Anyway, that's pretty much all I wanted to say before I go any further.
Let me talk about the central division a bit. I know this will be covered in much more detail in a future post, but I feel like this post would be too boring if I didn't discuss something other than my current television crisis.
I'll just break it down by team:
Awesome. Yeah, I did a little analysis in my last post. Honestly, if I'm on one of the other teams in the division, I'm pissed. Teams like Chicago and Columbus are finally seeing some improvement, but those damn Red Wings just aren't going away. On paper, the Wings are deeper than last year. No Hossa? I say no problem. The guy's a jinx anyway. Chris Gaerig wrote a nice piece on Marian Hossa calling him "A portrait of misfortune".
Please, don't worry about this preseason stuff. I always prefer when my teams tank in the preseason. Remember when the Lions were undefeated in the preseason? Need I say more? I know, football is way different, but it's the same idea. Doing bad in the preseason can actually help a team become aware of problems early on. This way, the Coach can fix the issues before he even has "real" issues.
What Detroit needs to do in the central is beat up on Chicago early in the season. A young team like the Blackhawks will only get better if they gain some confidence against teams like Detroit. If Detroit can keep Chicago from getting too much confidence early on, then I can assure you the Blackhawks will not steal the division. How can the Wings do this? Well, that's a question I hope Mike Babcock has the answer to. I can tell you how they have done it before - good old intimidation. Seriously, the young guys will fold if the Wings can get early goals on them and get one or two highlight saves from Chris Osgood.
It's that simple. Detroit is a better team. Chicago has talent and speed, but it can be beaten by slowing up the game and always keeping them on their heels. A young team will always struggle coming from behind on an older, more experienced team. That's why they labeled 1980 a miracle. It's not supposed to happen. Pittsburgh didn't beat Detroit. The Red Wings dug their own grave - don't let anyone ever suggest differently.
This formula can be applied to the other central division contenders.
With all that being said, it's in Chicago's best interest not to be intimidated by Detroit. If this franchise is going to win back it's fans, it needs to establish an identity. Young and speedy is not an identity any team wants for long. Ask the Minnesota Wild. For Chicago, acquisitions like Samuelson and Hossa will help the team move out of the young and speedy era. It's the same old story - if you want to beat the machine, become it. Chicago needs to become more like Detroit if they want to really threaten the division title. No team will beat Detroit unless they emulate their style. I don't think the Penguins are a great example of how to beat the Wings, so forget going there. Again, Detroit beat Detroit. Chicago needs to think long term. And they are.
The Hawks' moves during the off season are proof Bowman and son are thinking Detroit first. Yeah, Lord Scotty Bowman. Worried? Not yet. Soon? Yes.
I used to say team Rick Nash when referring to the Columbus Blue Jackets - who didn't? (This team has been around for almost ten years? I'm not sure how I feel about that.) Now, no one can get away with saying it. Nash has some good hockey players around him. The team benefited a lot by getting to play the Wings in the playoffs. Columbus will be a formidable opponent this season. Don't expect them to threaten the Wings or Chicago, but they won't be an easy two points. They weren't last year.
Paul Kariya is still on this roster. Am I the only person who keeps forgetting this? Maybe it's because he only played 11 games due to injury last season. He hasn't been in a playoff game since he was with Nashville in 2007. If the Blues need someone to build a team around, Paul Kariya is still a good choice. He'll bounce back this year and help the Blues secure a playoff spot earlier in the season. He just needs to stay healthy.
Andy McDonald is a Blue too. Remember that guy? He was injured for a good part of last season. He did manage to see the playoffs - four points in four games.
Looking back, the Blues could have been much better if they stayed healthier last year. Sometimes there is no way to make up for key players like Kariya and McDonald. I don't see why St. Louis couldn't give Detroit and Chicago some trouble this season. In fact, St. Louis is the only team other than Detroit to actually win this division in the past 15 years (other than Dallas in 1997 and 1998 before leaving).
What happened to this team? When did Columbus become better than the Predators?
Nashville finished fifth in the division last season with 88 points. The team was 40-34-8. In 2008, the Preds finished with 91 points - good enough to get into the playoffs. The difference isn't the three points. Really, Nashville isn't much worse than they've been in past years. The division is just way better. The truth is, Nashville has never been good. They've just been lucky to be in a bad division. Time to wake up.
That's just a little bit of what I have to say about the division. I kept it short on purpose because I'm sure I'll touch on these five teams a lot this season.
Now, I just hope I can watch the games.