Looking at team stats today, I came across a damning bit regarding the Southeast Division: not a single squad has a positive goal differential. The Washington Capitals are the most respectable at -3 while the division-leading Florida Panthers roll in at -16 and the playoff hopeful Winnipeg Jets are at an unsightly -21.
What does that tell us? Even beyond the mere standings, the division title can be had if a team steps forward. Oh, it also probably shows that the rest of the East contenders will be licking their chops if they get one of those teams in the first round.
(Especially if it isn’t the Capitals.)
Friday represented an interesting pair of games for the division. First things first, the Capitals inched within two points of the Panthers for the Southeast lead after squeezing by them 2-1 despite a valiant effort from former Caps goalie Jose Theodore:
The Jets appear close to their division foes at 62 points to Florida’s 65 and Washington’s 63, but the gap is bigger because Winnipeg has played 60 games to just 57 for the other teams. Still, the scrappy relocated team has some reason to believe – especially after beating the mighty Bruins 4-2 to start an eight-game homestand.
The Jets play seven more in a row in Winnipeg and 10 of their next 12 at home, giving them a chance to make it a true three-horse race. This has the makings of an interesting – if unimpressive – stretch run for the Southeast crown and possibly one of the bottom seeds in the East.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the (very) long shot Carolina Hurricanes remained hot with a 3-2 win against the San Jose Sharks. I’d argue the franchise would actually be better off losing their way to a better draft choice, but the Canes might at least be worth eye-balling every now and then.