ok, ok...not saying the winner of the Stanley Cup or even the Western Conference will be coming out of the Central, but just saying looking at the teams 1-7, they look to be, at least on paper, the toughest grouping out of the four divisions.

I still think the Pacific contains the top three of the very best in the West (San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles), at least based on last season, but after those three, the drop off is pretty steep and the bottom feeders there, Calgary and Edmonton have alot to prove before anyone can take them seriously as playoff contenders.

Over in the East, the Metro has the Pens, still seemingly at number one, but with the changes made to their roster, I believe they will have to re-establish themselves, which opens the door for other teams such as the Rangers, Flyers, and possibly the Capitals and Devils
Still though, the Metro has teams with real big flaws, again, at least on paper, and none really scream "Stanley Cup contender"....and a team like the Isles, though looking to be improved, and the Canes can still be bottom feeders all season.

The Atlantic, another tough looking division, also is home to the Panthers, Sabres, and Senators...three teams who most likely will struggle this coming season.
Panthers may surprise, but will have to prove they belong amongst real contenders...and even the Leafs will have to shake off the horrible 2nd half of last year to once again show they belong on the same ice surface as legit playoff contenders.

This brings us back to the Central Division.
The Blackhawks and Blues still lead the way here, IMO, despite neither winning the division crown last year.
Both have extremely talented and deep rosters and I think no one will be surprised if either makes the Western Conference or Stanley Cup Finals.

The Avalanche, last year's Central winners, were the victims of possibly some youth and inexperience, but no doubt have a ultra fast and talented team that can play, skate, and hit with anyone in the league.
I think they look to improve upon a very good season last year and have the opportunity to make a deep playoff run with the maturing young stars mixed in with solid vets.

Minnesota, who BEAT the Central champs on the playoffs, also have a very good maturing core group, led by vets such as Mikko Koivu, Ryan Suter, and Zach Parise.
They too look to improve upon the season they had last year....and look to make life miserable throughout the season the other teams they play along the way to making the playoffs.

Dallas Stars, a good group of up n coming players, anchored by the very solid goaltending of Keri Lehtonen.
The Stars have shown flashes of being able to play with anyone in the NHL, including the big boys over in the Pacific, though seemingly, fall short in some key areas.
Again though, when young players like what the Stars have gain experience to add to their already awesome talent, they just get tougher and tougher to beat.
Good combo of speed, skating, defense, and agitation on this team that will give any team all they can handle.

The two "weak" teams in the division, the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets, only seem that way in comparison to the rest of the division.
Honestly, I would take either of these two over any other division's bottom two (Calgary, Edmonton.....Buffalo, Florida.....NY Islanders, Carolina).
Particularly Nashville.

They made a coaching change, going from defensive minded Barry Trotz to offensive minded Peter Laviolette...along with adding some good pieces that look to be more in attack mode than defend mode.
Throw in a healthy Pekka Rinne, the always good Nashville defensive type players, the nastiness of some of the players they have (Paul Gaustad, Anton Volchenkov for instance) and you have the makings of a team that will give fits to anyone.

Well, if they figure out what type of team they want to be, then play that way consistently, they too can be problematic for the rest of the league.
I've seen the Jets play fast n loose, tight defensively, and go on forechecking sprees that would leave most teams bruised and battered by the 3rd period.
They just need to pick a style (or mixture of styles), play it effectively and consistently, thereby gaining a team identity, and they should be tough for anyone.

Goaltending on the Jets may still be an issue.
Ondrej Pavelec may or may not be the answer there, but really, with a few nudges in the right direction, the team may not make the playoffs again this year, but should always be tough for anyone playing them.

What do you think, HF Family......

Toughest division, top team through bottom team, the Central, in the NHL?

Anyone else, please feel free to add agreement or disagreement and why.
Would love to hear from ya!



Edited by TropicalFruitGirl26
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You are probably right TFG. I think Daalas could be very good. Nashville will be better with a healthy Rinne, Minny is always tough to play against and has since great young talent (love that Huala kid and is insane speed).

The Jets? Hard to say as you say. They should be better as youngsters like Trouba and Scheifele mature a bit more and if E Kane can pull his head out of his arse long enough to play some hockey. But who knows....

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  Hands down the toughest in Hockey. No true weak sister in the bunch, with the possible exception of Winnipeg because of their netminding as much as anything. I like the moves by Nashville, I love the moves by Dallas (though I have a hard time taking any team serious with Lehtonen in net), the Wild may have had the best winter of any team, St. Louis added Stastny, Iginla replaced him in Colorado, Chicago added Brad Richards.

  Not saying every team doesn't have some weakness, Colorado is still thin at the blue line, Crawford is the new Osgood, Elliot is a career journeyman and Allen his backup to me is overrated, but the depth, the skill in this division is simply amazing.

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