The end is near

Nobody has considered the Thrashers a playoff contender for months, but as of today there’s still a way Atlanta could qualify for a postseason berth. That could change on Tuesday. A regulation loss at Montreal would eliminate the Thrashers. The Thrashers have 66 points; the eighth-place Canadiens 81.

Rich Peverley didn’t practice today; Jim Slater took his place as the center on the second line. Peverley is making the trip to Montreal, though, and it’s clear he’s going to play (if he weren’t, Thrashers coach John Anderson would have adjusted the lines for practice instead of using Slater as a temporary plug-in).

63 comments Add your comment

Steve Brown

March 23rd, 2009
1:55 pm

I feel like the last Thrasher fan. I don’t care about the past (car wrecks, Hossa, etc.). I don’t care about the owners lawsuit and the low payroll. I do care about this Thrasher team being young and exciting with a number of future stars.

mknobler

March 23rd, 2009
1:58 pm

By the way, for anyone interested in the math:

Montreal 81 points
Atlanta 66 points, with eight games remaining after Tuesday night, or 82 points maximum possible if they lose in regulation Tuesday.

Montreal is in eighth place. Even if Florida wins tonight and passes Montreal, Florida would have only 82 points, and since Montreal and Florida don’t play each other the rest of the way they could both lose all of their games and the Thrashers could get in by reaching 82 points. (In that scenario, the Thrashers would win the tie-breaker, which is games won.)

FormerIslesFan

March 23rd, 2009
2:50 pm

Here’s an interesting perspective on the future. Scott Cullen at tsn.ca is listing the NHL’s top 100 rookies for this year. The Thrashers have 5 players in the top 61 (including Bogosian at 4 and Oystrick at 61).

http://www.tsn.ca/columnists/scott_cullen/?ID=272023

Interestingly, five of them are between positions 45 and 61.

Brendan

March 23rd, 2009
3:15 pm

Careful, Mike. What if Bruce Levensen reads your blog? He’ll bluster about how “We’re still right in the thick of the playoff hunt! We’re playing ‘meaningful games in March.’ Buy more tickets. We need revenue-sharing dollars.”

I wouldn’t want to lead the 7 Dwarves to any ideas they had not thought to have on their own. If ya feel what I’m sayin’.

Russian

March 23rd, 2009
3:24 pm

PLAY OFFs is A DREAM for Atlanta. I hope the dream come true in next season. We could not make it in this season. Too late to push. :-(
But anyway they have to paly best hockey for last games and make good look for next year. :-)

puckedup

March 23rd, 2009
3:28 pm

Mike, LOL! Nice optimism.

R. Stroz

March 23rd, 2009
3:28 pm

Brendan – Even Levenson can’t get that drunk, this season.

sisu

March 23rd, 2009
3:38 pm

Hey, it is the mathematically elimination after all:) 82 points might be the all time low if it was to happen…

Steve Brown

March 23rd, 2009
3:38 pm

Bogo has moves!

Tony C.

March 23rd, 2009
3:59 pm

Do you guys think we should bring Havelid back???

Nikita

March 23rd, 2009
4:00 pm

Steve, I’m with ya. Are we about the past or the future?

Brendan

March 23rd, 2009
4:04 pm

Sisu, a few years ago, I want to say 2002, the NY Islanders made the playoffs with 83-points. When the Minnesota North Stars made their “Cinderella” run to the Cup Finals, they were something like 14 games under .500 that year.

Brendan

March 23rd, 2009
4:08 pm

R.Stroz, never underestimate the power of those “beer chasers.” CANNON BALL IT!! Stroz, I can’t tell the difference between Levensen judgement “clean and sober” versus “spitfaced drunk.” Truthfully, I think I’d prefer the “three sheets to the wind” version of his thinking. After all, as comedian Jerry Seinfeld once suggested, “If everything you’ve ever done is WRONG, then the OPPOSITE must be true!”

Meaning? Maybe if we get Bruce drunk enough, he’ll do “the OPPOSITE,” and fire the GM?? Hey, it’s worth a shot. I’ll buy the whiskey.

