They may want to call it just another hockey game, but for the Thrashers Saturday’s game against the Blackhawks means a little more. The defending Stanley Cup champions are in town. There are four players and an assistant coach from that team now with Atlanta. The Thrashers were shutout in their previous game.
“There was some energy today,” Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said of the morning practice. “You are playing against the champs. You need to have that, you should have. That’s why you play the game, to challenge yourself against the best. This is certainly a team that can light it up. They can bring a lot of pressure, a lot of speed. You have to be ready to face them.”
On the four former Blackhawks facing their old team, Ramsay said “They have something to prove. They want to go out and show them that they are on a new team, with new concepts and new ideas and they are going to come to play.”
Ramsay said there have been conversations with associate coach John Torchetti, an assistant with Chicago last season, about what the Blackhawks do. However, he wants to make sure the Thrashers play their game and not get caught watching the Blackhawks.
“We have some idea of what they are going to do,” Ramsay said. “When the puck is dropped, it’s more about what we are doing. If were are doing the things correctly, if we are keeping the game simple, getting the puck deep and playing in their end, we’ve got a good chance. If we want to watch them play, it’s not going to work.”
Some other notes from Saturday morning:
* There was a little bit of drama during the Blackhawks morning skate as coach Joel Quenneville cut the practice short and sent players off the ice after 15 minutes. The Blackhawks have lost five of the past seven games.
“I just didn’t like the way it was going,” Quenneville told reporters. “I wanted to keep to keep our energy for (Saturday night). I just think we can be sharper, that’s all.”
* Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal for the Thrashers.
* Noah Welch will be the healthy scratch.
* Freddy Meyer skated again Saturday and reported that he had no adverse effects from yesterday’s practice. The defenseman, on injured reserve with a mid-body injury hopes to be back soon.
* The Thrashers have not allowed a power-play goal in the past six games (14-for-14) and have killed 16 straight man advantages dating back to Oct. 22 vs. Tampa Bay. However, Ramsay is not necessarily happy with the unit’s performance. He was asked the last two days about the reason for the success and he had the same answer. “Goaltending,” he said.
* Ramsay tweaked the line combinations again. He moved Anthony Stewart up to play with Nik Antropov and Evander Kane. He also moved Chris Thorburn to play with Jim Slater and Ben Eager. The lines of Andrew Ladd-Rich Peverley-Niclas Bergfors and Fredrik Modin-Alexander Burmistrov-Eric Boulton remained intact. The defensive pairings are unchanged.
* Jeremy Morin, a second-round pick of the Thrashers in 2009 (No. 45 overall), will make his NHL debut Saturday for Chicago. The 19-year-old was part of the offseason trade that brought Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager and Brent Sopel to the Atlanta.
“Definitely it’s a bit ironic, but I’ve got to treat it like another game,” Morin said. “It’s an exciting time for me. Hopefully, I can come out and play my game.”
Morin was one of the last cuts by the Blackhawks out of training camp. In eight games at AHL Rockford, he had three goals (all on the power play) and an assist.
“I don’t think I was surprised,” Morin said of starting the year in the minors. “I had a chance to come in and make and impact. I think I got a chance to do that. I knew it was a process going in but I wasn’t really expecting to make the team. It’s always your goal.”