Archive for January, 2011

Thrashers begin push for playoffs

Their once comfortable margin gone.

The Thrashers return from the All-Star break Tuesday to their final 30 games. At one point this season, they were in the middle of the Eastern Conference standings. They even held first place in the Southeast Division, albeit for a brief time.

The Thrashers limped into the five-day hiatus with just five wins in their previous 17 games. They hold the eighth and final playoff position in the East by a single point over Carolina. The Hurricanes have two games in hand so the slim margin could be gone all together.

“It’s definitely time for us to get back on board and start rolling,” Thrashers All-Star defenseman Dustin Byfuglien said. “We have to get ourselves back up there in the standings because it’s crunch time now. Teams have to start making pushes to be in the playoffs and teams have to start now.”

If the Thrashers are going to return to the playoffs for the first time in four seasons – and the second time in franchise history – the next …

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Thrashers-Islanders preview

Next for Thrashers

Who: vs. Islanders

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

TV; radio: SPSO; 680 AM, 93.7 FM

* The Thrashers return from the All-Star break after closing with a win over the Capitals. It was just their fifth in the past 17 games.

* The Islanders have lost eight of their past 10 games, including their last three before the break.

* Dustin Byfuglien, the Thrashers leading scorer, does not have a point in the past 10 games.

* Ondrej Pavelec has posted a 2.44 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage in 38 games.

- Chris Vivlamore

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Video: Byfuglien’s All-Star weekend

CineSport’s Josh Thomson sits down with AJC’s Chris Vivlamore to discuss the NHL All-Star weekend.

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Updated: Bettman has a little something to say about latest Thrashers lawsuit

RALEIGH — NHL commissioner Gary Bettman again declined to comment on the specifics of the recently filed litigation involving the Atlanta Spirit, owners of the Thrashers, but said: “There seems to be lots of litigation that goes on with respect to that franchise.”

Bettman spoke at a news conference Saturday from the NHL All-Star game. In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday, Bettman refused comment on the litigation or the claims it included. One of those claims was that the Thrashers have been for sale since shortly after the Atlanta Spirit purchased the team, the Hawks and Philips Arena.

The Spirit filed a $200 million malpractice lawsuit last Friday against an Atlanta law firm used in the buyout of a former partner Steve Belkin, claiming the firm’s negligence cost them millions of dollars and made them “unable to sell or otherwise dispose of the Atlanta Thrashers.”

Said Bettman: “My guess is this is another step in the journey for …

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Byfuglien in hardest shot, skills challege relay

RALEIGH — Thrashers defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will compete in two events for Team Lidstrom at Saturday night’s NHL Super Skills event at the All-Star Game.

Byfuglien will be on Team 2 competing in the Skills Challenge Relay. He will be on a team with Shea Weber, Phil Kessel, Keith Yandle, Patrick Kane, Martin Havlat, Kevin Shattenkirk and Danny Brier.

They will compete against a Team Staal team of Kris Letang, Mike Green, Claude Giroux, Patrik Elias, Jamie McBain, David Backes, Marc Staal and Jeff Skinner.

According to the NHL, the new event for 2011 is an all-around competition that will showcase the one-timer, passing, puck control, stick-handling and accuracy shooting in four exciting relays.  In the one-timer event, three shooters (with the assistance of one passer) must score three goals over an eight inch barrier; in the passing event, one passer must complete a pass into each of the six nets set up around the rink; in the puck control event, one skater will …

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Elias: Kovalchuk working to become complete player

I had a minute with New Jersey Devils forward Patrik Elias during the All-Star player availability on Friday night before the draft. I asked him his view of how former Thrasher Ilya Kovalchuk has been adjusting to life on a new team and a new system.

Here is what he said:

“It’s been a process,” Elias said. “Not an easy process for us, for everyone, for him. The way the season started puts you in a tough position. He’s dealing with it. Since we had a coaching change, like everyone else, he took it as a second life and a fresh start. He’s been playing better. Jacques [Lemaire] has really been on him about playing a more complete game. He’s been doing that. That’s all you can ask.

“He has to realize, and I think he is realizing, hockey is a team sport. Because you are supposed to play defensively doesn’t mean you are not going to create anything offensively. It’s the other way. He’s been playing better defensively and he’s been getting more chances. The more he realizes that, the …

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Thrashers re-assign Dawes, Mannino

The Thrashers re-assigned forward Nigel Dawes and goaltender Peter Mannino to AHL Chicago on Friday. They also re-called goaltender Drew MacIntyre from Chicago.

Dawes has played three games for the Thrashers since being recalled on Jan. 19 and has appeared in nine games this season. He has one assist.

Mannino was recalled on Jan. 17 and made one appearance in relief of Ondrej Pavelec. He played 34:21 against Tampa Bay in a 7-1 loss last Sunday. In two games with the Thrashers this season, Mannino has a 4.11 goals-against average and an .861 save percentage.

MacIntyre is 8-5-1 in 15 games for Chicago with a 2.88 goals-against average and .906 save percentage.

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No comment from NHL commissioner on Atlanta Spirit lawsuit

RALEIGH — NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman refused to comment on the current litigation involving the Atlanta Spirit, owners of the Thrashers, and any of the details contained in the lawsuit against an Atlanta law firm used in the buyout of a former partner.

Bettman would not comment on the attempts to sell the franchise, the loss of $50 million in value nor the $130 million in operating losses sustained since 2005 as claimed in a lawsuit filed against King & Spalding.

Speaking to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution from the NHL All-Star Game, Bettman also said he would not speculate on what the disclosures meant for the future of the Thrashers.

“I will say the NHL has a long history of working to avoid franchise re-locations,” Bettman told the AJC.

The Spirit filed a $200 million malpractice lawsuit last Friday, saying the law firm’s negligence cost them millions of dollars and made them “unable to sell or otherwise dispose of the Atlanta Thrashers.”

The group also owns the NBA’s …

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Pavelec shuts out the Capitals with 36 saves

Here is my game story, with quotes, on the Thrashers’ 1-0 win over the Capitals on Wednesday night for those who would like to comment.

How weird does this sound?

The Capitals were just what the ailing Thrashers needed.

The Thrashers snapped a three-game losing streak — and collected only their fifth win in the past 17 games — with a 1-0 victory on Wednesday night at Philips Arena. The Thrashers ended their season series with the Capitals holding a 4-1-1 record, outscoring them 20-13.

The Thrashers (24-19-9, 57 points) kept a one-point lead on the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race heading into the All-Star break. The Capitals (27-15-9, 63 points) lost for their second straight, but their first in regulation in six.

Ondrej Pavelec was excellent in goal while earning his fifth career shutout and third of the season. He stopped all 36 shots he faced.

“It’s totally his win tonight,” said forward Nik Antropov, who scored the only goal. “He was standing on his head …

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Video: Thrashers losing money, games

CineSport’s Noah Coslov and Chris Vivlamore of the AJC discuss the latest Thrashers lawsuit and losing streak.

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