Tuesday: The Thrashers biggest game since …

The Thrashers did enough in one week to make Tuesday’s game against the Bruins the biggest for the franchise since Game 1 vs. the Rangers in 2006-07 playoffs. Just one point separates the teams for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference.

By reeling off wins against the Sabres, Senators and two against the Flyers the playoffs are realistic. Who would have thought that the point for the shootout loss to the Coyotes – who just tied for the top spot in the West – would mean so much? While the Bruins are just a point ahead, the Thrashers can win Tuesday but still don’t have total control of their own destiny as Boston has a game in hand. The Bruins’ remaining 10 games after playing the Thrashers are against the Lightning, Flames, Sabres (twice at home), Devils, Panthers, Maple Leafs, Hurricanes and Capitals (twice).

After the Bruins, the Thrashers’ final nine games are against the Maple Leafs (twice), Hurricanes (twice), Capitals (twice), Penguins (twice) and Devils (with a guy named Ilya Kovalchuk returning to Philips Arena).

Who has the tougher schedule? I say the Bruins. Here’s my (flawed) logic: Throw out the Capitals as each team plays them twice. Throw out the Sabres and the Penguins, both play one twice and they are a wash. Throw out the Devils, they each play once. Throw out the one  game with the Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.

Here is what’s left: The Bruins have games with Lightning (68 points), Flames (81 points) and Panthers (69). The Thrashers have games with the Maple Leafs (64) and Hurricanes (68).

That’s just for fun, because who really knows?

Not to get lost in trying to catch the Bruins, it’s worth noting that the Flyers, Canadiens and Senators are only four points ahead in the standings. The Senators have lost five in a row and are 1-7-1 this month.

A couple of facts after last night’s win over the Flyers that are worth noting:

*The Thrashers have taken a 2-0 lead in each of the four straight wins. The first goal in each came less than three minutes in.

*Jim Slater on the Flyers after a “cheapshot” from Scott Hartnell: “They think they can’t be touched.”

*The Thrashers’ penalty kill hasn’t allowed a power-play goal in the past three games. The opponents are 0-for-10. It’s 1-for-14 during the win streak.

*The season sweep of the Flyers was the first in franchise history for the Thrashers.

*The four-game win streak matches a season-high for the Thrashers, who did it twice this season but not since November.

*Ondrej Pavelec stopped 44 shots in the win.

One funny moment from Sunday night that I sent out a Twitter message about (shameless plug: @ajcthrashers). During Kiss Cam at the Wachovia Center, the camera came on Zach Bogosian and Tobias Enstrom. Bogosian noticed it and tried to get Enstrom to look up a the scoreboard. Finally, Bogosian kissed his hand and touched Enstrom’s helmet. You can do that when you are winning four in a row.

The Thrashers canceled practice on Monday after playing three games in four nights.

Finally, if you attend a Thrashers practice at the IceForum in Duluth and see the team’s massage therapist “Daniel” Treiguts make sure you tell him to like his new hairstyle.

84 comments Add your comment

J(Z)

March 22nd, 2010
9:51 am

I’m not so sure it’s the Bruins who are the ones we need to catch…I think the Flyers may be in the process of completely self destructing and giving the Thrashers & Bruins a realistic shot at BOTH making the playoffs. Not to get greedy but I really want no part of the 8th seed!!!! I don’t really want a shot at an 0-10-0 record against the Caps this year.

I think the most impressive part of this is that this 4-0-1 streak ALL came against teams ahead of us in the standings. After the boston game, we get Carolina and Toronto twice each and we have GOT to win AT LEAST 3 of those 4. We can’t play down to the level of our opponents!!!!

PMC

March 22nd, 2010
10:01 am

Hats off to the freaking penalty kill unit!

JW

March 22nd, 2010
10:10 am

Let’s hope the next time we face Tampa that niittymaki needs a night off, I don’t want that aura to destroy positive energy this team has dug deep to find.

Daculafan

March 22nd, 2010
10:23 am

We’re done with Tampa for the season. I think one reason we did so well against the Flyers was because Nitty was down in Tampa. We lost all our meetings with Tampa this season when Nitty was in the net.

To say tomorrow’s game against the Bruins isn’t huge would be a gross understatement. Let’s go Thrashers, we have to come out tomorrow night like everybody’s job depended on their performance…maybe Slater can kick the crap out Lucic or something…now wouldn’t that be interesting.

ChippersLoveChild

March 22nd, 2010
10:25 am

Technically wouldn’t Game 4 against the Rags have been the biggest game since this one? ;)

Will L

March 22nd, 2010
10:28 am

Thankfully we don’t play Tampa again this year.

