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The Southeast this week

It would appear that the Tampa Bay Lightning's brief fling with success is over after this week.

The team slammed head first into its early season ways of giving up early goals, giving up leads, shaky defense, shakier goal tending, and just general mediocrity. And, in all reality, the excuse of playing two good teams is invalid. Good teams can find ways to play around good fundamentals, but they rarely can find ways to just flat eliminate good fundamentals. And there were certainly times this week that Bolts were playing non-fundamentally sound hockey that sometimes was just plain sloppy.

Not to mention the fact that before this week, the Lightning had registered points in seven straight games and were one of the hottest teams in the NHL. Seems safe to say that that seven-game streak was the aberration, not this week.

All was not lost though, as GM Steve Yzerman did come out and say that there were no offers out there that benefited the team in any way. Patience is a virtue folks. And as frustrating as this season as been - and as next year may be as well - if Stevie is successful in what he's trying to do, this team will be fun to watch until the time Dwayne Roloson has grandchildren. If he doesn't already.

After the fold: Super skate with the Canes; Marco Sturm is still alive; Knuble done with the Caps?; and the Jets are back in it. The week that was in the Southeast.

Carolina Hurricanes: Pretty thin week for the Canes so far, with just an overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks to show for it. That's just all sorts of a bad game to watch. No surprise that it went to OT though, as those are two pretty equally bad teams. The Canes are almost out of the cellar though as the Lightning's bumbling has them only two points ahead.

The Hurricanes are starting in their zone more often, and other fun stats. If that's your thing.

Spoiler alert: Neither the Canes, nor the Bolts are winning the Southeast this season.

This is pretty cool: The Hurricanes celebrated Super Bowl Sunday by hosting their annual Skate with the Canes benefit. Gotta love that.

In a bit of surprising news, the Canes placed Anthony Stewart on waivers on Monday. Perhaps more surprising, to me anyways, is that he cleared.

Even more surprising, GM Jim Rutherford is not floating Tuomo Ruutu out for trade, but instead is working on a contract extension for him. I thought Ruutu was a pretty big bargaining chip, especially given the Canes' ability to develop young studs. Guess not.

It'll be three team race to the bottom of the East, as the Buffalo Sabres have continued their months-long slumping.

Florida Panthers: Well, after embarrassing themselves against the Caps on Tuesday, the Panthers turned right around and showed the Los Angeles Kings a thing or two, and find themselves at the top of the Division by a few percentage points.

But, neither of them seem to want to grab this thing by the horns. I wonder where both teams would be if the Cats had held onto Vokoun.

Seeing as the team has been up and down lately, it would make sense that the players have been too.

This sounds familiar: The Panthers are pretty awful when they start slow. We feel your pain, Panthers fans.

Here's good news: Marco Sturm's knee surgery was successful. Even better news? Marco Sturm still exists, evidently.

It would behoove Dale Tallon to make a move pretty soon to get the ball rolling on wrapping up the division, because you know the Caps will. And it's increasingly clear that the only playoff spot coming from the Southeast is the division winner.

Washington Capitals: The Capitals did almost the opposite of the Panthers this week. Established themselves as the victors of the division, then fumbled it away in a shootout loss to the Jets. Which, not only cost them the top seed, but let the Jets more and more into the picture. More on that later.

The good news from that loss though, is that Brooks Laich played, despite what initially looked like a pretty bad leg injury. Speaking of, here are the top 10 reactions from Caps fans when that injury went down.

It's been a tough season for Caps fans and writers. Wah. Pretty funny read though.

Nicklas Backstrom hopes to be back for the playoffs. I think the rest of the team does too there, Nick.

Jeff Schultz is trying to get back to 100%. It's taking some time.

Is Mike Knuble's time in Washington almost over? I certainly hope not, given the fact that he appears in this article pretty much every week.

It would behoove George McPhee to make a move pretty soon to get the ball rolling on wrapping up the division, because you know the Panthers will. And it's increasingly clear that the only playoff spot coming from the Southeast is the division winner.

Winnipeg Jets: The Airplanes' stinginess has been ever-present again so far this week, giving up only three goals in two games, both victories. Those two victories have the Jets very much back in the picture to win the Southeast. Wouldn't it be awful fun to tell your grandchildren about that time the team in Winnipeg won the Southeast Division? Can't wait.

The Jets miss a lot of runways shots. Third most in the league. That's kind of crazy.

Not much of a surprise given the time of year, but the Jets have had the flu bug floating around lately.

Ondrej Pavelec does not like the shootout. Join the club, buddy.

Apparently, the Jets are a tight-knit bunch and don't want to be split up at the deadline. Their relative over-achieving this season would indicate such.

The Jets need to get healthy, and probably make a move. Even if they don't, if they manage a long stretch of consistently solid play, they could swoop in and land themselves a playoff spot.

Important matchups this weekend: They either all matter or none of them matter.

Sendoff: I could go all week with the airplane puns.