SouthLeast no more! Official Tampa Bay praise thread
Team GP Pts
1. * Tampa Bay 65 84
2. * Ottawa 65 84
3. * Philadelphia 67 84
4. Toronto 66 82
5. Boston 66 82
6. New Jersey 65 78
7. Montreal 67 76
8. NY Islanders 65 72
9. Buffalo 65 63
10. Florida 66 63
11. Atlanta 66 60
12. NY Rangers 65 58
13. Carolina 64 57
14. Washington 65 50
15. Pittsburgh 65 35
Congrats to the Lightning for topping the Eastern standings for the first time in history! (ok, I'm not totally sure if they ever started like 2-0 and led for a day or so, but this late in the year). When was the last time a SouthEast team led the conference? I certainly can't remember a #1 seed from that division.
Anyway, there is a lot of hockey left this month, but is there a hotter team in the NHL than the Bolts? Kudos!
TB is playing great hockey. Nice goal by Vinny last night. They will stay in the top 3 but I'm not sure if they will last at #1. Ottawa and Philly are right there with them so we shall see. Every team in the East has been on a streak of some kind. Flyers & Debbies had one in the beginning of the season, then Toronto, then Philly, then Ottawa, then Boston and now TB. Streaks always end and playoffs are a whole new ballgame.
They are a force to be reckon with though but don't count out the rest of the teams just yet.
I don't believe the division is good by any means (as others have said), but I have to give it up to the Lightning. They've taken last year's surprise playoff run and extended that quality of play across most of this season. They're a legitimate playoff team now IMO; they have all the basic cornerstones of a good team (good goalie, multiple offensive weapons and a solid D). They are perhaps one more all-star calibre player away from being a legitimate Cup contender from one year to the next.
TB still can't beat Ottawa or Toronto consistently. The win over Toronto was a hard faught 4-3 in which Toronto cut 2 goal deficits to 1 3x and Sundin had a chance to win it with 3 seconds left and it was blocked. Of course, TB should have beat them last time in TB, but a blown icing call sent it to OT and eventually a tie.
TB beat OTT twice last year, I think (off the top of my head), but this year Ottawa owns them.
Both those teams scare me as a Lightning fan.
TB's schedule to end the year (10 home, 7 away, 8 PO teams) could be favorable to them. TB goes on a 3 game road trip very soon, then is home for most of the rest of the year.
IMO, TB's nucleus is so young and the system they play is solid enough that they'll be around for a few years, unlike Carolina or Florida's runs. The key is staying healthy.
The Thrashers and Lightning are the only two SE teams who have not been to the Stanley Cup Finals in the past 10 years, what other division can make that claim? And right now it looks like the Lightning just might make the Thrashers the only team not to do so, and most agree that the future is very bright in Atlanta.
BTW, what every happened to that thread about how giving the division leaders Top 3 seeds was ruining the game of hockey?
A team which wins their division should be guarunteed a playoff spot, but should NOT be guarunteed a spot in the top 3.
I agree that it shouldn't be a top 3 guarantee, but there should be some reward for being the best in their division, and in my opinion it should be home ice advantage in the first round. Which would make last year's Eastern Conference:
New York I.
That way you don't have two top 4 teams playing each other in the first round, but the division champs still get some reward.