Sound the alarms.
For the first time all season, the #StamkosMath calculator projects a sub 100-point finish for Tampa Bay Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos at season’s end.
99.9375, to be exact.
The silly little Twitter trend (that once had something like a 91-goal campaign for #91 in its sights) has been a joke all season, of course, but there’s no joking about Stamkos’ struggles of late. Actually, let’s be fair and call them mini-struggles. After all, it is just a three-game scoreless streak and, hell, the kid is human.
The Lightning offense has indeed gone dry, though, with just six tallies in their last four games in total and Stamkos has just produced just one goal in his last 10 – three since the All-Star break.
It happens though, right? To everyone, no?
But what you’ll hear so frequently from hockey folks when the points just aren’t coming, “I may not be scoring but at least I’m getting my chances,” can’t be used here to comfort Stamkos during this downturn.
Direct playoff implications are at hand for three of the five Southeast Division clubs in action tonight and, for another, their post-season chances hang more and more in the balance with each passing day.
In rapid-fire fashion today, here’s a quick look at what’s on tap:
Lightning at Bruins
After a frustrating 2-1 loss in New Jersey last night, the Tampa Bay Lightning suddenly find themselves tied for the second seed in the East with tonight’s opponent, the Boston Bruins. Technically, Boston holds the tiebreaker over Tampa Bay with an even amount of games played (63) and fewer shootout wins on their record.
The Lightning face the stiff challenge of having to rebound tonight without the services of captain Vincent Lecavalier, who has been outstanding since the all-star break, thanks to a mid-body injury that will keep him out at least for this game and possibly longer. Lecavalier reportedly suffered the injury late last night against the Devils while checking center David Steckel.
Just one Southeast team scheduled to lace ‘em up this evening as Tampa Bay’s road swing continues tonight in New Jersey.
Lightning at Devils
Tampa Bay hits the ice for the first time since the trade deadline exactly as they were before, with general manager Steve Yzerman opting not to make a move on Monday – a move signaling both supreme confidence in the group he has in place already and an unwillingness to pay what was said to be a lofty price for any addition of considerable impact.
The bottom line being, the Lightning didn’t have to do anything and held firm. Composure and discipline from the top permeates throughout an organization and exactly that has been in place since day one under the new regime.
On the ice, Tampa Bay maintains a lead in the Southeast Division over second place Washington, though the Capitals shrunk the gap to just three points last night with some last-minute heroics (and a classic overtime winner from Alex Ovechkin) against the New York Islanders. Still, the Bolts are firmly planted in the driver’s seat, with two games in hand on their Washington rivals, winners of three straight and having earned at least a point in 13 of their last 16 outings.
Four Southeast Division teams are in action tonight, with two of them facing each other, after a trade deadline day that was significantly less frantic than in recent years but still had plenty of movement as far as this particular division was concerned.
Let’s kick things off today with a pair of clubs who dealt with each other yesterday, getting the awkwardness of swapping dressing rooms for the first time out of the way immediately for a couple of players…
Panthers at Hurricanes
Florida was busy early and often yesterday, making four separate deals, including three with other Southeast teams. General manager Dale Tallon hooked up with his Hurricanes counterpart, Jim Rutherford, for a second deal in five days, sending defenseman Bryan Allen Raleigh-way in exchange for forward Sergei Samsonov after last week’s swap of Cory Stillman for Ryan Carter and a fifth-round pick.
In Allen, the ‘Canes get the defensive help they’d sought as they try to keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Carolina, as of this morning, is just two points up on Buffalo for the eighth seed and the Sabres have two games in hand.
[Update: At it again! Although a few teams that actually don’t play in the Southeast have now made moves as well, the Panthers strike again within their own division, moving defenseman Bryan Allen to Carolina in exchange for forward Sergei Samsonov. Florida’s tearin’ it down alright and, if they didn’t simply need enough bodies to ice a full roster from this point forward, I’d wonder aloud as to whether or not they might actually try to flip Samsonov again in the next 35 minutes… -JJ]
All Southeast, all day?
