It's the week of the All-Star game, which means many different things to many different people. For the participants, it becomes a hectic week of media appearances, skills competitions, and not worrying one bit about playing defense. This year, on top of that, some players have to worry about formulating a draft scheme too. The Southeast has three representatives with some drafting responsibility: Eric Staal of the Hurricanes, Mike Green of the Capitals, and Marty St. Louis of our Tampa Bay Lightning.
For coaches, non All-Stars, and the many fans who think the game is a waste of time, this week offers the chance to relax, forget about hockey for a while, and get ready for the frantic stretch run.
Once again, not much changed in the standings this week, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a busy week for our Southeast friends. More after the skip.
Atlanta Thrashers: On Tuesday, the Thrashers traded winger Ben Eager to the San Jose Sharks. When you realize he's a Stanley Cup winner, and former first round draft pick, you may ask yourself "why trade a guy like that?" Then you see he only has 10 points all year and just served a suspension for a nasty cheap shot and it starts to make sense.
Speaking of nasty, it looks like the Thrashers ownership group is entering into a lawsuit that claims they have lost $130 million since 2005. I think it's safe to say that when a team in a completely different sport has affected your finances, things aren't so good. Let the "Move them to Quebec!" rallying begin.
All-Star participants: Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom
Carolina Hurricanes: As previously eluded to, Eric Staal will be a captain for the All-Star game this coming weekend. Ya know, the one in Carolina? As someone who takes every chance to complain about
certain players being shoved down our throats whenever possible over exposure of certain teams and players by the NHL, I'm pretty happy about this turn of events. With the intrigue of the new "Draft" system, and now a hometown hero involved, it should draw new interest to an event that had become pretty stale. Good choices by the other All-Stars.
Joining Staal in the hometown hype will be goaltender Cam Ward, and current Calder front runner Jeff Skinner*. That's more representation at the All-Star game than any other team in the Southeast.
Florida Panthers: Tough week for the Panthers, losing every game, including the shootout loss to the Lightning Friday that ended with that strange Dominic Moore goal. The news didn't get any better Sunday as Tomas Vokoun missed the game with an undisclosed injury. Obviously, whether or not he'll miss any time was not disclosed either.
A mystery injury following the apparent rift with Coach Peter DeBoer... Is there any way Vokoun is still in Florida after the trade deadline?
All-Star participant: Evgeny Dadonov*
Washington Capitals: On Saturday, Alex Ovechkin had his first multi-goal game since October 30th. Ovechkin's "struggles" this year have garnered quite a bit of attention (doesn't he always?), but that's a really long time for someone like him. He's on pace for 32 goals this season, which would be the lowest total of his career by far. Goes to show you just how talented the Capitals really are, given that they have been and will be in contention for the Southeast title all year.
All-Star participants: Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green
Important match ups this week: Rangers at the Capitals (tonight), Capitals at the Thrashers (Wednesday).
*=Rookie that will only be participating in the skills competition on Saturday.