Well as the Christmas holiday is approaching, fans around the league will be celebrating the holidays, and I am sure most will be making some Christmas wishes on behalf of their favorite team. So this week, I will look at each of the divisions on a different day, looking at where they are, where they expected to be, and what they would wish for if they could sit on Santa’s lap.
I will continue today with the Northwest Division:
Florida Panthers (1st in Southeast Division, 18-10-7)
Where they are: Almost nobody would have guessed that, even with the off-season spending spree, that the Panthers would be ahead of both the Capitals and the Lightning at Christmas. The additions (Kris Versteeg, Brian Campbell, Jose Theodore, Tomas Kopecky, and Tomas Fleischmann among others) have paid off in spades and the Panthers look like they could visit the postseason for the first time since 1999-2000. They are currently the only Southeast team in a playoff spot.
Where they expected to be: With the money they spent in the off-season they definitely expected a taste of the playoffs, but I don’t even think they dreamed a division title would be within grasp.
CHRISTMAS WISH: Just a playoff appearance, however long it is. After 10 seasons on the outside looking in, currently the longest streak of futility in the league, this franchise, they deserve something good.
Winnipeg Jets (2nd in Southeast Division, 16-13-5)
Where they are: Sitting on the cusp of a playoff berth, the Jets are the darlings of the NHL and the city of Winnipeg.
Where they expected to be: With the new surroundings and ridiculous travel schedule, and the fact that the former Thrashers have only seen the postseason once in their history, the expectations were not high. However, the fans in Winnipeg wouldn’t have cared if they didn’t win a game this year.
CHRISTMAS WISH: A successful season off the ice to justify the chances taken by new ownership in bringing the team to a small market with a small arena. Any success on the ice this season in terms of a post-season berth would be gravy.
Washington Capitals (3rd Southeast Division, 17-14-1)
Where they are: Spinning their wheels and unable to get traction. On their second coach of the year, and not much is improving. They are in danger of missing the playoffs.
Where they expected to be: With an expected resurgence of Alex Ovechkin and a bargain in net, this team was expected to be in the mix in mid-June.
CHRISTMAS WISH: A time machine for Ovechkin. One that you can take back to 2007-08 or so and bring him back to 2o12. This player that wears #8 in DC isn’t the same one who struck fear in opposing teams before last season.
Tampa Bay Lightning (4th Southeast Division, 14-17-2)
Where they are: Already 7 points out of a playoff spot, the Lightning are even worse off than the Capitals. Other than Steven Stamkos and Marc-Andre Bergeron, there are a lot of players dropping the offensive ball in Tampa. Age has also quickly caught up with Dwayne Roloson, as the 41 year old isn’t the player he was in the net last season.
Where they expected to be: One of the elite 6 clubs in the Eastern Conference. They thought they had all the pieces in place to compete with the super-powers in their conference.
CHRISTMAS WISH: Some life from Vincent Lecavalier. The Lightning’s $10M man isn’t producing anywhere near what he is being paid. After finishing the last season on a roll, he is back to being a pedestrian on most nights.
Carolina Hurricanes (10-19-6, 5th Southeast Division)
Where they are: Natural disasters are not the only thing going on in Raleigh. The Hurricanes have been one of the biggest disappointments of the season. Moves like the signing of Tomas Kaberle backfired, Jeff Skinner has been injured, Eric Stall and Cam Ward haven’t had good years. Add it all up and you get a team in the basement.
Where they expected to be: They expected to be in the mix, fighting with a bunch of teams for a couple of playoff spots.
CHRISTMAS WISH: It looks like the wish that you could make would be for the draft lottery next summer. But for now, to appease the editor of Cardiac Cane, a quick return to health for Jeff Skinner.
Check out previous editions of Christmas wishes:
HERE’S HOPING THAT YOUR TEAM GETS WHAT IT WISHES FOR THIS CHRISTMAS!
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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