Another fantastic week of hockey is behind us and the Central Division put on quite a show. The division as a whole put together a record of 14-7-4.
The Predators still find themselves on top of the division standings and the number two team in the NHL, but this week they fall off the top of our power rankings. Other than Nashville sliding from the number one spot, not many changes occurred overall.
Three stars of the week
Zach Parise (MIN) – five goals, one assist for six points
Jason Pominville (MIN) – zero goals, five assists for five points
Tyler Seguin (DAL) – two goals, two assists for four points
Highlight of the week
Thomas Vanek slips through the Detroit Red Wings’ defense to light the lamp in style
1. St. Louis Blues (29-13-4) LR: 2
The Blues take over the top spot for the first time this season. St. Louis went 2-0-1 for the week with wins over the Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche with the overtime loss coming to the Detroit Red Wings. The Blues outscored their opponents 9-3 on the week. Brian Elliott was fantastic in net as he stopped 66 of 69 shots in all three starts for a save percentage of .956.
2. Nashville Predators (30-10-5) LR: 1
After spending two consecutive weeks atop the power rankings the Predators find themselves in a bit of a hole. Star netminder Pekka Rinne is expected to miss 3-5 weeks with a knee injury. The All-Star break couldn’t have come at a better time for the Preds as it gives Rinne time to recover while Nashville doesn’t play again till Tuesday. The Predators went 1-1-1 this week with Carter Hutton getting all three starts. Hutton posted a save percentage of .876 in the three games.
3. Chicago Blackhawks (29-15-2) LR: 3
The ‘Hawks went 2-2-0 for the week. Their two losses were in bad fashion as they lost to the Dallas Stars 6-3 and the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. Corey Crawford was between the pipes in three of the four games, he only managed to win one of the contests but it was a big shootout win over the Pittsburgh Penguins to end the week.
4. Winnipeg Jets (26-14-8) LR: 4
The Jets are solidifying themselves as a playoff team and their 4-0-0 week helped that cause. The Jets beat the ‘Hawks for the third time this season, went into Dallas and defeated the Stars 2-1, recorded a shootout win over the Arizona Coyotes, and ended the week in dominating fashion with a 4-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Ondrej Pavelec had arguably his best performance of the year in the win over Dallas stopping 46 of 47 shots while Michael Hutchinson recorded his second shutout of the season in the win over Columbus.
5. Dallas Stars (21-18-7) LR: 5
The Stars split their four games this week for a record of 2-2-0. Their wins were impressive as they beat the Washington Capitals at home and followed that win with a win in Chicago over the ‘Hawks. Their two losses came to the Jets, as mentioned above, and to the hands of the Boston Bruins. Dallas begins a three game Canadian road trip after the All-Star break, taking visits to Montreal, Ottawa and Winnipeg. If they want to remain in talks of “teams to make a late playoff push” they’ll need to come out of that trip with some points.
6. Colorado Avalanche (20-18-10) LR: 6
The Avalanche concluded their five game road trip this week, and boy are they glad its over. They went 1-1-1 to end the road trip with a record of 1-2-2 for the stretch before returning home to defeat the Bruins. Each and every loss the Avs suffered during the road trip was close, their worst loss was a 3-1 fall to the Blues to end the trip. The Avalanche continue to struggle to find consistency. Earlier this month they put an impressive three-game win streak together, then followed that up with a 2-2-2 stretch.
7. Minnesota Wild (20-20-6) LR:7
I don’t know if anyone saw the Minnesota Wild having 20 regulation losses to their name heading into the All-Star break before the season started, but that’s exactly where they are. Minnesota went 1-1-1 this week with their only win being a 3-1 victory over a struggling Coyotes team. Devan Dubnyk has been a bit of a bright spot since being traded to Minnesota earlier this month. Dubnyk has gone 2-1-1 since arriving in Saint Paul and before playing back-to-back nights and being pulled after ten shots in Detroit he posted a save percentage of .940.