Southeast Division Weekend Update: Caps, Cats floundering

Evander Kane, #9, congratulates Blake Wheeler after his goal in Washington Tuesday night at the Capitals home opener. Jets won the game 4-2. - Greg Fiume

The Tampa Bay Lightning have taken the early lead in the Southeast Division standings, while last year's Champs and this year's favorites are looking for answers.

Florida Panthers

Moods changed quickly in the Southeast division this week, and no place moreso than in Sunrise where last Sunday's gloating about the Panthers' rout of the Hurricanes turned into hand-wringing among the fans and disgust from head coach Kevin Dineen. After putting up 5 goals in the home opener, the injury-riddled Florida squad has found the net a total of only three times in the four games since, culminating in a 7-1 laugher versus a resurgent Philadelphia Flyers team at home Saturday night.

Dineen was both embarrassed and irate post-game last night, using words like atrocious and stupid to describe the Panthers' play. From the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

"We’ve said that every single game that time is short here and obviously we’re not taking advantage of it,’’ coach Kevin Dineen bristled. "It’s going to be a miserable couple of days for us. You come off an embarrassing game at home, you don’t like that in front of your fans, so there it is, it’s on our scorecard, so you got to deal with it.’’

Dineen didn’t want to hear about any injury-related excuses. "Injuries has absolutely nothing to do with what happened tonight,’’ Dineen added. "We got our tails handed to us in every way. Injuries were a moot point...

"I guarantee you they’ll understand that in the next couple of days. Our defense was atrocious. We’re a bunch of individuals right now. We don’t have the chemistry to play as a team. I hate sitting in these things and beating up on your people, it’s just stupid.’’

Washington Capitals

In Washington, the mood is approaching full-on panic as the Capitals and rookie coach Adam Oates have yet to win. Only Joel Ward has potted more than one goal in the team's 4 games (both came in game 1), while Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom have 3 assists, combined. Their 66.7% Penalty Kill rate is dead last in the East, having surrendered a league-worst 8 goals while short-handed.

The Caps host the Buffalo Sabres this afternoon, and reports are that the Ovechkin will again be on a line with Jay Beagle and Joey Crabb. That sums up the chaos in the District right there, doesn't it? Or, maybe just take a look at #OatesFace.

From the Washington Post's Katie Carrera: Still without a win, Capitals need more from Ovechkin Alex Ovechkin has yet to score a goal making this four-game drought the longest dry spell to start a season of his career. He has just one point, a secondary assist, and meanwhile Washington (0-3-1) is the only team in the NHL without a single victory.

Up in Ottawa, NHL rumorist Bruce Garrioch writes that it's Capitals GM George McPhee who's on the hot seat.

Ottawa Sun: Washington Capitals GM George McPhee feeling heat after slow start All fingers are pointed at McPhee because this is his team. Firing Oates and putting a fourth coach behind the bench in less than 14 months isn't an option. McPhee has to find answers and many believe he better quick.

Enough of all this misery. The remaining three teams in the Southeast are quietly achieving success and finding their identity in the abbreviated 2013 NHL Season.

Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes put together gutsy back-to-back wins over the Buffalo Sabres this week following two losses to divisional rivals to open the season. The Canes are now 2-2-0, and are clearly finding the chemistry that eluded them early on.

For offensive production this week, Jeff Skinner and his new flow put up 4 goals in the last 3 games, Eric Staal netted his 13th career hattrick, and Alex Semin scored his first for his new club. If Semin was labeled aloof and disengaged in Washington, the Carolina club provides a different culture top to bottom. Witness the inimitable Tripp Tracy, the Canes veteran color commentator, whose awkward verbal ramblings inspired their own Bingo game. Tripp responded to the Krasnoyarsk native's first goal in the new red sweater by attempting some Russian, badly mangled, but as earnest as it gets (video below). Now who's the one who's inscrutable?

Alex Semin Scores First Goal With Carolina Hurricanes, Tripp Tracy Says Gibberish in Russian "Well, Well. What you is spelled?"



