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Southeast Division Roundup: The View From The Top of The Heap

Hilarious? As of this writing, the three teams leading their respective divisions in the NHL’s Eastern Conference are the Maple Leafs, Islanders, and Lightning. Maybe there is something to this whole “parity” thing. Then again, the season is two weeks old. Let’s not plan parade routes yet (I’m looking at you, Toronto).

But all the same, after the gratuitous amounts of crap that these three teams have managed to heap upon themselves over the last several seasons, it must feel nice for their fans to look at that points column and see their normally hapless teams at the top of the pile.

Especially nice for Lightning fans, who see their Bolts not only on top of the South East Division, but leading the East. Once again, it’s too soon to plan a parade, but let’s all take a moment to bask in the glory of the moment. One, two, three, and bask… ahhhhhh.

You might have been expecting the Washington Capitals to be in this position about now, but the Caps are, in the words of some fan named Ted (whoops, he’s their owner), “just an average NHL team right now.” (Ted’s Take, via Puck Daddy).

And how about the rest of the teams in the SE Div? Check ’em out after the jump.

Atlanta Thrashers:

The Thrashers beat the Ducks and Shark late last week, but dropped a pair to the Sabres and Lightning. Not that bad, right? But they managed to allow a whopping eighteen goals in the four games, for an average of 4.5 goals per game. Ouch, considering the NHL usually averages around 5.5 goals per game, which includes both teams. The fact that

Chris Mason

still has a save percentage of .908 indicates how many shots the defense is allowing.

Andrew Ladd

is leading offensively with seven points, but big center

Nik Antropov

has one assist and only eight shots through seven games. Granted, he isn’t seeing a lot of ice time as he’s coming back from hip surgery.

Carolina Hurricanes: The ‘Canes are 1-3 since returning from their season-opening games in Finland. Thumping the Sharks might make up for getting thumped by the Canucks, but they lost a squeaker to the Kings and will next visit the empty building that the Coyotes call home. The ‘Canes will finally have their home opener next Wednesday versus the Capitals. Eric Staal leads with six point in six games.

Florida Panthers: How good is Tomas Vokoun? In the Panthers first four games, Vokoun allowed five goals and recorded a pair of shutouts. He was deservedly named the NHL’s first star last week. Pretty good, I guess. How bad are the rest of the Panthers? They can only win games where Vokoun records a shutout, going 0-3 in games where they allow at least a goal. So far they are looking to be a serious drag on league scoring, ranking near the bottom of the circuit for both goals scored and allowed.

Washington Capitals: For a team this loaded, “average” sucks. Alex Ovechkin is looking good, averaging five shots per game, but somehow eight points in seven games seems low for a guy we’ve come to see as super-human. Home-and-away losses to the Bruins seem to have slapped the happy off the Caps’ faces. Defender Mike Green has missed games with a stinger, and is questionable for Saturday’s home appointment with the Thrashers. The Caps should probably have better luck against Atlanta than they did on opening night, but hey, when you’re average, you’re average. Right, Ted?

(Nolan Whyte blogs on the Lightning and hockey in general at Frozen Sheets Hockey. Follow him on twitter at @nolanwhyte.)

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