Kovalchuk, Kubina under the weather, miss practice

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.

Thanks folks.

46 comments Add your comment

J.B.

December 4th, 2009
2:53 pm

re: kovy & kubina – well, that explains a little of what happened last night i guess…

Sara

December 4th, 2009
3:02 pm

I’d say that explains the two 2-liters of Ginger Ale I saw Kovy buying after the game last night as well.

Chris Vivlamore

December 4th, 2009
3:04 pm

Interesting stats:

Goals a game average: Home 3.2, Road 3.5
Goals allowed average: Home 2.9, Road 2.6
Hits: Home 188, Road 227
Giveaways: Home 126, Road 116
Power play percentage: Home 21.0, Road 24.3
Penalty kill percentage: Home 80%, Road 88.6
Net plus/minus: Home +3, Road +6

DowntownATL

December 4th, 2009
3:08 pm

C Viv,

I’m giving that PK differential the Hairy Eyeball.

Smoothie

December 4th, 2009
3:16 pm

Thanks Chris for the update…any tinkerng with lines for the roadie?

If we go 9 – 6 – 2 during the next 17 games, that would be one hell of an accomplishment. This is a brutal stretch and perhaps the most important stretch of the year. To maintain a playoffs-worth points earned % of .591 (97 pts), they need to win at least 8 of the next 17.

That seems fairly reasonable…go .500 or slightly better over the next month and we’ll be sittin’ pretty!

GaVaHokie

December 4th, 2009
3:26 pm

Well, taking a closer look at our opponents next week… All three Canadian teams will be coming OFF their road trips.

Atlanta will be the first home game for Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver… so hopefully we’ll catch these teams being sluggish.

J.B.

December 4th, 2009
3:43 pm

damn i hope those guys feel better soon. it sucks travelling when you’re sick and they’ve got alot of flying to do this week. not to mention the fact that being in such an enclosed space with circulating air like a small jet there’s a good chance a bunch of other players will get it too.

Diego from Lilburn

December 4th, 2009
4:14 pm

Can we please please please ditch the “code red” jerseys???

Code Red usually means an emergency and I think that is what we are facing each time they put them on!

Last night’s game was just… flat. It just felt boring, slow, and flat.

One bright spot I thought was Bryan Little. He did seem like he had some jump and I think he is looking better than previous games.

I also thought Anssi looked pretty good. He seemed to have jump and seems hungry to score some goals.

Several people didn’t even have their names mentioned last night on the telecast. They just weren’t making enough of an impact to merit a mention. Hint: If you are on the ice and nobody notices, it might be a problem.

Diego from Lilburn

December 4th, 2009
4:21 pm

Smoothie – *** off topic*** I often can’t post comments on your blog. The comments box isn’t there. Got any ideas?

The Earl of Bud

December 4th, 2009
4:22 pm

Chris, I think the interesting stat there is the hits. Not just because we hits other teams more on the road (227 hits compared to 188 at home games), but there were only 11 road games compared to 14 home games. So if you take the average hits per game and stretch it out to 14 road games, you are really looking at 288 hits on the road over 14 games compared to 188 hits at 14 home games.

Clearly these guys are not agressive and physical enough inside the bulb.

The Earl of Bud

December 4th, 2009
4:23 pm

Smoothie, I couldn’t post there either. I only made some stupid comments about a Bob Barker sexual harrassment suit so I didn’t bother to mention it but now that someone else has brought it up…

Barry

December 4th, 2009
4:47 pm

It may not seem like it, but I think the “hits” differential is a very telling story in my mind. You start putting body on people or just getting all up in their face instead of letting them have 10 feet to skate over, pick a spot, wind up, and have a free slap shot at Pavelec. Thrashers sometimes play with a total lack of toughness and until they bring that intensity on all areas of the ice every game they are going to have stinkers like last night. If Thrashers are gonna give other teams time and space, they are like “hey thanks” and will take full advantage of it. Time for this team to get mean on this road trip and show these teams what they are really made of.

Smoothie

December 4th, 2009
4:59 pm

Diego, EOB, anyone else who would like to visit — sorry fellas, when I was doing maint, I accidentally reset or changed some setting that prevents anonymous users from posting. I have fixed the problem. Feel free to stop by and post on occasion. I may be a bit lax next week as I’m on vacation, but we’ll see…there’s only so much time you can spend lying on a beach drinking beer!! Have a good weekend all!

The Earl of Bud

December 4th, 2009
5:06 pm

Barry, it is indeed telling. When looking at winning and losing, people think goals. But goals are an effect, things like hits and turnovers are the cause. Find out what the causes are and you are onto something.

