It was a fun week in the Southeast. The Hurricanes finally overtook the Thrashers, the Capitals executed some revenge on our Lightning, and the Bolts unveiled new threads.
But, another big story involving the Lightning was Steven Stamkos reaching the 40 goal mark. He exploded for a goal and three assists yesterday against the St. Louis Blues. He's on pace for career highs in every category (including goal celebrations cut short by getting wiped the hell out by a teammate), and has already set new highs in Penalty Minutes and Game Winning Goals.
Somewhat unheralded so far though, is his current 21.3% Shot Percentage. He's averaging 3.5 shots a game, and if he can maintain even a 20% shot percentage, he'll reach 60 goals for the season. Barring injury. The NHL hasn't had a 60-goal scorer since Alex Ovechkin in 07-08. Certainly not the 50 in 50 milestone he flirted with for a while earlier in the year, but impressive none the less.
News from around the division after the jump.
Atlanta Thrashers: As Dustin Byfuglien goes, so go the Thrash. Byfuglien has gone 13 games without recording a point. In those thirteen games, the Thrashers have won only three. That pretty much correlates to Atlanta's falling out of a playoff spot, and the Hurricanes usurping them in the standings.
Not unrelated, GM Rick Dudley is not worried. Sounds like the Thrashers might be buyers at the deadline.
Carolina Hurricanes: The Canes have finally battled into a playoff spot. Captain Eric Staal claims he looks at the standings every day. Pretty interesting given that the typical response from an athlete or a coach is "We just try to control what we can control." Staal is clearly hungry. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the Hurricanes don't dip below the eighth seed in the East the rest of the season.
Florida Panthers: Pretty cool event put on by the Panthers. If the Panthers keep up the fan oriented events, and Dale Tallon's strategy is as successful as it was in Chicago, the Panthers could see a much needed return to the hype around the team during the Rat days.
Washington Capitals: The good news? The Caps pretty much owned the Penguins on Sunday. The bad news? Mike Green took a slap shot to the head. The shot near his ear required several rows of stitches, but Green says he's fine. He's listed as day to day.
Earlier in the week, the Capitals kind of, um, destroyed the Lightning. Pretty good week for the Caps, I'd say.
Matchups of interest this week: Hurricanes at the Lightning (Saturday), and the Hurricanes at the Thrashers (Sunday),