There are really not a whole lot of positive things to say about the Tampa Bay Lightning right now. They've lost five in a row, have about a million injuries, and now the dreaded talk of the coach making excuses for the players has crept into the equation.
Even the simple joy of the All-Star Game is not going well for the Bolts, as Martin St. Louis was inexplicably not chosen for the game. Not chosen despite having 33 points in 37 games, a third of which he played with a broken face. Talk about insult to injury.
At any rate, the season continues to be a lost one for the Lightning. And it continues to ask more questions than it really answers. All along the talk has been that the team would address its goaltending issues, everyone would get healthy, and they'd be back to normal next season. But at this point is that really true? You don't end up only two points out of the Conference cellar halfway through the season solely because of poor goaltending and a few injuries.
There are deeper, more complex issues going on with this team; issues that throwing a fistful of hundreds at Cory Schneider is not going to solve.
Coming up: Ward and Staal finding it; terrible Campbell an All-Star; and Claude Noel is not soft. The week that was in the Southeast.
Carolina Hurricanes: It wasn't so much represented in the win-loss column, but it's been a pretty darn stingy week for the Canes so far. They gave up just two goals to the high-fire power Philadelphia Flyers in a loss, then gave up just two again last night in the throttling of the Bolts. Maybe Cam Ward is starting to find his game.
Speaking of finding his game, Eric Staal has 13 points in his last seven games, and eight in his last four. Not bad. You have to wonder if he had some small nagging injury earlier this year that has finally healed.
For the second year in a row, the Hurricanes have a rookie representing them at the All-Star Game. They continue to put out quality young players. Makes you wonder why they're not better.
The Canes, like the Lightning, are still light years from a playoff spot, and only one point ahead of the New York Islanders for the basement.
Florida Panthers: The Panthers are quite literally undefeated so far this week. The only game they've played so far was a 2-1 victory over the Western Conference leading Vancouver Canucks. Hard to top that.
Remember when everyone said Brian Campbell was terrible and super overpaid and terrible? Well, he's a terrible, super overpaid, terrible All-Star.
For the financial savvy, here's some money talk involving the Panthers.
The light schedule brought the Panthers away from the pack in terms of the top seed in the East, but the victory allowed them to maintain their distance between the Caps and Jets in the division.
Washington Capitals: The west coast is not kind to the Caps. Outscored 10-4 and just absolutely dominated by the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings. But, then they came back to the east and shut out the hapless Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, so that's a plus.
The Caps are exactly halfway through their season. Discuss.
Bad news for the Capitals as Mike Green is on back on the IR. At least the Caps did the noble thing this time for fantasy owners everywhere and actually placed him on IR instead of six months of being listed as day to day. Not that I know anyone that that happened to or anything.
Hockey just isn't the same without Sid and Ovi. I don't think anyone would argue that, however some might not agree that that's a bad thing.
Washington is hanging on to the last playoff spot by a thread, as they sit just percentage points ahead of the Penguins, and only one point ahead of the Jets.
Winnipeg Jets: Hasn't been a very good week so far for the Airplanes, losing to the Bruins and Sharks by a combined score of 7-3. In fact, they've only won once in their last five games. I guess that happens when you're missing a guy like Dustin Byfuglien.
Spoiler alert: The Jets are the Atlanta Thrashers. Who would've thought?
Here's a headline you never want to see: Coach going too far? Personally, I have no problem with what he said. Coaches are way too soft these days.
The Jets sit just one point away from the final playoff spot, but can't afford too many more weeks like this one.
Important matchups this weekend: Devils at Jets (Saturday) and that's about it.