What’s wrong with the Thrashers?

Those were the days. Remember?

On Dec. 20 the Thrashers decisively beat Toronto in the 35th game of the season. Two months into the season they had a 19-11-5 record and were firmly in playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

Many were calling the Thrashers the surprise of the NHL. Not any more.

Since that win over the Maple Leafs, Sunday’s opponent, the Thrashers have won just six times in the past 27 games. A dismal 6-15-6 recorded has yielded just 18 of a possible 54 points. They have fallen to 11th in the conference, six points out of playoff position, with 20 games remaining. They are on the brink of missing the playoffs yet again, an all-too familiar refrain.

“I believe this team is capable of much more,” Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley said. “Maybe they have to learn that it isn’t acceptable to lose as we have lately. Someone has to step up and say ‘This is not good enough guys.’ It has to come from within the dressing room. This is not satisfactory. I think those people are in there. Sometimes it comes out of necessity and right now it’s necessary.”

Here’s a quick look at some of what has gone wrong.

1. Lack of scoring

The Thrashers entered the season without a preeminent scorer. The plan was to score by committee. It worked for a while. Through those first 35 games, the Thrashers outscored their opponents 114-96 by averaging 3.3 goals per game. At one point, they lead the NHL in total goals.

However during the current slump, they have been outscored 58-102. They are averaging just 2.1 goals a game while surrendering 3.8. The Thrashers are 14th in the league in goals per game and 26th in goal per game allowed. Not a winning combination.

“Getting scoring from everyone we thought was going to be vital for this team,” coach Craig Ramsay said. “That hasn’t worked as well as it did earlier in the season. We’ve had limited scoring and we need every line to score. We need every line to accomplish something.”

2. Special teams

While the Thrashers are the sixth least penalized team in the NHL, yet the penalty kill unit is 28th in the league with a 76.8 percent success rate (50 goals allowed in 216 chances). Ramsay laments such things as hooking penalties in the offensive zone and high-sticking calls. Look no further than last week’s game in Edmonton. Holding a 3-1 lead, the Thrashers allowed three third-period power-play goals. Another loss.

“I don’t think we play smart enough to win the hockey game,” goaltender Ondrej Pavelec said. “It was 3-1 in Edmonton after second. We played great. We should win that game. A couple of bad penalties and when they are on the power play for 10 minutes in the third, we are not going to win.”

The Thrashers have the eighth best power-play unit in the league but have allowed way too many short-handed goals to the opposition. They have allowed seven, 25th in the NHL, with five coming during the recent stretch. Two were the first goals of the game.

“You can’t sugar coat that,” Ramsay said.

3. Inability to handle adversity

When things have gone against the Thrashers this season, they have don’t handled it well. They have allowed an opponent back-to-back goals in under two minutes 21 times this season. Six of those quick scores have come 39 seconds or less apart.

“I don’t think we are handling adversity very well right now,” Anthony Stewart said. “When something bad happens it collapses from there. We just have to weather some storms, if we have a lead or fall behind, not to collapse. We have to work for the full 60 minutes and not let a three or four minute lapse cost us the game.”

4. Goaltending

The Thrashers have generally gotten solid goaltending during the current slide. When you go from extraordinary, as it was to start the season, to good then the lack of scoring is compounded. Ondrej Pavelec was once second in the NHL in both save percentage and goals-against average. He is now 15th in save percentage (.919) and 25th in goals-against (2.66).

Pavelec has appeared in 24 of the past 27 games, including a stretch of 18 straight games. In his last 24 games, Pavelec has a .897 save percentage, 3.25 goals-against average and a 6-12-5 record.

It doesn’t help that the Thrashers allow the most shots on goal in the league, averaging 33.7.

There are other things wrong. What would you add to the list?

67 comments Add your comment

Matt

February 26th, 2011
10:36 am

A roster full of AHLers. Our top line might be the worst in the entire league. Poor coaching.

Mr. Heat Miser

February 26th, 2011
10:38 am

Team seems like it has given up amid all the ownership news lately.

JP

February 26th, 2011
10:38 am

Nice take Viv. Injuries have contributed too that have revealed a lack of depth.

kc

February 26th, 2011
10:40 am

Ramsey stinks as a head coach!

Alan R.

February 26th, 2011
10:44 am

Heat Miser – Exactly.

B. Thenet

February 26th, 2011
10:57 am

1. Coaching: It hits on several points you made CViv. I wonder what Malarchuk has done to work with Pavelec on his terrible high blocker weakness. The book is out on him in that regard, it has cost us several games. The poor PK and the lack of leadership in the room fall on him as well. I think Dudley’s comments about leadership in the room are a direct shot at the coaching staff.

