Three stars of March

Here is my off-the-cuff attempt at choosing the Thrashers’ three stars for the 9-4 month of March, their best month since the first month of their one playoff season.

Third star — Kari Lehtonen. Yes, he allowed six goals in each of his last two full games, but don’t forget what he did before that: Shutouts of Montreal and Colorado and a career-best 49 saves against Washington. His stats for the month are 5-3, 2.74 goals against average, .918 save percentage.

Second star — Slava Kozlov. 6 goals, 10 assists, points in 10 of his last 11 games. He is a key to the power play’s resurgence.

First star — Ilya Kovalchuk. 6 goals, 10 assists, despite a back injury that caused him to miss three of the 13 games. He scored points in every game he played except for the 46-second appearance at Edmonton. Without that game, he’d have a 12-game point-scoring streak. He has been a creative force, and he has scored goals at big times. He was the prime mover behind the three-goal comeback Thursday night against the Rangers. He ended February with a five-point game (doesn’t count for a March award), and kept on going.

Honorable mention: Tobias Enstrom (3-11—14), Todd White (career-best nine-game point-scoring streak), Zach Bogosian (hard to believe he’s a rookie, sometimes looked like the team’s best defenseman).

32 comments Add your comment

Brendan

March 29th, 2009
12:02 am

No honorable mention for Bryan Little?

Smoothie

March 29th, 2009
12:22 am

Unsung hero award is a toss-up between B-Litts and Rich Peverley!!

Every time I see Richie P. in person I am more and more amazed that the Predators could not find a full-time role for him in their line-up. Me thinks he is better than Radek Bonk by a country mile!

Great 2nd period tonite and wonderful team effort against the Sens. The give and go between White and Kovy for the 2nd goal was as pretty as you’ll ever see!

And can we give Marty “the Party” Reasoner his 2 yr / $2.75 M contract already?? Geez, what is DWad waiting for??

stendec

March 29th, 2009
1:03 am

Third star — (CENSORED). Yes, he allowed **six goals in each of his last two full games** but don’t forget what he did before that: Shutouts of Montreal and Colorado and a career-best 49 saves against Washington. His stats for the month were 5-3, 2.74 goals against average, .918 save percentage. Hero worship is so sweet. SIGH! To some real heroes go my personal congratulations. Way to go Moose on 100 and Ilya Kovalchuk on 40. Keep on keeping on guys!

mknobler

March 29th, 2009
1:13 am

Brendan I guess Little has me spoiled. Six goals in 13 games IS pretty darned good. Only one assist, though, and minus-1 for the month. (OK, I’ll admit, Kovalchuk was minus-2, despite all his scoring.)

mknobler

March 29th, 2009
1:16 am

If I’m counting correctly, Enstrom was plus-6 and Bogosian was plus-2.

mknobler

March 29th, 2009
1:21 am

Peverley was plus-6 for the month. He and Reasoner are tied for the team lead at plus-10 on the season. Give the edge there to Reasoner, who has that stat despite playing through the awful 2008 part of this season. (Enstrom is right behind at plus-9 for the season. Bogosian is plus-7.)

Jameson

March 29th, 2009
10:26 am

Yes, the future is looking bright. Let’s just hope Kovalchuk keeps that in mind this summer. It looks to be a while before Lehtonen, Bogosian or some future player is going to be able to steal the team MVP award from him.

DICK

March 29th, 2009
10:43 am

It’s tough to give credit for this run to just three players. These guys actually looked like a team and it has been exciting. It’s nice to see there was a spark in the locker room too. Things being the way they are they could have rolled over and died and nobody would really blame them. Who knows, maybe they get a cut on ticket sales for next year so they decided to step it up this last few weeks. Also, the real first star of the Sens game should have been given to The Cheetah since several of the Ottawa players were camped out there for two days.

