All five Southeast clubs are in action tonight, with four games on the docket, including a division matchup between the Panthers and Thrashers. All Southeasterners, save for Washington, have been busy already in the trade market and I don’t expect that will cease any time before it has to on Monday afternoon.
Now then, to tonight’s schedule…
Pittsburgh at Carolina
They’re gettin’ the band back together in Raleigh (again), as GM Jim Rutherford hooked up with his Florida Panthers counterpart, Dale Tallon, to bring Cory Stillman back to Carolina. Heading Florida-way is forward Ryan Carter and a fifth round draft pick for the Panthers, who most expect are only getting started on the trade front.
Stillman managed seven goals and 23 points in 44 games for Florida this year and the Hurricane hope is that he’ll give a lift to the power play and provide an overall spark to the offense.
The thinking here is that the addition of Stillman also gives Carolina a little more flexibility, in terms of moving any one (or more) of his forwards on expiring contracts for a little help on the blueline, if they so choose (or, perhaps, something bigger?) Rutherford told the Raleigh News & Observer he may not be done indeed but that he was not planning on peddling any of his top prospects.
Filed in: Atlanta Thrashers, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink
[NOTE: This was originally about to be posted, quite literally, just as news broke of the Lightning dealing Dan Ellis to Anaheim in exchange for fellow goaltender Curtis McElhinney. Mike Smith has since been placed on re-entry waivers. We’ll know as of noon tomorrow whether he’s cleared and will rejoin the Bolts or he’s been claimed by another club.
One thing is certain, as you’ll see in the piece, Smith spoke in reminiscences of Tampa and gave no indication that he was expecting to be recalled. This, as of 5:00 PM, yesterday. Interesting.
All that being said, here’s the piece in its original state, with no editing upon today’s transaction news:]
For Mike Smith, this wasn’t how his tenure with the Tampa Bay Lightning was supposed to turn out.
Brought in from Dallas on February 26th, 2008 in the deal that sent away 2004 Conn Smythe winner and fan favorite, Brad Richards, Smith was supposed to be Tampa Bay’s goaltender of the present and future.
And, for a time, it appeared he was well on his way.
But amid coaching changes, ownership issues and unfortunate injuries at the most inopportune times, Mike Smith was never completely able to fulfill what was once considered his Lightning destiny.
Were it not for bad luck, his time in Tampa seems to have been marked by not having any luck at all.
“I’m not gonna lie to you,” Smith said by phone on Wednesday. “It does seem like that a little bit.”
Many of us were looking at tonight’s tilt with the visiting Phoenix Coyotes as a good measuring stick for the Tampa Bay Lightning after a winless week past at home.
I’d say a 7-0 start and an 8-3 finish gives them their latest in a season of consistent reminders that these boys measure up pretty darn well against just about anyone. (Score one for yourselves, of course, Detroit. Well-deserved.)
Here’s some of what was said in the winning locker room post-game Wednesday night:
Teddy Purcell, who scored his first career hat trick and was named the game’s first star:
“We weren’t happy with our last two efforts on home ice and, especially with those days off [spent as a team in Naples and Estero], we wanted to kind of reward the organization and ourselves and come out with a strong effort tonight.” - on what this win means after a relatively tough go of late.
“That was pretty cool, my first hat trick since street hockey when I was 10 or 12” - on his individual performance.
A look around at the Southeast Division teams in action tonight:
Atlanta at Buffalo
If Rick Dudley is deciding between buyer and seller mode, this might just be the game to shove him swiftly in one direction or the other.
Atlanta has been in a tailspin in the new year, with just three regulation wins since we said farewell to 2010. Currently, the Thrashers have lost seven out of their last eight and are just 2-10-4 in their last 16.
They sit five points behind eighth place Carolina and are tied, points-wise, with tonight’s opponent, though their meeting with Buffalo becomes is that much more pivotal with the Sabres having two games in hand on Atlanta.
New faces Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart, acquired last week from Boston, will each play in their second game as a Thrasher tonight. Both made an impact in their Atlanta debut in Edmonton Sunday, despite the team’s 5-3 loss, with Wheeler assisting on an Andrew Ladd tally and Stuart scrapping with J-F Jacques in the second period.
With the trade deadline approaching, might a Southeast team or two peddle one or more of their AHL prospects for some immediate help? We’ll know in five short days. For now, let’s take our latest look (a belated one this week – apologies…) at results and stats for the Southeast Division’s AHL affiliates from the week gone by:
Click for individual box scores
Tuesday, 2/15/11: Albany Devils 3, Charlotte Checkers 0
Charlotte goal-scorers: none
Charlotte goaltenders (saves/shots): Justin Pogge (25/28)
Three stars of the game: 1 – Dave Caruso, ALB; 2 – Adam Henrique, ALB; 3 – Brad Mills, ALB
NHL trade deadline fun is only a week away and the five Southeast Division teams have either joined the party already or will be late arrivals, taking part in the festivities before “last call” at 3:00 PM Eastern next Monday afternoon. None, I suspect, will sit idly by without at least some effort to tinker with their roster (further than they have already, in some cases) either for a playoff push or some more long-term planning.
With a week to go, today we’ll have a look around the division to try and gauge what each Southeast club might do, with an eye on where they sit in the standings currently, what they’ve done already and names that have been bantered about here and there.