Smoothie, have fun but will you at least catch the games at night after lying on the beach all day?

Chris Vivlamore

December 4th, 2009
5:37 pm

Tomas Vokoun could return Saturday. He practiced today. Game-time decision.

smoothie

December 4th, 2009
6:03 pm

We’ll actually be in “Miami” for the game on sat night, a little bonus treat for my b-day celebration. Hopefully the team won’t ruin my nite! May get a game or two on the internet but prolly settle for radio streaming. But we’ll be back in Blueland on sat the 12th vs MTL!! Peace!

Hockey Biltong

December 4th, 2009
8:21 pm

The red jerseys are better than the blue ones. It’s Thursday we have to burn, cause I swear every freakin game I’ve been to Thurs nite,they have lost. So if they were wearing the Blue jerseys, y’all would be clamouring for them to be fried too!!!!

The Earl of Bud

December 4th, 2009
10:04 pm

Just logged on to check some fantasy stats when I saw this –

“Eventually, the Thrashers will have to find a way to motivate themselves to play in a half-empty Philips Arena. Otherwise, losses like Thursday’s ugly defeat to the Islanders will continue to happen.”

It was followed up with a quote by Chris Thorburn –

“It was pretty dead, but we’re professionals and this is our job,” Thrashers winger Chris Thorburn(notes) said.

It’s bad when the players take notice and then say it effects their play. Now they are professionals like Thor said, but still, it seems to be effecting them. We have a team in the middle of the playoff pack and we are not supporting them and there isn’t a reason in the world why people in Atlanta can’t go watch this winning team that was put together.

EA

December 4th, 2009
10:54 pm

Amen The Earl of Bud. The half empty arena is depressing. We all need to support this team.

Hockey Biltong

December 5th, 2009
12:54 am

EA- Absolutely, it’s totaly depressing not being surrounded by like – minded fans….

tom

December 5th, 2009
2:36 am

another article alludes to the upcoming road trip could determine a playoff scenario. The writer of this article must be hurting for material. To be making that statement this early in the season is a joke. What this team does from day one will determine playoff possibilities. Late in the season if the team is on the bubble, this would be an appropriate comment. A team with alot of talent and a coach with no NHL head coaching experience who can’t consistently put together wins. Peaks and valleys do not make a playoff a possibility. They have only had one talented and experienced coach and they fired him. The GM would be out of work in any other city. He is to blame for the lack of success of the Thrashers. I don’t know why anyone with talent would want to play for this team while he is in charge. Until he leaves, it just isn’t going to happen.

Jimbo

December 5th, 2009
9:11 am

Just a nonsupportable obwervation but, it appears to me that we go out on road games to show the other team that we do not intend to be pushed around. As a result, we are more aggressive and the “hit” totals seem to support it. At home, just the opposite occurs, they do the same to us but we don’t seem to retaliate until we a goal or two behind. At home, why not use the 3rd and 4th lines early on the first quarter? Anderson talked about our first line being big and fast. True, but they sure are not hitters and are more adept at skill play rather than physical play. While many teams feature a “checking line” to slow down the other teams top line, we really don’t have one. Kane and Armstrong do hit but they’re more offensively focused than defensive. I’d like to see JA instruct the Kane-Reasoner (maybe Little)-Armstrong line to consider themselves more of a “shutdown” line (2 way line) and match them up against top lines. While we’re scoring OK and are fun to watch, we may have trouble down the road if we can’t tighten it up when we need to.

The Earl of Bud

December 5th, 2009
10:31 am

Jimbo, nice post. Someone posted about 2 weeks ago to start the game with our 4th line. I have posted on a few occasions that they need to be out there more in the opening periods because the momentum just goes our way.

Now that Reasoner is on the 4th line, we moved to having 3 scoring lines vs the traditional set up of a checking line and grinding/goon line. I think this has created a lot of problems for us. While some of our forwards can round out the top 6, they are not nor ever have been checking forwards (the Little White Russian line) and to expect them to all of a sudden morph into checkers is putting a square peg in a round hole. They are finesse players who score, not bangers who play that type of game. So to expect them to do otherwise isn’t realistic.

If the 3 lines put up 4+ goals/game, like they’ve shown they could, we can work around this and get outshot by 10-20 shots and still win easily. But when they aren’t “on” we are in trouble as we are seeing right now.

We almost have a logjam in our top 6 that is forcing us to play this way. If we had Reasoner back on the 3rd line, I think our gameplan would be different. Army would play more physical with him and we would have 2 lines that can bang. Slater in the lineup full time isn’t going to put any points on the scoreboard, but we don’t need the 4th line to score, nor should we expect them to. We just need them to wear down the opponent and keep the puck in the other zone which they do a good job of. Pavelec gets bored when they are on the ice which is a good thing.