I’m with J(Z) in that we need to catch one of those teams with 79 points and get the 6th or 7th seed. On the other hand it would be so awesome to stick it to Ovechkin and the Craps in the playoffs.

Will L

March 22nd, 2010
10:30 am

pretty much every game the rest of the way is the biggest game of the season, and the players hopefully treat it as such. Lets Go Thrashers!

ChippersLoveChild

March 22nd, 2010
10:37 am

Ah J(Z), I’d hope we won’t get the chance to go 0-10-0 against the Caps because if we are to make the playoffs we are more than likely going to at least need points in one of the final two games against them in the regular season, if not both..

Smoothie

March 22nd, 2010
10:37 am

I would argue Game 2 vs the Rangers. If we win the infamous monkey-puck carom game, we might take the series to a 7th game and who knows?

Bygones.

The first 5 minutes of the first period against Boston are the most five important minutes of most of these young men’s hockey lives. Not to put too much pressure on them, but an early lead against Boston is beyond huge. Gotta jump on them early, get the crowd really into it and hopefully strain the will of the Bruins who struggle to score goals.

Our D-men better be ready cuz Lucic, Krejci, Thornton, Sobotka and Wheeler will be looking to hit the crap out of our smaller guys.

Toughest match-up other than Washington for our boys, but I think we can take them. Five minute segments, smart decisions with the puck in our own zone and support of our goalie clearing pucks. Hopefully, our speed will be a factor if we can remain patient and not take too many calculated risks.

puckhead

March 22nd, 2010
10:57 am

Finally visible passion – slaters verbal barrage after going to the penalty box should be the highlight of the week. This team has taken on an anywhere any time persona.

James Brown

March 22nd, 2010
11:05 am

We need to pack the house……………get behind this team and will them to victory!!!!

Old Time Hockey

March 22nd, 2010
11:08 am

I just hope they eat the same pre-game meals, wear the same smelly underwear and don’t change thing! Don’t know what was said to get them to come out fired up, but it is a pleasure to watch when they do. When they play like they have the last few games it gives hope. Just 26 more games just like that!

GSUFan

March 22nd, 2010
11:09 am

Here’s to hoping that the Flyers suck it up for the rest of the season and the Thrashers sneak in!

[...] tomorrow night’s game against the Bruins at Philips Arena is the biggest game of the season? Chris Vivlamore called it the biggest game since the Thrashers’ first playoff game in 2006-07, and it’s hard to [...]

Dwayne

March 22nd, 2010
11:19 am

Ott vrs. Montreal tonight….who ya got?

Chris Vivlamore

March 22nd, 2010
11:29 am

ChippersLoveChild: By Game 4 the Thrashers were already down 3-0 with little chance of coming back.

Diego from Lilburn

March 22nd, 2010
11:35 am

See what happens when you cut loose the prima donnas and play the coaches system with your whole heart?

Nothing wrong with this team that couldn’t be fixed by a few more guys getting their heart and soul into it.

ChippersLoveChild

March 22nd, 2010
11:44 am

C-Viv, the same could have been said about the Thrash last week! Who knows what could have happened if we won game four? Crazier things have happened…. I’ll stop with my sarcasm now.

I’m amped for the game tomorrow. I hope the building is loud and crazy!

Smoothie

March 22nd, 2010
11:48 am

Well said Diego! Well said!

I like the fact we have some young guys in the pipeline too who seem to be real “team first” guys like Machacek, Kulda, Klingberg and Morin, who swallowed his pride and played 3rd and 4th line mins on the winning Junior World Team. The future seems brighter with a pipeline full of prospects and about $12-15 M of loot to spend in FA for the next 2 or 3 seasons. Let’s go Thrashers! Keep the momentum going!!

Andrew G

March 22nd, 2010
12:10 pm

Hats off to John Anderson and making the gutsy call on sitting a super hot tender in Hedberg. Rest up boys and we’ll be watching the biggest game of the season on Tuesday.

Also, I would like to send my sincerest apologies to Jim Slater for doggin’ you throughout your career until this season. A change of identity is what you needed. I love the grit and grind and the ability to take on anybody. Your fights were well timed and provided a great spark against Philly. I think you can take on Chara, he is extremely soft for his size.

Beat the boys from Beantown.

Barry

March 22nd, 2010
12:15 pm

All the Thrashers need to do is just win. Whether they catch and pass the Bruins or catch up to Ottawa or Philly they just need to win and get into the playoffs. I agree I do not want the 8th seed. Thrashers would get creamed by the Caps and would be embarassed more than they were against the Rangers in the 1st round.

