Jan 2, 2011, 1:50 PM EDT
For many people around the world, the beginning of 2011 elicits the creation of a list of new year’s resolutions. Many scoff that odes to stop smoking or lose 20 lbs. are pipe dreams, but what’s wrong with a little optimism as the world cleans the slate of its calendar?
With that in mind, we decided to recommend a few changes (or sometimes with successful teams, what not to change) for each NHL team. We’ll go division by division in alphabetical order, because one of our resolutions is to be fair.
Click here for the Atlantic Division post.
Central Division new year’s resolutions
Continue development of younger players
For all the talk of the loss of valuable depth players, a big reason the Blackhawks progressed last season was because of the development of young players such as Antti Niemi, Dave Bolland and Niklas Hjalmarsson. They won’t go very far unless they yield results from Corey Crawford, Jack Skille and so on.
Find Rick Nash some help
Year after year, the Blue Jackets fail to support Nash. It’s their equivalent to the “lose weight/stop smoking” types of resolutions.
Right the old ship Steve Mason
The team gave Mason a contract extension, so they have every reason to be patient. Well, every reason if he produces results.
Re-sign Jimmy Howard
The Red Wings’ cheap goalie “model” will be tested this summer, as Jimmy Howard’s contract will expire. On the bright side for Detroit, the market is tough for goalies right now.
Rest the oldies
Nicklas Lidstrom’s season has been astounding, but the Red Wings would be wise to limit the amount of time he spends on the ice. The same goes for aging players such as Brian Rafalski.
Re-sign Shea Weber
The Predators carved out an impressive place in the league as a team that gets by without much star power, but losing Weber would be a dramatic and devastating loss to the franchise.
Don’t let their market be an excuse for playoff failure
Yes, the Predators are a small market team, but does that excuse them from never advancing past the second round of the playoffs? Sooner or later something must give.
The Blues have been bombarded with injuries during this season, so getting the likes of David Perron and TJ Oshie close to 100 percent would be a boon for them.
Don’t overwork Jaroslav Halak
St. Louis made a big investment when they signed Halak, but they shouldn’t forget that they have a capable backup in Ty Conklin.
Reduce home dependence
The Blues are on a five game winning streak and could be perfect on their current five game homestand, which shouldn’t be a coincidence. That’s because St. Louis is far better at home (14-4-2) than on the road (6-8-3). Considering the fact that they are likely to be a lower seed in the playoffs – at best – they need to learn to win away from their own arena.
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