Ramsay had a chance to right the ship, he failed in spectacular fashion. He was praising the team after it managed to lose to one of the few teams that is below us in the standings. That is how bad it has gotten.

2. Poor Asset Management: Can anyone really say that Machacek, Cormier, or Stapleton are better hockey players than Ben Eager? Did Eager take bad penalties, yes he did. However he was also one of the few players who gave a crap. After he sucker punched Army, who attempted to knee Peverley and was jawing at the Thrashers all night, he should have gotten a steak dinner from his teammates. Though I doubt he was upset over getting to join the Sharks org. That 5th round pick we got for Eager, might help us in 5-6 years if he ever makes in out of the AHL.

The signing of Tim Stapleton, which includes a one way contract next season, is an abomination. He is small, soft, gets knocked off the puck easily, and has no hockey sense whatsoever. He is fast, too bad he can do nothing with the puck when he gets it

3. Dudley Failed to Act: Back in January Dudley should have done a shake up trade. Something, anything to shake up the room. Instead he put his faith in Ramsay’s ability to turn things around. He should have been more proactive in trying to bring in players that can help on the PK. More guys that make it harder on the opposition to play night in and night out(like Eager). He chose to do nothing.

gsukevin

February 26th, 2011
11:12 am

When the Thrashers were hot, people were talking about Ramsay winning coach of the year. Why? Because nobody expected him to do that well with this roster. Well, now reality has set it, the roster is inexperienced, cheap, and lacks scoring ability. Ramsay does not deserve to be fired under the circumstances that surround this franchise.

DooDoo

February 26th, 2011
11:13 am

This team has no depth and when it relied on it, it failed. Ramsay failed to make adjustments, Dudley failed to patch some holes that simply got bigger. There are quite a few players not producing who continually play, spending bottom feeder money doesn’t help the situation, because perhaps some of these issues could have been fixed before the season started, it was a mistake to not re-sign Mad Max or even Arty, our D as always is the least physical D in the NHL, FINALLY we have one guy back there who came from a rugged team that BATTLES. The word “battle” is not in the vocabulary of most players here unless you count Thor shaking his hair juice at someone or Boulton’s designated fight. This team is like every other Thrasher team led by a passive coach, they are SOFT. The going gets tough, they tuck tail and hide.

It’s typical of this organization to get an aged semi-star like Modin and roll him out there, Hainsey can have zero effort and still get paid. It’s typical to throw young players in the fire and allow them to make rookie mistakes at the NHL level because we have no real minor league system that gets players ready for the NHL. This is a glaring problem that’s never talked about, never fixed, our AHL team relationship is awful. Our players get here and have no idea what is going on, different systems, different style…and again Tim Stapleton wouldn’t make any other NHL roster especially considering he is good for maybe one point a season. On paper we are tough, the reality is that we get pushed around, too many guys go invisible. The start of the season we played the gritty, aggressive style we were promised from Dudley. I didn’t think Slater getting brain bubbles would cause us to go entirely soft. Anthony Stewart talked a good game, but Mark Stuart has more fighting majors than him in 2 games from playing tough, gritty and aggressive. Stewart’s supposed to be a better version of Thor, he isn’t.

Our call-ups have done next to nothing. We relied on two rookies, traded away a grit guy in Eager for nothing then added grit eventually in the trade with Boston. A coaching change would make some sense, but it’s unlikely and this locker room has proven to be mostly gutless and that’s a shame because as this article insinuates, there are plenty of character guys here.

Mooseberg

February 26th, 2011
11:18 am

Thrashers have a team full of 3rd and 4th line players…its that easy. Some sort of a system would help and that’s on Ramsey, they are just going out and hacking around and hoping for the best. Early in the season we were a good passing team, now even if we have numbers entering the offensive zone we chip it in the corner…..STOP IT you don’t get point for hitting the boards with the puck down there unless they are playing a new game we don’t know about.

NHL Ready

February 26th, 2011
11:18 am

The Coach is a puss therfore we play like a bunch of wimps. The addition of Stew is a big help. But if hits to many players he may get traded or benched. Remember benching Bolt’s trading Eager what a joke this team has become.

