On to Washington … and still alive for playoff spot

This early-morning blog comes to you from the airport in Toronto two hours before my flight to Washington leaves — so check for typos (remember Buffalo?!).

Couldn’t work this into my story last night but Pavel Kubina left Tuesday’s game against the Maple Leafs. There was no update following the game but I saw him walking to the team bus. He didn’t appear to be limping, but I have no idea the exact nature of the injury. He played just 12:39 in the 3-2 win.

I will get an update but not until Thursday’s morning skate. The Thrashers will not practice today. Only the four players who missed Tuesday’s game – Slava Kozlov, Eric Boulton, Chris Chelios and Evander Kane – will skate.

So the Bruins pulled out an overtime win over the Devils to stay two points up on the Thrashers. Why do I think that everyone will be watching the Bruins-Capitals game a week from Sunday to find out the Thrashers’ playoff fate?

No games tonight that will affect the Thrashers standings but Thursday will be big. Thrashers are at Capitals, Bruins host Panthers and Flyers are at Islanders.

One moment from last night’s game that I’m not sure TV captured. After Tim Stapleton missed on a breakaway chance, I looked over at the bench to see coach John Anderson jumping up and down and stomping his foot. I asked him about it after the game. He said he wanted to see the kid score – especially against his former team. Also, he admitted, the goal would have made him breathe a little easier in a close game.

Time to solicit a little help from you again. I have to nominate a player for the Bill Masterton Trophy given by the hockey writers each year. It’s for the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. Last year Steve Sullivan won the award after missing almost two years with a back injury.

Let me know who you would nominate for the award this year and I will consider. I appreciate the help.

Let’s get this posted and I will check back later.

39 comments Add your comment

Bobby G

March 31st, 2010
7:40 am

We just need to keep winning…..Tough schedule the rest of the way but if we can win 3 of the games I think we have a shot…..we just need Boston, Philidephia or montreal to completely shut down

GaVaHokie

March 31st, 2010
8:03 am

Not sure if anyone else noticed the line combination graphics on SportSouth last night, but apparently Anssi Salmela is still paired with Zach Bogosian. :)

Masterson Trophy… hmmm, I’ll have to think it over. I might say Patrice Bergeron. With all his injuries and he stills wins a spot on the Canadian Gold Medal Team.

DWTOO

March 31st, 2010
8:03 am

Chris – Think Jimmy Slater would be a good nominee. Here’s a guy who was a healthy scratch for the first part of the season and has played hard since given the chance. Example – in monday’s game when most of the team was standing around Slater delivered two solid checks on one shift. Then he got into a scrum in front of the net with the ‘Cane on top of him.

Sara

March 31st, 2010
8:07 am

I second DWTOOs Slater nomination.

Two beer Tom

March 31st, 2010
8:13 am

Congrats to us five hockey fans still living here in Atlanta!

TheFan79

March 31st, 2010
8:17 am

I think we are going after Flyers and Habs.Not so much Bruins .

GaVaHokie

March 31st, 2010
8:22 am

Viv… do you have to nominate a Thrasher or someone from the entire league?

Bobby G

March 31st, 2010
9:01 am

Masterson Trophy – Honestly would Mad Max not be a good canidate. As of right now he is tied with his career high in goals and he was not offered a contract in the entire league except for a tryout with us……making no money basically for his production….he had injuries the past few years and coaching issues and now he is on track…just saying.

The Monkey

March 31st, 2010
9:09 am

I know at least one Stank that will love that.

Telfo

March 31st, 2010
9:16 am

Max should be nominated from the Thrash. he could have easily gone to the KHL but he took a tiny salary to stay in the NHL and proved he belongs

True Hockey Fan

March 31st, 2010
9:17 am

Montreal plays carolina tonight. Last I looked Montreal has 82 points. Go Canes. We do have a game tonight that has implications for Our playoff chances.

glovesave29

March 31st, 2010
9:44 am

Not many sentimental favorites this year. The only player that comes to mind is Chris Chelios. Most of his year has been spent in the minors, but he certainly has exhibited perserverence and dedication.

Joe Friday

March 31st, 2010
9:52 am

Chris, I think your only choice is Afinogenov. He showed perseverance and dedication to hockey by coming to camp with no contract to prove himself after everyone had written him off, accepted a very low contract offer, and has put up great numbers. He exhibits good sportsmanship on the ice. There’s really no other choice on our club.