Gordon

March 29th, 2009
11:31 am

In the article “Reasoner wants to Stay”, was that a gentle nudge on his part for the Thrashers to make an offer, because if they don’t by July 1st, everyone else will??? If DW and the ASG screw this up, who cares what the stars of the month are because none of it will matter as the Thrashers will never be able to attract a star and Kovy will Leave!!WTFIGO!

smoothie

March 29th, 2009
11:45 am

I agree Gordon. If the team can negotiate with Kovy starting 7/1 in the final year of his deal, then it follows they should be able to offer him now before other teams drive up the price. Marty signed HERE for a cool mill. I think he understands his value and wood prolly be flattered with a 2 or 3 yr deal that avgs $1.5 M per. Does anyone know what sum of the leagues top 3rd line Centers make?

mknobler

March 29th, 2009
12:31 pm

Gordon In this case I will resist interpretation and let you reach your own conclusions.

Smoothie

March 29th, 2009
1:22 pm

I meant to write that it follows the team should be able to negotiate now with Mr. Reasoner and not Kapt Kovy. Perhaps he and DW have a gentlemen’s agreement in place and DW knows that Marty will give the ASG first consideration in the F/A process.

polskidawg

March 29th, 2009
2:21 pm

Zach Bogosian (hard to believe he’s a rookie, sometimes looked like the team’s best defenseman).

Mike – he is the teams best D-man, not just looks like the best…

Alan

March 29th, 2009
2:23 pm

D-Wad needs to lock up Reasoner ASAP. Give him more money, but don’t break the bank either.I would go no higher than $1.75M/per for at least two years.

Supes

March 29th, 2009
3:01 pm

I hope the Thrashers organization takes notice of the key players they need to sign, and JUST DO IT. Like Nike says:) No BS around, open up the checkbook and pay them what they are worth. No need to overspend or go above and beyond market value, but one to attract potential FA this summer is to show “the kwan” to the guys performing on this current Thrashers roster who are not signed beyond next year.

Last but not least, FRANCHISE, 40+ goal scorers, 100+ point players DO NOT grow on trees, Ilya Needs to be shown some LOVE. If they have to make him a top 5 “salary” player so be it. He is worth it. He is the key.

Not long ago, that goober John Kincade kept writting how Ilya needs to be traded this off-season. I argue the opposite, Ilya NEEDS to be resigned. Priority number 1. As long as he wants to stay here of course. If he doesn’t and makes it known to management, a different story. But, he hasn’t came out and said he wants to leave. So show him the MONEY!

Darn, cheap Spirit Group…

Hockey Biltong

March 29th, 2009
7:52 pm

Remember, Kincade is just a Philly Homer no matter what salad dressing you put on him. The dude drives me crazier than , oh never mind, I wont go there.

Brendan

March 29th, 2009
7:58 pm

Is this site still accepting posts? Mine haven’t shown up. And it’s been a few hours.

Brendan

March 29th, 2009
8:12 pm

I’ll try to make this post one last time. Here, now, “Take 3.”

Atlanta OWNS Reasoner’s rights. So, there’s no “official” reason Atlanta cannot hold contract negotiations with its own player. That’s a FACT. If Atlanta refuses to negotiate with Reasoner, it’s for “self imposed” reasons or policies. Or, perhaps, it resides in their desire not to re-sign the player. Or even in the hopes that, for the money they’ve “earmarked” for Reasoner, that the Thrashers can find an even BETTER player.

In the past, Don Waddell has refused to hold contract negotiations with players DURING the season. Unless said player’s name was Hossa. Most of the NHL does not subscribe to the Waddell “policy.” You can visit just about every other NHL team’s website and see how they’ve locked up players DURING the season. It’s hardly uncommon.

Tony C.

March 29th, 2009
10:33 pm

Great.

Here’s a guy that wants to stay but the FUBAS boys/Jar-Jar aren’t even negotiating with a guy who, if given a 15% raise would only be getting paid 1.15M/per.