Nate

February 26th, 2011
11:33 am

Number one above all else is a lack of playmakers and strong centermen. The Thrashers need the playmakers to set up easy goals as we have zero bonafide goal scorers. The strong centermen can win the faceoffs to put the team in good position to score and out of dangerous scoring opportunities for the opponent. The hustle to outscore opponents dried up and it was never a good theory in the first place. To really make that work you need at least two reliable 30-40 goal scorers to bank you points on nights where the hustle doesn’t pay off in goals. Add to the fact that the lack of strong forechecking puts the puck back in your own zone way too quickly, and you have a recipe for disaster. This team will never progress until they bring in a coach committed to changing the style of play to cut down on the shots allowed. The goaltenders have to work way too hard and eventually they have mental breakdowns letting in some easy goals.

Some trades and a change in coaching or coaching philosophy need to happen or it will be groundhog day year after year.

Alan R.

February 26th, 2011
11:41 am

As per @BenThrashers:

The Thrashers have recalled G Drew Macintyre from the AHL. No update on Pavelec yet.

I just hope we actually play him this time, instead of riding Mason.

Kyle

February 26th, 2011
11:44 am

The Thrashers have a lot to learn from Wheeler and Ladd in my opinion. Wheeler and Ladd are the most consistent guys on the team, and consistency is just what we need. It’s imperative that we keep Wheeler going into next season, he’s going to be a great asset for this team.

Steve

February 26th, 2011
11:45 am

Having seen about 20 games at Philips so far this year, it’s apparent to me that the problem lies with a system put in place by Ramsay that is offense first, defense second……I know of very, very few teams in any pro sport that win consistently following that formula.

Plus, we’re very, very young….

Not that complicated, really…..

Steve

February 26th, 2011
11:49 am

Well, a few more things also – - – still suffering from Waddell’s overpaying of average players like Hainsey and Antropov, (who is the softest 6′6″ player in the league) guys we couldn’t unload if we wanted to due to salary.

Barry

February 26th, 2011
11:53 am

1) This team lacks mental toughness. Things start going bad or they get scored upon and they kinda lose the fire WHEN they should be stepping on the pedal more and taking a stand in saying “that’s all you get”.
2) Not doing what it takes to score goals. Thrashers are basically one and done and shooting into the chest protector of the goalie or missing the net badly. We don’t get enough traffic in front of opposing goalies and players are not in the right place for rebounds.
3) Selfishness. I’ve seen too many times some of our guys try to do it themselves going 1 on 3 and turning the puck over. Kane did that 2-3 times last night. If this team wants to score by committee then they need to start working together as a committee.
5) Passive defense and passive PK for most of these games. Other teams have it way too easy to enter the Thrashers zone and run cycles on us.
6) Lack of physicality. I thought this was going to be a tough team to play against? Too many times we let opposition just skate through the neutral zone or skate circles in our own zone without anyone hitting anyone and putting a stop to it.

Chris Vivlamore

February 26th, 2011
11:54 am

Alan R.: If you are going to post what somebody else had an twitter, you might note who had it first. Me.

Steve

February 26th, 2011
12:00 pm

A little defensive there, Chris? Looks like Alan R. was trying to attribute the quote to BenThrashers (whoever that is) and may not have realized it was “you first.” Besides, who on here cares (other than you) who something is attributable to? We’re more interested in the substance of the discussion….

Iron League 13s

February 26th, 2011
12:15 pm

Vivs – Again, very accurate assessment, keep up the good work. You and Rawhide are THE BEST coverage this team has.

Basically everything is wrong and that of course starts with the travesty that is the F.A.S., LLC not caring enough to fund this asset. So yes, we rely on draftees right out of the gate that may never be NHLers, ditto that for prospects (if you want to call a guy like Stapleton who’s about 28 years old that). These are signs of PATHETIC FUNDING more than sanything. No Free Agents want to sign here for two reasons, A) it’s obvious this is the m.o, B) I DOUBT very highly that they even get good offers from Waddell in the past or Duds now, there is truth to some degree in the money talks cliche, you can take that to the bank. BUUUT, I still won’t say that Waddell or Duds are as bad as people say. EVERY manager in any business I know of can only spend a certain amount of coin set by OWNERSHIP, we simply can’t think this is any different. I vote to take it easy on both of them and to a lesser extent coaching. Which brings me to…

Coaching, there is something VERY soft with this roster. This is as blue collar and N. American as we’ve any roster out there that I can think of. This play is the antithesis of all things N. American hockey is even of the Quebecois variety. Look at Wheeler and Stuart, they play like N. Americans usually do, because they’ve just arrived. Look at Meyer when he was called up and look at his later games. You can’t make me believe that Thorbs, Boults, Buff and others are playing their games. They are doing what they are told, I’d bet anything on that.

