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 10 losses by just a goal.
Ilya Kovalchuk has started very strong. He leads the team in goals and is second in points despite missing six games with a broken bone in his foot. His contract situation remains up in the air as we approach the holidays.
Rich Peverley leads the team with 24 points (8 goals, 16 assists). He hasn’t scored a goal in five games.
Zach Bogosian has shown a willingness to jump into offensive plays and has eight goals already. That’s tops among all NHL defensemen.
Can’t argue with what rookie Evander Kane has done. The 18-year old has seven goals. His speed and skills are evident.
Special teams play has been much improved.
Some of the not-so-good:
There has been a lack of production from some of the forwards. Slava Kozlov (2), Bryan Little (2) and Antropov (1) were counted on for more scoring. Colby Armstrong (3) and Todd White (3) are each behind their pace of 22 goals last season.
There has been a disturbing trend of falling behind early. Opponents have scored the first goal of the game 13 times. That’s 65 percent of the time. The Thrashers are 3-7-3 in those game. Yes, they have comeback in many of those games to make it close. But use Tampa Bay as an example. They have one less win than the Thrashers, but four more overtime losses. Coach John Anderson is concerned that playing from behind so much could have adverse effects down the line. Strong words from Anderson after the last two losses.
The Thrasher have to play better at home. They are just 4-5-2 at Philips Arena. Some tough teams have come through – Washington twice – but playoff teams are not under .500 on home ice. It’s never happened.
Those are a couple of my thoughts. Let me know what you guys think are the good and bad of the first quarter of the season.