GaVaHokie

March 23rd, 2009
4:09 pm

Great post FormerIsles… very interesting to see Salmela on that list. We haven’t talked much about him since he started playing. I have to say I’m pretty impressed. He’s got a lot of upside for Anderson’s system… it’s amazing we have Bogosian, Enstrom, Hainsey and now Salmela to carry the puck up ice.

Midfield

March 23rd, 2009
4:20 pm

To me, the judgment is still up in the air for Salmela. He looked better in his debut than in the following couple of games – probably because he got scouted on by the opposition. He looks stronger in transition than in the defensive zone – that’s for sure.

Tony C.

March 23rd, 2009
4:32 pm

I’d have to agree…from what I’ve seen so far, I’d almost rather see Salmela on the wing. I think he’s probably going to be better next season (presuming he re-signs here).

JY

March 23rd, 2009
4:39 pm

This just proves that old saying “It’s not over until Knobler says it is” LOL

Supes

March 23rd, 2009
5:09 pm

Playoffs, playoffs…playoffs…don’t talk about playoffs, we are trying to win a game:)

kracker

March 23rd, 2009
8:08 pm

Tony C: Salmela as a wing…I was thinking the same way, maybe he should get a look in some off season drills. I wonder if he has ever played fwd in the past.

Supes

March 23rd, 2009
8:35 pm

Not sure where Salmela will end up, but I sure hope the Thrashers consider giving him a chance. If he works and improves his DEFENSE, he’ll soon turn out to be one of the best puck moving/scoring defenseman in the NHL. He’s very smooth with the puck, fits well with John Anderson’s system where he wants the Defenders moving forward.

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 23rd, 2009
8:59 pm

Thank you Supes, someone had to say it.

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 23rd, 2009
9:06 pm

Re: Salmela as a wing — Do we really want to see another undersized winger on this roster? Would he be a good addition to the 3rd or 4th line, or merely clogging a spot for more deserving players?

kracker

March 23rd, 2009
11:27 pm

We were just wondering, or I was, about Salmela’s offensive capabilities. He’s not big but I wouldn’t call him undersized, either. He’s comparable in size to Little and a bit bigger than Tobias. To answer, though, yes of course, I’d prefer to have the quick, larger, stronger players at all our positions. I do have to confess that I thought Salmela was over 6 feet but he is listed at 5-11, 191 lbs.

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 23rd, 2009
11:40 pm

True, maybe “undersized” was a bit harsh. 5′11 190 isn’t small per sey, but for the third and fourth line I don’t see him as being an upgrade over the players they have currently, physically at least.

GaVaHokie

March 24th, 2009
8:51 am

Salmela’s talent is exactly where it is needed… on defense… sorry, I have to disagree with some of you. Anderson’s system requires guys who can bring the puck up ice from the back end. Can’t wait to see how this progresses over the next two seasons as Bogosian and Toby mature, and Salmela settles in.

All I can think of is how much success Kwiatkowski had in this system in the minors… and yes, I realize it was the minors, but it was also Kwiatkowski… a guy so good, he’s playing in Europe now. Can’t wait to see this progresses at the NHL level with NHL caliber players.

I think the success we’re seeing now is just the tip of the iceberg… with repetition comes speed and I’m looking forward to this firing on all cylinders.

Jimbo

March 24th, 2009
10:17 am

Thanks, Supes. You’re right on. The goal should be to play an exciting, competitive brand of hockey that both pleases the fans and lead to WINS. By winning, the Playoffs appear. Salmela appears to be another great find along with Peverley. He is a mobile, smart defenseman who should pair well with someone like Oystrick or Grant Lewis. Valabik still has to improve his mobility and decison-making. Too many unnecessary, dumb penalties. Great to end the season on such an optimistic note.

Dwayne Johnson

March 24th, 2009
11:48 am

Thanks to you all for the short posts. With AADD, long posts make it difficult to stay focused. And I’d like to be the first to thank all of you, even stendec, for making Thrasher hockey a little better.

