Who’s the team to beat in the Central Division? (Unpopular Opinion series)

So I feel like I need to explain myself a bit to start this blog off. Many of you read last week’s blog thinking it was satire or I was crazy. Well it wasn’t satire, and yes I’m crazy. I do truly believe the Flames could contend for the Pacific Division. The blog is quite literally labelled “Unpopular Opinion” for a reason! Now I also plan on doing this style of blog for all 4 divisions, so buckle up and get ready to jump down the rabbit hole.

This week we continue moving east and stop in the Central Division. I’ll be honest, this division is pretty deep, and while I’d like to be crazy and say “X” team will win the division, we all know that the Preds and Jets are the top two teams and even I don’t think another team in the division will dethrone either of them. I’m thinking the Jets win this division, mainly because I like their team’s makeup better than the Predators’. Blake Wheeler has turned into a great player in the league and with guys like Scheifele, Ehlers and Laine following behind him, this team is made for big hits and big goals. The Predators however have arguably the best top 4 D-men in the entire NHL and honestly it’s impressive the team has managed to lock all four up for many years to come. Subban, Josi, Ellis and Ekholm will make any opponent hate playing them, especially if they play in Nashville, which probably has the most unforgiving crowd I’ve ever heard. If you let up a goal, oh boy that arena will let you feel the most shame. It’d almost be better for you to take a lap naked on the ice rather than let up a goal.

Now onto what team will fall into third for the division… And this is where my unpopular opinion starts too, so get your bodies ready. I truly believe the Av’s have the potential to finish third this year in the Central. Before you go click that X at the top of the page, please hear me out. The Av’s were lead by who I thought was more deserving of the 2017-18 Hart, who finished LAST two years ago – back into the playoffs which was one of the biggest single season turnarounds in NHL history. They also got a little better this off-season by adding a very solid goaltender in Grubauer, who could potentially steal the starting gig from Varlamov.

Next up is the Blues who honestly look like they are making a Cup run this season and very well could. The Blues outside of the Leafs and Sharks made the biggest splash this off-season by bringing in guys like O’Reilly, Maroon, Perron and Bozak. Those names don’t have quite the swagger that Karlsson or Tavares do, but when it really comes down to making a Cup winning team, those players will provide depth, scoring, and grit for when the playoffs roll around.

Now to close this blog post out, I’d like to say that the Wild are incredibly mediocre. A team that consistently lives in that weird space of not being good enough for the playoffs, but not good enough for a lottery pick. The Stars are a team I’d love to root for, but seriously? They break the Stars fans’ hearts every year! Hopefully their new coach can turn it around.

And that brings me to another heartbreak story…. The Hawks. I mean what a fall from grace that dynasty had, and yes they WERE a dynasty. In order for the Hawks to be relevant or even make a Wild Card spot, Toews and Crawford need to be the players they were 4 years ago, but sadly I don’t see that happening. Crawford is such a question mark on whether he could even play this season, and with Toews, I think his concussion history has finally caught up to him unfortunately.

So with that, what do you guys think? Will the Blues finish 4th behind the Av’s? Or will the division look much different than the picture I painted? Let me know in the comments section and get ready for a prediction on the Metropolitan Division in the coming days.

 

Want to hear more hot takes about the upcoming NHL season, including why Sidney Crosby will get less than 70 points, and why the Ottawa Senators won’t be as bad as everyone thinks? Check out Eppy 8 of Post and Out!

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