After the first two weeks of the 2020-21 NHL regular season, let’s take a quick look at the standings in the Central Division, where the Tampa Bay Lightning are currently playing. The standings don’t give a very clear picture since the teams played a different amount of games, but we can already guess some early favourites and losers
The Columbus Blue Jackets are leading the division with eleven points, but played about three to four more games more than the teams behind them. Surprisingly the Florida Panthers remain the only team in the division that is unbeaten in regulation and became a hidden leader of the division. In the offseason the Panthers made significant changes to their roster, which worked out pretty well for them so far. The team signed Patrick Hornqvist, Anthony Duclair and a former Lightning player Carter Verhaeghe – all of those players have already scored six points in five games and are a big part of the Florida Panthers early season success.
The Lightning ended their short losing streak with last night’s win over the Nashville Predators and currently sharing the second place with the Panthers, having played one game more. So far the Bolts are unbeaten at Amalie Arena and with three next games at home they have a chance to strengthen their position at the standings.
The Dallas Stars and the Carolina Hurricanes played less games than the other teams due to the COVID-19 outbreaks within their teams, but it didn’t affect their performance much so far. Both teams lost just one game each so far and showing a consistent game both offensively and defensively.
The Nashville Predators haven’t been a very consistent team at the start of the season, losing 50 percent of their games so far, but overall could be potentially in a fight for a playoff spot alongside with the Blue Jackets.
The Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks seem like the only teams in the division with little chance to make the playoffs. Both teams are deep in the rebuilding process and it probably won’t change for a couple of seasons more. The Blackhawks surprised everyone with a win over the Edmonton Oilers at the qualifying round of the last year’s playoffs, but still don’t have enough depth to be in the race for this season.
The Lightning returned to Amalie Arena with a 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators, Matt was on recap duty last night [Raw Charge]
The schedule delays haven’t been kind to the Lightning, breaking up any semblance of routine for the coaching staff and players. Still, sitting at 4-1-1 isn’t a bad spot to be in given the circumstances. Now to see if the Lightning can have a sense of normality in their schedule so they aren’t going long stretches of time without playing.
No, it’s not Steven Stamkos with a snipe from his office at left circle, that’s Cal Foote with a first NHL goal.
What a freaking shot pic.twitter.com/RLRtKrdtmd— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) January 31, 2021
Jon Cooper praised high Cal Foote’s performance at the start of the season.
The Syracuse Crunch lost an exhibition game to the Utica Comets last night.
That’s (exhibition) game. The Comets take it, 7-5.— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) January 30, 2021
A three-point afternoon for Chase Priskie and two goals for BB. We outshot them 31-19.
We do this for real next Saturday. pic.twitter.com/kglTAXLkfn
In case you missed, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers are sharing an affiliation in Syracuse this season. This is how the roster of an emerged team looked like in the exhibition game:
Our projected lineup for today’s exhibition game:— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) January 30, 2021
Devante Stephans has been loaned to the Orlando Solar Bears yesterday.
The Minnesota Wild player Marco Rossi returned to Austria due to complication after having COVID-19 in November. He’s expected to return to Minnesota in March.
#mnwild acknowledge for the first time that Marco Rossi's upper-body issue is complications from having COVID-19 in November.— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) January 31, 2021
There's no timetable for his return, but he'll return to MN in March.
How he was cleared by Zurich, then Team Austria is my big question.
The NHL teams continue to face issues regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Yesterday the Chicago Blackhawks cancelled their practice out of an abundance of caution due to potential exposure to COVID-19.
The Chicago Blackhawks have cancelled today’s practice at Fifth Third Arena out of an abundance of caution due to potential exposure of COVID-19.— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) January 30, 2021
The Montreal Canadiens player Josh Anderson was pulled out of the game due to flu-like symptoms.
The AHL had their first postponement even before the official start of regular season.
Saturday night’s exhibition game between HSK and San Jose Barracuda was cancelled in between the second and third period due to COVID-19 protocols.— Henderson Silver Knights (@HSKnights) January 31, 2021
Please note, this cancellation was not due to a positive COVID test result from HSK players or staff.https://t.co/5ozvFDwa2f pic.twitter.com/DVG70k4Yym
Here’s another video of Connor McDavid making a fool of the whole team and scoring a goal.
But the most beautiful goal of the Saturday was probably scored in the KHL by the Anaheim Ducks prospect Artyom Galimov.