The Southeast This Week: New and roughly the same quality
Starting this week, the weekly division recap here on Raw Charge - ‘The Southeast This Week' - will now run on Fridays, serving as a more current look at the week, as opposed to a hind-sight approach after the weekend. Not to mention that I'm just like you and don't feel motivated to do much of anything on Mondays either.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are rather decidedly terrible on the road.
As it stands, the Bolts are 3-6-2 away from the St. Pete Times Forum, have given up 42 of the 56 goals they've allowed on the road, and lost by a combined 8-2 on the road just this week. Not good.
After Saturday's loss to the St. Louis Blues, Coach Guy Boucher made the primary focus of his post-game interview his team's poor performance on the road, noting his stubbornness, and promising he'd find a way to get the Lightning inspired to play on the road. Two nights later, the Bolts fell on their face again, losing to the Winnipeg Jets 5-2. That performance perhaps served as the final wakeup call, as the team held a closed-door meeting and hashed things out.
Whether the team meeting worked or not remains to be seen, as while the team did beat a very good Pittsburgh Penguins squad last night, 4-1, it was at home where the Lightning have only lost once all season, and have already beat a couple of high profile teams there in the Chicago Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers.
Currently, the Bolts are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. And if they don't come up with a way to win on the road, it'll likely stay that way.
Coming up on the flip-side; the Canes are terrible; so is Ovechkin; are the Jets are taking off?
Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes have been absolutely awful lately. Like ‘Andrej Meszaros joyriding around the neutral zone during his Lightning days' sort of awful. In fact, they have only won two games all month, and none so far this week. Is it time for Paul Maurice to go?
The players say they're trying to focus on one game at a time. Noteworthy because, ya know, most players in the NHL usually focus on three to four games at a time.
Part of the problem is that the Canes young guns aren't getting chances.
Here's the big question though, if they do fire Maurice, who replaces him?
Carolina sits only two points ahead of the New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference basement.
Florida Panthers: Those pesky frozen felines looked this week like a team that brought in a bunch of new players and a new coaching staff in the offseason, destroying the surprising Dallas Stars 6-0 in Dallas, then coughing up a hairball in St. Louis last night, 4-1. That kind of back-and-forth is expected with that much personnel change, but it is really good to see Florida on the positive side of things again.
Could the Panthers be more consistent if they blocked more shots?
A team breakdown after 16 games.
A rash of injuries will also put a strain on your consistency. By the way, those have to be the most hideous jerseys since these.
While you finish gouging your eyes out, consider this: The Cats sit second in the division, just percentage points behind the Washington Capitals. They currently occupy a playoff spot.
Washington Capitals: The Caps have lost five of six, and everything this week. As mentioned, the spell has them barely clinging to the division lead. Alex Ovechkin has just two points (2G) in that stretch, and is a -4. The team as a whole has given up 21 goals during that stretch. Just a rough patch in a long season, or is this ego-driven team finally about to boil over and explode?
It's not just Ovechkin's fault.
Alexander Semin certainly hasn't helped.
Here's a stat: 8-0 with Mike Green. 2-6-1 without him. Start putting him out in there in bubble wrap or something. He's obviously crucial.
For most of us, being a hockey fan is a way of life. But for Mike Knuble, hockey literally is a lifestyle. His parenting included. Gotta love that.
The Caps have some Turkey Day ticket deals going on.
Winnipeg Jets: Don't look now, but the Airplanes have made some noise, and are threatening to climb out of the cellar. They scored 9 goals this week, defeating the Lightning and the division leading (barely) Capitals. They're overtaken the Hurricanes and sit just four points behind the division lead. The wacky alignment will help them, and they'll likely win a big majority of their home games. Look out.
The verdict is still out, obviously.
Here's a pretty interesting look at how each player is being used. Those guys need to blow that up and put it on a stand, Marshall Erikson style. Nailed it.
These are always fun. A recap of the Jets Skills Competition.
As I mentioned, the Jets are trying to force themselves into the playoff picture, but are still currently looking at it through the window.
Important matchups this weekend: Panthers vs. Penguins (Saturday), Jets vs. Flyers (Saturday).