The Tampa Bay Lightning were picked by many pundits to make the playoffs this season - and so far, they look like more than just a playoff team.
After their first 10 games of the 2010-11 season, the Bolts were first in the Southeast Division – and second in the NHL – with a 7-2-1 record. Much of the credit for that belongs to cornerstone center Steven Stamkos (who led all NHL point-getters with 19), but the organization has been receiving stellar contributions in other areas as well.
Defensemen Pavel Kubina and Victor Hedman picked up the slack when veteran Mattias Ohlund was injured, while complementary players such as Teddy Purcell (one goal, six points), Sean Bergenheim (three goals, six points) and Dominic Moore (four goals, five points) have taken some pressure off of Vincent Lecavalier (three goals and five points) and Ryan Malone (one goal and a minus-seven).
The Lightning have a three-games-in-four-nights West Coast trip this week that begins Wednesday in Anaheim, continues Thursday in Los Angeles and finishes Saturday in San Jose. The Ducks may not present a huge challenge for the Bolts, but the Kings and Sharks won’t be pushovers.
Blues limit opponents to an NHL-best 25.8 shots per game and Jaro Halak handles those shots pretty well
Lightning benefiting from league’s most potent offense (averaging 3.5 goals per game)
Six different Kings have game-winning goals
Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen leading Wings in goals; Nicklas Lidstrom leading team in assists
Claude Giroux is Philly’s top point-getter and also leads in power play goals with Daniel Briere, shorthanded goals (three) and game-winning goals (three)
Daniel Sedin on pace for 59-goal season; brother Henrik on pace for seven-goal campaign
Still some holes in Caps’ attack, but when they’re on their game, few opponents can keep up
Pekka Rinne, Anders Lindback give Preds no drop-off in net
Nathan Horton has five goals on 17 shots; Milan Lucic has four on 15
Backup goalie Mathieu Garon outplaying No. 1 Steve Mason
Jeff Halpern turning into a valuable piece for Habs
Dan Girardi top Ranger in ice time (24:07), plus/minus (plus-6)
Only the Oilers (68.8 percent) and Stars (68.4) have a worse penalty kill than Avs (73.9)
Stephane Robidas leads NHL in plus/minus (plus-10)
Niklas Hjalmarsson a team-worst minus-9
Three of six top scorers on Penguins are blueliners (Kris Letang, Alex Goligoski and Paul Martin)
Blueliner Marc-Edouard Vlasic still pointless this season
Mikko Koivu earning big new contract by leading team in points (12), plus/minus (plus-5)
Who was the more important summer acquisition – Dustin Byfuglien or Andrew Ladd?
As the Tragically Hip song goes, “When it starts to fall apart, it really falls apart”
Great start being undermined by goal drought
Eric Staal, Chad LaRose and Joni Pitkanen have combined for 103 shots, but just six goals
Derek Morris, Keith Yandle a combined minus-12; Adrian Aucoin a plus-seven
Panthers yet to score a shorthanded goal
Dwayne Roloson’s save percentage is .918; Rick DiPietro’s is .867
Ryan Whitney leading Oilers point-getters with nine (all assists)
Wins won’t come easy as long as Jason Spezza’s scoring skills are M.I.A.
If Randy Carlyle’s job as head coach is safe, we’d hate to see what it would take to put his employment in jeopardy
Penalty kill is atrocious; power play not much better
Injury to Zach Parise may be death knell for Devils’ playoff hopes
The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 each Wednesday based on a combination of last week’s play and a squad’s overall outlook.
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