Can the Blackhawks hold on to the Central Division?

Photo Credit: Bill Smith/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Bill Smith/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks find themselves arguably in the toughest division in the National Hockey League.

Going into Wednesday night’s game against the St. Louis Blues, Chicago began the day in second place right behind the Dallas Stars. Dallas had played one more game than the Blackhawks and lead the Central Division with 88 points and a record of 40-20-8, according to NHL.com.

With Chicago trailing by one point, they had the chance to take back first place if they could pull off a win in St. Louis against a streaking Blues team.

Unfortunately, the Blackhawks could not hold on to their early 1-0 lead and lost in a shootout to the Blues, finishing the game losing 3-2. Now they find themselves tied with the Stars for first place with 88 points and a record of 41-21-6, according to NHL.com

But the Central Division is not a two man race between the Blackhawks and the Stars. With St. Louis’ win against the Blackhawks Wednesday night, they are now one point behind both the Blackhawks and the Stars – with 87 points and a 39-20-9 record, according to NHL.com

One could make a case for the Nashville Predators to be in the race with these three teams for the division, with 80 points for the season, but I don’t think they have enough to leap frog each one of them.

All three teams have played 68 games, meaning each team has 14 games left to play in the season.

Looking at the rest of each teams schedule, Dallas has an advantage over Chicago and St. Louis because of the amount of home games they have left on their schedule. In their final 14 games, Dallas has nine home games and five road games – which actually doesn’t even matter for Dallas because they have been consistent at home and on the road. According to ESPN.com, Dallas is 21-10-1 at home and 19-10-7 on the road.

As for the Blues, they have the least amount of home games between the three teams. They have six home games and eight road games. Once again, one could make the case that it doesn’t matter that the Blues have more road games than home games to end the season because they have been consistent as well both at home and away, going 20-11-4 at home and 19-9-5 on the road, according to ESPN.com

Then you have the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks.

Chicago has seven home and seven road games, but unlike the Stars and Blues, Chicago has struggled somewhat this season on the road despite putting up a winning road record. On the season, Chicago is 24-8-2 at home and 17-13-4 on the road, according to ESPN.com.

In my opinion, it is going to come down to head-to-head matchups among these three teams as to who is going to win the Central Division.

Dallas has three games left this season against the Blackhawks and Blues. One home and one away game against the Blackhawks and one home game against the Blues. Dallas has back-to-back home games this upcoming weekend against both teams.

As for the Blues, they have two games left against the Blackhawks and Blues, one game a piece, both on the road.

Then the Blackhawks, just like the Stars, has three games left against both teams with one home game against the Blues and one road and home game against Dallas.

In the end, I do believe Chicago has what it takes to finish the 2015-16 season in first place in the Central Division and in the Western Conference.

Chicago did the most at the trade deadline to improve their roster when they added Andrew Ladd, Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise. Not to mention they have the best goaltender among the three teams, the front runner for the Hart Memorial Trophy as the MVP and the front runner for the Calder Memorial Trophy for Rookie of the Year.

The road to the postseason starts now with one month left in the regular season – and it’s going to be a great race in the Central Division. The way it looks, whoever comes on top in the Central Division, more than likely will finish in first place in the Western Conference.

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