Friday, September 14, 2007

Southeast Division Overview (Tampa)

Just like the Thrashers and Hurricanes, the Tampa Bay Lightning did very little this off season adding anything significant to their team. GM Jay Feaster feels confident that this is a playoff caliber team despite it's recent downfalls in the playoffs over the past few seasons. The only good thing that did happen for the Lights this off season was a brand new ownership that pumped life back into the franchise.

Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis all return for Tampa Bay. That makes their offense a dangerous one. Lecavalier could be scoring champion again with the supporting cast he has. Both Richards and St. Louis both had solid seasons and will likely do the same. The only problem Tampa really has is in net.

There is an issue in goaltending as neither Marc Denis or Johan Holmqvist were the clear number one goaltender. The Lightning were able to make the playoffs, but couldn't finish off the New Jersey Devils even with a 2-1 series lead. Head coach John Tortorella is looking for near perfection in his goaltending, so both Denis and Holmqvist have to up their performance. If either can't take the reigns, rookie Karri Ramo could find himself with a full time job in the NHL.

The Tampa Bay Lightning were the only team in the Southeast Division to get six wins against the Caps (6-2-0) last season. Tampa just seemed to have the Caps number. For me, how the Capitals do against the Lightning will be a determining factor how this team will fair this season.

For the Caps to make the playoffs, they will have to do better than 11-15-6 (28 points out of a possible 64) in the Southeast Division. And this season could be the best season to do that. The Capitals made some significant and wise moves to fill out their roster while other teams in the Southeast and other Eastern Conference teams that did very little to improve during the summer.

NHL Notes:

The LA Kings edged the Anaheim Ducks as the NHL Preseason officially starts in Anahiem 5 to 4. Both teams are getting an early start due to the trip they will be taking to England where the NHL wants to showcase to a much larger global audience. Former Cap Brian Willsie scored the game winner with 5:06 left in the third.

The Capitals Training camp officially opens today at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Practices start at 10:30 am and both ice surfaces will be utilized with squads. Full schedule is here. The practices are open to the public for free. They will be practicing all weekend. Oh happy day, the season is nearly here!

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