Archive for November, 2010

Little to be re-evaluated after missing practice

Here is your report from Thrashers practice on Tuesday morning.

* Bryan Little did not practice. Coach Craig Ramsay said he was sore after being hit by a Dustin Byfuglien shot during Sunday’s game against the Islanders. He was given the day off for treatment and will be re-evaluated before Wednesday’s game against the Red Wings.

“No one is sure, but he’s made some improvement from the other day,” Ramsay said. “We’ll see how it goes with a good day of treatment.”

Fredrik Modin (upper body) also did not practice. The forward has not played or practiced since suffering the injury last Saturday against Pittsburgh.

With Little and Modin held out of practice, defenseman Freddy Meyer donned a forward jersey and skated in Little’s spot with Evander Kane and Anthony Stewart. Meyer nearly got in the lineup last week as a forward when Eric Boulton injured his hand.

* Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal Wednesday against Detroit. Hard to keep him out with the way he’s …

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Thrashers-Red Wings preview

Next for Thrashers

Who: vs. Red Wings

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

TV; radio: SPSO; 680

* The Thrashers play their fourth of a six-game homestand having won two in a row.

* The Red Wings lead the NHL in goals per game (3.67). The Thrashers are seventh (3.05).

* Dustin Byfuglien leads all NHL defensemen with seven goals and is tied for second with 19 points.

* The Thrashers’ power-play unit is fifth in the league at 23.5 percent (20-for-85). However, it is just 2-for-16 over the past six games.

* It will be the Red Wings first game against an Eastern Conference team this season. The Red Wings are led by Pavel Datsyuk (15 points) and have won four of their past five games.

-  Chris Vivlamore

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Ovechkin’s long shifts helped Thrashers

If you have been following, you know that Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay wants his team to take short shifts – 30 to 45 seconds maximum. It’s the only way to play an uptempo game, Ramsay says.

I paid close attention to Washington’s star Alexander Ovechkin in Friday night’s game. He sometimes stayed on the ice for more than a minute and a half.

Here’s what Ramsay had to say about it Saturday morning.

“We outchanged them, which is so good for us and unusual because we tend to extend our shifts,” Ramsay said of Friday’s 5-0 win over the Capitals. “Generally in the second period is when we get in trouble because you just can’t hop off the ice. For a lot of the game we had [Rich] Peverley’s line (including Andrew Ladd and Niclas Bergfors) against[Nicklas]  Backstrom. Then [Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau] tried to change it up a little bit. Still we ended up very often with two lines against their [Ovechkin] line. As good as they are, if you continue to do that then it works to …

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Kane has Capitals’ number

Evander Kane likes to play against Washington.

The Thrashers forward has eight goals this season and five have come in four games against the Capitals. Kane had one of the Thrashers goals in the 5-0 win Friday night.

“They are a top team so you kind of get up for those games when you play them, especially because they are in your own division,” Kane said. “It’s fun to play against them.”

Kane scored twice in the season opener and twice more Oct. 23 in Washington.

According to coach Craig Ramsay, his team must be able to beat the Capitals through the neutral zone.

“I think that we as a team have played really well against them,” Ramsay said. “If you can get it through the neutral zone, because they really do line up, clog it up and look for a turnover, if you can get it through there, now we have a chance. Once we get it in there end, they are not as good in there end as they are going the other way. They assume they are going to play offense. They want to play …

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Dudley Q and A: Roster will likely be tweaked

The Thrashers are 8-9-3 after 20 games, the quarter-mark of the season. On Thursday, I sat down with General Manager Rick Dudley for a question and answer period to get his thoughts about the first part of the season and what is ahead.

Here is the complete transcript from that interview:

Q. What have you seen that has gone right so far this season?

A. Obviously our offensive play has been brilliant. It was a big question in most people’s minds whether we would score enough to be successful. It’s a lot easier to get a team to play well defensively. I expect that will improve. Would I like us to be 14-4? Sure but we are not. We are about where I expected to be, to be honest with you. We’ve played good games, we’ve played some not so good games. The only thing with our hockey team right now is we can play at times so well that you want desperately to get that consistency, but it does take time.

