The first month of the season is in the books, and it already looks like there will be no breathing room in the Central Division. Let's review how October went for each of the seven teams in the NHL's toughest division.
Chicago: The Blackhawks talked about the importance of getting off to a hot start, especially coming of a short offseason, and a 6-5-0 record isn't a bad one. But in the Central, it's not good enough as they close out October in second-to-last place. The good news is, the Blackhawks started off 6-4-1 in their first 11 games last season and they obviously turned out just fine. The bad news is, 11 of their 13 opponents in November are Western Conference teams and they'll likely have to play all of them without Duncan Keith.
Colorado: The Avalanche picked up right where they left off last season, which is the last thing they wanted to do. Their poor possession numbers haven't changed, even with the addition of puck-moving defenseman Francois Beauchemin. If something doesn't change soon, Patrick Roy's seat could be getting hot. Losing ground may be worse than gaining it in this division.
Dallas: There isn't a hotter team than the Stars, who wrapped up October by winning eight of their last nine games. Ex-Blackhawks Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya are fitting in nicely on their new teams, and even Antti Niemi, who's provided stability in goal. But it's the "stars" Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin leading the way, both of whom hold the top two spots in the NHL's scoring race.
Minnesota: The Wild are getting average goaltending from Devan Dubnyk and Darcy Kuemper, but it's not holding them back the way it did last season. At least not yet. That's because they're averaging 3.18 goals per game, a significant leap from the 2.77 they averaged last season. Can they keep up that pace?
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Nashville: If you're looking for a better defensive team than the Predators through the first month, you won't find it. They've picked up at least a point in nine of their first 10 games, and are allowing just 28.1 shots per game, which is a notch better than last year's average. The problem has never been on defense, though; it's getting consistent secondary scoring. So far, so good.
St. Louis: The Blues have been decimated with injuries early on: Paul Stastny is recovering from a broken foot, Kevin Shattenkirk continues to be nagged by a groin injury, Jaden Schwartz will miss the next three months with a fractured ankle and Patrik Berglund has yet to appear in a game after undergoing shoulder surgery in August. But the Blues have done a fantastic job at trying to overcome them, and find themselves battling for the top seed in the West, due in large part to the emergence of Vladimir Tarasenko as an elite player.
Winnipeg: Are the Jets contenders or pretenders? It may take a while before we know the real answer, but wins over the Rangers, Wild and Blackhawks in October is a great start. Blake Wheeler is on fire, and has helped the Jets raise their goals per game average from 2.72 last season to 3.18 through the first month of this season. They're right in the thick of things in the Central. The real question is, can they stay there?