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allstarfansusa 14 days ago
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CHICAGO -- Eleven points. That's all that separates the first- and last-place teams in the Central Division. It's not much, and it illustrates just how tight Corey Crawford Women's Jersey things have been through the first half of the season. So how much tougher does it get in the second half? "Even more intense than the first half, which has been pretty intense," said Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, whose team remains last in the Central following a 4-1 victory against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday. "It doesn't give any clarity as to what's going to happen." For teams like the Blackhawks Duncan Keith Women's Jersey and the Minnesota Wild, who have been inconsistent most of the season, the not-so-large point gap offers hope and an opportunity to get back into the race. For teams like the Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators, who have spent the first half near or at the top of the Central, it means there's no time to be satisfied. Despite so many good things happening for them, there's little separation between them and their divisional foes. The Central's top four teams have taken different paths to their respective spots. The Jets, in first with 57 points, have utilized balanced scoring, great Jonathan Toews Women's Jersey goaltending (Connor Hellebuyck is 23-4-6 with a 2.36 goals-against average in 35 games) and the No. 2 power play in the NHL at 25.0 percent. The St. Louis Blues arguably have been the most impressive team in the division considering how many injuries they've had (188 man-games lost). Thanks to depth and goaltender Carter Hutton's strong play (8-3-1, 1.81 GAA in 15 games), they are in second place with 55 points. The Predators, who are third with 54 points, have responded great following their first Stanley Cup Final run last season, and the three-team trade Nov. 17 that brought forward Kyle Turris has been as beneficial for the team as it has for Turris himself (five goals, 14 assists in 26 games). The Dallas Stars had a shaky start but are 8-3-2 since Dec. 11 and are fourth in the division with 51 points. And when your top defenseman John Klingberg nearly has as many points (39) as your top two forwards Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn (40 and 39, respectively), you're in good shape. As for the Avalanche, Wild and Blackhawks, can they find enough success in the second half to make a run for it? The Avalanche entered their schedule break surging, winning five straight games. Forward Nathan MacKinnon is rebounding as well; after he had 53 points (16 goals, 37 assists) in 82 games last season, he has 52 points (18 goals, 34 assists) in 41 games this season. The Wild and Patrick Kane Women's Jersey Blackhawks have had turbulent seasons thus far but a turnaround always is possible. Players returning from injury, line combinations clicking, an acquisition from outside the organization -- any or all those things can yield some great results. The 2014-15 Wild are a perfect example. Before acquiring goaltender Devan Dubnyk in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 15, 2015, the Wild were 18-19-5. Following the trade, they went 28-9-3. But the urgency the Avalanche, Wild and Blackhawks are feeling only is going to grow with each passing game.

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