This week we at Sunbelt Hockey Weekly, we pause for a moment and give other sports their one day of glory. Some sport named football has their big game tomorrow, so in honor of football’s big day I am taking tomorrow off. What does that mean? It means you get your Sunbelt Hockey Weekly article a day earlier! And why not, it’s been a busy week around the Sunbelt, some good news, some bad news, and lots of hockey. So let’s get right down to it.
First the cloud hanging over Phoenix continues as the Coyotes remain in limbo. This time around things were supposed to be different, the league the city, the new owners were all on the same page. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Glendale’s timetable of January 31 has passed so the Coyotes are back in limbo with no end in sight to a true final solution for the franchise. With Seattle, Quebec and even now Toronto seeking a team the pressure is on the NHL and the city of Glendale to finally make something happen before the league has no choice but to pull the plug and look elsewhere.
Now on to the good news, what teams are tops in the league right now? Well out West it’s the San Jose Sharks who continue to manhandle everyone on a way to a 7-0 start and in the East it’s the Tampa bay Lightning who at 6-1 have started the year pretty hot.
Checking in on the defending champs, it was a average week for the Kings; two games in shootouts with one win and one loss. At 2-2-2, the champs need to start getting into gear if they want to avoid that Stanley Cup hangover that has plagued many defending champions. Not that losing to Nashville in a shootout is a bad thing but when you’re the defending champions you need to go out there and show that you are still the best no matter who you play.
Back east the Lightning had a dominating week, as I said early as they have jumped out to be the top team in the conference. But with the week they had they put San Jose on notice that they could be a contender for the President’s Trophy for the best record at season’s end. They dominated with a 3-0 week culminating in an 8-3 thrashing of the Winnipeg Jets.
Sadly the rest of the Sunbelt hasn’t followed the Lightning’s lead in the east as both Florida and Carolina flounder outside of playoff contention right now, both teams need a spark to get things going for them otherwise the hole they will find themselves in behind Tampa bay will be too big to dig out of in this shortened season. The Hurricanes in fact are already 3 games behind Tampa Bay in the Southeast and the way the Lightning have been playing that margin could double very quickly.
Game of the Week:
San Jose 3, Anaheim 2 (SO) — Tuesday January 29, 2013
I promise I am not being biased toward San Jose, but they are winning and they are doing it in a gritty style. They don’t lie down easily and don’t give up. This game was just another case of that as they scored the tying goal in the last 5 minutes and then won it in the shootout. Take nothing away from Anaheim either they played a great game but fell just short to the best team in the league.