Update: Kulda will make NHL debut tonight

Your Friday report from the Thrashers morning skate here in St. Paul.

Defenseman Arturs Kulda, called up yesterday, is will make his NHL debut tonight. When I asked coach John Anderson if Kulda would play tonight in place of the injured Mark Popovic, he said “the chances are 100 percent.”

He said Kulda is 100 percent and Popovic, who appears to have a shoulder injury, is not. Hence the decision to go with Kulda. Friday’s practice was the first for Kulda, who got the call he was heading to the NHL at midnight Wednesday. He was on an 8 a.m. flight for Minnesota on Thursday. He arrived but his equipment did not.

Popovic did take part in the morning skate.

Nik Antropov, who missed yesterday’s practice, was on the ice. Anderson told me yesterday to expect Antropov to miss a practice a week for the rest of the season as he deals with nagging hip injury.

Johan Hedberg will start in goal tonight, with a new goalie mask that has arrived after he broke one earlier this season. Ondrej Pavelec gets the start Saturday in Chicago.

It looks like Slava Kozlov will be the healthy scratch tonight. Todd White is back in Minnesota, where he played for two seasons.

72 comments Add your comment

Darkhorse

February 12th, 2010
11:23 pm

If Bergfors keeps scoring like this, I might start saying Kovy who? His contributions so far remind me of when Peverly came on board last year.

Devilsfan80

February 12th, 2010
11:27 pm

The Jersey system?. Seriously? He scored 13 goals in that system before being traded to you guys. I’ll tell you what caused his slump. It was Jacque Lemaire screwing with bergie’s head. Moving him to bottom lines, telling him after a 3 point game that he wasn’t happy with the way he played, WTF? That’s what I personally think caused it.

Brendan

February 12th, 2010
11:40 pm

Ilya Kovalchuk scored a wonderful goal tonight for the Devils, that turned out to be the game-winner, over Nashville. I wish Ilya every success in the playoffs this year. His career starts now.

Smoothie

February 12th, 2010
11:45 pm

Who is Ilya Kovalchuk? He can go straight to the Devil’s department. Oh wait, muah ha ha ha!

Bergfors One strikes again! Such a wicked wrister to the stick side…beat Backstrom like a rented Fin. Sweden rules.

Pretty goal by Evander Kane as well tonite. Just a foretaste of the many goal feasts to come!!

Keep it up boys! Gritty effort and well-deserved win on the road tonite.

Oh yeah, I like how Kulda plays hockey. Kicks ass and takes no prisoners around the net. And when he pinches, he hits the crap out of what’s in his way. Some of the vets could actually learn by watching him when it comes to pinching safely and conservatively. Hope he sticks next year if not this spring. Good job Arturs.

R. Stroz

February 12th, 2010
11:53 pm

Kulda played positionally sound, non-flashy defense.

I really enjoyed the shoulder to the gut take down.

DaveR

February 12th, 2010
11:54 pm

I recall that. The kid scores 3 points, and JL was telling the press after the game that he had maybe one or 2 good shifts all night. At the time, it didn’t seem to throw off Nick’s confidence — but when JL switched him to the Niedermayer – Pando line, or any combination that included Rolston, or 4th line duty in that game where NJ lacked a 4th line center — Bergfors’ production just went into the wastebin.

Healthy scratch against Tor on 1/29 and less than 9 min of ice time on the 4th line on 1/31 against the Kings — For a kid this quick, with this sort of scoring touch? That’s just silly.

The whole team went flat in January and still hasn’t fully recovered. I blame Lamaire with his constant line shuffling. I’m glad for Nick that he’s now in a place where the coach will give him some decent ice time with quicker linemates. His chemistry with 80 and 10 is apparent.

Smoothie

February 13th, 2010
12:18 am

It’s pretty obvious that Bergfors has a top line skill-set. Asking him to play 4th line minutes just suppresses his natural talent. Some might say that JA is doing the same to Kane and stifling his creativity and ability to score. But Kane plays more like a grinder and seems to thrive when grinding in the corners. As he develops and gets stronger on the puck, his speed will allow him to give blueliners fits with his ability to drive wide, dangle or shoot from the top of the circle. But Bergie has matured to the point where it was really silly for Lemaire to punish him for a few bad games. It’s the NHL, all players struggle including that guy with the funny last name….Kova-chook or something?

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]

sisu

February 13th, 2010
1:15 am

I read somewhere that the most likely reason for Bergfors numbers declined was the fact that the top players got healthy and he was dropped down a few lines. I like the kid but what a painful interview he is, it looked like pulling teeth to get him to answer anything after the game….oh well, Swedes aren’t know for colorful personalities any more than the rest of Scandinavia…

Great win, Moose got into the game in the nick of time…not crazy about his new mask. I am still hoping that at the deadline the team picks up a goalie! No trust in Pavs over the long run, he has very little passion and is a rebounding machine….

sisu

February 13th, 2010
1:17 am

Smoothie, I will say this about JA. When Salmela was here he was in the press box often. He goes to Jersey and right away he is on the PP and PK, wonder what gives????

Barry

February 13th, 2010
2:09 am

Great full effort by the boys and a much needed 2 points. Kulda looked really good and didn’t look like he was playing in his first NHL game. He looked like he’d been playing up here a while. Bogosian on the other hand seems to continue to regress. Ya he had that great check along the boards, but even Elliot pointed out tonight that “Bogosian has been fighting it the last two weeks” and seems to be “struggling with confidence” as Elliot pointed out. Twice Bogosian had the puck behind Thrashers goal line and twice he turned it over. He keeps doing that at least once or twice a game now. On a positive note, gotta love this Bergfors kid. Kovy who?? That first line seems to have instant chemistry and glad we got him and he has a chance to play more minutes. He’s like Peverley 2.0! Sometimes it just takes being in the right situation or opportunity to really play to be able to show what you really have. I think Elliot said something tonight about Waddell has been commended by what he got back for Ilya Kovalchuk. I know Waddell has made some bad moves and trades in the past but last year and this year seems to be learning from his mistakes and doing things that make more sense. Now on to Chicago tomorrow night. Man that is going to be a very tough game. Thrashers have to bring their A game and play 60+ minutes. Blackhawks about as talented and dangerous of a team like the Capitals.

Pinball34

February 13th, 2010
2:47 am

Kulda fever !

David

February 13th, 2010
3:17 am

I’ll say this much about Donald Waddell…I dont think he won many fans over when he traded Kovy, but it is hard to argue with winning. He was right when he said that the only thing that would change attendance and help the team is winning. Nice to see a TEAM out on the ice and not a big salary not wanting to get hurt playing defense.

Anybody else notice all the blocked shots we got in the last few minutes of the game? That’s what i like to see.

Dwayne

February 13th, 2010
8:03 am

Bergie’s face in his “it is what it is” interview sure looked a lot different than his face in last nights interview. Although the interview wasn’t free flowing and smooth, he was smiling. Isn’t winning amazing??

Puckhead

February 13th, 2010
9:06 am

Peverley sure seemed to be pressing last night. Team needs to get Bergie a media coach. Help him get comfortable with the lanquage and spotlight. With Philly winning last night we need them to beat Montreal on the back to back and we need the game tonight.

DWTOO

February 13th, 2010
9:25 am

We know a Finn with a colorful personality! Maybe it’s his lovely American wife?

StateBird

February 13th, 2010
9:40 am

Everybody, including Peverly, will look like that pressing when on a line with White.

Dwayne

February 13th, 2010
9:58 am

Chris Vivlamore

February 13th, 2010
12:13 pm

Thrashers canceled Saturday’s morning skate after arriving from St. Paul following Friday’s win against the Wild. I will report any news once I get to the arena before the game. First time in Chicago (not in the airport), so I’m off to find some of this deep dish pizza I’ve always heard about.

Brendan

February 13th, 2010
12:14 pm

The thing about getting moved to Atlanta is this … “You get opportunities that you otherwise wouldn’t have, blocked by better talent, on a contending team.” This was the case of Colby Armstrong, in Pittsburgh. He had no shot there. Army still has the chance to prove himself to be a top six forward player. The question remains, “Does he want to try to do that in Atlanta?” In Wadudley’s shoes, I’d simply ask him if he’d like to stay. The rosters are frozen now, I think. And after the final game is played, why not use the Olympic break to try to hold contract negotiations with all the players that the Thrashers hope to retain?

I’d sit down with Colby Armstrong and ask him, “Do you want to stay?” And, “If not, where would you like to be traded? We’ll at least TRYYY to work with you, if there’s a deal to be made with that team that MAKES SENSE for Atlanta.”

