Special teams a little more special

One of the reasons the Thrashers have won three straight – and earned points in four in a row – is the play of the special teams.

In the past four games, the Thrashers’ penalty kill has allowed two goals in 15 man-disadvantages (87 percent success rate). Remember the Thrashers had gone 11 straight games allowing a power-play goal. The Thrashers have four goals in 22 power-play chances of their own over the past four games (18 percent).

Lots of individual plays from Saturday’s win over the Flyers that almost got lost in the shuffle.

*Jim Slater fought Dan Carcillo 39 seconds in. Eric Boulton takes on Ian Laperriere three minutes later. That set a physical tone.

*Johnny Oduya jumping over a shot on goal by Ron Hainsey that ended up making it’s way to goaltender Brian Boucher for a rebound that Colby Armstrong knocked in.

*Mark Popovic saving a goal by falling on a puck in front of the net during a scramble.

The Thrashers are not having a pre-game skate, just a video session, before tonight’s rematch with the Flyers. I won’t be able to report who will start in goal until before the game.

Chris Thorburn did not make the trip to Philadelphia. He is suffering from a lower-back issue. That, and an illness, had him out of the past three games.

Big game to keep an eye on is this afternoon’s Bruins-Rangers game. The Thrashers could move into playoff position with a win tonight, depending on that outcome. How huge will Tuesday’s game against the Bruins by at Philips Arena?

Here’s what Marty Reasoner told me before Saturday’s game about the team’s recent turnaround from a six-game losing streak: “Professional sports are a roller coaster ride,” Thrashers center Marty Reasoner said. “You win and you think you are the best time in the world, you lose and you think you are the worst team. Our situation was really about our game. We just didn’t think we were playing the way we could. We got to the point where we felt like it wasn’t even about the wins and losses. We were playing poorly and we needed to get our game back in order for pride. Once we did that, you wake up in the morning a couple days later and it’s an amazing thing. This three week period we went from eighth place with a shot at sixth, to being in 13th to being back in the mix. We’ve got to make sure we play well and hard. If we do that than we believe we can continue to win.”

True, the Thrashers have won three straight to get back into the playoff race. They also got some help from the others in the conference. Entering Sunday, the Flyers, Senators and Canadiens were tied for fifth with 79 points. The Flyers are 1-2-1 in their past four games. The Senators have lost five straight in regulation. The Canadiens have gotten in the race by going 6-0-1 in their past seven. The Rangers, who trail the Thrashers by two points. have gone 2-4-2 in their past eight games.

I’m off later this afternoon to get a cheesesteak. Met up with some friends the last trip to Philadelphia and didn’t get one. It’s one of the things I miss since moving south.

29 comments Add your comment

Kovy's Agent

March 21st, 2010
9:13 am

Chris, any word on the goalie for tonight? Typically it would be Pav’s but good grief he’s looked horrible lately. I think we live or die with the Moose at this point.

puckhead

March 21st, 2010
9:41 am

Pavs had a good outing last week. I think you have to rest Moose for Tuesday.
The defense it getting a lot of sticks and bodies in the way lately, the extra support will benefit Pavs

MB

March 21st, 2010
10:16 am

Sounds like I missed a heck of a game…good job, T-Birds! Take it to ‘em again tonight!

Brendan

March 21st, 2010
10:55 am

Start Paves. Moose has to play the Bruins game. And the Flyers, well … like it or not, they have to go with Boucher. Every single game. They had injuries in net. So, I like a “fresh” Pavelec vs. a “tired” Boucher. That leave Hedberg, 12 goals in his last 4 games, to face the imploding Bruins, with a playoff position potentially on the line.

I hope Atlanta catches a break. This franchise needs one.

Brendan

March 21st, 2010
10:58 am

Vivlamore, good point about Slater setting the tone 39 seconds in. Atlanta’s two goals early, also planted that seed of “belief” that the evening would end with a victory.

Smoothie

March 21st, 2010
11:51 am

Quite a fun nite in Thrasherville! My section was rockin and the upper deck was as full as I can remember in quite some time. Still quite empty on the attack-once end but still a good showing for a “bad” team with an incompetent GM and owners!

Anyway, when was the last time ANY Thrasher team scored 3 of 5 goals in greasy fashion? Let alone against the Flyers!! The boys are really starting to storm the crease of late. They are finally utilizing all that speed to beat their opponents to loose pucks.