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 24th, 2009
11:54 am

I would say ADD is what makes our posts so long…

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 24th, 2009
11:56 am

…look, a butterfly…

Supes

March 24th, 2009
12:04 pm

I just hope the Thrashers can win tonight at Montreal, and further damage the Canadiens playoffs hopes. Just b/c of how we are looked at in Canada (regarding the Thrashers). It would be extra sweet to add to their misery be beating them in their own building. I also have a bet with a friend (huge Montreal fan), that they aren’t making the playoffs, so this would help:)

On a side note, I hope Kovy can get to 40 goals this season. I know numbers don’t mean much when you are (near the bottom of the league in points) and out of the playoffs, but I think it’s important to have the captain log in another great goal scoring season (as far as numbers). I’m also tired of the ESPN talking heads go crazy over Ovechkin and his 50 goals, so Kovy, get to 40!

Dwayne Johnson

March 24th, 2009
12:19 pm

I hope he gets to 40 tonite!!! this is only the 2nd season he has had more assists than goals. Imagine if he would have just been trying to score, like in years past, instead of trying to fit into JA’s system. I speculate he’d of had 50 before AO.

erock

March 24th, 2009
12:28 pm

O,BYRN……O,BYRN COME OUT COME OUT WHEREVER YOU ARE….BOULTON WANTS TO PLAY SOME HOCKEY LOVE WITH YOUR FACE FOR PICKING ON BOGOSIAN THE LAST TIME THE TEAMS PLAYED !!!!! 2 + 5 + 10 + GAME MISCONDUCT

Brendan

March 24th, 2009
1:03 pm

If the Habs lose to the Thrashers tonight, does GM Bob Gainey get canned?

Bob

March 24th, 2009
2:18 pm

If the Thrashers beat the Habs tonight, Gainey should be fired

Dwayne Johnson

March 24th, 2009
2:20 pm

Brendan, lets hope so. The more pain we can cause the better. Just hope I don’t have to listen to the game in French.

Brendan

March 24th, 2009
4:02 pm

Well, uhh, let’s not forget that we Thrasher fans have a “vested interest” in seeing Montreal reach the CF this year. They can’t do that if they miss the playoffs. Then again, we’re talking about “throw away” 3rd to 5th rounders anyway. Even if it is a 3rd rounder, Atlanta gets a 3rd rounder back in 2010, as part of the Schneider deal.

**Reminder Notice** – This Friday, the 27th of March, begins the 16-team NCAA Men’s Division I tournament that crowns a National Champion on April 11th, ESPN, 7PM, at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. The “Frozen Four” takes place on April 9th, at 5PM and 8PM, on ESPN.

The top four seeds are (1) Boston Univ., (2) Notre Dame, (3) Denver Univ., and (4) Michigan. Other schools that made it this year include North Dakota, New Hampshire, Yale, Princeton, Cornell (Darren Eliot’s alma mater,) Air Force, Minn-Duluth, Northeastern, Vermont, Ohio St., and Miami Univ. (of Ohio). Also, a school named Bemidji St. qualified as the #15 seed. I have no idea where this school is. But they got in with a record of 18-15-1. Bemidji St. plays #2 Notre Dame on Saturday, at 7:30. I wish those Bemidjians all the luck in the world. My pick to win it all this year is Notre Dame. Watch, Bemidji St. will STUNNNN the world with an opening round upset. Boston U., which won the “Beanpot,” is the #1 seed. If you’re looking for a handicap pick, may I suggest North Dakota, Michigan, New Hampshire, or Denver Univ. Pioneers. These are great hockey programs that could, in any given year, win the National Title. Last year, I believe Boston College won it. BC didn’t get back to the tournament this year. I also don’t see Craig Custance’s Michigan State Spartans, either.

Thrashers27

March 24th, 2009
5:28 pm

Anybody know what the lines look like for tonight?

mknobler

March 24th, 2009
5:52 pm

Thrashers27, John Anderson doesn’t believe in changing things when he’s winning, and he won Saturday night with:

Kovalchuk-White-Little
Kozlov-Peverley-Armstrong
Stuart-Reasoner-Crabb
Boulton-Perrin-Thorburn
Enstrom-Bogosian
Hainsey-Salmela
Oystrick-Exelby

I am not in Montreal for tonight’s game, unfortunately. It’s the last game I’m scheduled to miss.

