I don't think many people would be surprised or even disagree with Adam Proteau when he makes the claim that the Detroit Red Wings will win the Central.
Why No. 1? Because season after season, I anticipate the Red Wings will take on water, only to see them sail along without incident.
Granted, they're still depending on Dominik Hasek's health (mental and physical) to keep them afloat, and losing three of their top eight point-getters (Robert Lang, Kyle Calder and Mathieu Schneider) from last season will put more of a strain on Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom to power the offensive engine.
Nevertheless, coach Mike Babcock's emphasis on defensive responsibility from every position will help plug any holes that come his ship's way. And there is no better management group in the league than the one in Detroit. So long as they don't deal for Todd Bertuzzi again, the future remains bright.
The question of who will take second in the Central Division is up for debate. Proteau picked this order:
- Detroit Red Wings
- St. Louis Blues
- Nashville Predators
- Chicago Blackhawks
- Columbus Blue Jackets
I still think the Predators will take second once again despite the loss of quite a few big name players. Do I think they'll finish as close to the Wings as they did last season? Nope. I believe that the Blues and Blackhawks made some (key word there being "some") improvements and while the Preds roster isn't any better, I don't think their lineup is worse than the Blues. Sorry Columbus, but I just don't see you guys rising from the bottom of the Central just yet.
If I had to pick the order of the Central Division at the end of the regular season, I'd say (1) Wings, (2) Preds, (3) Blues, (4) Blackhawks, and (5) Blue Jackets.
Where do you guys think these teams will end up in the Central? Vote in the poll below or leave a comment!