Archive for March, 2009

St. Patrick and St. Kari

St. Patrick’s Day came a day early for the Thrashers, who did their Irish-themed celebration for Monday night’s game against the Capitals. And I was thinking, if St. Patrick chased the snakes out of Ireland, did St. Kari keep the puck out of the net Monday night? I mean, 49 saves, against Washington? Ten against Alex Ovechkin?

The Thrashers auctioned off green  uniform sweaters and raised more than $18,000 for the Thrashers foundation. No. 1 money-earner: Zach Bogosian’s sweater, at $2,000. Ilya Kovalchuk’s went for $1,600, Tobias Enstrom $1,100 and Rich Peverley $1,000.

Anssi Salmela had an added incentive to score his first NHL goal Monday night. His older brother, Tuomas, came in last night from Finland.

It will be interesting to see what the Thrashers do for defensive pairings without Hainsey. You’ve got to keep Zach Bogosian and Tobias Enstrom together, but do you put Salmela with Garnet Exelby and put Nathan Oystrick with Boris Valabik? That’s probably what I would …

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Kovy listed as day to day

Ilya Kovalchuk might return to the Thrashers’ lineup as early as Tuesday night at Pittsburgh, Thrashers coach John Anderson said Monday. Jim Slater could be back for Friday’s game at Philips Arena.

Kovalchuk left Thursday’s game at Edmonton with an upper body injury and returned to Atlanta, missing Saturday’s victory at Buffalo. The team said Kovalchuk aggravated an existing injury.

Slater has two issues: The previously dislocated shoulder plus the elbow to the face he took Saturday against Buffalo.

Brett Sterling and Spencer Machacek will play tonight against Washington. On defense, Anssi Salmela makes his Philips Arena debut.

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Slater doubtful for next 2

Here’s the latest on the injury front. The Thrashers say Jim Slater’s condition will be evaluated by the team’s doctors on Monday and that he is doubtful for Monday night’s game against Washington and Tuesday night’s game at Pittsburgh. No word yet on who would/will be called up from Chicago.

Ilya Kovalchuk’s injury is scheduled to be re-evaluated Monday, too.

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Five in a row

OK, I admit it. I was thinking about switching the channel to some college basketball. I didn’t, though, and wow, what a finish. Marty Reasoner following up Colin Stuart’s shot for yet another shorthanded goal. Todd White reaching in behind Lalime to knock the puck across the line with three seconds left to force overtime. Brett Sterling winning the shootout.

That’s five consecutive victories for the Thrashers, this one entirely without Ilya Kovalchuk and for a large part of the game without Jim Slater.

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Levenson speaks, some more

We published in Thursday’s print editions the highlights of my interview with Thrashers co-owner Bruce Levenson, but there is more to share, and I’d like to share it here.

For example, we published Levenson’s comments about trying to do right by season ticket holders by not having other adults sitting in equal or better seats at discounted prices. On the other hand, the Thrashers are going to continue discounting: They just plan to target those discounts as much as possible in ways that don’t offend their most loyal customers.

“Every team does discounting to try to build a fan base. Here we don’t have the fan base that Detroit has or Toronto has so we had to be more aggressive about that, but I’ve heard extensively from our season ticket holders, and I think there’s a right way to do that and a wrong way to do that. I think we’ve made some mistakes in our aggressive desire to bring more fans into the building. I think we’ve corrected that.”

On his role in some of the more …

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Three in a row

With Tuesday night’s victory over the Colorado Avalanche, the Thrashers’ third win in a row, Atlanta moved not only comfortable ahead of the Islanders but also three points up on Tampa Bay, within a point of Colorado and within four points of Phoenix and Ottawa. In other words, there’s a realistic chance the Thrashers could finish 25th out of the 30 NHL teams, just good enough to have no chance at the No. 1 draft pick.

So, are Thrashers fans happy their team is finally winning, or would they rather it waited until next year?

Plus, here are two things I forgot to blog from Monday’s practice:

— With Eric Perrin off the ice recovering from his stinger, Ron Hainsey did some work as a forward alongside Marty Reasoner and Colin Stuart.

—Hainsey, on why the Thrashers were able to limit shots on goal by the Canadiens and Flames: “It’s more of a team thing. If the team’s committed to protecting the puck more, having the puck more, forwards and D, not turning it over, and being in …

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Ouch update

Chris Thorburn’s face showed he had been in a fight the night before. But not all the blows he took Friday night came from Montreal. I asked him about the Ron Hainsey slap shot that hit him. Even a day later, there was still a red mark on Thorburn’s back.

Eric Perrin was able to practice Saturday after sitting out half of Friday’s game with a stinger. After practice, he spoke briefly with assistant general manager Larry Simmons. The subject: Could Perrin play Sunday, or did the Thrashers need to call up a forward to fill his spot in the lineup? The answer: Perrin will play against Calgary.

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New lines, new power play, old acquaintance

The Thrashers play the Canadiens tonight, and there are no scratches to announce because everybody on the roster will be on the bench. (Kari Lehtonen starts in goal, of course.) The new, post-Erik-Christensen-trade lines:

Kovalchuk-White-Little

Kozlov-Peverley-Armstrong

Perrin-Reasoner-Stuart

Boulton-Slater-Thorburn

Enstrom-Bogosian

Hainsey-Valabik

Exelby-Oystrick

I talked with Nathan Oystrick this morning. It’s his first game in awhile in which he’s paired with Garnet Exelby, and he doesn’t go into it entirely healthy. He has lingering effects from the illness that kept him out of Tuesday’s game. He said his lungs felt worse in practice yesterday at the IceForum than during the morning skate today, because the temperature at the IceForum is so much lower.

The No. 1 power play remains the same: Kovalchuk-Enstrom on the point, Kozlov-White-Little. The No. 2 power play, though, includes Eric Perrin on the wing in place of Rich Peverley, who moves to center in place of …

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Some perspectives on O’Dell

Here are two links to what his hometown and home team papers wrote about Eric O’Dell today. I love the part about him going out to buy some Thrashers gear.

Ottawa Citizen

Sudbury Star

I’ve got to run to a meeting. More later.

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Perrin clears waivers

Eric Perrin cleared waivers. The next step is up to the Thrashers, who can keep him, assign him to their minor league affiliate in Chicago or release him.

No other Thrashers news yet as the trade deadline looms at 3 p.m.

The players in the locker room have been monitoring TV coverage of deadline day on TSN. They’re discussing the trades and signings — Gerber to Toronto, Leopold to Calgary — and waiting to see if one of their names or the name of a teammate or friend pops up.

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