Thrashers27

March 24th, 2009
6:08 pm

Thanks, Mike!

Tony C.

March 24th, 2009
7:25 pm

Eh. I’m sorry, I just can’t get enough of beating Les Habitant…it’s like red gummi bears: always a treat.

stendec

March 24th, 2009
8:39 pm

Kari Letemin. Damn! Less than a minute into second period? Damn. Just damn! Hope the Thrashers has five goals in them tonight. Will probably take every one of them. Less than a minute? Sigh.

stendec

March 24th, 2009
8:52 pm

Come on Habs. Put 10 in against that sorry son of a betch Finn Kari Letemin! Untalented piece of commode residue. Damn. Team is playing well except for one gutless player. Damn! Hate to lose to these pansies. Thanks Golden Boy scumball!

stendec

March 24th, 2009
9:03 pm

Hey John Petrino! What the Hell are you waiting on? Four (now five) soft goals are not enough for you? Are you as brainless a son of a betch as Kari “Four Goals And Counting” Letemin? Against a pitiful Hab team? Damn! To Hell with all you quitters. Excuse me. Five…And Counting! On how many damn shots? Ten! Let that sorry Finn stay in Canada! Who needs the oxygen waste? Not a damn soul!

stendec

March 24th, 2009
9:35 pm

How many seconds into third period before yet another marshmallow goal apologists? Damn all of them. John Petrino is as brainless as John Petrino! Kari Letemin is as talentless as DeAngelo Hall! I see that 10 Hab goals are certainly within reach. How is that mother (X) save percentage now guys? Not too damn impressive! Lock the son of a betch Finn in. Pay him zillions of dollars to stay in Atlanta! The rest of the NHL teams will be damn grateful. Tell me how great this untalented sieve is! There is still plenty of room in Milledgeville. To the Habs? Damn it to Hell!

stendec

March 24th, 2009
9:51 pm

Guess bank accounts of both Kari Letemin and John Petrino are heftier after this one. What a crock of shet! The end is no longer near. It has arrived wrapped in Hab colors!

B. Thenet

March 24th, 2009
9:55 pm

Hey Mike, can you ask Anderson why he kept Lehtonen in for the entire game? And if he would have kept him in the game if the Thrashers were in the playoff hunt.

This seems like a game Anderson just threw away a game to prove a point to Lehtonen or something, because he should have been pulled very early on in this one.

stendec

March 24th, 2009
10:18 pm

How truly precious. The Habs celebrated like they actually beat somebody worth a damn. They did not! Another mail-in loss. Always knew Kari Letemin was a fraud. Allowed benefit of doubt for John Petrino. No longer! He forfeited all credibility tonight. Six marshmallow goals? Coincidence? Hardly! Make the quitters walk to Hamilton. Damn quitting bestards! Captain For Not Much Longer Ilya Kovalchuk cost the team at least three goals with terrible misfires on wide open shots. True superstars BURY those opportunities! This group deserves to be buried. Literally!

R. Stroz

March 24th, 2009
11:24 pm

Next blog title

The end is here.

Russian

March 25th, 2009
8:50 am

Come on Guys! Relax. We lost a game and we could not make PO. Everybody knew it since January 2009. Only one thing is really unhappy with me it is our D-men. They made a mistakes very easy. I hope something will change on next season. Season was over in January. Just enjoy rest of games if you COULD. :-(

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 25th, 2009
9:39 am

Three straight power play goals. A defender giving the puck to their top player with his partner not in a good position to assist on the mistake. Yeah, always Lehtonen’s fault (note the sarcasm).

I understand the frustration towards a losing night, but there are more people making mistakes than just the goalie in each and every goal against. Enstrom looked like a rookie in his mistake, Tanguay absolutely undressed everyone on the ice with one of his goals, Kovalev got a crossbar to help him while Lehtonen was doing a Gumby impersonation trying to get across the crease…and that’s just a few of the things I noticed. From the replays I saw, there was maybe one “soft” goal (what a dumb term by the way).

