4. Nashville Predators-What happened to Nashville last season was more of a fluke. This team plays hard every night, but they still lack the scoring to be a serious contender. The team did improve up front and added some playmakers, but they still dont have that definitive goal scorer. The team does stay in the playoff race this year, but will their lack of scoring keep them on the outside looking in again?
3. Minnesota Wild-A good infusion of veteran stars and young playmakers will be the Minnesota lineup every night. They look to be much more solid up front with the return of Pominville and Heatley from injuries, and they strengthened the back end by signing Keith Ballard. If Minnesota can find just a tad bit more consistency, they should be a lock to make the playoffs.
2. St. Louis Blues-If the team in front of them weren't so good, they would be a contender to win the Central. But a solid all around hockey team is only good enough for second place (mind implosion). The Blues have vast depth up front, a great defensive core, and a formidable tandem in the net. They are certainly a lock to make the playoffs, and maybe now that they can reach the third round of the playoffs since they can't possibly meet LA until then.
1. Chicago Blackhawks-As noted in their preview (click team name for post) last Monday, this team is just so good, and poses the best threat to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions since Detroit did it in 1997 and 1998. The only question mark for Chicago comes in goal as Corey Crawford just cashed in a new $36 million contract extension over six years, and has yet to be consistent over several seasons.