One story coming out of Raleigh that shouldn't be overlooked is the performance newly signed goalie Dan Ellis displayed in Buffalo, with 40 saves Friday night, many spectacular. The Canes have always relied (too) heavily on Cam Ward, without having a proven back-up who was capable of stealing a game. If Ellis (1.20 GAA, .963 Save % in 5 periods play) proves to be the steady partner for an All-star Number One, along the lines of Johan Hedberg or Martin Biron, he could be the difference for the club seeking to make the playoffs after just missing the cut the last 3 years.


Winnipeg Jets

The Winnipeg Jets went a long way to earn credibility this week taking the Boston Bruins to a shootout at the Garden and later earning a huge comeback win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at home Friday night. They now boast an impressive 2-1-1 record against some tough competition. Young Evander Kane, who outrages the home press with his self-indulgent swagger (do you know what YMCMB stands for?), along with another prodigal son, Dustin Byfuglien, have 2 goals in 4 games, as do Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler. Kane and Byfuglien lead for TOI among the roster's forwards and defensemen respectively. So there's that.

One theme early in this NHL season has been the struggles of some of the League's top goalies (i.e. Lundqvist, Quick, Ward) working to find their top form. Among all those with more than 2 games, Ondrej Pavelec is now 6th for save percentage with a .932, this against the big guns of the Bruins, the Capitals and the Penguins. If he and the players in front of him sustain this defensive pace, the Jets may be the surprise team of the East. Coach. Claude Noel has yet to give backup Al Montoya a start, but that may change this afternoon, as Montoya's former club, the New York Islanders are the Jets' opponent at MTS.

Tampa Bay Lightning

The top spot in the Southeast one week into the 2013 season belongs to your Tampa Bay Lightning. The team's most recent win came in front of a packed house at the Times Forum Friday night, coming back with 3 goals in the third over the previously undefeated Ottawa Senators.

Raw Charge readers are already well-informed on the inner workings of the Bolts, but they have to feel good about Steven Stamkos' 8 points in 4 games, the consistent production from rookie Cory Conacher (2-5-7), not to mention Martin St. Louis still strong at 37. Sami Salo leads the teams with a plus/minus at +8, with Victor Hedman right behind at +6. If the question marks preseason were focused on the Lightning defense, it'll be up to those two plus Eric Brewer and Matt Carle to continue improvement and give a solid 60-minute effort every night. Needless to say, no one's worried about the Bolts finding offense.

Upcoming Schedule

Looking ahead, after a heavy schedule of 5-in-8 for the Panthers to open the 2013 season, they get some time to heal and to re-group with only two games in the next week.

Tampa Bay is in the middle of an extended homestand. They will play two games vs SE division rivals this week, giving them a chance to pad their lead at the top of the standings.

Carolina has two games in Raleigh, before heading out on a six-game roadie that starts Saturday in Philadelphia.

Still, it's the Washington Capitals who will garner most attention over the next seven days if they fail to get in the win column by week's end. I'd go so far to say that unless they emerge next Saturday with at least two wins, the speculation about changes at the top will only get worse.

Here's a look at the schedule:

Stdgs Team Record Points

S

Jan 27

M

Jan 28

T

Jan 29

W

Jan 30

T

Jan 31

F

Feb 1

S

Feb 2

Games

played

(season)

1 Tampa Bay 3-1-0 6

vs

Flyers

vs

Panthers

vs

Jets

vs

Rangers

8
2 Winnipeg 2-1-1 5

vs

Islanders

at

Canadiens

at

Panthers

at

Lightning

8
3 Carolina 2-2-0 4

vs

Bruins

vs

Senators

at

Flyers

7
4 Florida 1-4-0 2

at

Lightning

vs

Jets

7
5 Washington 0-3-1 1

vs

Sabres

at

Senators

at Maple

Leafs

vs

Flyers

8

Latest News

In This Article

Topics
Events
Teams
Players
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Raw Charge

You must be a member of Raw Charge to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Raw Charge. You should read them.

Join Raw Charge

You must be a member of Raw Charge to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Raw Charge. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9355_tracker