ChippersLoveChild

March 22nd, 2010
12:16 pm

To be fair Diego, I’m fairly certain we are still one game under .500 since the trade…

Smoothie

March 22nd, 2010
12:22 pm

CLC – Nope, we’re 8 – 6 – 3 since the Kovy trade. Of course, that depends on your definition of .500. But 19 of 34 points is over .500 in the new NHL, eh?

Cherokee

March 22nd, 2010
12:26 pm

Really been impressed with Slater these last few games. The energy has been great.

Another thought — since the delayed penalty goal against Ottawa last week, this team has seemed to figure out that, indeed, putting bodies in front of the net is a good thing. Traffic is good and the team is better for it.

We’ve got to sack away points here because April looks nasty. Let’s finish the month strong and try to get a few in April. I just like talking meaningful hockey in late March!

Andrew Green

March 22nd, 2010
12:29 pm

I have to agree with J(Z) and say that the Flyers may easily drop out of the playoffs without a solid man in net. Also, the Bruins and Canadiens aren’t necessarily stable teams that can maintain their somewhat solid records going into the playoffs. The Thrashers have a decent chance in making the playoffs. Lastly, the Thrashers have just as good goaltending, if not better, than the teams mentioned.

TheFan79

March 22nd, 2010
12:32 pm

Just win baby ,win.That’s all i’m asking.

Lord Stanley

March 22nd, 2010
12:50 pm

Would love the chance to get to play the Devils in the playoffs. I think we would be favorite since Kovalchuk is now with the devils. :)
However still a long way to go.

Durocher

March 22nd, 2010
1:07 pm

If the Thrashers are – ultimately – able to vault past and stay ahead of the Bruins, we will owe a debt of thanks to Matt Cooke. Boston has had all kinds of trouble scoring this season, and losing Marc Savard has made a bad situation worse.

We can – legitimately – look beyond eighth spot. Philadelphia, Ottawa and Montreal are all close enough to catch, and – with the questionable goaltending in Philadelphia and Ottawa – they may stagger enough to allow Atlanta to pass them.

The ideal result tonight – in the game between Ottawa and Montreal – would be a win in regulation time by the Canadiens. I don’t foresee the Thrashers catching Montreal, so let the Senators’ swoon continue.

R. Stroz

March 22nd, 2010
1:13 pm

PACK THE HOUSE!

ChippersLoveChild

March 22nd, 2010
1:17 pm

Lol, I’ll play your game Smoothie. I’ll look at the points and be an optimist! Regardless, I’m loving the play lately, and hope we get a win and pack the house on Tuesday.

J.B.

March 22nd, 2010
1:21 pm

Philly just lost Jeff Carter in addition to having unheard of goaltender health issues.

Telfo

March 22nd, 2010
1:23 pm

Jeff Carter out 3-4 weeks. Philly just became more catchable.

WIN TOMORROW!

Lord Stanley

March 22nd, 2010
1:31 pm

I dont remember seeing Carter injury in the game, what happend

Thrashers27

March 22nd, 2010
1:37 pm

No, J.B.,

We have heard of those unfortunate goaltender health issues before. Remember the season of Lehtonen, Garnett, Berkhoel, Dunham & Shields. I still say Dunham is the reason we didn’t make the playoffs for the ‘05-’06 season.

Glad to see it elsewhere. Keep up the good work boys!

Jimbo

March 22nd, 2010
1:45 pm

Forget just targeting Boston. Let’s shoot for 90 pts and let the chips fall where they might. Tomorrow’s game is the BIGGIE. We’ve come out skating and hitting the last 4 let’s see if Johnny Boy can keep motivating them to play from the opening puck drop. Damn, I was getting ready to start blogging on probable draft picks and now I gotta go tomorrow nite. Hope that we get a big, loud turnout. Fun to be in it near the end.

Toby

March 22nd, 2010
1:46 pm

I wouldn’t wish an injury on most people, buuut…….YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

J.B.

March 22nd, 2010
1:56 pm

Thrashers 27 – good point.

Brendan

March 22nd, 2010
1:59 pm

I laugh hyterically when bloggers “nitpick” the absolute minutia of an otherwise fine blog. The point of Vivlamore’s latest piece is that Atlanta is playing very well, ANNNNNND is getting the desired results. Both things are happening. We’ve seen this team play well and not the desired results. And we’ve seen this team, particularly earlier in the season, play rather pedestrian, then STEAL the game in the 3rd period. Those types of games may be fun and exciting, and very memorable, but they are hallmarks of a bad team. The team we’re seeing over this 4-0-1 stretch is one that gets out to an early lead, then keeps it to payday. Those are the hallmarks of a good team.

