Archive for November, 2009

Hedberg back in goal, Valabik returns

Sorry for the lengthy delay posting this new blog. I got caught up following the morning skate for tonight’s game against Florida.

Two noteworthy items from today.

Johan Hedberg will be back in goal tonight against the Cats following his shutout of the Flyers.

Boris Valabik was back on the ice for the Thrashers, fresh off his stint at AHL Chicago. He took part in the morning skate but most likely will be a scratch tonight. This is what John Anderson said when I asked about Valabik’s status this morning:

“We will see how he is reacting,” Anderson said. “He’s coming off a long-term injury and he played pretty good in Chicago. He will get in but it’s hard to put a new guy in when you are winning hockey games. We’ll have to make sure it’s the right time.”

The Thrashers will continue to carry 23 players for the time being.

I’m also told that Associate GM Rick Dudley and Director of Player Personnel Mark Dobson were in Nashville Friday and Saturday watching the Predators. No word on …

Continue reading Hedberg back in goal, Valabik returns »

Highlights from interview with Don Waddell

As we get ready for Thrashers optional practice Sunday morning following last night’s win over Philadelphia, here are some of the highlights from my interview with GM Don Waddell following the first period.

1. As I first posted last night, prospect Angelo Esposito is out for the season after tearing the ACL in his right knee for the second time.

Here is what Waddell said on that: “We are going to fly him in [Sunday]. He’ll get re-examined by our doctors here this week and we’ll go from there. I’m very, very disappointed for the kid.”

2. As I also first posted last night, Boris Valabik will return from his rehab stint in Chicago on Monday.

“His two weeks down there are up this weekend,” Waddell said. “He’s played well down there. He’ll come back here on Monday.”

When I asked if the Thrashers planned to carry 23 players once Valabik returned, Waddell said: “We’ll see. I will initially. We’ll see after that.”

3. Waddell on the on-going contract talks with Ilya Kovalchuk: “No …

Continue reading Highlights from interview with Don Waddell »

Hedberg to start vs. Flyers

We are back from a three-day holiday break. Hope everyone had a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Thrashers get two good wins on the road.

Here are some tidbits from my interview with coach John Anderson after Saturday’s optional morning skate.

* Johan Hedberg gets the start in goal tonight vs. Flyers.

* I asked Anderson if the Carolina game – and the comeback from a 4-1 deficit – is a game this team would not have won last season. He said that was true and went so far as to say that there was so much confidence in the team’s ability to score that last year he may have considered pulling Ondrej Pavelec to get Hedberg some extra work or playing his fourth line more minutes. What a difference a year makes.

*Eric Boulton was a healthy scratch in favor of Jim Slater the last two games. Anderson wanted to get Slater some ice time. Also, it wasn’t likely that Detroit and Carolina presented a “tough” element.

*Anderson had a very interesting take on Bryan Little’s play – with two assists. …

Continue reading Hedberg to start vs. Flyers »

More line juggling at Thrashers practice

Your Tuesday morning report from Thrashers practice.

With the line juggling that occurred at the end of Sunday’s game with Tampa Bay, the lines are indeed different for practice. Three lines are different, with the fourth line intact. Here are the lines at this point, in no particular order:

Blue: Kozlov-Antropov-Afinogenov

Orange: Kovalchuk-Peverley-Armstrong

Grey: Kane-White-Little

Red: Boulton-Reasoner/Slater-Thorburn

No changes indefensive pairings.

We will report after practice what coach John Anderson says about the line changes. I suspect he’s trying to mix things up.

Thrashers leave later today for Wednesday’s game in Detroit.

Continue reading More line juggling at Thrashers practice »

20 games in, what are your thoughts?

The Thrashers are now 20 games into the season – at the quarter mark. They stand 10-7-3 and are right in the playoff mix. Just a point behind Boston for eighth in the conference.

A couple of very bright spots and a couple of, well, not-so-bright spots so far this season.

Since there is no practice today, I’m putting together a look at the first quarter of the season. That will be for today/Tuesday and then I will finish the Pavel Kubina story for Tuesday/Wednesday. With the Thrashers on the road Wednesday and Friday we can catch our breath a bit.

Some of the good:

Three of the bright spots – as we have discussed - has been the play of the offseason acquisitions. Max Afinogenov has nine goals, Nik Antropov has 19 assists and Pavel Kubina has helped the defense. More goals from Antropov would help.

The goalies have been outstanding. Hard to fault them in most of the losses. In fact, if not for Johan Hedberg and Ondrej Pavelec I suspect the Thrashers wouldn’t have eight of their …

Continue reading 20 games in, what are your thoughts? »

Live from Philips Arena: Thrashers vs. Lightning

We are settled in high above the ice about an hour before game time.

