Sunday, August 08, 2010

Best Sixes in the Central Division

Patrick KaneRick NashPavel DatsyukMatthew LombardiAndy McDonald
Jonathan ToewsAntoine VermetteHenrik ZetterbergSteve SullivanT.J. Oshie
Patrick SharpKristian HuseliusTomas HolmstromMartin EratDavid Perron
Duncan KeithAnton StralmanNicklas LidstromShea WeberErik Johnson
Brian CampbellFedor TyutinBrian RafalskiRyan SuterCarlo Colaiacovo
Cristobel HuetSteve MasonJimmy HowardPekka RinneJaroslav Halak

The Central Division is shaping up to be a tight one again, according to these top sixes (three forwards, two defense and a goalie, sorted by points) and there is still some shaping left to do here.  The Stanley Cup champs are in this division and have a little work left to do on their top six and they are definitely looking over their shoulders at the four other teams and wondering if they still have enough.

If I was to pick a favourite among the forward groups, it would have to be from the champs, with two solid centres on the team that can score and play some defense and a pretty good winger in Kane, the Blackhawks should be scoring from their top three again in 2011.  The Red Wings still pack a punch in their top three, while the Blue Jackets need a little bit more, the Predators have a new face on their top three, which will test chemistry and the Blues are still growing and maturing. 

On defense, it gets a little more interesting and a little tighter.  Keith and Campbell trump Lidstrom and Rafalski in scoring, so that pairing has this round going to Chicago as well, but the Nashville pairing is still relatively young and has some room to grow.  I'm a big Erik Johnson fan and I think he has plenty of offense to give, but he's got Colaiacovo trailing behind a bit, which isn't terrible, but isn't great.  The Jackets are still in a tough spot in their top two, but at least Stralman hit the top 40 in defense scoring, so they are not a laughing stock.

In goal, I don't know if Halak knows what he's in for with the Blues, but he does like a lot of shots against and that might give him a slight edge over Rinne, who plays solid, but I'm not sure if he has the gusto to take top spot.  I am also a big Mason fan and I think he could rise to be the number one guy in this division match-up, mostly due to his size, he just has to stay focused.  Howard had a great year for the Red Wings and now he should have the keys to the number one job locked up already, which could turn into complacency.  Chicago will not be going with Huet, but since he's signed and had better numbers than Turco, he stays until his new home is determined.

What I should have been doing is determining which of these sixes get picked all the way through first, that would make much more sense and I think I will do that for the West, as the East is already published.  I don't think there is much doubt that once Huet is moved and Turco is in, the Blackhawks will have their top six picked before anyone else.  As it stands right now, the Red Wings are more likely to have Howard picked early and Holmstrom would be the last one taken, but that's how I see that breaking down.

No comments: