Saturday’s morning skate report

A couple of notes from Saturday’s morning skate as the Thrashers prepare to play Montreal tonight.

Looks like Johan Hedberg will start in goal. I’ll know for sure after practice and will update.

Mark Popovic is only player not practicing. I assume it’s still his foot, but will check.

New lines were used at the beginning of practice:

Kovalchuk-Antropov-Little

Kozlov-Peverley-Afinogenov

Kane-White-Armstrong

Boulton-Reasoner-Thorburn

Slater watched for the short time line combos were used.

I’ll let you know if there is anything else to report after the skate and interviews.

37 comments Add your comment

TrueBlue

December 12th, 2009
11:14 am

Am I the only one that thought Little and Kane worked GREAT together? Why break those lines up?

Russian

December 12th, 2009
11:17 am

This is a stupid idea to split Little and Kane. They played very well in Vacouver.

Russian

December 12th, 2009
11:19 am

I prefer to see line as:
Kovy-Antro-Max
Little-Pever-Kane
Slava-Reason-Armi
Bolts-White(Slater)-Throur

Russian

December 12th, 2009
11:20 am

Slava is not playing enought to Second winger.
Chris,
Who will sit on Def?

[...] Based on Chris Vivlamore’s game day blog update here are the lines for tonight: [...]

Chris Vivlamore

December 12th, 2009
12:46 pm

Hedberg indeed gets the start in goal. The scratches are Slater, Salmela and Popovic.

The Earl of Bud

December 12th, 2009
12:57 pm

I was going to say after the last game that the one thing I liked was the Kane-Peverley-Little line. Peverley is our true bright spot and between those two he can really do something. Little getting his jump back would be perfect with those two.

It seems like JA is not content with having 2 lines that produce and a 3rd that suffers, he wants to ruin the chemistry of all of them to force the 3rd to be good and it’s like all 3 suffer instead because the slumpers are spread out. Although Kozlov is doing slightly better, I wouldn’t mind sticking all the low producers on one line (Kozlov-White-Armstrong) and just let them try to be even.

With both Salmela and Popovic out, I guess we have to see Boris again. I hope that Waddell is just having JA play him to showcase him for a trade.

Thrashers27

December 12th, 2009
1:27 pm

“PERVerley” Ha!…and it has now been decided that should Rich Peverley ever start sucking his new nickname will be “Peevert”.

Smoothie

December 12th, 2009
1:39 pm

EOB, good points. I think we are becoming overly concerned with spreading the scoring over 3 lines rather than reward effort, effectiveness and energy. What’s the harm at this point in benching White for a few games and letting Slater play some grinder minutes? If the top line is going to play 22-26 mins / game, why not come out with 2 grind-it-out-in-the-corners lines? Also, we are playing right into the other teams’ hands by rolling out the Russian Roulette line at the start of every game. They have been most effective at the ends of games when JA has shuffled the deck after the 2nd period in trying to come from behind. I too like the idea of keeping Pevs with Little and Kane. However, if JA is going to reward Little for his play with 1st line minutes, why not use Pevs as the top center and let Antro balance out the 2nd line with Max and Kaner? Then spread the “grit and sandpaper” across the bottom two lines:

Kovy – Pevs – Little (most everyone was saying that Pevs should be the # 1 center at the beginning of the season, yet he is still # 2 despite being a PPG player for 60+ games)

Kane – Antro – Max (perhaps Antro will stop deferring to Kovy and shoot the puck more if he is forced to play on a different line; let Max and Kane drive to the net and have Antro fill the slot like a trailer on a basketball fast break)

Kozzy – White / Reasy – Army (this line can be effective against smaller, weaker teams’ 2nd lines or mediocre 3rd lines when at home; when on road, let Reasy play C and they are less of a defensive liability when they don’t have the last change)

Boults – Reasy / Slates / White – Thorbs (I would be perfectly happy with Slater back in the line-up playing 6-8 mins / game since White has been no better than Slater for the last month)

Thrashers27

December 12th, 2009
2:16 pm

Just crossed paths with good ole Jaqcues Martin walking down Olympic Park Drive. A gust of wind came up and caught his ears. I swear I saw his feet leave the ground. Then he gave me the stank eye ’cause I was wearing my Thrashers sweater.

[...] ATL JOHAN HEDBERG. new lines. little gets another chance with kovy and antro [...]

The Earl of Bud

December 12th, 2009
2:39 pm

Smoothie – thanks man, that is exactly what happened in our first losing streak. We started out 4-1-0 or 4-1-1, but JA wasn’t happy with the 2nd line even though the 3rd line of Kane-Pev-Army was doing great and the top line which had Kovalchuk with Little and Antro was doing great. So he broke everything up, the top line kept producing (even though it was helped more by the PP, not at ES) but then we had 2 bad lines instead of 1.

I don’t think we even need to bench White, just stick him and Army on the 3rd with some other slumper and have them play to not give up anything. Then we seem to have 2 strong lines at least versus one that may only do well on the PP.

As many here know, I am biased towards Slater (as long as he is a 4th line center) and he really came out fired up the other night. He responds after being benched. Use that.

The other thing too is that by constantly mixing and matching you kill chemistry.

The only reason I am happy is that at least he isn’t riding someone for too long. Trust me guys, Max is going to hit a wall at some point. Peverley may surprisingly keep up this pace it seems but Max won’t long term. I’m sorry fellas but I’ve just seen it happen too many times and I more than any of you will fear that he comes down to earth at some point. With that said, at least this gives Little the chance to get back on the top line where I think he is best suited for this team for multiple reasons.

Bob

December 12th, 2009
2:46 pm

Coach is getting closer, but he needs to flip Little and Max and skate these lines:

Kovalchuk-Antropov-Afinogenov

Kozlov-Perverley-Little

Kane-White-Armstrong

Boulton-Reasoner-Thorburn

hopefully he’ll switch it up that that if the 1st and 2nd lines struggle early tonight.

Dwayne

December 12th, 2009
2:52 pm

Lord have mercy on us. We blamed Don for everything, he goes out and signs enough players to be competitive, now JA can’t get the right line combos. Its JA’s fault now. Lets fire him!!! I agree with anyone who says lets have 2 good scoring lines, a 3rd line that might click with no pressure on them to score, and a fourth line.

East Point Bob

December 12th, 2009
4:44 pm

Hainsey and White should be THE sitters tonight !

Brendan

December 12th, 2009
5:09 pm

Bob, I like your line combos. I’d just switch Kane with Kozlov. I’d like to see Kane-Peverley-Little on the 2nd line. Let Kozlov-White-Armstrong have the 3rd line. And if White can’t hack it there, either, promote Reasoner. Or Thorburn to the 3rd line. Banishing White to the 4th line probably would send just as effective of a wake-up call as sending him to the pressbox.

Guess which team is 10-7-1 since October 24, 2009? Answer: Toronto Maple Leafs. http://www.cbssports.com/nhl/teams/schedule/TOR/. That’s a big improvement from their 0-7-1 start. Kessel has 10 goals and six assists, for 16-points in 19 games. I have to give him credit. That’s closing in on a point-a-game. If a GM is going to sacrifice three HIGH-END draft picks for a player, these are the kind of results he’d hope to be getting. Carolina remains DEAD LAST in the league. And Paul Maurica has kept his job. Peter Laviolette hasn’t given the Flyers a hug push since taking over. But it’s still very early yet in Philly. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster for them since 2007, when they finished DEAD LAST in the NHL. In 2008, they reached the CF as a sixth seed. Last year, 2009, they were eliminated in the opening round by the eventual Stanley Cup Champions (Pittsburgh) in six games. Remember Levenson’s talk, in 2008, about how Atlanta was in a better position than Philly was when they made their run to the CF the next year? Thank God someone muzzled him. Is there a worse combination than Bruce Levenson and a live microphone?

Chris Vivlamore

December 12th, 2009
5:17 pm

Thrashers27: Now that’s what I call a typo!

The Earl of Bud

December 12th, 2009
5:23 pm

“now JA can’t get the right line combos. Its JA’s fault now. Lets fire him!!! I agree with anyone who says lets have 2 good scoring lines…”

Dwayne, I never said to fire JA (nor do I believe anyone else did). Questioning line combos goes on in EVERY city in the NHL. Besides, first you mock us for complaining about JA, then you say you agree with us that we should have 2 solid lines and that his aren’t correct? You can’t have your cake and eat it too!

Thrashers27

December 12th, 2009
6:05 pm

Don’t feel bad, Chris. It makes for a good chuckle. I’m a TV guy and once put the word “poop” on air instead of “poor”. Hilarious!

Chris Vivlamore

December 12th, 2009
6:19 pm

Here are a couple of items that will be posted in my notebook later.

As Ilya Kovalchuk goes, so goes the Thrashers.
The Thrashers’ recent struggles, a three-game losing streak heading into Saturday’s game against Montreal, have coincided with the lack of scoring from their captain.
Kovalchuk is without a goal in those past three games and has a plus-minus rating of minus-5. In the past five games, where the Thrashers are 1-4 with a shootout win over Florida, Kovalchuk has one goal, one assist and is a minus-7.
“He isn’t scoring at the pace that he did when he first came back [after missing six games with a broken foot], obviously,” Thrashers coach John Anderson said. “I think he’s a little frustrated because he wants to do well. All goal scorers go through a little bit of a hiccup now and then.”
With the large contingent of Montreal media in town, Kovalchuk again was besieged with questions about his contract status. He is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent following the season and contract negotiations with the Thrashers continue. Kovalchuk stood pat with his answer to such questions. He stated his desire to remain in Atlanta, but referred all questions to Thrashers general manager Don Waddell and his agent who are negotiating a new deal.

Chris Vivlamore

December 12th, 2009
6:19 pm

Valabik back in the lineup
Defenseman Boris Valabik played his third straight game Saturday after making his season debut on against Calgary on Wednesday. Valabik, returning from ankle surgery, has an assist and is an even plus-minus rating.
“I thought it went good,” Valabik said. “I tried to keep it simple.”
Anderson said Valabik would see more playing time.
“Excellent,” the coach said of his play. “He played safe. He was playing within himself, which I loved. He got into a fight [Thursday at Vancouver]. He made some big hits. That’s what we’re asking him to do.”
The Thrashers scratches Saturday were forward Jim Slater and defensemen Mark Popovic and Anssi Salmela. Popovic did not participate in team’s morning practice and he has a foot injury.

Chris Vivlamore

December 12th, 2009
6:20 pm

Road woes
Anderson pointed to the team’s second-period performances during their three-game losing streak. They let up five goals in the middle period in Monday’s loss in Toronto. Anderson also pointed to the team’s struggles in getting out of its zone.
“The thing was we didn’t spend enough time being urgent to get the puck in our zone,” Anderson said. “We spent so much time in the zone that they were tired by the time they came out. All they could do was dump [the puck] in and [the opposition would] come back and re-attack you.”
Johan Hedberg, who started in goal Saturday, said it was the little things that again cost the Thrashers.
“If you aren’t finishing your check, or sticking with your guy or the goalie isn’t finishing the save, it’s all the little things that end up costing you,” Hedberg said. “If you do the little things right, all the big things follow. Those are the things we lack when we start losing.”

bryan Lewis

December 12th, 2009
7:07 pm

I am not sure why we dont go back to what worked. Sure the 2nd line was sturggling but that was just because Kozlov lost confidence. Look at the results we produced until the lines were shaken up. Go back to how it was the first 6 weeks of the season when we were WINNING….

LAC

December 12th, 2009
7:55 pm

This first period was gastly to watch.

CBC announcers ALL commenting about lack of fans in the seats.

I find it very ODD they fail to mention waddell and how BAD a GM he is… Just amazing.

I bet in three years we have no more NHL here, sad because one man waddell, ruined it for good… with his inability to know how to put togather a decent team, we deserved better….

Funny too, Metro scores against us… They guy we threw in in the deal with St.Louis, another waddell F-UP !

Thrasherdawg

December 12th, 2009
10:06 pm

GO THRASH!! It looked like there were more fans than at any game all season so far tonight so I imagine it was electric in overtime, too bad this is the exception more than the rule…….

Darkhorse

December 12th, 2009
10:56 pm

I thought the place looked packed as well. The CBC guys sounded like they had a little too much eggnog up in the booth there with the sloppy call. Great to see the toughness factor show back up and get them a much needed win.

This teams biggest problem is trying to figure out if they want to beat themselves or not recently. It took a period and a half to wake up again. It’s funny we can go from basically worst to first in PK one year to the next, but the coaches can’t seen to get them to play a full 60 min.

Brendan

December 12th, 2009
11:13 pm

For the first thirty minutes of this one, I wanted to just crawl into a warm, cozy bed and fall asleep. Hard to believe that Anderson has such trouble motivating these guys at puck drop. But, instead of three (3) third period goals, Le Thrash tallied thrice in the 2nd stanza. And once they got that first one, it took off.

On the fighting front, Boulton would probably like another shot at Laraques, who threw him in the air at the end of it. Bogosian had a good fight with Lapierre. Only downside was … Bogosian was needed on defense, which he cannot supply from the sin bin.

Antropov scored again. Nice. Schubert got his second of the year. I thought it was Colby Armstrong’s goal. Segue, Colby must have heard us blogging about him so negatively. He’s stepped up his game lately, and he scored in this one. In fact, he had a goal and a helper and was a +2.

What a SAVE BY HEDBERG on the Montreal player, midway through the third period. It was highway robbery. For Moose, it’s his 8th win of the year. Moose was okay against Calgary. He was better against Montreal. Segue to shots … can you believe it?, Atlanta only surrendered 19 shots.

These Thrashers were +2: Armstrong, White, and Kane. These Thrashers were +1: Schubert, Kovalchuk, and Kubina. These Thrashers were even: Bogosian, Hainsey, Valabik, Little, Thorburn, Boulton, Enstrom, and Antropov. Here’s your boxscore: http://www.nhl.com/ice/boxscore.htm?id=2009020471

Here’s your SE Division scoreboard: Toronto defeated Washington, 6-3. The Maple Leafs are now 11-7-6 since their disasterous 0-7-1 start. That’s, truthfully, a remarkable turn-around for them. Pittsburgh gave back a point to Florida in a 3-2 overtime win over the Cats. Carolina lost to Ottawa, 4-2. What has happened to the ‘Canes? Some other scores of note, given our 7th seed in the East, Buffalo defeated the NY Rangers, who have fallen back to Earth, 3-2 in regulation time. The NY Islanders won, in overtime, 3-2 over the Boston Bruins. NJ defeated Philly, 401. Laviolette has yet to give the Flyers that “5 game boost.”

Brendan

December 12th, 2009
11:17 pm

That should read, 4-1, New Jersey over Philly. Which Montreal player was it that Hedberg robbed on the breakaway? Hedberg stretched out the pad to make the stellar save.

The Earl of Bud

December 12th, 2009
11:44 pm

“CBC announcers ALL commenting about lack of fans in the seats.”

That’s quite a PDA you got there LAC, I can’t even get cell phone reception in the Arena let alone WiFi. Or did you bring your laptop to the Arena tonight?

What was happening on that first goal that Hedberg let in? He looked like he just sat on the ice while the guy went right by him.

Why was Bogosian even in a fight? While I’m happy to see Zach drop ‘em, I just didn’t see anything even worth it.

Finally, while Antropov scored a nice goal, someone set the perfect screen in front. It wasn’t Enstrom or Kovalchuk who got the assists, but someone else deserved an assist on that play.

The Earl of Bud

December 12th, 2009
11:48 pm

I also just saw this tidbit while looking at some stats. 12 NHL scouts were at the Flyers game either tonight or their last game. Apparantley they are putting out feelers for a goalie now that Emery had surgery and they are struggling. The only team mentioned was Atlanta who was mentioned to be looking to drop a goalie once Lehtonen gets back.

Chris, I know that Waddell was at the Toronto game, where was Dudley this week? How about our other scouts?

Adios

December 13th, 2009
12:36 am

Enjoy the Thrashers while you can. Kovy will soon be gone and so will the team. Did anybody notice Kovy’s who cares look after the game winning goal. Looked like a person who has accepted that he won’t be here for long. And no team can survive with this amount of empty seats. Bettmen has spent what political capital he has left securing a place for Phoenix in the league. When the Spirit have to get out there will be no white knight coming to the rescue for Atlanta. Go Thrash.

alex

December 13th, 2009
10:32 am

everybogy (specially in canada) crying about poor attendance in atl. agree have to do better, enjoy kovy on his last season with thrashers. but check out attendance on yesterday games around the league.
100% full-VANC.,PITS.,TOR.,NY. other: LA-18118, NASH-16673, ATL.-16616, OTT-16229 (need to move this team from canadian capital to savanna, ga, this market cares about hockey), NJ-15724, COLUMB.-14461, NI-13744, PH-10650. so from 12 city atlanta #7. where th outcry about 45% behind us.

DWTOO

December 13th, 2009
12:09 pm

Typical late arriving Atlanta corwd. Indeed the lower bowl looked empty during the first 10 minutes, but, was full by the end of the first. Respectable crowd in the upper reaches. Considereing the weather, no one ever goes out when it’s this bad, and the high school playoffs it was a good crowd and loud at the end.

And a welcome to our Canadian guests. Hope you had a good time and be sure to spend to some money around town while you’re here.

Coastiesurf

December 13th, 2009
1:55 pm

Come on, this is hockey in the Deep South against the tradition of the Habs, Give the locals alittle credit..the place was jumping once the team gave the fans something to cheer about. The Blueland flag in the upper deck was a nice touch….Atlanta fans want a winner, Hockey will become a”event” in Atlanta once the team starts winning, kinda like the LA Kings pre-and then #99

Brendan

December 13th, 2009
2:15 pm

The Canadian national anthem was sung half in French. A nice tough to welcome Hockey Night in Canada to Atlanta.

The Earl of Bud

December 13th, 2009
5:19 pm

DWTOO – I hate to give the bashers support, but the reason a lot of times that the lower bowl fills out later in the game is because the poachers move into empty seats.

The Earl of Bud

December 13th, 2009
5:35 pm

Alex – while your numbers are correct, you need to go a step further in your analysis. First off, the teams that Atlanta did better than are Phoenix who is currently in the process of bankruptcy, the Islanders who are rumored to be moving to Kansas City, Columbus who has struggled as an expansion team just like we did, and NJ who has a history of not supporting their teams even when they go to the finals.

Secondly, I would be careful about saying something negative about Ottawa. Last year Ottawa finished 11th in the conference yet was 7th in the league in overall attendance. Atlanta barely supports a winner, Ottawa will put a non-playoff team at the top of the attendance list. Toronto, Montreal, Buffalo and maybe some of the Western Canadian teams are the only teams who have done this.

Finally, while it may appear that we have caught up to some of the other teams that were 100% full, keep in mind just that, they were at 100%. It was a Saturday night. We played a well known team that had their own fans come out. On a weeknight, a lot of those teams are still going to be at or close to 100% even if they are playing the Panthers, we on the other hand will drop significantly in attendance unless we are playing the Red Wings or similar team.