Also what is quite noteworthy is the aggressive back-checking of all the forwards. Especially Max, Bergie and Little; those boys are really flyin out there. Can’t say that I miss that Kovalchuk fellow.

Let’s hope the inspired play continues over the next couple of weeks and isn’t just a 5 or 6 game mirage in yet another lost season wandering in the desert of futility.

Original Six = Original Sin

March 21st, 2010
1:36 pm

Wow, Mike Milbury REALLY doesn’t want to talk about the Thrashers!!!

Dwayne

March 21st, 2010
2:31 pm

Philly cheesesteaks….nomnumnumnom…Pat’s or Geno’s????

Let's Go Blueskirts

March 21st, 2010
2:59 pm

Thanks, Ranjerks. Can’t do anything right…

hockeyfan

March 21st, 2010
3:02 pm

Geno’s or Pat’s?

Brendan

March 21st, 2010
3:25 pm

Well, I wouldn’t say that. The Rangers helped us stay ahead of them. It’s a playoff race. You don’t just look at the teams in front you; you also watching those tied or underneath you. We got a good result. No shared points.

Brendan

March 21st, 2010
3:33 pm

In the last game vs. Philadelphia, Kubina and Enstrom were both +3. http://www.nhl.com/ice/boxscore.htm?id=2009021061. That kind of play must continue tonight, in Philly. Todd White, Colby Armstrong, and Clarke MacArthur were +2. Hainsey and Oduya both played 21 minutes, and each blocked 7 shots, of the 21 blocked shots on the night. Which means? The two of them blocked two-thirds of all the blocked shots.

[...] word on the exact lineup for tonight, but Chris Vivlamore says Chris Thorburn didn’t make the trip due to a combination of a back issue and the [...]

Curly

March 21st, 2010
4:45 pm

I agree with Brendan and Puckhead. Start Pavs tonight and rest Moose for Tuesday night against the Bruins.

Lord Stanley

March 21st, 2010
5:38 pm

We need Moose right now, unfortunately the only time I would feel confident about Pav in goal is when Chris V. is in the other goal. Moose can rest in the offseason.

Savannah Blueland Fan

March 21st, 2010
7:01 pm

Milbury is a Boston boy to the core. It sounded like he was blowing the Thrashers off but, in hindsight, he was just probably ticked that Boston–even though they won over the Rangers—played pretty badly.

Brendan

March 21st, 2010
7:02 pm

It begins!!!

Brendan

March 21st, 2010
7:17 pm

Ron Hainsey has scored to make it, 1-0, for Atlanta. :)

Smoothie

March 21st, 2010
7:23 pm

Playing with a lot of energy, jam and passion once again. Would be nice to get a two goal lead again on the road especially. Too many D turnovers right now. Philly making some adjustments?

Hope

March 21st, 2010
8:50 pm

Milbury is as dopey as steak…go figure

Hope

March 21st, 2010
8:57 pm

Rangers s..k by the way…

Zach

March 21st, 2010
9:34 pm

stendek

March 21st, 2010
9:43 pm

First I wish to personally congratulate Pavs. Outstanding job young man! Securing a critical victory over the Lowflyers in Filthadelphia. I can remember at least five utterly phenomenal saves! I underestimated the young netminder. I fully expected a Kari Lehtonen-like debacle with Johan Moose Hedberg on bench. Glad to admit I was dead wrong! Pavs snuffed 44 of 45 shots. A superlative effort no matter how you cut it! Where in the name of blue blazes were these guys during that horrendous losing streak? Wherever they are I certainly hope they stay there! Thrashers led 2-0 late into final period before margin sliced in half. Third tally iced triumph on hostile ice! Sweet. Cannot blame Lowflyers. More to whipping Thrashers now than shutting down one player! Sure is nice to see Thrashers playing as a unit! Hope they maintain that edge from here on out. Perhaps into playoffs? Maybe even a date with some Devils? I can dream! ++STENDEK++

Brendan

March 21st, 2010
10:18 pm

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to an 8-point swing, and 4-0 series sweep of the Flyers! Pavelec is 5-1-3 when facing 40 or more shots. Astounding. I guess he’s the type of goalie who always needs to touch the puck to be in the game? Fine by me. Whatever works for the guy.

