Here is your Friday practice update:
* Ilya Kovlachuk and Pavel Kubina missed practice. According to coach John Anderson they were ill. He said they were not feeling well for Thursday night’s loss to the Islanders. However, he said both would make the trip to Florida following practice.
*I asked Anderson about his decision to play his top line against the Islanders top line for much of the game. As it turned out Kovalchuk, Nik Antropov and Max Afinogenov were a combined minus-7. Meanwhile, the Islanders top line had all four goals, including Matt Moulson’s hat trick.
“On occassion I’ve done that,” Anderson said. “I thought we were a little bigger and faster on the top line, but it turns out I was wrong. Sometimes it works, sometimes it slaps you right in the face.”
*Anderson, while pleased with his team’s overall performance in the stretch of games since the first loss to the Islanders, wanted to see his team to the little extra things that turn a B performance into an A performance. He didn’t think his team did that. His words: They didn’t to the extra that makes the ordinary become the extraordinary.
I’m working on a story on the differences between the team’s performance at home (6-6-2) and on the road (8-2-1). I will share some of the more interesting stats as I uncover them. Ron Hainsey said it’s an important trip and segment of the schedule coming up. Through Jan. 5, the Thrashers play 13 of the next 17 games on the road. And that includes a three-game homestand. He wants to see the team be above .500 during that stretch. If they are, they will be set up for a playoff run with plenty of home games in January and March.
I won’t be on this road trip, but I have a couple of stories in the works for while the Thrashers are gone. I will need to push back the shootout story. I just didn’t get enough time to talk to Johan Hedberg about it today. He told me some facinating things but I need to continue our conversation for a complete story. Look for stories on Nik Antropov, Angelo Esposito and Arturs Kulda next week. If you are interested, I’ll be at the Georgia Dome on Sunday covering the return of a certain quarterback.