Hockey is back and so is the Central Division, the toughest division in the National Hockey League. Four of its teams are looking to return to the playoffs for the second straight season and the other is looking for respect in a league that has historically had it outmatched. Here’s a look at how they opened the 2013 season.
Around The Central Division: January 20, 2013
Columbus Blue Jackets 3, Nashville Predators 2 (SO)
Nashville had some highlights and some more lowlights in a shootout loss to Columbus. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 32 of 34 shots for his first win as a Blue Jacket, while Sergei Kostitsyn grabbed two assists on Martin Erat and Ryan Ellis goals. Here’s our look at the game.
Meanwhile, on the farm, winger Gabriel Bourque played for the Admirals for the first time since being injured on December 15th. He went scoreless on two shots as the Ads lost 2-1.
Chicago Blackhawks 5, Los Angeles Kings 2
The Blackhawks watched as the Kings celebrated last season with a Stanley Cup Champions banner-raising ceremony. Then they got down to the business of this season, scoring three goals in the first period and cruising to a win over the Kings. Marian Hossa scored twice and picked up the assist on this nasty Patrick Kane goal:
Blackhawk Up covers the good news (for Chicago fans). The bad news? Dan Carcillo was injured and will miss “significant” time. Replacing him (and lowering the team’s average age a bit) will be Brandon Saad.
St. Louis Blues 6, Detroit Red Wings 0
One of the players I talked about the other day as a new face to watch in the Central Division played his first NHL game and had a night to remember. Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals in his debut, Chris Stewart added two more, and Jaroslav Halak pitched the shutout against a Detroit offense that managed just 14 shots.
Despite playing a lot worse than both St. Louis and Chicago and losing the shootout to Columbus, the Predators are only one point behind all of them. How’s that for optimism?
The only Central Division team on the ice today is the Chicago Blackhawks. They play in Phoenix at 9:00 p.m. CST, and the game will be carried on NBC Sports Network.