“On the Fly” called Atlanta’s defense, “unheralded.” They said, “When it all comes together, it works. Enstrom’s good. Hainsey had a 3-point night. Kubina had five shots.” Said analyst and former Islander Dennis Potvin, “Sometimes, when a team loses the one guy who generated all the offense, like we had in Florida with Pavel Bure, the whole team comes together (to pick up the slack).”

Philly has to look at its goaltending. I’m not here to rain on any parades. But Boucher gave up each and every goal from his right side, the left faceoff circle. Hainsey, White (GWG), and then Peverley. Beeee honest. Would another goaltender have stopped those shots? I’m thinking, “maybe so.” The insult to injury is that Todd White got the game winning goal. I had wondered, before it became a final, if Rich Peverley’s goal would have put him atop the NHL leaderboard for Game-winning-goals (GWG), had the Flyers added a late goal, to make it, 3-2. What does it matter? It’s a big win and a big weekend. Points 74 and 75 on the season. One more point to reach last year’s point totals, with 10 games left to get it. One more win and the T-birds surpass last year’s totals.

Okay, “red hot” Carolina lost today, 5-3, to Buffalo. Carolina and Toronto are playing good hockey these days, despite their overall records. Atlanta will face both teams TWICE in the next five games, with Boston up next. The game with Boston has playoff implications, as the Bruins are only one-point ahead of Atlanta. But if the Bruins win, in regulation time, to bump that lead to 3-points, while taking a game off the schedule. It’s a great opportunity for Boston to put some distance between themselves and the Thrashers.

The last five games for Atlanta are 4-0-1, good enough for nine points out of a possible ten (9/10). The lone lost point was a shootout loss to Phoenix, where Pevelec couldn’t slam the door on Phoenix’s 3rd shooter for the win. The next Coyote scored to win it for Phoenix. If that shootout had gone the other way, Waddell would find a microphone to announced, “bad teams don’t win 5 games in-a-row in this league.” Even though, there’s tons of evidence to suggest it happens with frequency throughout the league.

Great win!! Despite 45 shots against. The real bottom line, at this time of year, is the result. And the result is a regulation time win, for two-points.

OmniFan

March 21st, 2010
10:40 pm

Hate to rain on the parade, but afraid the best we can hope for is to be in the Dance come March 31. After that, its WASH/WASH/PITT/PITT/NJ. Mighty tall order to hang on through that. One can only hope that those 3 teams will be coasting on playoff spots already won

Brendan

March 21st, 2010
11:35 pm

We’ll beat Pittsburgh once (1x) and NJ, too. With the euphoria of defeating Kovalchuk fresh on their minds, all the STH’s will renew, irrespective of whether we make the playoffs. What matters to them, is the last 10 games and how the team does. With the exception of those who will renew NO MATTER WHAT. 37-points? 97-points? They’re back every year. There are also those who will renew because they enjoy the sound of the words, “I’ve been a season ticket holder from Day One.”

Even if the Thrashers do make the playoffs, and win one (1) game, is that really ENOUGH to justify a 2-year contract extension for Waddell? Actually, I withdraw the question. The question presupposes that the organization has accountability in its dictionary. Which, clearly, it does not, through nine completed seasons, with seven of them ending the bottom third of the Conference, in a league where 53% of the teams make the playoffs.

But, just because there’s no accountability within its ranks … does that mean we should root against the Thrashers? I’m not. I root for them to succeed despite idiocy. I love it when they “pull a Homer.” I want them to make the playoffs. I want them to win the Stanley Cup. Waddell is getting renewed whether they make the playoffs … or not. So rooting for them to fail, to get Waddell fired, I think, is misplaced. It just won’t happen. If Atlanta makes the playoffs, Waddell get renewed. If Atlanta misses the playoffs, Waddell gets renewed. If it rains, sleets, or snows … in the middle of May … Waddell gets renewed. Might as well enjoy success when and if it comes.

Hope

March 21st, 2010
11:49 pm

Chris

Jeff Schulz is a Jerk

Brendan

March 22nd, 2010
12:21 am

Here’s a link to tonight’s big win, Game #2 vs. Philly. http://www.nhl.com/ice/boxscore.htm?id=2009021073. Notice that Hainsey was a +3.

B. Thenet

March 22nd, 2010
7:52 am

Happy Days Are Here Again :)

Heck of a roller coaster ride over the past 3 weeks.

Tuesday is going to be huge, need to get that building packed for the game.