Lightning strikes for a week

Oct 22, 2002 5:22 AM

   Will Tampa Bay become this year's Carolina Hurricanes? Yes, at least for one week.

   The Lightning went 3-0-1 to start the season, their best start in the franchise's 11-year history. Detroit fans would scoff at that, but you have to start somewhere.

   Four games definitely does not make a season, but wise-guys should not that three of Tampa Bay's wins were in their division. Carolina is part of that Southeast Division.

   The Ning have two more division games this week (Washington, at Florida), but a four-game grind should pose fatigue problems. In other words, don't expect another 3-0-1 slate.

   Other Week 1 observations:

   BOSTON led the Northeast Division with a 3-1-1 mark, all on the road. The Bruins only play twice this week (host Ottawa, Atlanta) so expect them to be focused and a good play.

   ST.LOUIS, like Boston, jumped to the front of the Central Division. The Blues now hit the road after four straight home games. It's likely Detroit will be back in first by this time next week.

   DALLAS went 3-0 at home to take the lead in the Pacific. Only Toronto (39 goals in six games) has been involved in more high scoring contests. The Stars have scored 22 goals and allowed 15, but goalies Marty Turco and Ron Tugnutt have combined for a stellar .921 save percentage.

   PHILADELPHIA led the Atlantic at the start of the week and looks rejuvenated with the play of wily vets John LeClerc and Mark Recchi. Play the Flyers early, or as long as these guys can stay healthy. This is a quality hockey team when on all cylinders, despite GM Bobby Clarke.

   MINNESOTA topped the Northwest thanks to a 3-1 start at home. Why the North Stars failed there is beyond me. This is a great hockey area, and like Boston, really supports collegiate pucks. The Wild may struggle later this week with games at Chicago, Phoenix and division favorite Colorado.

   3 FOR TUESDAY: Philly, Minnesota, Nashville.

   Last week: 3-0

   Season: 3-1