Archive for January, 2010

Hedberg to start against Panthers

Your report from the Thrashers morning skate in a now sunny Sunrise, Florida.

Johan Hedberg will be in goal tonight against the Panthers after Ondrej Pavelec started the last three games. Pavelec stopped 30, 30 and 29 shots in the three games (2-0-1). Heberg started all three games against Florida this season and is 2-1. Tomas Vokoun will start in goal for Florida.

Coach John Anderson said yesterday that several players had “bumps and bruises” and would be game-time decisions tonight. Expect one of those players to be Christoph Schubert, who is not taking part in the morning skate. All others are on the ice.

Here are the practice lines (in no order):



Afinognenov-Reasoner- Armstrong


I will update following the skate and interviews.

Continue reading Hedberg to start against Panthers »

Thrashers on short end of 5-on-3s

Greetings from a very rainy South Florida.

The Thrashers are holding an optional skate this morning at BankAtlantic Center after arriving early in the a.m. from Carolina and the 5-3 win.

I did a little research after last night’s game after the nearly costly 5-on-3 disadvantage. This season the Thrashers have been two men down 11 times this season for a total of 12:25. On the other hand, the Thrashers have  been two men up only 6 times for a total of 2:37. One of those power plays lasted1:26, meaning the combined time of the other five was just 1:11.

Opponents have scored on four of their 11 chances. The Thrashers do not have a 5-on-3 goal.

I’m planning a story on the strategy and/or method to defend such a penalty kill.

Most players are taking part in practice. Those who are not: Ron Hainsey, Pavel Kubina, Christoph Schubert, Max Afinogenov, Eric Boulton and Ondrej Pavelec. Kari Lehtonen is on the ice.

A Did you know? from the feature on Marty Reasoner that I am working on: …

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On the road again

A little traveling music for the Thrashers … and me.

The Thrashers leave today for road games at Carolina and Florida, and so do I. Yes, that’s right. The plan is to cover the Thrashers on the road for the rest of the [relevant] season. So look for blogs while the team is on the road as well as game stories and notebooks.

The Thrashers play the next four games against teams that currently trail them in the standings. Carolina (35 points), Florida (46), Toronto (41) and Tampa Bay (46). Three are road games against Southeast Division teams.

OK, on to the practice report.

Just Kari Lehtonen was on the ice prior to practice for conditioning drills. He remained for practice.

Todd White, after missing Thursday’s game after injurying his right leg, is on the practice ice and looks fine. Coach John Anderson said after last night’s game he was held out for precautionary reasons.

Here are the line combinations (in no particular order):

Blue: Kovalchuk-Antropov-Thorburn

Orange: …

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Pavelec in goal versus Sabres

A quick report from Thursday’s morning skate before game with Sabres.

Ondrej Pavelec will get the start in goal, his first against Buffalo.

Todd White took part in the morning skate. He looked fine and said he felt much better today than yesterday. Looks like he will go.

Nik Antropov took part in the skate, but was on the side when the team skated in line combinations. Both he and coach John Anderson said it was likely he would return to the lineup after a missing four games with a hip injury, but we will see.

Boris Valabik is in on defense, his second straight game. Anssi Salmela and Mark Popovic are the defensive scratches.

Here are the line combinations used at the skate  (again in no particular order):





Continue reading Pavelec in goal versus Sabres »

Kovalchuk not frustrated by contract talks

I spent a few minutes talking to Ilya Kovalchuk after Wednesday’s practice. I wanted to get his response from the following questions:

Are you frustrated by the ongoing contract negotiations and the time that has elapsed?

Are you still confident (as he said earlier this season) that a new deal will get done?

Here are his responses:

Thrashers star Ilya Kovalchuk told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday that he is not frustrated by ongoing contract negotiations. Kovalchuk, who will become an unrestricted free agent after the season, also said he remains confident a deal will get done.

“No, not really,” Kovalchuk said when asked if he was frustrated with the length of time that has elapsed. “I just try to focus on my game and my goal to make the playoffs. I don’t care about the contract situation. Everybody goes through it. It’s not frustrating at all. …

“It’s not easy to sign a deal. Whatever it takes, we’ll take our time.”

Negotiations between the …

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D-men log the minutes

Perhaps overshadowed in Tuesday’s win over the Senators was the fact that the Thrashers did it with just five defensmen for the bulk of the game.