This is more hitting the panic button, because benching regular forwards is not “tinkering”, but I would like to see a Kozlov or White or Armstrong sit a game and solve the logjam that way. It doesn’t solve the problem long term so maybe it’s not the right way to go. But if we start playing tough again and are winning then it’s a good problem to have.

msubearfan

December 5th, 2009
10:49 am

Trade White for whatever you can get. Then rollout:
Kovy-Antro-Max
Kozlov-Pevs-Little
Kane-Reasoner-Army
Boulton-Slater-Thor or bring up an check from CHI if anyone is ready.

Makes the most sense. Get a pick or something for White and free up salary for next season. The 3rd line can now be more of a checking line but could still score some if needed.

Move Kovy off the point on the PP to keep our top 2 forward lines together as our PP lines. With Hainsey, Bogosian, Toby, and Kubina we are fine at the back on the PP.

Get The Puck Out

December 5th, 2009
12:28 pm

Gonna have to be more effort than thursday night’s game. Who’s startin in goal for both teams?

waffleboy

December 5th, 2009
1:36 pm

I agree with the idea of sitting White, but I don;t like pulling Peverly of the third line with Kane and Armstrong. Reasoner a hard-working two-way center who, I think, would work well with Kozlov and Little. I’d like to see him get an extended look with those guys.
My biggest concern now, unfortunately, is the lack of any news regarding the re-signing of Ilya. It was said that the deal would be done before training camp, before the season, than before Christmas. Well, Christmas is in three weeks and no contract. I have to think that this is not going to happen at all and we’ve all been living in a fool’s paradise to think that Kovalchuk is not going to test the free agent market. I hate to say it, but I think we have to trade him if the road trip is not spectacular. Because the way these guys play at home, we’re probably going to need to be 10 games above .500 on the road just to make the playoffs.

The Earl of Bud

December 5th, 2009
5:44 pm

msubearfan – I don’t think you trade White, I say just bench him. I don’t think your going to get more than a middle round pick for him anyway, and the success rate of that is not going to be as much as what White is bringing to the table today, albeit little right now. At least he is insurance now say if Reasoner goes down or Peverley gets injured, why not keep him in the pressbox for emergency for what should be a playoff run this year?

waffleboy – on the outside I am mad that you are suggesting that, secretly I share your sentiments. Kovalchuk was given everything he wanted and we have a good team this year. He can’t even say we didn’t try when we went and got him Max and Antro (not to mention Kubina). The home record that you talk about worries me too. Something is wrong here.

Thrashy

December 5th, 2009
6:23 pm

Is Kovalchuk playing tonight??

Brendan

December 5th, 2009
8:36 pm

Yes, Kovy is playing tonight. He’s had some chances, too. Just nothing is getting past Vokoun. I’ll be curious to see how much of this game the Thrashers spent on the Power Play. I wonder if a team has ever played half of an entire game for PP minutes?

The Earl of Bud

December 5th, 2009
9:13 pm

9 minutes on the PP! At first I was about to make a Stendec type post after they didn’t convert but they did hit the post twice on the PP and Kubina and White had point blank shots that were good saves by Vokoun so I will hold off.

Antro just did the one thing I can’t stand most this year, the cross ice pass in his own zone that gets intercepted to go for a breakaway for the other team.

I am watching the Panthers broadcast tonight and they have the two biggest homers possible. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like it when announcers for the home team (not like ones on VS or NHL network that are supposed to be neutral). But these guys described Frolik’s hit on Enstrom as “just gingerly touching him” and then the elbow to Kovalchuk’s chops as “sure the elbow was there, but those are two guys going for the puck”.

The only intelligent thing they did say was at the beginning when they said DeBoer was going to try to get his top line against our top line because even though our Russians score a lot they are horrible defensively and that could give a lot of chances to the Panthers top line.

The Earl of Bud

December 5th, 2009
9:28 pm

HOLY #$@^%$ Kovalchuk this time.

GaVaHokie

December 5th, 2009
9:35 pm

Clutch with the pass!

