Archive for November, 2010

Playing every other day not always easy

Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay was asked if it was easier to play every other day, allowing his team a break in between to work on necessary things during practices.

Here is his response:

“Every other day sounds good until you do it,” Ramsay said. “When you play as many games as that, and you are playing good teams, sometimes you don’t really get as good a practice as you like. You can work on certain things, but basically you are just trying to get them a little skate between games. When you have back-to-backs, although that sounds difficult, they only focus on hockey and then you will have a couple of days when you can have a really good, hard practice. We try to put some battles into our practice and keep us thinking about using our sticks and winning some battles, which is really important to how we play.”

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Modin progressing slowly

I caught up with Fredrik Modin in the Thrashers lockerroom following this morning’s skate.

Modin is slowly recovering from a rib injury. The forward made the three-game road trip with the team and has been taking part in practices.

“From a personal standpoint when you are not able to play, it’s always frustrating,” Modin said. “It’s something that’s part of the game and something that, unfortunately, I’ve become accustomed to the last few years. It’s great the team is playing well. From a personal standpoint I’m trying to do everything I can to get back as soon as possible.”

Modin is not expected to play on the road trip. He has missed eight games since suffering the injury Nov. 13. He played only 117 games in the previous three seasons, mainly due to knee injuries.

Along with Modin and newly acquired Tim Stapleton, Freddy Meyer was the Thrashers other scratch.

Other items of interest:

* The NHL released second week results of fan balloting for the 2011 …

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Updated: Thrashers sign Stapleton, joins team in Colorado

The Thrashers signed unrestricted free agent center Tim Stapleton from the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage and called him up the NHL Tuesday. He joined the team in Denver for Tuesday’s game against the Avalanche.

Stapleton played six games with the Thrashers last season and scored two goals. He was a free agent following the season and not re-signed. The 5-foot-9, 160 pound Stapleton played 20 games for the Rampage with eight goals and seven assists this season. He was on a 25-game tryout with the rampage.

Stapleton signed a two-year deal with the Thrashers. It will be a two-way contract this season, paying him $525,000 in the NHL and $105,000 in the AHL. However, the second year of the deal is an NHL contract worth $525,000.

“I’ve never had that,” Stapleton said of an NHL contract. “It’s something you strive for your whole career. I’ve been playing since I was three years old so I’m really excited about it. It hasn’t really hit me yet. I was in San Antonio 48 hours …

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Pavelec, Byfuglien NHL’s top two stars of the week

The Thrashers nearly cornered the market on the NHL’s stars of the week.

Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec was named the league’s first star for the week ending Sunday. Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien was named the second star.

“They certainly earned it,” Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said. “I think they’ve both been brilliant. Our team has played well. Even through that when the team plays well, someone needs to step up and be a special player and they’ve both done it throughout this homestand.”

The Thrashers have won five straight, including wins this week over Detroit, Montreal and Boston. He’s stopped 97 of 99 shots in those three wins. Pavelec lowered his season goals-against average to 1.62 and improved his save percentage to .949, both third in the NHL.

“More important is winning the games,” Pavelec said. “It’s nice but it’s a team sport and you can do that without your teammates.”

Byfuglien had six points (two goals, four assists), including his …

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Thrashers-Avs preview

Next for Thrashers

Who: at Avalanche

When: 10 p.m. Tuesday

TV; radio: FSSO; 680

* The Thrashers, winners of five straight, can tie the franchise record for consecutive wins with a victory.

* The Thrashers completed a 5-1-0 homestand. The team played a quarter of its home schedule during the month of November and went 5-4-1.

* The Thrashers have killed 19 of 20 penalties over the past six games. The team’s power-play unit is third in the NHL with a 24.7 percent success rate. That includes going 5-for-16 over the past four games.

* Avs forward Chris Stewart, brother of the Thrashers’ Anthony, won’t play due to a broken hand. Stewart led the team with 11 goals and was second with 25 points.

