Guest Blog: Patrick HoffmanShareThis
Happy Friday to all. I’m feelin’ money today.
Today’s Puck Daddy topic is one I’ve touched on here before, but I did it up full-on today: Two-Touch Soccer and it’s role in pre-game warm-ups. I think you’ll like it.
For third time this season, I present to you, a guest blog.
Patrick Hoffman volunteered to contribute an NHL piece for us, and chose to write about the NHL’s Central Division. I was actually supposed to post this sooner, but was feeling all write-y this week, so if any of the stats are dated, it’s by like, two days.
Weigh-in as you see fit, I’ll be around in the comments.
Thanks again Patrick.
Patrick Hoffman has covered the NHL since 2003. He can currently be found on Kukla’s Korner as the New York Rangers blogger penning The Goal Line Report while also blogging for RLD Hockey.
Previously, Hoffman has worked for a variety of hockey media sources including: Stan Fischler, Spector’s Hockey, TheHockeyNews.com, HockeyBuzz.com, McKeen’s Hockey, Blueshirt Bulletin, XM Home Ice Channel Hockey Blog, HockeyPrimeTime.com, FantasyHockey.com. NY SportsDay, and HokejaVestnesis.com.
For questions, comments or to talk hockey, feel free to send him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Central Division: Where it’s at in the NHL
When one thinks of the word central, they think of synonyms/phrases such as center, important, what really matters, focus, and many, many others.
In terms of hockey, however, it has to do with one thing: the Central Division in the National Hockey League’s Western Conference.
For several seasons throughout the 2000’s, it was one of the weaker divisions in the league. This was mainly due to the play of teams like the Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators (early 2000’s), and St. Louis Blues (mid-2000’s).
However, when it comes to this season, the Central Division is home to some of the league’s best and most surprising teams in the NHL such as the St. Louis Blues, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, and the Chicago Blackhawks. In fact, if the playoffs were to start today, four out of the five teams in the division would be in the dance.
When it comes to the St. Louis Blues, they have been one of the league’s best this season. For starters, goaltender Jaroslav Halak, after being traded by the Montreal Canadiens, has been absolutely terrific in goal (8-1-1, 1.46 goals against average, .944 save percentage and three shutouts) and has given his team a chance to win hockey games every time he has been between the pipes.
The club has also been getting balanced scoring up and down the lineup from the likes of TJ Oshie (1-9-10), Alexander Steen (3-6-9) and David Perron (5-2-7) while also getting strong play from their young defensive corps. Come April, if this team can put it all together, they could end up surprising many in the league.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have also been a nice surprise in the early going this season. They are currently 8-5-0, good enough for 16 points and the seventh spot in the Western Conference. Surprisingly, goaltender Steve Mason has not been the story for the Blue Jackets this season. Rather, it’s been back-up netminder Mathieu Garon who is 4-1 with a 1.28 goals against average, a .951 save percentage and two shutouts.
If you combine Garon’s solid goaltending with the play of Derick Brassard (5-4-9), Rick Nash (5-3-8), Jakub Voracek (1-6-7) and others, it turns out the team can win hockey games. You could also talk about new head coach Scott Arniel’s impact on the hockey club and again, it leads to a winning record.
Of course, the other two Central Division powers holding down playoff spots are the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. That’s really not a surprise considering the players/coaches that they have in the organization. More than likely, these two historic franchises will do everything in their power to slow down the Blues.
Lastly, you have the Nashville Predators. Prior to last week, this team was one of the best in the NHL. The team had not lost a game in regulation and were getting strong performances out of goaltenders Pekka Rinne, Anders Lindback, forwards Cal O’Reilly (2-9-11), Steve Sullivan (5-3-8) and others. However, the team has struggled of late but don’t worry, come April, they could have one of the playoff spots in the Western Conference.
I know that the Central Division has been written about a lot this season but it’s with good reason. This whole division, if each team continues their strong play or raises it to another level (Predators), they could end up taking five of the eight spots come playoff time.
It may be early in the season but when it comes to good teams in the NHL, it’s all about the Central Division.