The Earl of Bud

December 5th, 2009
9:43 pm

GaVaHokie – OMG you’re right I can’t believe that pass by Enstrom!!!

stendec

December 5th, 2009
10:04 pm

Moose was magnificent! Only one regulation goal surrendered. Save in overtime was grand larceny! Teammates sort of bailed him out in shootout. As did iron! Deserved two points. Captain Ilya Kovalchuk deadlocked score with around a minute to play! Thrashers continue to hit iron instead of twine. Totally frustrating! Two points are two points. Sure as Hell beats pathetic Islander showing. Congratulations! ++STENDEC++

Brendan

December 5th, 2009
10:23 pm

I think we … kinda, sorta stole this one. But hey! It’s a 60-minute game. S-I-X-T-Y minutes. If the Panthers lost to us with 5.5 seconds left last time, thanks to Finny, and were 64 ticks away from victory this time, they didn’t learn their lesson.

At least the Panthers salvaged a point, unlike last time. I tell you … it sure looked like a shutout loss tonight. And Darren Eliot, for a member of the goaltender’s union, sure put the kaibosh on Vokoun. He’ll hear about that one, with all that “shutout” talk, designed to hex Vokoun.

Hey, it’s 2-points. I’ll take it. Where are we now, sixth in the Conference? We gotta stay there. The #6 spot can be a pretty good spot. Ask the 1993 New York Islanders and Los Angeles Kings, 1998 Buffalo Sabres, 2001 Pittsburgh Penguins, 2003 Minnesota Wild, the 2004 Calgary Flames, the 2006 Philadelphia Flyers and Anaheim Mighty Ducks, the 2009 Carolina Hurricanes. All those previous #6 seeds reached the Conference Finals in those years.

I say, let’s keep rollin’ with the Moose. Anyone check out his record? Now, compare that to Pavelec’s. Who’s been our #1 goalie this season?

The Earl of Bud

December 5th, 2009
10:34 pm

Brendan, weren’t you the one who said if Moose played 4 in a row he’s fall back down to earth?

Brendan

December 5th, 2009
11:30 pm

This isn’t his 3rd start in-a-row, is it?

Brendan

December 5th, 2009
11:52 pm

EOB, I think you know Coach Anderson is not about to pull a Lindy Ruff, overplaying Miller vis-a-vis the Moose. We can’t ask Moose to play 55 games this year. But in his “backup” role, the Moose’s stats are impressive. I’m kinda glad Hedberg is putting up these kinds of numbers in his ‘contract year.’ If he decides to continue his career next season, he should be able to garner some interest, at an elevated wage.

The Earl of Bud

December 6th, 2009
12:12 am

When was Miller ever “overplayed”? He had one year where he hit 70 games but was winning them up until the end, so you can’t say he was overplayed. If the 20 something year old guy wins and is not tired, you play him. Look at Brodeur.

As for Moose, are you going to split hairs and say that 3 starts in a row Moose is dynamite and 4 in a row is when he tanks? How can you measure it that the 4th game is when he stinks up the joint and the 3rd game he should start and win? That’s a fine line. I can see the difference of 2 in a row being ok but not 3, but the difference between 3 and 4 isn’t much.

On top of that, it’s not like Pavalec was doing that bad. He lost the game to the NYI but don’t tell me Moose would’ve won that and Pavelec earned points in the 5 previous games (3-0-2). Now consider all the games in so many days that we have and you don’t want either goalie being overworked.

I think both goalies are going to get a ton of games in the next 2 weeks. I’m more worried about our offense.

Hockey Biltong

December 6th, 2009
10:52 am

There has been talk of this year being an off year for Kozlov. He seems to go year to year, like a wave, crest to trough, crest to trough.
Perhaps Moose is just that much better statistically resting after 3 games rather than resting after 4?
You wonder what it is that helps individuals recharge and reset, and what is the best formula for helping say, Kozlov or Moose return to their peak/optimum performance after a down period?

MB

December 6th, 2009
4:19 pm

On a separate note, doesn’t it seem like there have been an awful lot of hat tricks recently?

Dwayne

December 6th, 2009
7:30 pm

MB….not in Atlanta.

Mike Knobler

December 6th, 2009
9:00 pm

Just checking in when I should be studying for exams, and I see a post from Stendec praising Moose and the Thrashers. What gives?

Good to see Chris is doing an excellent job keeping people posted on news from Blueland.

Anyway, hi to everybody, from Ovechkin-land.

Mike

Brendan

December 6th, 2009
9:22 pm

Good luck on your Finals, Mike Knobler. Thanks for checking in on us. Have you gotten out to see Ovechkin, live in the flesh, at MCI Center this year?

kracker

December 7th, 2009
1:28 pm

Chris, Are you traveling with the team on any of these road games?

Mike Knobler

December 8th, 2009
10:36 pm

Thanks, Brendan. I study. I sleep. I run. I go to class. This is my life. No hockey games. No football games. No basketball games. (Not even any time to watch a full game of any kind on TV.)

Mike