Week three of our OTH power rankings features the same teams as last week. Well, at least they wear the same jerseys. Consistency has not been the friend (or foe) of several teams so far this season. Here are your Central Division Rankings:
1) Nashville Predators: (7-2-0)
I don’t call me Mastersdomus for nothing. The Predators achieved that 5-game win streak I predicted, apparently with motivation coming from a bull mask which may or may not have a night-job. It’s so weird and I love it. Not only that, but they lost to SJ in a tight, skillfully played game. I am a KING. Overall, Nashville looks better, but not all is well in the Music City. Pekka Rinne has been placed on injured reserve after a nasty collision with Kevin Fiala against the Flames and Jusse Saros will have to pick up a starter’s load for the first time in his career.
Upcoming Games: @NJ, EDM, VGK
What’s Gonna Happen: Jusse Saros is gonna stop some pucks, fam. With the hot-Cold nature of all three upcoming team’s lines, Saros could secure multiple shutouts. Or flame out spectacularly. Either works for me.
2) Colorado Avalanche: (6-1-2)
There are better teams in the Central Division, but I’m not sure there are more fun ones. The Avalanche are fast, fun and play just enough defense as to not completely make irrelevant the incredible play of the team’s first line. They’re also unbeaten since our last power rankings. Miko Rantanen is top of the league in points, MacKinnon is 3rd in the NHL for goals. That top line has scored over 60% of Colorado’s goals so far this season. This team is frankly what the Dallas Stars dream of being.
Upcoming Games: TB, OTT, @MIN
What’s Gonna Happen: This team made me look like a fool in last week’s OTH. This week, I’m buying in, so they will naturally drop at least two of these games. Nathan MacKinnon is going to play in a straightjacket and still score four goals because he’s Harry Damn Houdini with the puck.
3) Winnipeg Jets: (6-2-1)
Well… they did prove me wrong by winning all three of their games last week. It’s been better from the Jets, although the stink of their near-miss against the Blues still hangs in the room. That game was just too bad for me to get over, so instead of being optimistic, let’s talk doom. Here are two worrying numbers that might signal the Jets are in long-term trouble. 17.1, which is the average amount of penalty minutes Winnipeg gives up each game, and 18, which is their league ranking in faceoff percentage so far this season.
Upcoming Games: TOR, @DET @TOR
What to Expect: The future score lines for the next three games. 7-5… 4-1… 14-13. You heard it here first.
4) Minnesota Wild (4-2-2)
The Wild have won three in a row! They look better! By better, I mean they don’t completely blow chunks for at least one period a night, but hey… better! At the time of publication, Minnesota was behind Chicago in the division rankings, but I think they’ve passed the good ole eye test with a higher score. This is no thanks to Nino Niederreiter, who has zero goals so far this season. Bruce Boudreau even went on record as saying “He’s lost a little confidence.” The one really good thing going for this team is their knack for 3rd period scoring. They’ve scored six in the final frame over the span of their win streak.
Upcoming Games: LAK, COL @VAN @EDM
What’s Gonna Happen: Boy, the Wild made me look stupid, completing comebacks against Dallas and Tampa. The game I’m most excited for this week is Minnesota’s tilt with the Avs. Let’s see which Central team is for real. (I guess is the Avs.) Niederreiter is going to get his first goal of the season against Vancouver… with an empty-netter. Hey, it still counts!
5) Chicago Blackhawks: (5-2-2)
Here’s your Chicago Blackhawks fun fact of the week: The Tampa Bay Lightning had 33 shots on goal in the 2nd period of their 6-3 win over the Hawks. Y.I.K.E.S. But hey, Corey Crawford’s back and he’s looked GOOD. Also in the category of "good", you’ll find Patrick Kane, who’s had six points in the last four games. Brandon Saad scored twice against the Ducks… so even trade now, right Stan?
Upcoming Games: NYR, @STL, EDM
What’s Gonna Happen: To really prove that this team is a playoff hopeful and to shake that defensive farce which took place against the Bolts, the Hawks will need to win two of these upcoming contests.
6) Dallas Stars (4-4-0)
Welcome back to the bottom of the Division, Dallas. The Stars have struggled to do the one thing I had any confidence in them to do, score goals. Dallas has six goals in their last four games, with two-thirds of those coming in their game against the Kings. Seguin and Benn feature in only one of those goals. The Dallas defense had been surrendering over 30 shots per game during the past week.
Upcoming Games: ANA, @DET @MTL
What’s Gonna Happen: I want this team to be good again. They’re so depressing when they are not, but I think this team is going to make sad again. Ben Bishop’s Halloween costume is a bit on the nose this year, and not in a Marshawn Lynch kind of way…
7) St. Louis Blues: (2-3-3)
The Blues are winning 55% of their faceoffs. I wanted to get that out of the way early because Jesus, Moses and all the saints, this team is awful. AWFUL. FRAUDS, THE LOT OF THEM. By virtue of being good enough to lose in four frames instead of three, this team has managed seven whole points on the season. David Perron is leading the team in points. That’s how bad it is. Jake Allen has started 7 games and his save percentage is still .882, guys. That’s how bad it is.
Upcoming Games: CBJ, CHI
What’s Gonna Happen: Eventually something’s going to break their way right? Their blown 3-1 lead against the Jets on Tuesday was just heartbreaking. Columbus will roll these fools and for the 3rd time this season, the Blues will lose to the Blackhawks in overtime.