Thus far this season the two teams that have been at the top of the Southeast Division are the Washington Capitals and the Florida Panthers. The Tampa Bay Lightning have been right on the tails of the Panthers, while the Carolina Hurricanes and Winnipeg Jets lag behind. Although it’s still early in the season I’d like to take the time to talk about some of the highs and lows thus far in the Southeast Division from teams other than the Florida Panthers. I’ll briefly talk about each individual team, give them a rating, as well as positive and negative comment.
The Washington Capitals started the season off 7-0-0 and looked as the legitimate favorite in the Southeast Division. They have quickly slowed down and have gone 3-6-1 after starting the first 7 games perfect. Washington has had no problem playing at home; with a record of 6-1-1 which is at the top of the East as far as home win percentage.
Positive: The Washington Capitals seem to get scoring from many different players. They currently have 7 players with over 10 points which shows how balanced of an attack the Capitals possess.
Negative: Mike Green has been a major disappointment so far for the Capitals. After getting hurt on October 22nd he didn’t play until November 11th, but during that same game he once again got injured and has been out ever since. After only playing 49 games last season, one has to start wondering whether Mike Green will ever get back to All Star form again.
The Tampa Bay Lightning got off to a horrible 1-3-2 start but quickly regrouped and have gone 8-4-0 in its last 12 games to get right back into the mix of things. Steven Stamkos got off to a slow start but I guess how Stamkos goes so do the Lightning. During their 1-3-2 start Stamkos only scored twice, but in the last 12 games he has scored 9 times leading the team overall with 11 goals and 19 points. The Lightning have been the best team in the division over the last 10 games and hope to get back to the playoffs after their magical run last season.
Positive: Marc Andre Bergeron has definitely been a bright spot outside of Stamkos and St.Louis. After only tallying 10 points in 23 games last season with Tampa, he has emerged as one of the top defenseman in the league with 17 points in 18 games. He is currently in the top tier group in the NHL with assists.
Negative: Goaltending. It seems like every other night the Tampa Bay Lightning are throwing either Dwayne Roloson or Mathieu Garon out there. Both goaltenders barely have a save percentage over .900% and Roloson is allowing over 3.00 goals a game. The Lightning need to figure out the goaltending situation quick or else.
A lot of people had the Winnipeg Jets as the dark horse in the Eastern Conference but they certainly haven’t shown that early in the season. After spending most of the season at the basement they were able to leap frog over Carolina with a nice win last night over the Washington Capitals. Kyle Wellwood and Evander Kane currently both lead the Jets with 13 points. After losing 5 in a row, the Jets have won 2 straight and look to sneak up on the rest of the pack within the next few weeks.
Positive: The fans seem to be the only positive thing thus far for the Winnipeg Jets. The fans have been turning out in droves t0 every home game in Winnipeg in hopes that they can spring this team into the postseason.
Negative: Goaltending and leadership. Dustin Byfuglien has been a major disappointment thus far and is currently leading the team with the most penalty minutes (34). Ondrej Pavelec currently has a 3.12 GAA and is 6-7-2 this season.
The Carolina Hurricanes were a team that no one really thought would make the postseason but definitely not a team that would be at the bottom of the division. The Hurricanes have been absolutely horrible this season in every phase of the game. They are currently 23rd in the league in goals per game, 29th in the league in goals against, and 29th in the league on the power play. It seems as if nothing is going right for this team and their leader Eric Staal currently has the worst +/- of any player in the league with a -18 in 19 games. Nothing is going right with this team and who knows what’s going to happen going forward.
Positive: Jeff Skinner has been the one bright spot on this team so far with 7 goals and 11 assists in 19 games. Although he has a -7 rating, he seems to be the only thing going right for this team.
Negative: Cam Ward has been having a rough season so far with a 6-8-2 record and a 3.27 GAA, while his back up isn’t doing any better. Brian Boucher is 0-2-1 with a 3.86 GAA. Noe of which is helping the Carolina Hurricanes.
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