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.