What the Thrashers desperately need is “consistency” at a higher level of play. If they maintain the level of play that they’ve just recently displayed, then they WILL make the playoffs. But if the character that the franchise has historically displayed reappears, then they’ll go into a losing streak of a few games.

The “consistency” of this team, with or without Kovalchuk, is that they are INCONSISTENT. They consistently inconsistent. But it’s all in their hands. They do control more of their destiny that the schedule indicates. Boston simply will NOT win out, to end the season. If they did, then the Bruins control their destiny. But if the Bruins play like the Bruins of the last 20 or so games, they’re not a lock for anything. With Savard out, and Tim Thomas “shaky,” there’s a very real opportunity here. But it’s up to the Thrashers to be ready to play when the puck drops.

As several other bloggers have noted, “How does one NOT be ready to play, at this stage of the season, with THIS MUCH on the line?” And yet, it happens. And it has happened. And should we really be surprised if it does, yet again? That’s the “character” of this team. They are consistently inconsistent. And that’s what must change between now and the end of the season.

scottbravesfan

March 22nd, 2010
2:15 pm

Hopefully some people in Atlanta actually show up to the game

Gwinnett Fred

March 22nd, 2010
2:56 pm

Great point by Brendan – come to play from the first puck drop, and it’s amazing the results.

What do the following have in common? 2:04; 1:48; 2:35 & 0:33

The time of the FIRST period when we’ve scored the games opening goal the last 4 times out.

Next question. Before these last 4 games, how many times had the Thrashers scored first in the opening 3:00 of a game? FOUR – as in we’ve scored in the first 3 minutes of a game as many times in the last 4 games as we did the first SIXTY EIGHT games.

Oh, our record when we’ve done so? 7-1-0!

Keep up the early pressure boys & kick some Bruin Butt tomorrow!!!!

Sir_heady

March 22nd, 2010
3:19 pm

come on ajc its your turn to HYPE THE GAME. Honestly, can we stop talking about football for one day just so the thrash can get some front page cred. Think about how great it would be to get the city buzzing about the Hawks and The Thrash.

WE WANNA KNOW WHERE DA PLAYOFFS AT

Hope

March 22nd, 2010
3:28 pm

Chris

get your editor to pump up game
go thrashers!!!!
having a meaningful game in late march is awesome

Brendan

March 22nd, 2010
3:30 pm

Gwinnett Fred, that’s a great catch there. I did not know that the Thrashers scored within the first 3 minutes of a game on only four prior occasions compared to these last four games.

That’s good stuff! We need all the help we can get in the research department. I do wonder what our record is when the Thrashers score the first goal of the game, IRRESPECTIVE of when that 1st goal is scored. My guess, without knowing, is that it’s a good one.

Anyone got the actual stat?

Falconsforlife

March 22nd, 2010
3:47 pm

I got my tickets! I really hope the city shows up to this. Huge game.

Early English

March 22nd, 2010
4:07 pm

I’d be down at the game but I’ve got class. I’ll be watching online as the Thrashers take it to the Bruins. I can’t wait!

Gooooo Thrashers!

Terrel

March 22nd, 2010
4:42 pm

Take care of your own business and stop looking ahead at the schedule.

Jimbo

March 22nd, 2010
4:42 pm

Gwinnett Fred- interesting points on scoring early on. While it’s easy to point fingers when someone is gone, I doubt that Kovy was much of a motivator and Anderson appears to be below “low key”. I’ve often heard stories how Mark Messier, Wayne Gretzy, Bobby Clarke and other great captains motivated teammates through words and actions to rise to the moment. It’s a credit to the guys that they are puling together early on. Maybe a big, boisterous, home crowd tomorrow might can get the juices flowing. I’m looking forward to being loud.

KLS1

March 22nd, 2010
4:51 pm

Boston is not a high flying offense, especially without Savard. If we outwork them and play D like we have been lately and we should be able to win.

One game at a time…

Gwinnett Fred

March 22nd, 2010
6:11 pm

I remember early on they had a fantastic record when scoring first, something like 8-1-1, then it kind of went in the tank.

I’ll see if I can track it down.

BTW – As they say – good seats going fast – I just got my 3 in Section 121 – hope 17,000 close friends decide to come join me!!!!!!

Gwinnett Fred

March 22nd, 2010
6:16 pm

And here’s a REAL important trend that the fans have a responsibility for:

Thrashers are 6-2-1 when the attendence is 15,600+

So let’s get out there in force folks!!!!!