ATL Fan in NYC

March 31st, 2010
9:57 am

Montreal plays Carolina tonight; it would be nice of the Canes to help us out a little bit after kicking our butts on Monday…

Marcus

March 31st, 2010
10:08 am

HUGE win last night, but thursday is even more HUGE. We’re going to have to play our best game of the season.

Fino for Masterton! He’s been a really nice bright spot for the Thrashers this year. He always shows up to play and puts in a strong effort. You can tell that he just loves scoring, winning, but most of all playing hockey. It’s a no-brainer for me, Afinogenov deserves some recognition. Although we may want a different player to win it because i’m sure it would boost his contract value with that hardware as a kicker….

ChippersLoveChild

March 31st, 2010
10:11 am

Think Slates deserves the nomination this year out of our boys.

woody

March 31st, 2010
10:38 am

Let the slaughter commence!

Terrel

March 31st, 2010
10:52 am

Got to be Max. He takes some chances but damn he tries harder than anyone else on the squad. I do like Jimmy too and I was the biggest critic of him. The guy puts forth an effort every night.

Jack

March 31st, 2010
11:14 am

Have to go with Slater, for several years he has been fighting against beingg a healthy scratch. This year he has shown who he really is, a true hockey player. Never liked Montreal to beging with so go Carolina(that makes me sick just saying that). :)

Toby

March 31st, 2010
11:14 am

Yep…the Montreal game tonight is big. I think we have the best chance at catching them.

Kevin

March 31st, 2010
11:55 am

It would have been great if Stapleton scored but why is he even in the lineup? A 27 yr old minor league journeyman is centering a line when we are trying to get in the playoffs. No way he gives us more than Kozlov or even Boulton would at this time. Anderson lets his personal feelings cloud his decision making process, not a good trait for a coach.

There is a big game tonight

March 31st, 2010
12:07 pm

Terrel

March 31st, 2010
1:17 pm

I bet Carolina doesn’t try.

rob

March 31st, 2010
1:23 pm

Kozlov has shown his lack of interest since the Kovy drama commenced. He knows what he has to do to get back in the lineup and hasn’t done it. Boulton is a great energy guy but not exactly a scorer. Stapleton, while small, gives us the jump we need on his line IMO. Not neccesarily who I would want to see, but considering the alternatives right now….. I also saw an article before that said they took a long look at him during camp too. Too small IMO but until he gets stuck by someone twice his size….

Sam

March 31st, 2010
1:32 pm

Anderson never gives Kozlov a chance to play. Hard to show what you can do with 1 game in the last month and a half. Oh, and Kozlov got an assist on the only goal scored that one game he did get in the line-up, Rob.

Max was called a “reclamation project” by the Montreal press back in October. 23 goals later, he can tell them to RECLAIM THIS, LOL. Go Max! He’s going to be a popular, affordable forward on the UFA market come July. No contract talks with The Thrashers yet, Chris?

Seems Kovy’s doing alright in NJ. He wants to win a Cup. Saw no reason to think it was happening here. Glad for him. http://devils.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=523166&navid=DL|NJD|home

Kovalchuk takes Third Star honors for week ending March 28.
Devils left wing Ilya Kovalchuk has been named the NHL’s Third Star for the week ending March 28. Goaltenders Brian Elliott of Ottawa and Jimmy Howard of Detroit were selected First and Second stars, respectively.

Kovalchuk led all NHL scorers with eight points (3g-5a) in four games as the Devils (44-26-5) went 2-1-1 and clinched a playoff berth for the 13th consecutive season.

He began the week with his biggest scoring night since being acquired by New Jersey from Atlanta Feb. 4, tallying four points (1g-3a) in a 6-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 23. He scored one goal in a 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Rangers on March 25, notched two assists in a 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on March 27 and tallied the Devils’ lone goal in a 5-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on March 28.

Kovalchuk has recorded 20 points (8g-12a) and a plus-6 rating in 20 games with the Devils.

Tony C.

March 31st, 2010
1:44 pm

Afinegenov is a good candidate, but because he’s a Thrasher, he will get screwed. Bergeron is a good choice as well, but I’d choose Doan out in PHX… They don’t get a lot of consideration due to bad press and west coast locatin but they’ve got some very deserving people out there: Bryzgalov (Vezina, Hart) Doan (Masterson, Messier) and of course if Tippett doesn’t get the Adams, then it’s a travesty.

Barry

March 31st, 2010
2:28 pm

I think I read in some game notes that Kovy turned the puck over in OT that led to the winning goal. Thanks alot Kovy.

Ya I don’t think we’ll be catching the Bruins. They are playing some tough defensive shut down hockey right now and Rask is an animal in goal. I think our best bet is to keep winning and hope we knock out Flyers or Habs.