I’d do the same thing with Kubina. I’d press HARD for a 2-year deal with him. That would make Kubina 34 years old when it’s done. If the next year doesn’t work out, ya move Kubina at the 2011 draft, with a year left on his contract, for the best deal you can, in that scenario. If Kubina says, “Look Thrashers, this might be my last and final contract, so I’m looking for a 6-year deal. But I don’t want to do it here. You don’t have to trade me, but I’m not re-signing here. And I wanted you to know that, in fairness to the organization and to how it manages its assets.” I think there’s a 2nd round pick coming for Kubina from some team. Now, I’d like the “some team” to be a bubble team out west. I think that means Nashville or Calgary. But I don’t know their cap situation. I don’t think Detroit can take on any more salary. Maybe the L.A. Kings would be interested? Kubina would make them even stronger. I think the Kings, who are right around 4th, 5th or 6th spot, are going to make the playoffs this year. Every team needs good defensemen at the deadline. Kubina is certainly that. Los Angeles’ 2nd round pick might be pick #48-54 this year. That’s far from awesome, but it can be used for purposes other than making a selection. For example, Atlanta owns New Jersey’s 2nd round pick in the draft, roughly #54 to #57 overall. Still with me? With L.A.’s #48, as a result of the Kubina trade, maybe Atlanta can offer these two 2nd round picks to some team with a pending RFA contract they cannot sign? Perhaps that team is somewhere out West? Columbus, Nashville, Anaheim, Dallas, Calgary, Edmonton, etc. Well, any of those teams would do well to pick up two MORE 2nd round picks, in addition to their own righly held 2nd round pick. Of course, it would depend on who the RFA is. If that RFA only has two years remaining before reaching UFA status, it might have to be re-examined, especially if the player’s agent says, “Look, my client isn’t really trying to come to Atlanta. And if traded there, would only play out his remaining two years, then would opt to hit the open market.”

Folks, it’s just an idea. The point is … it’s a nice long break coming up. I hope the team practices during this stretch. I hope Zach Bogosian gets the mentoring he needs. Shoot, I’d pay for the flight to Boston for him to spend the next two weeks with Ray Bourque, out on the pond, if need be. It’s also a great time to sit down with player agents and hammer out contract extensions, where possible.

And yes, this also means Bryan Little. The guy isn’t worthless. He’s had a bad year, forced to the wing from his natural center position. I think the time to lock him up at a very reasonable and sizeable discount is right now. If you offered him 8 years/$30 million, he’d probably take it. And if he held out for the full $4 million cap hit, so be it. He’s forgoing his UFA years in such a deal. What if he really does turn into a perennial 30 goal scorer? Even at $4 million-a-year, that’s getting away cheaply. Now, it’s one thing if the organization thinks his rookie year was a total fluke, and that he’s got bad hands or poor work ethic. Or whatever. Eight years is a pretty substantive commitment. And it’s not one someone would make if they felt this way about the player. But this organization simply MUST improve on the Core Areas of “player retention” and “player development.” C’mon Dudley, if you’re guy pulling the strings now, step up to the plate, man. Put your mark on this team. Little was a former 1st round pick, selected at EXACTLY WHERE he should have been taken. Let’s cultivate this guy.

Smoothie

February 13th, 2010
1:43 pm

sisu – I think Anssi just got caught in a numbers game. Too many puck-movers on this team and he seems like the type of player who thrives the more mins he gets. Some players are great off the bench with something to prove. But Anssi knows he has skills that don’t flourish without enough ice time. And by the way, I in no way favor Swedes over Fins but now that we are Fin-less, I figured I’d use some silly smack talk to honor our Swedes! Now if we could just get rid of these Russians in favor of more Kazakhastanians and Latvians! ;-)

Brendan – great post above. Agree almost 100 percent but not sure I’m comfortable paying Bryan anything over $3 M per and that’s only if he can get to 18 or more goals. I would say 5 yrs and $15 M would be fair.

rob

February 13th, 2010
2:41 pm

HAHAHA got to watch the 3rd period after my wife pointed out there was snow on my dish. 1 well aimed snowball after 3 not so well aimed ones and POOF, THRASHERS HOCKEY!!!!! Kulda had a few nice clears in front of the net including a wild wrap around where the puck was free and looked bad but he drove the forward to the end board and moose recovered. Quite a few posts out there that thankfully bounced our way. I actually LOVED the Moose mask with the THRASHERS emblem so prominantly displayed on it!!!! I actually think that should be what all goalies have on the front like that, looked great! Anyway, good effort rewarded….gotta keep going I guess and just hope we can score 3+ goals a night every night, and that is a scary way to have to win but it is our course huh? LET’S GO THRASHERS!!!!!