The Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals keep playing musical chairs with the Southeast Division lead – and the spot in the East’s top eight that comes with it. The Panthers ended up in that chair when the music stopped tonight.
Both teams are tied at 61 points but the Panthers have played one less game (53 to Washington’s 54) so they’re currently the technical leaders. That’s not to say that the Caps lack some advantages, though, as they’ve won 28 games to the Panthers’ 25. If Florida loses its next game in regulation, Washington will back into the No. 1 spot again.
The Panthers topped the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 tonight, as they only allowed one Drew Doughty goal and avenged the spirit of David Booth by handing Mike Richards a -3 rating.
Meanwhile the Winnipeg Jets improved their shaky playoff hopes by edging the Capitals 3-2 via a shootout. The Jets are now behind the ninth-place Caps at 10th place with 58 points although they’ve played 56 games.
The immediate future for the Caps and Jets
Washington must weather a challenging storm with five of its next six games on the road, starting off with a tough road game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday and a home contest against the always-dangerous San Jose Sharks. after that they’ll begin a four-game road trip with another big clash versus the Panthers on Friday, Feb. 17.
Florida’s next two games are on the road against the Devils and Islanders before they’ll play five of six at home. That includes the aforementioned home battle with Washington.
Looking things over, it sounds like the Panthers will have every chance to maintain their lead over the short term. Florida’s overall schedule is very tough – especially in terms of travel – so the big picture feud could bee a see-saw match.
Who do you expect to come out on top in the end, though?
You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.
We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.
“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.
These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.
Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.
It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.
With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.
It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.
Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:
It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).
As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.
Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:
This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.
Update: Bullet dodged?