As if there was any doubt, this is going to be one great year in the NHL's Central Division.

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This article was published 19/10/2015 (1966 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Opinion

As if there was any doubt, this is going to be one great year in the NHL's Central Division.

Already, it's proving once again to be the league's unique division, without any duds.

Winnipeg Jets centre Mathieu Perreault celebrates his second-period goal against the St. Louis Blues. It was Perreault's first of the season.

TREVOR HAGAN / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Winnipeg Jets centre Mathieu Perreault celebrates his second-period goal against the St. Louis Blues. It was Perreault's first of the season.

The numbers from last season have been pointed out frequently -- 19 points from top to bottom when the dust settled in early April after 82 games.

The other divisions? Comparatively dreadful at differences of 56 or 53 or 42.

'Lots of hits, slashing, chirping. Everything going on. I don't mind those games. I like them, actually'‐ Alexander Burmistrov

In this context, the Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues took the MTS Centre ice Sunday like it was late March and someone just stole each side's lunch money.

"It's a hell of a game, everyone going hard," said Jets winger Alexander Burmistrov, after his first Central-on-Central game as a returning member of the Jets. "Lots of hits, slashing, chirping. Everything going on.

"I don't mind those games. I like them, actually. I think we can just prepare more and play more offensively against this team. I'm looking forward to playing against them again."

The 4-2 victory by the Blues on the strength of a superior third period is not beside the point. The earned standings points are important to the Blues, as are the loss of them to the Jets.

But Sunday was also about a bigger-picture comfort from the fan's chair, nearly an enthusiasm sparked by what took place, to know this early the season will be full of such competitiveness and intensity.

It was mean and dirty at times. Snide and skilled, too.

"It gets pretty intense with these guys for some reason," said Jets centre Bryan Little. "We saw that tonight with the amount of scrums and penalties and stuff like that after the whistle. I don't know where it came from, but we're definitely two teams that don't like each other much.

"It seems like every time we play them it's similar to this. it seems like a faster game, a more physical game. It almost feels like a playoff game out there, the speed out there and how physical it is."

When chatting with Little, the word "playoffs" was not put to him. Having now been to those playoffs and experienced what it was like, well, it seemed like going a little too far with that point Sunday.

But he brought up that "P" word.

"We're a good team and they're a good team and we both want to win," Little said. "We know how good each other are. We came in expecting this kind of game. That's the kind of game they play against us and we try to give it right back to them. You don't want to give up any space out there."

A pair of veteran referees, curious though some of their calls and non-calls were, decided to let this one go to the edge of mayhem, and a time or two beyond Sunday, which produced a product the league isn't selling near enough.

(We see no solution for that, given Toronto and/or New York aren't moving to the division any time soon.)

It's the rest of the league's loss that they don't see it.

"It's probably not going to be much different than it was last year," said Jets captain Andrew Ladd. "Each and every team is scratching and clawing every night to find that edge and you're going to see that kind of stuff."

So look ahead with great anticipation.

Minnesota and Chicago are into the MTS Centre before the end of this homestand. It might not be quite as tooth-and-nail as Sunday's encounter with the Blues was, but the Central attitude will be an element of those games.

An element to admire and enjoy.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca