The lines, they are a changing

Reporting in from Thrashers practice Sunday morning. Every one is here and skating after Saturday’s loss to the Devils.

It looks like the old lines are back:

Blue: Kovalchuk-Antropov-Afinogenov

Gray: Kozlov-Peverley-Little

Orange: Kane-White-Armstrong

Red: Boulton-Reasoner/Slater-Thorburn

I’ve now seen it. As coach John Anderson said Saturday morning, goalie Kari Lehtonen has begun skating. He was on the ice early before the start of practice.

Couple of stats for you to consider after last night’s game:

*The Thrashers are last in the NHL in shots against/game with an average of 34.9 (Hopefully that will be the subject of today’s/tomorrow’s story). They are 23rd in goals allowed/game at 3.00.

*The Thrashers are second in the NHL in goals/game at 3.21. Yet, they are 25th in shots/game at 28.3.

As coach John Anderson mentioned Saturday morning, Kari Lehtonen has begun skating as he recovers from two offseason back surgeries. He was on the ice this morning before practice.

I will check back in later after practice and interviews.

37 comments Add your comment

Alan R.

December 20th, 2009
11:22 am

Glad Lehtonen is back on the ice. Not that I’m unhappy with the two netminders we have right now or anything. It’s just good to have all our guys healthy.

The lines last night weren’t the big problem. The big problem was the lack of effort when it came to playing defense. Those guys were content with letting the Devils keep the puck, and it was almost painful to watch.

Darkhorse

December 20th, 2009
12:01 pm

Channeling a little Dylan there Chris?

As for last night, I was so disgusted by the end of the 2nd, my friends and I went up to the bar in the club section and proceeded to get in a lot of arm curling exercises. I didn’t even watch the third until the last minute. What the hell is this teams problem?!?!?

Kovy made this one stupid and careless turnover at one point in the second at the bench, which led to a Devils scoring chance I think. My seat was directly across from him and I let out the loudest boo I could as he was coming off and he went and pitched a fit on the bench, breaking his stick and slaming the door a few times. I thought maybe that would wake him up, along with the rest of the team, I was wrong.

TrueBlue

December 20th, 2009
12:18 pm

I was actually really glad that people booed Kovy last night….If he doesn’t want to try hard each and every shift then he needs to be booed.

You are a superstar, time to start acting like one, Captain.

Scotty

December 20th, 2009
12:39 pm

I like the lines and I love the fact that White has moved down to the third line. Now if they would continue that movement up to the press box for him, I will be very happy!

Barry

December 20th, 2009
12:53 pm

I like the lines but this team has lost the knowledge of how to play defense in their own zone. The Devils announcers were calling Kovy’s play “painful to watch” and they were laughing literally laughing at our poor attempt at playing defense. Seriously what has happened to this team? Hainsey called it like it was about how they played poorly and to think anything different they are fooling themselves, yet Anderson said in his postgame interview he thought the team was right there with them until the end. Did you watch the game coach? The shots in the first period was 24-6 Devils. Devils were all over us the entire game with odd man rushes and even a breakaway the entire game. Devils came back and scored 3 very easy goals in a matter of minutes in the second period. Where was the freaking defense??!!

Sam

December 20th, 2009
1:15 pm

Couldn’t agree with you more, Barry.

The coaches, they are a changin’…

or maybe they should be.

Smoothie

December 20th, 2009
1:31 pm

Oh boy, Kovy with Antro & Finny again! Weren’t they a combined -15 for a 5 game stretch starting with the loss to Toronto?

EA

December 20th, 2009
1:39 pm

All of the guys at practice?! Maybe they realized they all need practice. It is time for them to wake up and realize that hockey is a 60 minute game. I hope Anderson made it clear that nothing less is expected tomorrow night.

Chris Vivlamore

December 20th, 2009
1:58 pm

Back from practice. Quite a turn out today at the Ice Forum (of fans).

I will be writing a story on the shots-on-goal issue. Spent quite a bit of time talking to Ron Hainsey about it.

Of note: The Build-A-Bear auction run by the Fan Club raised $7,200. Time to guess. Who’s Bear brought in the most money?

Kari Lehtonen netted $1,025. How about that?

Chris Vivlamore

December 20th, 2009
1:59 pm

Thrashers have allowed a total of 160 shots in the last four games. Even I can do the math on that, an average of 40 shots per game.

Dwayne

December 20th, 2009
2:09 pm

STENDEC BOUGHT KARI’S BEAR!!!!!

Bob

December 20th, 2009
2:12 pm

Kovy does need to start getting booed, good job guys. With his hissy fit and continued poor play, the signs are apparent that the contract is a problem.

Russian

December 20th, 2009
2:13 pm

I am sorry, but I have to say it.
FIRE A COACH! He is horrible. He got all players and all tools and he could not make a result. FIRE HIM ASAP.

Dwayne

December 20th, 2009
2:20 pm

Dont worry Russian, Don will fire him to save his job.

Chris Vivlamore

December 20th, 2009
2:22 pm

Thrashers prospect and second-round draft pick this year Jeremy Morin makes latest roster for U.S. team to compete at World Junior Championship. Vinny Saponari did not make it. Final roster will be announced on Wednesday.

Roscoe P. Coltrane

December 20th, 2009
2:41 pm

Why doesn’t the “Kaptain” ever give any answers in the post game write-ups? Why always Bogosian or Hainsey or Kozlov? If he’s the captain, he should be giving the answers. The first one should be, “I have to play both ends with a passion equal to Ovechkin.” Does Kovy even know who plays in goal each night other than reading the chalkboard?

Brendan

December 20th, 2009
3:22 pm

Chris Vivlamore, did you happen to catch any of Glenn “Chico” Resch’s rants on the Thrashers D, Kovalchuk, and the team’s effort level? If nothing else, it made for good entertainment. I hope you did catch it. Or that someone recorded it and will send it to you. It’d be worth the 3 hours to hear it.

Chris Vivlamore

December 20th, 2009
4:08 pm

Brendan: I did hear Resch. I watched the game again this morning before going to practice. He kept saying the same things over and over again. It was a little funny.

Funny thing was, he was the goalie for the Devils when they moved to Jersey and I started following the team and going to games at the Meadowlands. Resch was eating dinner in the media dining room at the next table over before the game. I almost went over to talk to him about all that, but didn’t want to bother him while he was eating.

Oh, and told you my math was bad. Thrashers have allowed a total of 166 shots in last four games, an average of 41 shots a game.

Cornbread

December 20th, 2009
4:24 pm

That would be 41.5 shots per game. It is more than unacceptable, it’s an embarrassment.

GaVaHokie

December 20th, 2009
5:01 pm

Who here knows off-hand what the waiver situation would be for sending Pavs down to Chicago?

Rockem Sockem Thrasher

December 20th, 2009
5:24 pm

It was hard to listen to Resch’s rant. The entire game he railed against the Thrash. It was harder to watch the defense. The offense seems to be headed in the right direction. Its the defense that needs to be overhauled.

Why not call up some of the better D-Men from the Wolves?

Arturs Kudla- 3 goals, 5 assists and +14
Chris ‘Old Man’ Chelios – 4 goals, 10 assists and +10
Nathan Oystrick – 2 goals, 5 assists and +0

Rockem Sockem Thrasher

December 20th, 2009
5:36 pm

The NHL waiver rules seem quite complex. But as far as I can tell it depends on age, type of contact or contract that addresses waivers, amount of salary and overall team standings. For Pavs my guess is this: The Thrash can send him to Chicago without a problem. Its when the Thrash recall him that he’ll go through re-entry waivers. But I could be wrong.

Hockey Biltong

December 20th, 2009
5:40 pm

Let’s hope they get their act together soon. We should be progressing, not regressing…

Cornbread

December 20th, 2009
6:15 pm

The Thrashers’ defensive woes have very little to do with the Goalies and D-men. They have everything to do with the forwards positioning in there own end and how low all three forwards get when on the attack. It’s easy to blame the D-men but that is not the problem.

Rockem Sockem Thrasher

December 20th, 2009
6:51 pm

That might be part of the problem, but does it address that shots on goal?

Smoothie

December 20th, 2009
6:56 pm

We are certainly giving up quite a few more odd-man rushes of late. I do believe it is because the forwards are getting too deep or too out of position on the attack. The offensive scheme is predicated on D-men pinching in along the boards and jumping up into the attack.

If a D-man mis-reads the play or simply does not win a puck battle that is winnable while pinching AND all three forwards are too deep for one of them to rotate, then you will give up a 2 – 1, 3 – 2 or worse yet, a 3 – 1 with a D-man chasing.

Perhaps JA is going back to the old lines since those players know each other better and are more familiar with each other’s tendencies. Let’s hope they can limit the mistakes tomorrow vs the Habs, a weaker team. However, they are much better now that their stud D-man, Andrei Markov has returned from injury.

Cornbread

December 20th, 2009
7:57 pm

The Thrashers’ league worst shots against has everything to do with the poor defensive play of the forwards being far worse than that of the D-men. It is up to the entire team to cut-down the shots against. This can be as simple as controling play for sustained periods of time on the attack, getting the puck in deep on the opposition, getting the puck out of their zone with a clean break-out, and getting through the neutral zone without turnovers, all things the Thrasher forwards do very poorly.

BG33Brown

December 20th, 2009
9:06 pm

CViv, props for even getting a quote from Kovy. I was hoping you could corral him into answering some questions. I really like to see you put the nails to him. Ask him to describe his method of defense along the boards when the pucks deep in our end.

R. Stroz

December 20th, 2009
9:39 pm

First off, I’d like to offer thanks to Vivlamore for his diligence reporting on the Thrashers, getting up on a Sunday morning, thus taking time away from his family during the Christmas season.

As far as Kovy negotiations, I think we can all see the difference between Kovy’s return at MSG a few weeks ago and the disinterested Kovy over the last few games. At MSG, Kovy was banging on the boards, cheering for the team, and looked like a kid on Christmas day with a ton of presents under the trees. Recently, Kovy has looked like a kid that only received a lump of coal for Christmas.

I must state, I’m disappointed with Kovy’s attitude. Kovy is getting paid about a $100,000 per game, more than most people make over a two year period. I never thought Kovy would pull “A Hossa.”

If the ASG is looking for a way to “get around a big Kovy contract,” Kovy is providing the ammunition by sulking around the ice. If Kovy is pissed with a low ball offer from the ASG, he should go out, bust his butt, win the first star award at the next home game, and while being interviewed by Natalie Taylor state, “I’m sorry I haven’t given a 100% the last few games, I love Atlanta, I love the fans, I want Atlanta to see a Stanley Cup parade down Peachtree Street, BUT, I’m really frustrated with the negotiation process.” Let the interviews begin.

A good friend of mine, who is an attorney and former Magistrate Judge, has always told me that the best way to get negotations moving is to remove the lawyers, in this case, that would be Grossman and Waddell. Kovy should go directly to ownership and get the cards on the table.

Unfortunately, I think Grossman is pulling Kovy’s strings a little too much. As most agents are little more than parasites sucking 10% of a player’s salary, Grossman’s long term interests may not side with Kovy’s family’s best long term interests. In other words, some agents are more concerned about their own pocket books than the player’s best overall interests.

At this point, Kovy needs to change his attitude irrelevant of the contract negotaitions and take the contract negotiations by the horns.
If nothing else, Kovy can look out for the best overall situation for his family better than anyone else, including Grossman.

Nate

December 20th, 2009
10:52 pm

Cornbread – I agree with you. The word I used over and over on Saturday night was embarrassing. It was hard to watch. I don’t understand how those guys can call themselves professional hockey players when they play defense like that. Absolutely hung Pavs out to dry the last two games. And hung Moose out to dry against a poor Rangers team Wednesday…

Brendan

December 20th, 2009
11:49 pm

If a player doesn’t like the way his agent in handling a situation, it is my opinion that he should fire him or meet with him to clarify his wishes. He is, after all, THE PLAYER. If you were shopping for a 5-bedroom house, two-stories, on an unfinished basement, and your real estate (buyer’s) agent said, “I think I have a spectacular deal. It’s a 3-bedroom split-foyer that’s an absolute steal.” Wouldn’t you sacastically respond, “What’s your second offer? A 2-bedroom ranch house?” If you are not satisfied with your agent, you sit down and clarify what you expect, or you fire them.

If Kovy’s agent is doing precisely what Kovalchuk wants him to do … then that’s between them. We, fans, might not like it. But we’re not part of the negotiations, other than … to threaten the ownership with withdrawal of ticket sales. Or, I suppose, to inform them that financial support will NOT cease, in a post-Kovalchuk era.

When I hear players say things like, “I don’t know what’s going on. I’m focused on playing hockey. My mind is fixed on the next game.” I think that’s a huge pile of baloney. The player and his agent might not talk daily, but they’re in something close to constant communication, is my belief. Players have blackberries and palm pilots, and so forth. They TEXT each other.