A couple of notes from last night’s game:

* Max Afinogenov extended his point streak to five games with his goal in the final seconds Saturday. He has nine points in the run – six goals and three assists.

*Rich Peverley had an assist to up his team leading total to 24 points – eight goals, 16 assists – in 19 games.

* The Thrashers hold a 28-19-10 edge in the all-time series against Tampa Bay. They are 18-6-5 at Philips Arena.

The gates are open and the crowd is starting to filter in.

Let’s get this blog posted. Perhaps I can answer some questions for the puck drops.

Continue reading Live from Philips Arena: Thrashers vs. Lightning »

As we near the season’s quarter mark, who is top acquisition so far?

Your Friday morning report from Thrashers practice.

As I wait for the players to take the ice, let’s pose a question.

With Max Afinogenov’s last-minute goal to force overtime Thursday against Boston, it got me thinking: Who is the Thrashers’  best offseason acquisition? I know it’s early, but the season is nearly at the quarter pole. You can make a case for Afinogenov, Pavel Kubina or Nik Antropov.

I asked John Anderson at the post-game press conference if he thought Afinogenov was the top off-season pickup. He said he likes all the new players and added of Max:  “Certainly, he’s taking the spotlight right now. Good for him. I’m happy for him. He’s resurging his whole career.”

Interested in what you folks think.

Ilya Kovalchuk did not practice today. That has been the pattern as he returns from his broken foot, to get some days off. Line combinations remained the same except that Jim Slater moved into Kovalchuk’s spot to skate with Nik Antropov and Max …

Continue reading As we near the season’s quarter mark, who is top acquisition so far? »

Little, Kubina return to practice

We are back for the morning practice report on Wednesday. I’m getting ready for three games in four days. I trust you are as well.

The news today is Bryan Little and Pavel Kubina are back on the ice and practicing. We will check further on their status after practice, but it looks like they will be ready for Boston on Thursday.

Ilya Kovlachuk is not practicing today. Will ask why. Probably just a precaution with the broken foot. No Boris Valabik either.

Special teams practice today. Here are the line combinations:

Blue: Little-Antropov-Afinogenov

Grey: Kozlov-White-Peverley

Orange: Kane-Reasoner-Armstrong

Red: Boulton-Slater-Thorburn

Let me pose this question, as I get more comfortable with the routine of covering games. Is there an interest in live blogging from the home games? I know there will be more local TV games coming up, so that won’t be an issue. I willing to try it for a couple of periods before I would need to turn my attention to writing.

Just curious what the …

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Little, Kubina skate … but don’t practice

The morning report from Thrashers practice on Tuesday is in.

Bryan Little and Pavel Kubina were on the ice prior to the start of practice. They skated – dressed in warmup suits – but left the ice before the start of team practice. Both are listed as “day-to-day” by head coach John Anderson with injuries. They did not appear (to the novice eye) to be hampered by the injuries.

Little has missed the past two games with a “slight groin strain.” Kubina missed Sunday’s game against Edmonton with “lower body soreness” after he was hit by shot in Friday’s game against Los Angeles.

I will see if there is any update about their status for Thursday’s game against Boston.

Here are the lines for the morning practice:

Light blue: Kovalchuk-Antropov-Afinogenov

Orange: White-Peverley-Kozlov

Grey: Kane- Reasoner-Armstrong

Yellow: Boulton-Slater-Thorburn

I will check back after practice and interviews with updates.

Continue reading Little, Kubina skate … but don’t practice »

Moose is loose

The Thrashers are off today following Sunday’s win over Edmonton. Time to get some needed chores done around the house, but I wanted to post a new blog before I get started with my lengthy list.

Let’s pose a question before I return to practice on Tuesday morning. There we can check on the status of Pavel Kubina and Byran Little, who both missed yesterday’s game with injuries.

Johan Hedberg has gotten three of the last four starts in goal – missing only Friday’s game against Los Angeles. It was the second of the away-home back-to-back with the Islanders and Kings.

Do you think Moose is assuming the No. 1 goaltender job? Or is coach John Anderson riding the hot hand? Or is it all just part of a goalie rotation where both will play plenty?

Here are the early-season stats. Hedberg is ninth in the league in save percentage at .923. He has started five games (4-1) and relieved Ondrej Pavelec twice. Pavelec (6-5-1) is 17th with a .917 save percentage. He has started 12 games and …

Continue reading Moose is loose »