The Southeast this week: Uncle



Seriously, hockey gods, we got it.

As you all know by now, Martin St. Louis is hurt. And not hurt like in the past, hurt as in stayed in the hospital, left the team, and flew back to Tampa hurt. As in, out indefinitely hurt.

Factor in a bass ackwards realignment plan that adds a solid eleventy billion miles to the Lightning's travels in the coming years, and the fact that Steve Downie will probably get suspended 15 games simply because he's Steve Downie and it's been a pretty awful week for Bolts faithful.

But! There's always a ‘but.'

The Lightning snapped a five-game losing streak last night with a shootout win over the stud New York Rangers. The game featured the Bolts finally sticking up for themselves after what I'd call years of passive-aggressiveness to opposing teams' antics, and a heavy-hearted Dominic Moore scoring the game-tying and game-winning goals after his brutal morning.

Obviously, I would never suggest we are better without Marty, but is this just what the team needed?

Did they need some catastrophic exclamation point to an already rough season to start making things happen? Time will tell, but there were a lot of things in last night's game that were great to see, and a long, long time coming.

Namely, a win.

After the break, Muller gets his first win; the Panthers are legit; Ovechkin gets away with one; and the Jets visit the hospital, and a bunch of other news from the week that was in the Southeast Division.

Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes suddenly found some offense this week, potting 11 goals in just two games so far. They dropped a crazy game to the Calgary Flames, the defeated the Edmonton Oilers, finally snapping a seven-game losing streak.

The win against the Oilers was Kirk Muller's first. Good for him, now the challenging part: get the next one a little sooner.

That game featured a big hit on Alexei Ponikarovsky, which landed Andy Sutton an indefinite suspension. He did leave his feet, and he did make contact directly to the head, but indefinite for that? Eh.

Papa John's had a nice little discount to celebrate the victory.

Cam Ward knew it was a big moment, and had an early Christmas present for his new coach. Love stuff like that.

The night before, Mike Murphy made his NHL debut, and became the only goalie in NHL history to lose a game before giving up a goal. I love hockey.

Despite the win, the Canes are still in the Conference basement, with a lot of ground to make up.

BREAKING: Apparently Tomas Kaberle's days with the Hurricanes are over.

Florida Panthers: You could say the Panthers are for real. Not only are they in first place in the division for days, they sit just one point out of the top spot in the entire Eastern Conference. Remember when Dale Tallon spent all that money and everyone said there was no way it would ever work? Oops.

They're enjoying a currently undefeated week, and are fresh off a shutout of the previously unbeatable Boston Bruins. Wowzers, Chuckie.

The Cats made a trade with the Dallas Stars Wednesday that just screams ‘yawn.' But, a lot of times these non-noteworthy deals pave the way for bigger splashes, and clearly, the Panthers will be buyers this season.

Been a pretty solid third of the season so far, obviously.

Last week, I mentioned some awesome team initiatives the Panthers were getting involved in. There's more, and this time the entire team is attending. Just awesome.

Things are looking good in Sunrise as the Panthers have an opportunity to take over first place in the Conference tonight.

Washington Capitals: The Capitals are having a hard time gaining traction, as they continue to win one, then lose one. It's not going to get any easier either, as they play the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight, then the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday.

Alex Ovechkin got away with one Wednesday night. Again, reputation call there. Way to take things one case at a time, NHL. Keep up the good work.

Mike Knuble says there is finally some urgency to the Caps. That's usually a good thing.

New coach Dale Hunter's dream come true.

What every player hates: a reduction in ice time. Jeff Schultz is dealing with that right now.

The Capitals are still just a point out of the playoff picture, but seven points behind the Panthers for the division lead.

Winnipeg Jets: The Jets are on fire, having won three in a row, and ending the Bruins century-long streak of not losing in regulation on Tuesday. I think we can all agree to thank them for that.

Earlier this week, the Airplanes claimed Ben Maxwell, as well as re-assigned Brett Festerling.

They also found time to visit a local Children's Hospital. I never get tired of hearing about stories like that.

Is Evander Kane the next Jarome Iginla?

Nik Antropov is nearing a return. The big guy has been out with one the elusive "undisclosed injury" bug. Hate those.

The Jets are climbing back into things, but need to continue their streak to really get back into the picture. They currently sit just two points out of a playoff spot, but need to surpass four other teams to occupy it.

Important matchups this weekend: Panthers at Buffalo Sabres (tonight), Hurricanes at Jets (tonight), Maple Leafs at Capitals (tonight), Jets at Detroit Red Wings (Saturday), Lightning at Flyers (Saturday).