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Central Division (NHL)

Blackhawks reign again, but West challengers are chasing

Those offseason predictions of the Chicago Blackhawks' decline were a bit premature.

The Western Conference leaders and defending Stanley Cup champions still face a host of challenges to their reign when the West playoff race resumes Tuesday.

Chicago headed into the break with a conference-high 70 points even after a slew of offseason departures from the Hawks' third championship team in six years. With a recent 12-game winning streak and seven victories in 10 games heading into the All-Star weekend, they surged atop the Central Division past the slumping Dallas Stars, who lost seven of their last 10 after a fantastic start to the season.

The top of the Central...