UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Craig Ramsay hopes his message is loud and clear.
If you don’t play hard, you don’t play.
The Thrashers coach scratched forwards Ben Eager and Niclas Bergfors for Saturday’s game at the New York Islanders following Friday’s 4-2 home loss to Colorado. In their place, Fredrik Modin and Tim Stapleton were in the lineup.
“I wanted to bring some attention to the team that we didn’t play hard enough,” Ramsay said before Saturday’s game. “It’s always unfortunate when you are the guy that’s getting picked [to sit], but we looked at it and even though Bergfors had scored, we felt that he could play a little harder. The same with Benny. We’ve got to battle for pucks. We’ve got to get pucks. We’ve got to keep pucks. And that’s what we are hoping to see from the whole team from now on. [Modin and Stapleton] will hopefully bring a little of that spark.”
Modin missed the past 12 games with a rib injury, suffered in the first period of Nov. 13 game against Pittsburgh.
“He’s been skating and shooting and this past week he finally made that big step forward,” Ramsay said of Modin. “I thought this is a good time to get him a game. We have three [games] in four [nights], three in four and three in four. It will be a good opportunity for him to go in and play some hockey.”
Modin will take Eager’s spot in the lineup and skate on a line with Nik Antropov and Alexander Burmistrov. Stapleton, playing his second game since being signed last month, will take Bergfors’ spot and skate on a line with Andrew Ladd and Rich Peverley.
“We spent a lot of time watching,” Ramsay said of the team’s issues against Colorado. “It’s really hard to understand. Sometimes you have that time off … and you take a deep breath and say ‘It’s OK now.’ It’s not OK. It’s never OK playing like that. We have to go out and aggressively try to take charge of the game. …
“We knew we were going to use a lot of people in this run. We’ll get two fresh guys in tonight. We just weren’t good enough the other night. Hopefully, we will get a little spark from a couple of guys that should be fresh.”
That’s your LIVE report from the game.