Sunday's notes: Shoring up the Central?

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 19: Brad Stuart #23 of the Detroit Red Wings watches as Blake Geoffrion #5 of the Nashville Predators scores a goal on Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard #35 on March 19, 2011 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

The Central Division has gotten a reputation for being extremely competitive since the lockout, with this year's 23-point spread from top to bottom the 2nd-narrowest in the league, behind the Pacific. After looking at the events of the last two weeks, however, one has to wonder if it will be an even tighter contest in the upcoming 2011-12 campaign. Consider:

  • Perennial favorite Detroit has to contend with the loss of Brian Rafalski and the aging of the core players on the team.
  • Nashville is retooling on the fly, bringing a further injection of youth on the blueline while continuing to search for offensive help up front.
  • Chicago is adding beef to its defense, at the expense of the sometimes dynamic Brian Campbell.
  • St. Louis chose to go in a new direction with the Erik Johnson/Chris Stewart trade, and added veteran depth up front in Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner.
  • Columbus may be spending recklessly, but they'll likely have a better on-ice product this season after adding Jeff Carter and James Wisnkiewski.

While I don't think that Blues and Blue Jackets will contend for the division title yet, they won't be pushovers, either. This could be one heckuva battle, folks...

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Around the NHL

A Friend In Need (Puck-Rakers Blog)
A former Blue Jacket is in need, as his wife battles a rare form of Leukemia.

I’ll own up: Rangers aced Richards deal -
The second half of this article is rife with conspiratorial musings over the next CBA negotiations.

A Cartoon Controversy -
Nobody stokes controversy more than the entertaining Brian Burke.

Morning Mashup: Leafs’ Defence Best in Years? " Maple Leafs Hot Stove
They've gotten younger, but I'm no so sure they'll be all that much better.

The Malik Report : It’s now in Mike Commodore’s hands as to whether the Red Wings defenseman will wear #64
I was more of an Atari 400 guy, but this is cool.

Abel to Yzerman : Note To Commodore: Don’t Do It
Meanwhile, the slobbering mob acts like "Commodore 64" would be an affront to the dignity of the franchise. Methinks they take themselves a bit too seriously.

More on Panthers' Esposito, Shirokov, and Seabrook - Litter Box Cats
Florida brought in more fresh faces yesterday in a series of minor trades.

Intro to Hockey Analytics/Stats Part 2.4: The Importance of Context: The Concept of the Replacement Level Player - Lighthouse Hockey
Assessing the difficult task of identifying the level of a "replacement player".

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics: Part 154,256 - Hockey Wilderness
A rejoinder to some analyses of Dany Heatley and Martin Havlat which have been making the rounds. In Minnesota, they're just glad for some change.

Goalie faced lifetime of demons after skate cut his jugular in '89 - Calgary Herald
Clint Malarchuk finally got the help he probably needed 20 years ago, and is in a better place now as he takes a job with the Flames.

More Linkorama on the Now Official Official Secondary Six - Western College Hockey Blog
It doesn't have the ring of the "Big Ten", but the leftovers over the WCHA are searching for their future path as a hockey conference.

With a new arena (even in the most optimistic case) at least 4 years off, the Islanders still need short-term repairs at Nassau Coliseum.

We're Still The Best! - The Copper & Blue
Which team has the best playoff winning percentage since the lockout? You may be surprised.

Ilya Bryzgalov: One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others - Houses of the Hockey
One team clearly misplayed the goalie market this summer.

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