I’ll repeat…3 PP goals in a row…the game was tied prior to those goals. That’s the special teams improvement Kovalchuk was talking about in his postgame interview. Kovalchuk made no mention of or allusion to Lehtonen’s “poor play”, because there was nothing to complain about regarding Lehtonen’s individual performance. He wasn’t the reason the Thrashers lost.

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 25th, 2009
9:46 am

I could have sworn I closed that command…my bad.

stendec

March 25th, 2009
10:38 am

I guess if Kari Letemin allowed 10 goals on 10 shots some damn apologists would defend him! And if Captain Until Defection Ilya Kovalchuk does not know bad goaltending when it bites him in the a## then he can take his clueless act elsewhere too. The Maggie’s Drawers misfit misfires on more open opportunities than any professed superstar I have ever seen! And I have seen quite a few of them in 50 plus years. Two good things. The more goals the higher goals against average and lower save percentage. Then the damn apologists will not have those meaningless stats to regurgitate every time the untalented Finn bestard whiffs in six or nine goals. Damn apologists!

Alan

March 25th, 2009
10:44 am

Please, stendec, take your meds. Do it for the good of your fellow bloggers, the good of your family, and the good of the nation. It’s not “the apologists” fault that you’re so bitter.

This season is over. Stop whining about apologists, defectors, and Lehtonen. Look forward to the draft lottery, Free Agency Frenzy, and the start of training camp. It might feel like it takes forever, but it’s only a few months away. Hopefully, in that time, Atlanta will acquire some new pieces to their coaching staff and roster to at least make a bid at the playoffs.

It’s the new NHL. Anything can happen.

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 25th, 2009
10:59 am

I’m just curious who he actually likes on this team. Maybe we could move forward from there to have a rational discursive discussion, as opposed to what we’ve come to expect from the nightly string of posts.

But hell, it’s my fault, I shouldn’t have responded to the posts…it only makes him more upset.

Alan

March 25th, 2009
11:29 am

Sometimes, ranallo, it’s fun to feed the bears.

GaVaHokie

March 25th, 2009
12:20 pm

Hey, leave bears out of this, I like bears… I’d say it’s more like feeding rabid racoons.

Alan

March 25th, 2009
12:34 pm

But raccoons are so cute! Especially the rabid ones, with their frothy little mouths and sinister looking eyes!

I want one now! Thanks a lot, Hokie! :(

Tony C.

March 25th, 2009
4:57 pm

KNOBES:

Any chance you could ask JA if they have any plans to “encourage” the guys to stay in town for the summer???

Mikeyy

March 25th, 2009
7:04 pm

stendec i am so tired of reading your garbage posts after every loss i mean how pathetic are you that you have to come on this site and rip everyone on the team every night?! the biggest and most irritating crap you speak of consistently would have to be your hating on kovalchuk i mean how freakin stupd are you, he is top 5 in goals year after year and you rip on him like he is some 4th line talent. wake up retard!

Alan

March 25th, 2009
7:33 pm

Don’t give him too much credit, Mikeyy, he posts them sometimes after we win games, too. Especially if Lehtonen just so happens to give up “a softie” (read as: anything that might get past him) in his own eyes.

mknobler

March 25th, 2009
10:57 pm

Tony C. I think there is zero chance of that. Kovalchuk summers on the French Riviera. The other Europeans go home, at least for awhile. I think the key thing is how many are back in late August/early September. It’s a very, very long offseason for teams that don’t make the playoffs.

mknobler

March 25th, 2009
11:00 pm

BTW, an update on Boris Valabik: He is expected to start skating again next week. He’ll need some conditioning time, but I would think he will play again before the end of the season.

stendec's wife

March 26th, 2009
11:33 am

Please forgive my Hubby, you see, he has a little winkie, it doesn’t work half the time, and when it does, its not very pleasurable for me. He doesn’t have any A$$ to back “the little fellow” up. He watches alot of hockey, so I know he has seen the Enzyte commercials. He just will not make that call.