Lee

March 31st, 2010
3:40 pm

Alive? Sure, but barely. The Thrashers are like a dying cow, limping it’s way to the playoffs.

I don’t expect much for the game against Washington, but please, thrashers, don’t embarrass yourselves!

Andrew G

March 31st, 2010
4:59 pm

Why can’t this team learn to play against the trap. It would completely throw a team off, if we weren’t a “run and gun” team all the time. If the Thrash make the playoffs, I worry that we would have the same result as we did against the Bruins (4-0 loss last week) and Canes (4-1 loss Monday). It’s unfortunate to see but every team has success when the play a 1-4. The D pinch and a turnover is created resulting in a goal. C-Viv, have you talked to JA about this and how Atlanta plans to adjust?

kicksave&abeauty

March 31st, 2010
5:14 pm

Soon they will be putting away the Warriors, Reeboks and Eastons and breaking out the Callaway’s, Pings and Taylormades!!!!

R. Stroz

March 31st, 2010
5:36 pm

I vote for Max. He sure has made a lot of people eat their words.

Chris Vivlamore

March 31st, 2010
7:05 pm

Sorry folks, should have made it clear. The award is for any player in the NHL. I don’t have to nominate a Thrasher. I can be anyone. Thanks for your help.

Terrel

March 31st, 2010
9:30 pm

Brendan

March 31st, 2010
10:14 pm

My Masterton Trophy nomination goes to last year’s “runner-up,” Chris Chelios. Chelios was urged to retire by his friend and colleague, Jeremy Roenick. At 48 years of age, just setting foot on NHL ice for a non-exhibition game … makes him worthy of consideration. Obviously, Chelios has a high degree of perservereance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

In other news, the Buffalo Sabres are now the #2 seed in the East, thanks to the Penguins loss against Tampa Bay, 2-0. That’s not a misprint, Mike Smith got the shutout … of the Penguins. Unbelieveable. There was a lot on the line for Pittsburgh. I assume the Lightning is mathematically eliminated. But I don’t really know. I know Carolina won in regulation time over Montreal. That’s a costly loss for the Habs, as it puts Boston into 7th seed. Montreal is 8th … and would play Washington in the opening round. Yikes for Montreal. Atlanta, at 80-points, is just 2-points back of the Canadiens.

Bill

March 31st, 2010
11:25 pm

As for the Masterson Trophy…I would like to make the case for Shane Doan. I’ve been a Thrashers fan since day 1 when I lived in Atlanta, but live out here in Phoenix now. The past 10 months have been nothing but tumultuous for the Coyotes franchise, and as their captain Shane Doan has said and done everything right. He’s been the face of the franchise that was, according to media reports, packed and on the road to Canada. He said all the right things during the bankruptcy hearing, even when media (mainly from TSN, but others as well…) tried to set him up to bash the Arizona hockey market. He said all the right things while Jim Balsillie was slandering the Commissioner, the franchise, their fans and their sponsors. And throughout the course of the season he has led this team which, going into tonight, sits within reach of the #1 seed in the western conference.

My only regret about the Coyotes this year is that the Thrashers didn’t play out here this season!! Back in October I was one of about 4500 fans in attendance, but last Saturday I was at the Coyotes’ sold out game vs. Colorado. This team is heading to the playoffs, and I’ve already got my postseason tickets. Please don’t underestimate the role that Doaner has played for this team all year long!! He’s been with this franchise since they played in Winnipeg, and his heart has been with the fans here in the desert all season long!!

JR

April 1st, 2010
10:11 am

any news regarding the free agents. max and kubina are must signs in my opinion.

Smoothie

April 1st, 2010
10:56 am

Can we please get an update on both Kubina and Kane??? Kane should be ready to go if he was skating without pain earlier in the week. Has he had any setbacks? We need him tonite against the Craps!

B. Thenet

April 1st, 2010
11:01 am

Huge game tonight…..I don’t think they need to win….but we need to at least compete with these guys. The team needs to take some kind of confidence out of this game, to show themselves they can hang with the Devils, Caps, and Pens down the line.

Barry

April 1st, 2010
11:57 am

Kamal twitted that Kubina is out tonight with undisclosed injury and Chelios is in. I wonder if Kane will be back? Don’t see any word on that yet. Apparently Pavelec will be in goal tonight. I know he’s had some good numbers lately, but I wonder if this is the right move. Washington has some much better shooters. I would prefer someone in goal with a little more experience.