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 six weeks could determine their fate. They play 12 of their next 16 games against teams that currently have fewer points in the standings. Ten of them will be played at home where they are 12-9-5.

During the 39-day stretch, the Thrashers do not play back-to-back games. They have three days off between games four times.

“It doesn’t matter what our schedule is going to be,” captain Andrew Ladd said. “We had a pretty good schedule the last couple of weeks and haven’t really done anything with it. We have to be desperate heading into these last 30 games.”

The Thrashers are done with Tampa Bay and Washington, ahead of them in the division standings. Carolina must play those teams six more times.

Carolina returns from the All-Star break Tuesday by hosting Boston. With a win, the Thrashers could find themselves on the outside of the playoff race if they lose when they return with a home game against the New York Islanders Tuesday.

Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay is not looking too far ahead. He lives by an old adage.

“You have to play hard against everybody,” Ramsay said. “It doesn’t matter who we play. We need to win. We need to get points. We have to be focused. It’s not like you are looking at some distant future. Everything is right in front of you.

“If we take one game at a time, one period at a time, you can really focus in.”

Injury update

* Left wing Evander Kane, who has missed the past four games with a mid-body injury, practiced on Monday. Ramsay said he will be re-evaluated following Tuesday’s morning skate before a final decision is made on his playing status.

* Goaltender Chris Mason, out with a right knee sprain, skated and faced some shots prior to the team’s practice.

* Center Jim Slater did not practice and there is no timetable on his return from a concussion. He has missed the past 11 games since the injury.

* Byfuglien did not practice on Monday as he was returning from All-Star weekend in Raleigh.

14 comments Add your comment

Brendan

January 31st, 2011
5:51 pm

Excuses grow on trees. That’s why they’re worthless. If this team shows up ‘unprepared to play,’ I’ll blow a gasket. It’s “show me the money” time. The ownership’s ‘commitment level’ will be on full display. Let’s see what they do with it. The coaches must be accountable. The GM must be accountable. The Team President must be accountable. And, above all, the players must be accountable. No more ‘nights off.’ No more ’subpar efforts.’ This is the NHL. If you’re not ready to play … maybe the AHL is more your suit.

Big Daddy (formerly waffleboy)

January 31st, 2011
5:51 pm

Boston v. Carolina isn’t tonight, it’s tomorrow. No games on the sked today, C-Viv.

Brendan

January 31st, 2011
5:52 pm

With respect to the Islanders game, pure and simple … we must bank 2-points. Period, the end.

Brendan

January 31st, 2011
5:53 pm

Big Daddy, if we don’t bank points against teams beneath us, then we don’t deserve the playoffs. I don’t even care what Carolina does. We can’t control Carolina. We control OUR SCHEDULE. We can’t look to team around us to falter, for the night when we’re ‘unprepared to play.’ It’s GO TIME.

Big Daddy (formerly waffleboy)

January 31st, 2011
6:01 pm

I was just making sure nobody went looking for the score tonight, Brendan.

East Point Bob

January 31st, 2011
7:28 pm

I agree Brenden 110% !

WOW

January 31st, 2011
9:18 pm

Not sure we every had a comfortable lead. We just played more games than anyone else.

thrash head

January 31st, 2011
9:46 pm

Could it be that Kane is “the straw that stirs our drink”? Our record with compared to without may say yes.
I went to the game in Carolina before the break. VERY obvious teams are keying on Buff.

East Point Bob

January 31st, 2011
11:09 pm

Played same, #52 as NYR and a team out west.

lordstan57

February 1st, 2011
9:56 am

PUSH TIME!!!!
You won’t win them all, but you MUST COMPETE!
INTENSITY WILL BE HIGH!!
Closest thing to the Playoffs without it actually BEING!

BATTLE!
RESPECT MUST BE EARNED!!!!!!!

Sooooo many great games on the schedule from here on out.
SUPPORT YOUR TEAM!!!

GO THRASHERS!!!!!

Gwinnett Fred

February 1st, 2011
12:00 pm

Winning games you should is the key. Beating the Caps is a bonus, but losing every time to the Lightning and Pens offsets that.

Bottom line, with 1 game left against TB, WSH & PIT combined and the Hurricanes with SEVEN left against those teams – there is no excuse for the Thrash not to hold on to, or improve on their current 8th place spot (we’re only 6 points out of the 5th spot, so who’s to say we don’t climb??).

Our opponents over the final 30 games, on average, we have 4 more points in the standings then they do. Yes, you have to show up to beat the teams we should, but at least that opportunity is there to take advantage of.

However, all of this is a moot point if we don’t take care of business in the final 4 head up matches we have against Carolina!!!

IT ALL STARTS TONIGHT – TIME TO RELEASE THE FURY!!!!

Brendan

February 1st, 2011
1:04 pm

It’ll be great to have Kane back for this game. We’ll need his speed.

You can't be serious

February 1st, 2011
9:45 pm

Islanders beat the Trashers 4-1 at Phillips = They’re done – maybe next season.

Brendan

February 1st, 2011
10:18 pm

It sure seems that way, You can’t be serious.