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The Official Site of the Minnesota Wild

Central Intelligence: Oct. 16

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

Each Friday during the regular season, will review the activity in the Central Division, taking a look at how the other teams performed in the past week.

Pegged as one of the deepest divisions in the NHL, the Central Division showed that depth and skill level early.

"We know that we play in a great division, we know what the competition is, and we know that we're going to have to win a lot of hockey games," Head Coach Mike Yeo said.

Here's how the division performed between Wednesday, October 7 and Thursday, October 15.

Chicago Blackhawks

Record Last Week: 2-3-0
Overall Record: 2-3-0

Overview: The Blackhawks raised their 2015 Stanley Cup banner to begin the NHL season, and then lost to the New York Rangers, 3-2, to kick off the season. Chicago then traveled to Brooklyn in the first ever game at Barclays Center, and defeated the Islanders 3-2 in overtime.

The Blackhawks defeated the Islanders on the second half of a back-to-back, 4-1, and then were shut out in Philadelphia on Wednesday, 3-0. They then lost in Washington on Thursday to the Capitals, 4-1.

Rookie forward Artemi Panarin, playing in an expanded role on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, has produced, with two goals and three assists in five games. 

Week Ahead: Saturday, vs. Columbus; Thursday, vs. Florida

Colorado Avalanche
Record Last Week: 1-2-0
Overall Record: 1-2-0

Overview: In a crazy opening night game that began with celebrating 20 years as a franchise, the Avalanche gave up four goals in a 5:07 span in the third period, squandering a three-goal lead and lost to the Wild 5-4.

Patrick Roy's team rebounded, turning the tables and manufacturing a comeback win of its own, defeating the Stars 6-3 after trailing 3-1. 

The Avalanche then played their third straight home game, and allowed the game's first five goals before losing 6-2 to the Boston Bruins.

Captain Gabriel Landeskog has paced Colorado early with four goals and two assists. It's been an efficient effort from Landeskog, who has taken five shots to score his four goals.

Week Ahead: Friday, at Anaheim; Saturday, at Los Angeles; Wednesday, vs. Carolina

Dallas Stars
Record Last Week: 3-1-0
Overall Record: 3-1-0

Overview: Signed over the summer, goaltender Antti Niemi got off to a fast start, backstopping the Stars to a season opening 3-0 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Niemi made 37 saves, and had two assists to go along with that, the second two-assist game by a goalie in the past 38 years (Ben Bishop had the other game seven months ago).

Dallas then squandered a 3-1 lead against the Avalanche in what turned into a 6-3 loss, followed by spoiling Connor McDavid's first NHL goal and defeating the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 in a game the Stars took 52 shots on goal.

The Stars also defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3, with five Dallas forwards recording two points each.

A healthy Stars team is getting contributions from different sources. Four Dallas forwards scored twice in the Stars' first three games, led by Jason Spezza, who has four goals. 

Week Ahead: Saturday, at Florida; Tuesday, at Philadelphia; Thursday, at Pittsburgh

Nashville Predators
Record Last Week: 3-1-0
Overall Record: 3-1-0

Overview: Goalie Pekka Rinne picked up right where he left off last season, stopping 78 of 80 shots he faced over Nashville's first three games to lead the Predators to three victories.

Nashville defeated both the Hurricanes and Oilers at Bridgestone Arena before traveling to New Jersey and winning against the Devils, 3-1. After his start against the Devils, Rinne became the Predators franchise-leader in games played by a goaltender at 384, passing Tomas Vokoun.

After finishing fourth in Calder Trophy voting last year, forward Filip Forsberg is picking up right where he left off, kicking off his sophomore campaign with two goals and two assists in four games.

The Predators ended their week with a 4-3 loss against the Islanders in Brooklyn despite outshooting the Islanders 47-28.

Week Ahead: Saturday, at Ottawa; Tuesday, vs. Tampa Bay; Thursday, vs. Anaheim

St. Louis Blues
Record Last Week: 3-1-0
Overall Record: 3-1-0

Overview: The Blues pocketed a pair of wins against the Edmonton Oilers, which sandwiched a loss to the Wild and a win against the Calgary Flames.

It's been the usual suspects pitching in for St. Louis. Forwards Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko have each recorded five points in four games, while Paul Stastny and Jori Lehtera are right behind them with four apiece.

The Blues were dealt an early injury, and lost rookie forward Robby Fabbri to a concussion. Fabbri, a 19-year-old, scored his first career-goal—the game winner—in the Blues' opening night win against the Oilers.

Head Coach Ken Hitchcock has at times gone back to the Blues 'STL Line,' a trio of Jaden Schwartz, Tarasenko, and Lehtera that had success together last season. The line was reunited during the Blues' win against the Oilers on Thursday.

St. Louis also has been given a boost from rookie defensemen Colton Parayko, including a two-goal game against Calgary. 

Week Ahead: Friday, at Vancouver; Sunday, at Winnipeg; Tuesday, at Montreal

Winnipeg Jets
Record Last Week: 3-1-0
Overall Record: 3-1-0

Overview: The Jets have stayed true to its name and played all four of its games on the road to begin the season. Its schedule began with convincing wins at Boston (6-2), and at New Jersey (3-1). 

Michael Hutchinson helped steal a game against the New York Rangers in which Winnipeg was outshot 41-28, and won 4-1 It was a big special teams night for the Jets, who scored shorthanded and twice on the power play. Rookie forward Nikolaj Ehlers scored his first career goal in that game; Ehlers has a goal and two assists in the Jets first four games.

As was the case at times last season, Hutchinson and Ondrej Pavelec have been splitting time. Each goalie has started two games, and each has a save percentage above .930.

The Jets lone loss came against the Islanders in Brooklyn, the Islanders first ever win at Barclays Center. The Jets were outshot 43-24 in that game, and got a power play goal from Dustin Byfuglien. Winnipeg's power play is 4-for-12 to start the season.

Week Ahead: Friday, vs. Calgary; Sunday, vs. St. Louis

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