Jackalopes. If they dink this offseason up, then there’s nothing left. Even the most die-hard of us will turn away, and all those frostback pundits in Toronto will nudge each other knowingly and say “see, it will never work in Atlanta”

Jackalopes.

Brendan

March 29th, 2009
11:59 pm

Sage of Bluesland quote coming up in 3…2…1. See, Tony C., you’ve opened the door for Sage to jump in. (Not being critical here.) And he will. He’s just “late.” I can already hear it. Sage will tell us that there are many sheep in Blueland who will come, pay FULL PRICE, and be happy to do it. Also, Sage will remind us that as many as 6,000 fans of the OTHER TEAM will always show up to Philips to root on their hometown team. And if Blueland were whittled down to 6,000 “die-hards,” or “Waddellites,” etc., + the 6,000 fans rooting for the OTHER team, that’s 12,000 fans. And, apparently, all that’s needed for revenue-sharing dollars to kick in … is to average 14,000 fans.

Which means?

Well, it means that if … out of the 20 county metropolitan-area, consisting of 4.5 million people, that 2,000 of them who are sitting on the fence with this team … ACTUALLY bought tickets … that they DODGED the ACCOUNTABILITY BULLET yet again.

Segue to Toronto … wanna know why, in PART, the Maple Leafs haven’t won a cup in 4 decades? Answer: Because their fans will pack the arena NO MATTER WHAT. Ergo, there is NO ACCOUNTABILITY. There’s no reason for the Maple Leaf ownership to change a thing. The closest thing there is to accountability in Toronto is the local media, which seems to be able to help “hire and fire” GM’s and Coaches alike. Sometimes, to the detriment of the team. In fairness to Toronto, the Maple Leafs haven’t SUCKED for four decades. Some of those teams in the 70’s were pretty good. Salming, Sittler, Turnbull, McDonald, etc. Between 1993 to 2002 the Leafs reach the CF four (4) times. But it took the media to DEMAND the return of Cliff Fletcher to make that happen. Fletcher restored some of the pride in the Maple Leaf crest. And now, he’s back … and with Brian Burke as GM and Ron Wilson as Head Coach, things should be getting better for them. It didn’t hurt them that they plucked Luc Schenn from the Islanders at last year’s draft, for “throw away” draft picks.

Now, we all know what you meant, Tony C. If #17 says, “nyet” to an extension in July, it won’t be necessary to seek out a “think tank” as to why it didn’t happen. And if #17 forces a trade out of here, it’ll be rough seas here. People won’t brush that move gently under the carpet. They’ll be hopping mad. And the usual things will be said. (1) the Ownership is terrible. (2) Waddell should be (have been) fired. Etc., Etc., Etc.

If you were a fan, owner, or GM in another market, you’d want to see Kovalchuk leave Atlanta, too. You’d hope he winds up in your market. But there’s one (1) thing, that ABOVE ALL, stands out for Kovalchuk, if he CHOOSES to remain in Atlanta. He’d own this team, “Jagr style.” This ownership and GM would be soooo heavily VESTED in Kovalchuk, that Kovy can virtually hire and fire any coach he wanted. This is his team to control. He’s the Captain. He’s the face of the franchise. And he’s the best player, right now, and in the franchise history. He’ll get paid whatever he wants, too. Those are the benefits to Kovalchuk staying in Atlanta. He’ll have plenty of power, control and influence. Does it get that, necessarily, by going to another market?

Jimbo

March 30th, 2009
8:38 am

No question that Kovy is #1 Star. He has hustled his tail off all year and seems to have notched it up a bit since getting the “C”. It would go a long way to restoring fan confidence in the ownership if they lock him up early in the off season. If Don plays his normal “cat and mouse” game of “we’re in serious discussions”, then he’s out of here. The nucleus of Kovy, Little, Bogosian, Enstrom and Kari has to be maintained. Actually, even Exelby has stepped up. May be hope for him with the right partner, like Oystrick.

