Alex Semin USA Today

 

Russ Miller takes a look at the Southeast Division.

 

After only a dozen or so games, it is clear to this author that there are only two teams that are going to compete for the title of division winner in what has perennially been the worst division in the NHL. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes, aka the Natural Disasters, will battle it out all season to see who will snag that third seed in the East. The rest of the teams in this division are simply disasters.

Tampa Bay has lost four in a row and are a single point behind Carolina for first in the division. The Lightning struck early and often in winning six of their first seven games, recording 37 goals for (5.28 per game) and only 15 goals against (2.14 per game).

 

Unfortunately, in their last four games, Tampa has scored only six goals (1.5 per game) while allowing 14 goals against (3.50 per game).  Anders Lindback and Mathieu Garon have combined for a 0.876 save percentage in the last four contests. Clearly, that's not good enough, but it doesn't all fall on the goaltenders. If you can only muster a mere 1.5 goals per contest, you aren't going to win very many games, unless you play airtight defensively.

 

Below is an updated table of the SouthLeast Division:

 

GP

W

L

OTL

Pts

5-5 F/A

GF/GA

CAR

11

6

4

1

13

1.00

0

TB

11

6

5

0

12

1.35

+11

WPG

11

5

5

1

11

0.76

-7

FLA

11

4

6

1

9

0.42

-15

WSH

12

3

8

1

7

0.77

-11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the things that stands out is Tampa's five-on-five goals for versus against. The Lightning rank seventh in the league, while Florida sits dead last. Obviously special teams are crucial, but if you can't outscore the opposition at even-strength, then you are going to have trouble winning games.

 

Carolina will be in the battle for the title all season. A big part of why that is can be placed squarely on Cam Ward's bony shoulders, although the 'Canes top two lines have some serious offensive talent. Let's compare Tampa and Carolina's top six (based on this year's overall A/TOI):

 

Tampa

11-12

12-13

Carolina

11-12

12-13

Advantage

Stamkos

97

17

E.Staal

70

12

TB

St. Louis

74

16

Semin

54

7

TB

Lecavalier

49

12

J.Staal

50

10

CAR

Conacher

0

12

Skinner

44

11

CAR

Purcell

65

10

Tlusty

36

3

TB

Malone

48

5

J.Jokinen

46

0

Edge TB

 

In Tampa, things were rocking the first seven games and then the wheels fell off, mostly on the offensive side of the house. No doubt that is just a blip because there is too much talent there to slide for too long.

 

First 7 GP

Last 4 GP

TOI/G

PPTOI/G

Stamkos

14

3

21:34

4:22

St. Louis

13

3

21:35

4:23

Conacher

12

0

15:15

2:33

Lecavalier

11

1

18:20

3:24

Purcell

9

1

17:06

3:56

Pouliot

5

1

12:13

2:23

Pyatt

5

1

13:54

0:07

Salo

5

0

21:39

3:07

Hedman

5

1

22:07

2:04

Malone

4

1

17:45

4:00

Carle

4

3

23:09

3:26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Carle stands out as persevering through the scoring drought and obviously you expect to see Stamkos and St. Louis at the top of the pile. Conacher's production may drop off a bit and look for Purcell to continue to reap the benefits of playing on that power play. If you are even looking at Salo, give your head a shake, the man is made of glass. Ryan Malone was a candidate to start producing based on power play time and overall ice time, but his lower body injury forced the team put him on the Injured Reserve Monday night.

 

The 'Canes were 2-3-0 in January, but they couldn't wait to turn the page to February, going 4-1-1 so far this month.

 

Jan

Feb

TOI/G

PPTOI/G

E.Staal

6

8

21:02

4:47

Skinner

5

7

19:11

3:33

J.Staal

5

6

20:03

2:58

Semin

4

6

21:19

5:03

Pitkanen

3

2

25:22

3:48

Tlusty

0

7

17:20

2:37

Corvo

0

3

15:36

2:03

Faulk

2

2

23:04

3:08

Dwyer

1

3

13:11

0:08

J.Jokinen

0

1

16:06

2:46

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jiri Tlusty really stands out with no points in the opening stanza and seven so far in February.  Of course, the four from last night really helps boost the bottom line. Joe Corvo isn't getting very much ice time and that is a concern. Corvo's three points in February are a mirage as he is no longer a viable option; Justin Faulk sits fifth in power play time on ice for the Hurricanes.  Alex Semin can score in spurts, so watch for him to string together some big games. Jussi Jokinen finished second in team scoring last season with 46 points, but with only one point in 10 games this season, he is a risk. If you are still stubbornly hanging on to him, do yourself a favour and drop him for the flavour of the week.

 

Many people, including yours truly, picked Washington to finish on top of this sorry division. With all the talent they have on their roster, they shouldn't be ruled out, but the odds are not good. The season is a quarter over. Crazy.

 

Also from Miller:

Devil's Rejects

Mirage...or the Real Deal?

Top Eastern Conference RW in Fantasy Hockey


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Comments (4)add comment

Russ Miller said:

The Comish
... I wouldn't disagree with you regarding the Jets Steve, but the hyperbole fits with the title theme and Winnipeg is not likely going to compete for anything other than the final playoff position this year.

I definitely liked what I saw from Trouba at the WJHC this past year. Not completely sold on Scheifele yet, but he's young. Love Kane's fantasy potential along with Enstrom, Byfuglien and maybe even Wheeler, Pavelec and Bogosian down the line.
February 13, 2013
Votes: +0

Steve Janz said:

Steve Janz
... Not sure I would call Winnipeg a disaster...they have some definite talent on the team...and are building through the draft...patiently...Trouba looked pretty impressive during the WJC...don't be surprised they make a run at this
February 12, 2013
Votes: +0

Russ Miller said:

The Comish
... Thanks Jeff. I agree with you on Faulk. Everytime I watch Skinner, he's buzzing and creating offense. He's just fun to watch.
February 12, 2013
Votes: +0

angus said:

angus
... Great piece, Russ. Carolina is quickly becoming a "must watch" team for me - they can generate scoring chances like few other teams, and they also allow a ton.

Faulk would produce more in a different situation, but they lean on him so much from a shutdown perspective.
February 12, 2013
Votes: +0
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