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Central Division

Slow starts by Central Division opponents good news for Avalanche



SUNRISE, Fla. – Killing some time here before the Avs take the ice here in Florida, in preparation for their game tonight with the 2-2-2 Florida Panthers, coached by Joel Quenneville.

Taking around the rest of the Western Conference, and the Avs are getting quite a bit of help from other teams in distancing themselves from their Central Division brethren.

The Central is widely considered the toughest division in the league. Or, was anyway. Four teams in the seven-team division have losing records right now, with the Avs atop at 5-0-1. St. Louis blew two points last night by losing in a shootout to Vancouver at home, after getting a 3-1 lead.

Dallas is 1-6-1 and the Minnesota Wild…well, wow. The Wild is 1-6-0, with 14 goals for and 29 against. They got shut out last night in Montreal. Even the Nashville Predators are having some issues, with just a 4-3-0 record, including a loss last night to Arizona (watch out for the Coyotes. I really like the makeup of that team).

This is all very good for the Avs, of course. The more distance they can put between teams like Dallas and Nashville and Winnipeg (4-5-0) the better for their playoff seeding/chances. Chicago definitely does not look to be any better than last year’s non-playoff squad. If the Avs can get out to a good-sized lead on, say, teams 3-7 in this division, the better their seeding chances for home-ice in the first round of the playoffs and beyond. OK, that’s getting ahead of ourselves a little.

The Wild appear to be in total freefall. They had a closed-door, team meeting last night in Montreal that I hear went on for quite a while. Jason Zucker, the former DU player who the Wild tried to trade to Pittsburgh for Phil Kessel until Kessel nixed the deal by saying he didn’t want to go to Minnesota, had this startling quote to Mike Russo of the Athletic: “I think more than that’s going to have to jump-start us, to be honest with you. It’s going to be each individual guy … from Bruce on down. Bruce has got to be better. We’ve got to be better. Everybody’s got to be better. That’s it.”

A player telling the media that the coach has to be better, wow. Not sure I’ve ever heard of that before in this league.

Things are very bad in Dallas, too. Remember when the Stars’ front office ripped into Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin last year, early in the season? Wonder what their next motivational ploy will be?

Hat tip to the Athletic in their NHL roundup today, for finding this great Joe Sakic video from 1988. I’d never seen it. He wore No. 88 that first year.

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