-  Chris Vivlamore

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Ladd: Winning breeds confidence

Today’s quote(s) of the day comes from Thrashers captain Andrew Ladd following Sunday night’s 4-1 win over Boston, the fifth straight for the team.

“I think we’ve proven ourselves that we can play with any team in this league,” Ladd said. “… I think you can see us getting more confident every day with what we need to do to win.  Winning only breeds that confidence.”

When told the Thrashers are closing in on the franchise record six-game win streak, Ladd added:

“I think that was the talk going into this year that we were going to bring a new culture here. A new idea of what this team is going to do it and how we are going to compete. When we do that, we give ourselves a chance to win. We are just looking to keep doing that and getting better.”

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Best trade in franchise history? It just might be Byfuglien deal

I posed this thought on Twitter during Sunday night’s game: Is the trade that brought Dustin Byfuglien, and others, to the Thrashers the greatest in franchise history?

I was accused by a few of hyperbole. However …

* Byfuglien leads the Thrashers in scoring with 25 points through 24 games. He is also tied for the team lead with nine goals. He had 34 regular-season points all of last season with Chicago.

*After his goal against the Bruins, he leads the NHL with five game-winners. Two have come in overtime.

* He leads all NHL defensemen in points and goals.

* He leads all NHL defensemen with power-play goals (4) and is tied, with teammate Tobias Enstrom, atop the league in power-play points (13) by a defenseman.

* His four-point performance Sunday tied Jaroslav Modry’s franchise record for points in a game by a defenseman, set Dec. 26, 2005. Look at the four points. He assisted on Evander Kane’s goal by taking the puck into the offensive zone, circling all the way around …

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Eager gets attention with hustle

One of the highlights for the Thrashers in Friday’s 3-0 win over Montreal was not a goal.

Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay noted a play by Ben Eager in the post-game press conference and again on Saturday. Late in the third period, with the Thrashers leading by the three goals, Eager raced down the ice to touch up a puck and prevent an icing call.

“Our bench went crazy,” Ramsay said Saturday of the play. “I certainly did. All the players loved that. … That’s the commitment it takes to win. You can win an individual game but if you are going to win consistently, if you are going to try to be that team near the top, those little plays are everything. That shows what he’s willing to do for the team. The boys got a charge out of that.”

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Ramsay to face former team

Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay won’t have to do much scouting of Sunday’s opponent. The Thrashers coach spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach for Boston (2007-10).

“I’d like to think not but you know so many people there it’s going to play on the mind a little bit,” Ramsay said when asked if he will be difficult to face the Bruins. “I’ve said many times, I try to focus on what we do but there are a lot of people talking about this game already. There is no way I can ignore it. I can’t pretend it’s not there. There is a good group of people there. You always want to beat your friends when you are in a competition. Whatever happens, it’s how we address the game as a team that will make the difference.”

Staying with Pavelec

With two shutouts in a four-game win streak, including 3-0 against Montreal Friday, Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal for the Thrashers Sunday against Boston. This will be Pavelec’s 12 straight appearance and sixth straight …

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Thrashers’ power play is No. 3 in NHL

The exhibition season had Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay concerned.

After scoring just 10 goals in six games, Ramsay wondered where the scoring would come during the regular season.

That has not been a problem – and the power play has been a big reason why.

Entering Saturday’s NHL schedule, the Thrashers had the No. 3 power-play unit in the league. They have scored 23 goals in 94 chances with a man-advantage, a 24.5 success rate. Through 23 games, the Thrashers have 72 goals. Their power play makes up 32 percent of that offense.

“Overall we rush the puck up the ice extremely well,” Ramsay said. “Now you’ve got entries with speed. And we’ve won a lot of battles. The key to any power play is you are out against a desperate group that knows they are shorthanded and they put their hardest working guys out there. We’ve won those low battles and have gotten [the puck] back to the point. Our point men have done a really great job of shooting for goals, shooting for …

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