- Tampa Bay Lightning (5-2-1, 11 pts, 1st in Division): For the first time in quite awhile, the Capitals don’t reside in the top spot in the Southeast Division standings. Steven Stamkos is on an absolute tear to start the season, tied for the league lead in goals with 8 and leading the NHL with 15 points. The defense could use some work, as the Lightning are tied for the most goals scored, but still have a goal differential of 0. The Bolts went 1-1-1 on the week, but an OT loss to the upstart Isles and a tough one-goal loss to the undefeated Nashville Predators are nothing to be ashamed of.
Washington Capitals (5-3-0, 10 pts, 2nd in Division): The Capitals averted what would have been a disastrous week for them with a comeback OT win against the Thrashers on Saturday, but dropping both ends of a home and home with Boston won’t do any favors for coach Bruce Boudreau’s blood pressure. Alexander Semin is off to a great start, evidenced by his hat trick against Atlanta, and rookie goalie Michal Neuvirth might have stolen the starting job outright with his stellar play so far.
Carolina Hurricanes (4-3-0, 8 pts, 3rd in Division): A pretty solid week for Cam Ward and the Hurricanes saw them win two games in a three-game road swing through the Pacific Division, downing the San Jose Sharks and Phoenix Coyotes, but falling to the Kings in LA. Games this week against Washington, Pittsburgh and the New York Rangers should let us know whether this Hurricanes club is the real deal or not.
Florida Panthers (3-3-0, 6 pts, 5th in Division): Same story, different year in Florida. The Panthers rank among the league’s best in team defense, with just 12 goals allowed, but they’ve also scored just 17 goals, less than any club except Edmonton, Phoenix and Ottawa. The one thing all four teams share in common: their position in their division standings - last.
Atlanta Thrashers (3-4-1, 7 pts, 4th in Division): After finishing last week with wins over Anaheim and San Jose, the Thrashers had a tough time this week, dropping home games against the struggling Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning and an overtime heartbreaker in Washington. They’ll get a chance for revenge in Buffalo on Friday, but this Thrashers team needs to stop falling behind early in games. Their offense can’t win games alone, but so far, the defense hasn’t been enough to get the job done.