GaVaHokie

March 30th, 2009
8:53 am

Was I not the one who said last year that we’d be happy having White locked up for $2 million a year? ;) I took so much flack for saying that.

We’ll get Reasoner signed… don’t worry.

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 30th, 2009
9:16 am

Clearly Hokie, you had no idea what you were talking about. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid.

Smoothie

March 30th, 2009
9:28 am

GVH — I hope you’re right man! I want Marty “the Party” locked up for a couple more years. He’s the consummate pro and a steady 3rd line workhorse. I really like the prospect of a Stuart — Marty — Crabb checking line. Stuart’s speed is deadly and Joey’s hustle and work in the corners is solidly effective; the combo of those two allows Marty to play 3rd man high and either crash the net when oppty knocks or get back into the neutral zone to break up the other team’s rush.

Midfield

March 30th, 2009
10:27 am

Brendan, who’d we want to really call the shots here – Kovy, Waddel, or the Spirit suits? Hmmm. I gave it a 2 second thought: I’ll go with Kovy, even though he does not appear to be comfortable bloviating in front of a microphone.

GaVaHokie

March 30th, 2009
10:33 am

Smoothie… I concur… and despite criticism, I also like the 4th line of Thorburn, Slater and Boulton.

The only issue is Crabb is UFA this summer, with a ton of important RFA’s to sign (Valabik, Salmela, Armstrong, Thorburn, Lehtonen, Slater, LaVallee). But we have more than enough money to spend, even by ASG terms.

I believe Espo will qualify to play for the Wolves next year. Which makes things more interesting with Espo joining Holzapfel and Machacek.

GaVaHokie

March 30th, 2009
10:36 am

ranallo… if Kozlov is the “Professor”, than White is the Asst. Professor… you can never have too many of those guys… Little might turn out to be one himself… we’ll call him the Teacher’s Aide. :)

Brendan

March 30th, 2009
11:43 am

Hokie, I think you were also the one who said Little would score 30 goals this year. You’re on a roll. But I think this blog took issue with the White contract signing for two main reasons: (1) White wasn’t the Tier I center Hossa asked for in the 2007 offseason, after the team was swept out of the playoffs by the Rangers and (2) White was being criticized for his size and toughness (”Charmin”).

I always said, “White is probably ‘good value’ for the money and every team needs quality, inexpensive DEPTH players. I’m not upset with Todd White being a Thrasher. Hossa is.” White is having a career year. And the best part of it, to me, seems to be that Todd White ACTUALLY WANTS to be a Thrasher. He signed here, of his own FREE WILL.

Brendan

March 30th, 2009
11:48 am

Midfield, at this point, anyone other than the Spirit suits would be the answer. If Kovy actually got to target the players and recruit them here, to Atlanta, that wouldn’t be so bad. Now, I cannot speak to Kovalchuk’s abilities as a “closeted” GM. But I’d be willing to give it try. I think even Kovalchuk sees the need for the team to be sound defensively and in goal. It can’t just be about landing the top Center available on the Free Agent Market every offseason, irrespective of cost.

The truth I believe is this: “Players talk to each other.” They know what situations to avoid and which ones appear to be decent things to become a part of. If more players were excited about coming to play here in Atlanta, it would be a GOOD thing, in my opinion.

Alan

March 30th, 2009
11:50 am

Hokie, Salmela doesn’t have to be re-signed this year. His contract is through next season. It would be nice to see D-Wad make a more proactive approach to signing guys (ahem, like Reasoner, for example), but signing Salmela isn’t a necessity until next July.

fes

March 30th, 2009
2:09 pm

Alan, nhlnumbers shows that Salmela is an RFA after this season.

Does anyone know if we are still only able to offer limited contracts, per the court’s orders? Are we even able to lock up Kovy really long-term, ala Ovechkin, etc? I remember that at one point the judge restricted us to no more than 4 or 5 years.

George

April 2nd, 2009
4:00 pm

B-Litts gets no recognition for getting 50pts, give me a break man!