The Southeast this week: Until next time...
Well, as was the case a couple of years ago, this time of year has become about one person: Steven Stamkos.
The team has gotten him to within one goal of 60. I say the team, because whenever he's on the ice, the guys try and get him chances. And let's be honest, it's been fun to watch. It really does speak to the camaraderie of the team, and the connection they have. The team wants him to get. He wants the team to get it. And that's why it will happen.
Prediction: Stamkos opens the scoring against the Jets on Saturday, getting the monkey off everyone's back and propelling (oh yeah, that's right, starting the puns early) the Bolts to a win. A win that sadly, won't mean too much because of a season full of shortcomings.
After the fold, in this season's last version of the SETW: 20 for LaRose?; Drought over in Miami; Caps in; Jets delusion. The week that was in the Southeast.
Carolina Hurricanes: After an embarrassing weekend destroyed their hopes and dreams, the Canes have played excellent, earning a couple of 2-1 victories against the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadiens. Not bad.
Here's something that's not so good: The shootout win over Montreal yesterday was the Canes FIRST SHOOTOUT WIN ALL SEASON. That doesn't even seem possible.
While it's been a thoroughly rough season for Carolina, but, there is a bit of silver lining. Chad LaRose has a shot at 20 goals? That is crazy.
What's the best way to deal with a tough loss in the Frozen Four? How about making your NHL debut? Sounds pretty good to me, but really, ask Jeremy Welsh.
The Hurricanes try to finish the season off with three straight wins tomorrow.
Florida Panthers: Well, despite having lost five in a row, the Panthers are in the playoffs. Talk about limping in...
Limping in or not, 10-year Panthers vet Stephen Weiss doesn't care. He's just happy to be there. Good for him. That's a long time not to at least get a taste.
As the previously general-managed-by-Dale-Tallon Chicago Blackhawks know, this is really just the beginning for the Panthers. People underestimate how important it is to the Lightning for the Panthers to be relevant. It's a big deal.
In an article that will absolutely shock and dismay the fine folks of Canada, long-time Cats fans have been rewarded for their loyalty. I'll just leave it at that.
A look at how this dream season unfolded for the Panthers. Kevin Dineen won't get as much of a look at the Jack Adam's as he should.
Florida needs at least a point tomorrow against the Hurricanes to clinch the division title.
Washington Capitals: The Caps have done what they needed to do. The Philadelphia Flyers certainly gave them a helping hand, but the Caps did what was necessary.
The Caps have three potential first round opponents. Personally, I'd like to see them take on the Rangers right away. That hasn't been a particularly affable series the past few seasons.
The Capitals are hot right now. Even more? Most of the team has an extremely sour taste in their mouths from the past few seasons. Is that a good thing?
Here's a damper on all the good vibes in Washington: They have one healthy goalie. Typically, I would just laugh, but Tomas Vokoun signed for nickles to be a part of a winning team, and he can't even enjoy it. That sucks.
Helpful hint: just score. Brilliant.
Washington has been focused only on their game for weeks now. This weekend will just be a continuance. Look for them to force the Panthers to win.
Winnipeg Jets: The Airplanes were in pretty much a holding pattern this week; a win and a loss. That's been pretty much the standard for them this season.
You could blame it on Don Waddell... is he the worst GM in the NHL?
Unfortunately, the crash and burn the Jets have had during the second half hasn't registered with most fans. It's not going to get better for a while, my friends. Hate to tell you.
Speaking of a while, Tim Stapleton wants to stay in Winnipeg.
It's been fun, my friends. Enjoy the playoffs.