With Christoph Schubert called for a game misconduct penalty 5:01 into the game, the pressure was one the defense. Ottawa managed 30 shots, but just the one goal.

Look at the playing time numbers for the blue liners:

Zach Bogosian played 26:50; Pavel Kubina played 24:49; Ron Hainsey played 24:13; Tobias Enstrom played 22: 10; Boris Valabik played 17:02.

As for the morning report:

Schubert, Mark Popovic and Kari Lehtonen were going through conditioning drills a half hour before the start of practice. All remained for practice.

Todd White, who injured his right knee in Tuesday’s game, did not practice.

Here are the line combinations:

Blue: Kovalchuk-Peverley-Thorburn

Orange: Kane-Slater-Little

Gray: Armstrong-Antropov-Afinogenov (The All A’s line)

Red: Kozlov-Reasoner-Boulton

All eight defensmen on the ice.

Continue reading D-men log the minutes »

Waddell not actively seeking Kovalchuk trade

Here is the item on Don Waddell’s response to my questions about the ongoing Ilya Kovalchuk contract talks and trade rumors.

Thrashers general manager Don Waddell said Monday that he is not actively seeking to trade star Ilya Kovalchuk. However, a trade is a possibility should a new contract agreement not be reached.

Waddell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in May that he would unequivocally not trade Kovalchuk, who will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, even if contract talks reached an impasse.

“Our first priority still remains to sign him,” Waddell told the AJC Monday. “That’s clear. I probably didn’t leave the door open enough at the beginning of the year because, obviously, I was hoping that this would be long done by now. We also have to protect the asset. He’s an asset to our franchise. …

“[A trade] still looms as an option, but it’s not my first choice.”

Waddell said that both sides – the Thrashers and Kovalchuk and …

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Lehtonen, Antropov take part in practice

Your morning practice report begins with the news that Kari Lehtonen and Nik Antropov are taking part in the skate.

This is Lehtonen’s first practice with the team since undergoing two back surgeries, the last in October. He went through conditioning drills prior to the players reporting, left shortly and reported back.

Antropov is also on the ice after missing three game with a hip injury. Not sure what his status for Tuesday against the Senators will be, but I will update.

Here are the line combos. I’m not sure if there is an order.

Blue: Kovalchuk-Antropov/Peverly-Thorburn

Gray: Armstong-Reasoner-Afinogenov

Orange: Kane-Slater-Little

Red: Kozlov-White-Boulton

I enjoyed meeting many of you at Casino Night Sunday. Thanks for your questions and kind words.

I will check back after practice and interviews.

Continue reading Lehtonen, Antropov take part in practice »

On second thought … practice

It appears the Thrashers’ 8-1 loss to Washington prompted the coaching staff to cancel the team’s planned off day on Sunday. The Thrashers held an 11 a.m. practice before the evening’s Casino Night fund raiser. I’m afraid I was unable to attend the practice as I was at church when word came down.

I’m told there were no injuries to report, but I will work to get further details.

I think John Anderson made several interesting comments after Saturday’s game.

It’s the first he admitted that the “high” in “high-scoring” was lacking from his team.

We’ve talked several times this season about players that are not scoring as they did last season – Todd White, Slava Kozlov, Colby Armstrong, Bryan Little. etc. – but Anderson put an emphasis on the lack of secondary scoring after the game.

Anderson put an onus on the team’s defense for allowing too many point-blank shots on the goaltenders.

The coach was careful not to say the team quit but he made it clear they took shots to their …

Continue reading On second thought … practice »

Kovy, Kari and other tidbits

As we publish Friday’s practice report, I thought I would share of a couple things from my interview with GM Don Waddell after the first period last night.

On the ongoing contract talks with Ilya Kovalchuk, Waddell said: “Talks continue on. We met in Saskatoon (at the World Junior Championships). Our priority still remains to get him signed. We’ve made some progress but we are obviously not ready yet to put a signature on a contract.

“The positive thing is the talks have continued. They haven’t broken down. We talk almost daily. To me, that’s all part of the process. If talks break down because one side puts their shoes too far in the sand then you know you’re probably at an impasse. At this point, that hasn’t happened. Both sides continue to talk and try to find away to make this deal work.

“Ilya still feels real good about the team. I’ve talked to him about him. Obviously we hit a slide here but I think we proved the first 30 games that we are a pretty good team.”

On the …

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