Welcome to the Central Division where everybody wins and the points are all the same

The Colorado Avalanche picked the perfect year to have a franchise best start, if only because they're in a division that is incredibly tough.

At 17-5, the expectation is that you'd be leading your division. That record by itself is almost unfathomable in todays NHL, where the talent and the teams are closer than ever. Winning 77 percent of your games in any segment of the season is something seen in video games.

And what has that start gotten them? Tied for third in the division with the Minnesota Wild. Leading are the reigning champion Chicago Blackhawks with a 16-4-4 record with the St. Louis Blues nipping at their heels at 16-2-2. Minnesota has the same amount of points as the Avs with two fewer wins at 15-5-4.

How tough is the central division? The Dallas Stars have gone 6-3-1 in their last ten games and LOST ground on everyone but Avalanche who have run a 6-4-0 record in that time span. Dallas sits ten points back from the top four in the division, tied with Nashville and Winnipeg.

As the Avs head into the meat of their schedule, filled with divisional matchups, the margin for error is minimal. In December and January, three game losing streaks can be the difference between playing golf or hockey come April because a three game losing streak usually includes a couple of divisional losses.

It has been a great start for the Avs, ridding themselves of the bad taste of last year and surpassing expectations but as harsh as it sounds, they cannot let up. It is only going to get tougher from here on out.

Because it's the Central Division