Q. What have you seen that has gone wrong so far this season?

A. We started …

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Thrashers-Islanders preview

Next for Thrashers

Who: vs. Islanders

When: 5 p.m. Sunday

TV; radio: None; 680

* The Thrashers will play their third of a season-long six game homestand in a non-televised game. They are 1-1 after Friday night’s 5-0 win over the Capitals.

* The Thrashers have scored first in five of their past six games.

* Dustin Byfuglien is tied for the NHL lead in goals by defensemen with six. He is also tied for second in points with 17.

* The Thrashers went 1-2-1 against the Islanders last season.

* The Islanders will be playing their third game under interim coach Jack Capuano after firing Scott Gordon. They  host the Panthers on Saturday night before traveling to Atlanta. The Islanders entered that game on an 11-game losing streak, 10 in regulation.

- Chris Vivlamore

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Byfuglien most likely back in lineup

Dustin Byfuglien said he intends to play Friday night against Washington.

The Thrashers defenseman, just named an alternate captain, left Wednesday’s game against Florida after being hit behind the left knee with a shot. He did not practice Thursday but took part in Friday’s morning skate. Following the practice, he declared himself fit to play.

Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said it was likely Byfuglien would return to the lineup but would make a final decision after pre-game warmups.

“He looks pretty good,” Ramsay said. “We’ll dress an extra guy for the warm-up but it looks like he’s probably ready to play.”

* With Byfuglien back the scratches will be defenseman Freddy Meyer and forward Fredrik Modin, who continues to be out with an upper-body injury.

* As I said Thursday, Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal.

* The practice lines remained the same, meaning Nik Antropov has been moved to right wing on a line with Alexander Burmistrov at center.

* Here are the practice …

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Thrashers may continue to alternate As

Andrew Ladd as Thrashers captain is permanent move.

Naming Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom as alternates might not be.

Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said the change in players wearing an ‘A’ was part of a rotation he intended since the start of the season.

“I think that they’ve played extremely well,” Ramsay said of Byfuglien and Enstrom. “Buff is a little more vocal than the other two guys. I talked earlier in the year that we were going to have revolving assistants and we’ll continue to do that. This was meant to be a reward from them. They’ve played extremely well and have been top guys for us. It wasn’t meant as a permanent thing. It may stay. Who knows? We are going to look at it on a monthly basis and make some adjustments off that.”

Nik Antropov and Johnny Oduya, along with Ladd, were the team’s three alternate captains since the start of the season.

“It’s a great thing for me to step up and be a leader and be looked at in different ways …

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Ramsay wants to play four lines – but needs committment

Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay again had harsh words for the team’s play in the second period against Florida following Thursday’s practice.

Jim Slater did not play at all in the third period and Ben Eager played one shift of 45 seconds. I asked Ramsay if it was his philosophy to take ice time away when he sees something he doesn’t like.

“It has to be,” he said. “I said from day one I want to play four lines, but I need four lines of committed people. I didn’t see it. I didn’t like it. I felt it was time to go with three lines and one (player). In this case, Eric Boulton has done a pretty good job so he alternated in with [Nik Antropov] on that line and did some good work in the offensive zone. As much as I do like four lines, and I think it’s vital to win in the long term, there are instances in a certain game where you are just going to go with three and you pick three. I feel bad for the guys that don’t play, but if they aren’t demanding ice time that the nature …

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No word on Byfuglien’s status

It was a bit of a crazy day at Thrashers practice today. It  was quite awhile after practice that coach Craig Ramsay announced that Andrew Ladd was named captain.

Also, I had a sit down with GM Rick Dudley, fresh off the road, for a Q&A that will appear online Saturday/print Sunday. Here’s the teaser. He has been looking to improve the roster – as he always does – and you can expect some changes. However, no trade is imminent.

On to the daily news:

* There is no  word on the condition of Dustin Byfuglien, who suffered a bruise on his left leg while blocking a shot Wednesday against Florida. Byfuglien did not practice Thursday. Following practice, coach Craig Ramsay said he did not have an update. I can say that I did see him walking around the team’s practice facility and he was limping less than when I saw him leaving the arena Wednesday night. I would imagine if he could not practice Thursday then he may well miss Friday’s game against Washington. Coach Craig Ramsay has …

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