Nik Antropov is getting it.
The Thrashers center has goals in the past two games – his firsts of the season – and it’s all about timing.
The big center, coming off a career-high in points, said he is getting more comfortable after being slowed by off-season hip surgery. More importantly, he is also getting a better sense of where he should be in coach Craig Ramsay’s system.
Antropov cites his goal Saturday in St. Louis.
“I have been trying to help guys in the corners instead of being in front of the net or opposite the play,” Antropov said. “That goal in St. Louis was a good example. I went into the corner but realized that the play was to pass the puck up top. I stopped, went back in front, and the puck found me. It’s the little things like that but they make a big difference.”
It was a relief for Antropov, who also assisted on Rich Peverley’s first-period power-play goal Saturday. He started the Thrashers comeback against Buffalo on Friday with a power-play goal that “got the monkey off my back.”
Both his goal and assist Saturday are examples of what Ramsay has been preaching to his team all season.
“We do so many shot-rebound drills [in practice],” Ramsay said. “It’s a daily occurrence. [Antropov] allowed players to work, but then he jumped from the low man to in front [of the net]. He almost got a tip and then he got the rebound and scored. On the first power-play goal [by Peverley], he was the rush man and basically banked it off the goalie then chipped in back out front and we got an empty netter. The point has been well made and documented, even as early in the season as it is. Just get to the net, get around the net and we can score some goals. My point is that it’s not the guy that’s planted and battling with someone in front, but someone coming back to the net who scores the goal. We need a screen guy. He got back to the front and used that big reach to get a fairly easy one. We are doing a much better job of being aware of that and getting rebounds, but it’s something we have to be aware of all the time.”
The Thrashers have had 15 different players score goals this season. Their 83 goals are tied for third in the NHL, heading into Monday night’s play.
“That’s good to know,” Antropov said when told of the stat. “It’s good to know that everybody is contributing. It’s nice not just to have one or two or three guys that are going to put the puck in the net. That’s what a good team is all about.”