The inevitable has finally started for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Yesterday marked the officially opening of the market for the Bolts as it was announced that Pavel Kubina will likely be departing and Dominic Moore was shipped down the hall to the San Jose Sharks just before game time.
While nearly everyone involved with the team refuses to call a spade a spade and admit that this season is pretty much a wash, the truth is yesterday's moves are likely just the beginning. It may not all go down before the deadline - the issues in net WILL NOT be resolved until the offseason - but this team will likely transform considerably in the coming weeks.
The key thing is to be patient and trusting. Steve Yzerman is still significantly handicapped by several of the No Trade and No Movement clauses handed out at will by the OK Hockey group. Not to mention the complexities of the current salary cap combined with the uncertainty of the looming CBA negotiations.
In many ways, this season was supposed to be what happened last season. But magic unfolded, and Yzerman did what any good GM would do and rode it for what it was worth without major sacrifices to the future. It reinvigorated the fan base and by all means should have earned him the trust he deserves.
The promised land will come, just a year later than expected.
After the break: Delusional Canes; Everyone had one game and it was against the Sharks; and Mike Knuble is staying put. The week that was in the Southeast Division.
Carolina Hurricanes: It's been an easy enough week for the Canes, as they've been off since dispatching the Montreal Canadiens on Monday. They return to action tonight against the Sharks. Seems like an odd time of year to have three days off.
Unfortunately, all that time off is not enough for Tuomo Ruutu, as he was hurt in the first period against the Canadiens. Sounds like he's out about three weeks. He's definitely not going anywhere now.
And it's also not enough to have everyone in good spirits either, as Jeff Skinner and Patrick Dwyer dropped the gloves in practice on Wednesday. They claim the altercation was evidence that they believe they can still fight their way into the playoffs. I've got news for you, guys.
Despite the near-fisticuffs, Jeff Skinner is Triangle's Sports Person of the Year! That award will look great next to his Calder Trophy, I imagine.
Speaking of fighting battles, the Canes are hosting a food drive to benefit the USO of North Carolina. Nothing but positive words for that.
It seems like it will be a difficult deadline for Carolina, as their most valuable trade assets are injured or surprisingly off limits.
Florida Panthers: Not the best week for the Panthers so far, as they lost the only game they've played 6-2 against a potential - if not likely - playoff dance partner, the Ottawa Senators. Seems like a strange time of year to have a bunch of days off.
It sounds like a bunch of fans left that trouncing early, and that made others angry. What do you think? Is leaving a sporting event early because of the score taboo? The way I always approach that is, if I'm going to pay that much money, I'm staying until someone kicks me out. But then again, paying said money gives you the right to leave whenever you want, I suppose.
Good news for Cats fans: The Panthers have what appears to be a very favorable schedule heading into the playoffs.
One thing Florida needs to work on before the playoffs is playing from behind. Copy and paste that for just about every team that is going to make the playoffs.
The Panthers are also getting involved with local military units, as they'll be honoring AMVETS, as well as holding a DVD collection for deployed personnel and veterans hospitals. Donate, donate, donate.
The Panthers have a more comfy four point lead over the Caps, and a five pointer on the Jets. With all their injuries, I still look for them to make a move.
Washington Capitals: In keeping with the theme this week, the Caps also have only played one game this week. It was also against the Sharks. They also lost. Shocking, I know.
In typical Alex Ovechkin fashion, he just laughed it off. "In Soviet Russia, Rock Star become you!"
And one more Ovechkin-related link, ya know, he's the only player on the Caps, should he start more plays in the offensive zone?
Good news, for this feature anyway, as George McPhee came out and said the Caps have 'no interest' in trading Mike Knuble. Sweet.
Here's a great, but weird story: The Capitals hosted their fifth-consecutive Capitals Hockey School event. I know when I think of the Washington Capitals, the first two names that pop into my head are Joel Ward and Roman Hamrlik.
The Capitals need a jolt from everyone involved with the team, including GMGM, as they sit three points out of the final spot.
Winnipeg Jets: The Jets were involved in a week that didn't feature only one game, or the Sharks, but was fairly disappointing all the same. Their normally stingy defense and goaltending gave up a combined six goals this week. What's worse is that those six goals came from such offensive stalwarts as the New York Islanders and the Minnesota Wild. That's below average.
Speaking of below average, is Winnipeg on the verge of becoming the next Montreal? (Second heading in that article)
This is a bit dated, but could Winnipeg be the next host of the Heritage Classic? Nothing like a hockey game on those balmy Winnipeg January days.
Like a lot of teams, the Jets are conflicted when it comes to what to do at the deadline. Personally, from a business side of things, I think it makes sense to make some moves and separate themselves from the team that was the Atlanta Thrashers.
Winnipeg is within reach at just four points out of a playoff spot. But time is running out.
Important matchup of the weekend: Tonight and the rematch of the battle of the Southeast. Capitals at the Panthers.