So far, we’ve had two separate trades between Southeast Division clubs (Florida moving Radek Dvorak to Atlanta and Dennis Wideman to Washington) and three waiver claims, all involving – yep – teams from the Southeast.
Carolina defenseman Brett Carson was picked up by Calgary, Curtis McElhinney’s Tampa Bay Lightning career is over before it starts as he is claimed by Ottawa and the Thrashers get a little more forward help by plucking Rob Schremp from the New York Islanders.
The guess here is that the Hurricanes will get aggressive in trying to land some defense help now with Carson gone, even if that just means adding some lower level depth. Lookin’ a little thin on the back end down the organizational depth chart now.
[Update: As per Mike Vogel via Twitter, that team Florida was talking d-man with was the Caps indeed. Florida sends Dennis Wideman to Washington for Jake Hauswirth and a third-round pick.]
Southeast Division counterparts Rick Dudley and Dale Tallon hook up to get this trade deadline day going finally, with Niclas Bergfors and Patrick Rissmiller going from Atlanta to Florida and Radek Dvorak and a fifth-round pick headed back the other way.
Dvorak brings a wealth of experience to the Atlanta lineup, including that of four post-season berths in his 15 NHL campaigns. Bergfors, a key component in last year’s Ilya Kovalchuk deal, never really worked out for the Thrashers and was in and out of the lineup and reportedly on the trade block all year. Rissmiller made his Atlanta debut last week after splitting time this season between AHL Chicago and Lake Erie.
I suspect that Florida is just getting started today and this might not be the only time two GMs from the Southeast Division get together on a deal. Rumors of Tampa Bay and Carolina working on a deal involving defenseman Randy Jones have been tossed about today, though nothing there has been completed and well-traveled broadcaster Billy Jaffe tweeted word of Florida talking with another Southeast club about moving a defenseman. (Might that team be Washington? Just a hunch.)
The fun begins…
Seize the day, right?
Several NHL GMs will look to pounce on the opportunities that present themselves today but it remains to be seen what, if any, affect the steady stream of deals leading up to this year’s deadline will have on today’s action.
I have a few questions to answer from yesterday’s mailbag post but we’ll get to those in a moment.
First, a spattering of thoughts running through my head this morning:
*For starters, I’m expecting (though not betting too heavily either way) that the Tampa Bay Lightning will be relatively quiet today. The additions of Dwayne Roloson, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Eric Brewer have filled some specific needs already and, though some veteran forward depth would be nice, the question of which of the Lightning’s very effective, very consistent role players would be pulled from the lineup to make room for an import has always stood in the way. Point being, while some depth for injury protection would be nice, it isn’t necessary. And, with Ryan Malone now expected back in early April, as per the St. Pete Times, the Bolts can look at his return as a late-season addition as well.
Filed in: Atlanta Thrashers, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink
Thanks to those that hung out today and chatted a bit. The (modest) crowd has motivated me to solicit emails/comments/tweets to be answered in the first edition of JJ’s Mailbag since coming aboard here at KK and now’s a good time for that sort of thing.
So, fire away (via email at email@example.com, tweet @JonJordan or comment) with questions/comments/theories/suggestions on anything related to the deadline, Southeast Division or otherwise. I’ll publish and answer as many as possible tomorrow morning before zeroing in on the madness that will surely ensue as the day progresses.
Speaking of Twitter, naturally, I’ll be all over that tomorrow with any news that lands in my lap and reaction to the day’s maneuvers…
Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford spoke with Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer and confirmed what I’ve long suspected: If they are to make any further moves, it will be to fortify their defense corps.
“If we’re going to add anything, it would be in that area, and adding depth to our defense,” Rutherford said. “We’re like a lot of other teams. If we see a chance to add another defenseman to add to our depth, we will consider that offer.”
JJ’s at the helm of KK Mission Control for a few hours today, so why not jump in here and throw a question/comment or two my way???
We can talk Southeast trade deadline stuff, leaguewide matters or Malkin to the Kings… Whatever you guys like, really. I’m here for the afternoon.
I’ll start it off with something from my neck of the woods for you all to consider:
Just how good is/are this year’s Tampa Bay Lightning?