The make-up of the Central Division can only be described as a combination of skilled, fast, physical teams with winning on the brain. Although it’s early, the teams of the Central have already established themselves as the ones to beat in the Western Conference holding all of the top four places in the conference.
Luckily, the St. Louis Blues are included in this group having gone 5-2-0, through their first seven games, for 10 points. They only find themselves chasing the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators, both of which have 5-1-0 records at the moment, for 10 points as well.
The Blues have done rather well against their Central Division foes in the years since the realignment going 36-17-3 in match-ups against arguably the most difficult division in hockey. That has been a large contributing factor to their overall success in the regular season, as well and is something they need to continue if they’re going to find similar results this year.
It’s crucial to remember, however, that previous successes have nothing to do with this season.
Thus far this season, the Blues are 1-1-0 against the division with one of their two losses of the season coming at the hands of the Minnesota Wild.
While that isn’t indicative of how the remainder of the year will play out, it is frustrating that they weren’t able to retaliate for last season’s playoff elimination.
Around the Corner
In the coming weeks, the Blues will face off against the Wild, the Blackhawks, the Predators and the Jets in games that are essentially worth four points. If the Blues win, they’ll have earned two points and their opposition will have lost two points, as well as being two points behind St. Louis. If they lose, they’ll find themselves in the opposite position.
That makes for a lot of pressure and a lot of good hockey. Those games won’t be easy, though.
The Wild have had their way with the Blues over the last season and will look to increase their lead on the season series in the four games they’ll play against one another. The Blackhawks and Blues have had a heated rivalry that could go either way and might go in St. Louis’ favor because of the injury to star defenseman Duncan Keith.
Nashville’s starting goaltender, Pekka Rinne, has shown his ability to dominate games and captain Shea Weber’s shot is always a challenge to defend against. Lastly, the Blues will face off against the Jets, who find themselves to be consistently inconsistent. Either they’re a fast, skilled team or they’re an offensively challenged group.
Regardless of which version of each of the aforementioned teams shows up to face off against the Blues, they’ll have to be on top of their game to come out on top and win the season series in the Central Division.
For the Future
Moving forward, the Blues will have to take the Central Division by storm in order to give themselves the best chance to succeed in the playoffs. As the Blues and their fans alike know, however, winning in the regular season and the postseason are two entirely different beasts.
With the reigning champions in the division, it seems as if the road to the Stanley Cup goes through the Central Division, making it just another step the Blues will have to take to win their first championship.