If Kovalchuk wants to stay … and he wants to win the Stanley Cup in Atlanta, he’s got to make some concessions. One concession could be a 1-year deal, just to postpone the issue for another year, to the 2011 trade deadline. Or, at least until this summer’s draft. Another concession could be his contractual price. Again, I think Kovalchuk could ASK FOR a clause that stipulates that the team payroll be within 3-4 million dollars of the cap limit on opening night. This way, if they don’t do it, he can walk. While, at the same time, allowing the owners more flexibility in improving the team around him, with a slightly lesser cap hit on his own contract.

But, if Kovy truly wants to leave, I’m not going to blame him. I won’t boo him. He gave us many wonderful years and 40+ goal seasons. It was fun to watch. I’ll wish him well with his next team. My wish … is that both sides will come together for the common GOOD. And the common good is a contract that doesn’t INSULT Kovalchuk, while at the same time, allowing the Thrashers to have the flexibility to field an exceptional team around him. But both sides have to want that, for it to happen.

R. Stroz

December 21st, 2009
2:16 am

Brendan – This is my concern:

On one end of the equation Grossman is telling Kovy he can get cap max just squeeze them, you’ll get it. Grossman knows Philips Arena looks like a shrine to Kovy and Joe Johnson, the marquee player for the Hawks who hasn’t re-signed for next season either. He tells Kovy to wait them out for the cap max.

On the other end of the equation, Waddell is telling the owners he can nickel and dime Kovy down due to a plethora of excuses such as a poor economy, all teams are hurting, attendence is down league wide, I know you really like the city because of the mild climate.

As a result, nothing happens. The train starts coming off the tracks. Either nothing happens or someone with some commen sense intervenes.

For the sake of discussion, Kozlov, having a greater degree of commen sense than either of the main negotating parties involved, goes to Kovy and says, “If you want to keep Max as well as Kubina next season and have a chance at a Stanley Cup down the road then you have to come off the cap max number.” Kozlov then goes further, “Your buddy Ovechkin’s contract is less than league max per year and runs out when he’s 35 years of age.”

At this point, maybe Kovy comes to his senses, takes his friends advice and asks for a more reasonable contract extension.

Now, herein lies the problem, which owner is likely to talk Waddell into coming to his senses?

Dwayne

December 21st, 2009
7:24 am

Enstrom is the career assist leader for the Thrashers. Passes Frank Kaberle. Toby has 83

Jimbo

December 21st, 2009
8:34 am

Just read your story Chris on SOG problem. I don’t buy JA’s assertion that other teams are taking shots that he doesn’t want our boys taking. For cryin out loud, Dallas had 27 legitimate scoring chances and the Devils had almost as many. Our absolute lack of physical play let’s visiting teams that have played the night before off the hook. Hit em, grind em, slow em down early on. The “danger zone 5 ft. either side of the blue line”???? What in the world is he talking about? This is a fast game that requires a little thinking and a lot of hustle and hard skating. We ain’t gettin it from Kovy and a couple of others. Interesting to note, Chris, that Kovy is starting to see himself as part of the problem. Tonight’s game is PIVOTAL. If we let the Habs bomb away then we’re on our way south. Let’s see if JA and the boys can turn it around quickly enough. My prediction- they’ll run around alot, take a bunch of stupid penalties, get outshot but pull one out at the end.

Buzzeng

December 21st, 2009
9:01 am

Anyone else see the Wings-Hawks game last night? I don’t get a chance to watch any Thrasher games, but based on the blogs and reports, it looked like the Wings played a similar game to the Thrashers game against NJ – few shots, little collective effort, and letting the other team dictate the game. It cost the Wings a 3-0 defeat. Hawks looked good. Real good. I also got to see the Wild-Habs game last week. Habs play a very boring, but solid game but lost. They were a different team when Markov joined them Saturday night. Hoping for a good night tonight (so I don’t have to avoid my brother-in-law for the rest of the holiday season). Go Thrashers!!

Chris Vivlamore

December 21st, 2009
10:04 am

Just got to the morning skate before tonight’s game with Montreal. Looks like Hedberg will get the start in goal. He’s warming up with Kozlov in the Thrashers end. That usually means he starts.

I will update and post a new blog after the skate and interviews.

[...] – practicing, should return this week (link) K. Lehtonen (ATL) – is now skating, late Dec return? (link) M. Leighton (PHI) – new PHI backup, will need a few practices to be sharp (link) M. Neuvirth (WAS) [...]