I will push you into my conference - Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
Carolina and Tampa Bay are tied at the top of the division with the Jets lurking two points behind.
This recap covers the period from February 17th to February 24th.
Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes (9-7-1) went a disappointing 1-3 this week. Eric Staal is their leading scorer with 19 points (9G/10A). Cam Ward's inconsistent season continued while backup Dan Ellis saw his run of fine play end as he took the loss at home against the Lightning. Carolina has scored 50 goals and given up 51.
Trending: Down. The Hurricanes saw their 7-2-1 run come to a screeching halt this week with three straight losses. The game against Montreal was 0-0 in the third period before the Canadiens beat Cam Ward three times on just eight shots. Ward didn't have a good game against the Jets either. The Hurricanes have some firepower but not enough to overcome shaky goaltending. The disappointing loss to Tampa Bay at home cost the Hurricanes first place and playoff positioning but they bounced back to regain the top spot by virtue of a game-in-hand with a 4-2 road win over the Islanders a day later.
Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning (9-8-1) went .500 again, going 2-2 this week. Steven Stamkos leads the team with 29 points (13G/16A). Anders Lindback went 1-1 on the week and was pulled after one period against the Penguins while Mathieu Garon picked up a big win in Carolina and got tagged with the undeserved loss against Pittsburgh. Tampa Bay has scored a league-best 69 goals while allowing 58.
Trending: Steady. The Bolts offense finally woke back up in wins over Toronto and Carolina, but once again, they fell behind and couldn't catch up against both the Bruins and Penguins. If the Lightning get the lead they are proving hard to beat so getting off to a good start in games seems to be very important for this bunch. Stamkos scored a goal and an assist against the Hurricanes in Raleigh to briefly give the Bolts the division lead back. Props to backup Mathieu Garon for backstopping the team to the important win. Stamkos delivered three more points against Pittsburgh but the Penguins were too much for a fading Lindback and the Bolts defense to handle.
Winnipeg Jets: The Jets (8-9-1) had a very busy week and finished it with a 3-2 record. In a somewhat stunning bit of news, all three wins came on the road. Andrew Ladd now leads the team in scoring with 17 points (10G/7A). Ondrej Pavelec started all five games and looked good. Winnipeg has scored 48 goals and allowed 57 so far this season.
Trending: Up. The Jets had a very successful road trip and raised their record away from the MTS Centre to 5-4-1. Andrew Ladd is hot and Ondrej Pavelec has raised his game, showing some much-needed consistency. If the team can get back to their winning ways on home ice they could not only make the playoffs, they might even claim the division crown.
Florida Panthers: The mostly punch-less Panthers (5-9-4) went 1-3 this week. Rookie Jonathan Huberdeau's dandy game in Philadelphia gave him the team lead in points with 13 (8G/5A). Jacob Markstrom made the last two starts in goal during a brief experiment to spark the club before being sent back to San Antonio for more seasoning. Florida has scored 42 goals and given up a league-worst 65.
Trending: Down. Too few goals for and too many allowed just isn't going to cut it. The Panthers continue to rotate between scoring five goals in a game or struggling to get just one. Florida followed up an impressive road win in Philadelphia with duds against Pittsburgh and Boston. Scott Clemmensen posted the only win of the week while recent call-up Jacob Markstrom was solid in his two starts but got little goal support. Coach Kevin Dineen seems to be grasping at straws and the team lacks toughness both mentally and physically.
Washington Capitals: The Capitals (6-10-1) went 1-2 this week. Mike Ribeiro leads the team in scoring with 21 points (6G/15A). Braden Holtby started all three games for the Caps and acquitted himself quite well, solidifying his hold on the #1 spot. Washington has scored 48 goals and allowed 55.
Trending: Down. The Capitals continue to struggle to score goals and to beat teams that aren't the Florida Panthers. The offense just couldn't click enough to get points against the Rangers or in the first tilt against the Devils. The week ended on a good note as Washington, powered by an Alex Ovechkin hat trick, pounded New Jersey 5-1 but the Capitals continue to look like a team that can't get it in gear and will miss the playoffs.