This team MUST play to their skill level, which is absolutely below the average NHL roster and that entails GRIND GRIND GRIND. When lacking skill, play heart forward first. Hustle, sweat, bleed, fight for everything, just out work everybody. They are tamed kittie cats out there.

The time is WAY past when coaching should have realized that they lack scoring skills. I said that in the offseason and I’m not a flippin’ coach. Bang your way to the net, take the hand cuffs of the guys and let them set up shop around the crease shoveling for goals. It works, it’s admirable, we’ve got the size. Hell last I checked that’s what made Buff a name and we put him on D, too late now we’ve gotten rid of Sopel, so…

Anyways, this team IS NOT a skilled Euro kiddie-gloves roster and they should be allowed to play organically. Would you buy a pit-bull to be an accessory dog? Exactly. To late, but better late than never.

Chris Vivlamore

February 26th, 2011
12:18 pm

Steve: I hear you but when you work as hard as I do to get information quickly and accurately and someone comes on my blog to announce news from from a member of the team’s marketing staff that I have already posted, it is a little annoying. I will get over it.

Iron League 13s

February 26th, 2011
12:21 pm

Typos, spelling, grammer, I suck, sorry.

Alan R.

February 26th, 2011
12:25 pm

C-Viv – I didn’t see your post first. I sat down, saw Ben posted it, and posted it here. It was purely informational. I even refreshed this page to see if anyone mentioned it here, first.

First, I’m out of coffee. Then I get jumped on here. Not a good morning.

Iron League 13s

February 26th, 2011
12:26 pm

Steve – No offense, but I’ll stick up for both Rawhide and Vivs about 100% of the time. These guys are THE BESTsources for both journalism and punditry. I respect them, VIVS is the ONLY embedded journalist this team has, if it doesn’t come from him first it’s likely not accurate. We should have repect for Vivs and Rawhide for dedication, honesty, accuracy, etc. IMO, we are on AJC posting because they gave us the forum to do so, R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Iron League 13s

February 26th, 2011
12:29 pm

Alan R – I’m not jumping on you just trying to explain the importance of both Rawhide and Vivs and the etiquette we should all have. In other words at least so far as I’m concerned, I’ll take some grief from them before I give them any. They are our hosts.

Alan R.

February 26th, 2011
12:32 pm

No worries. From now on, I’ll re-post tweets on Bill’s blog.

Seaicead Deigh

February 26th, 2011
12:45 pm

This organization is built on the foundation laid by the ownership group who is about as dis-interested in their product as one can be. The product on the ice is a direct reflection of this. What’s wrong with the Trashers? Everything noted is symptomatic of the culture generated out of the ownership board room. That can pretty much be said throughout the history of the organization. A group that cannot make the financial commitment, is not passionate about the sport and product and is generally disinterested, will allow this attitude to permeate through out.

Gary B

February 26th, 2011
12:52 pm

Half the team belongs in AHL

Brett

February 26th, 2011
12:54 pm

Stapleton has been put on waivers!

Sherry Taylor

February 26th, 2011
1:29 pm

Well, I guess you all know so much about coaching this team, the ends and outs of strategy and being a GM, the ASG should read your comments and hire a new coach and GM from here? Why look further, you guys seem to have it all figured out. Except one thing, it’s harder than it looks from your seat in Philips and your couch. Instead of being so negative, why don’t you look for some good stuff? You all or many of you whined when Dudley traded Peverley for Wheeler and Stuart, but from where I sat last night that was looking like a pretty smart move.

Iron League 13

February 26th, 2011
1:34 pm

On the handling adversity part. As true as that may be, I really don’t think this team has the gear ratio to diversify. The way I see it is, low-gear (soft careful positional play to avoid penalties) and high-gear (hard grinding play, backcheck, forecheck, digging in the corners, lots of puck clearing and hustling still positional). Again this team is not skilled enough to play such a strategized game they need to play positionally for the most part as a result, I’m talking basics. I saw Hainsey perform the worst effing breakout last night that resulted in a turnover and an attempt, way too much thinking and waiting for the play strategy to fall into place. With few skills you fight fight fight and play as smart as you can while you’re bobbing and weaving.

atlthrasher

February 26th, 2011
1:54 pm

Great Job C-Viv. You might also want to add the physical play or lack thereof. We seem to let the opponents push us around night after night. We need to dominate the game from when we take the ice like we used to. Those early hard hits can really mess with our opponents psyche when they take the ice.

ashtray

February 26th, 2011
2:05 pm

LOL.. more passion from C-Viv and Alan R. about Tweets than passion on the ice when the goin gets tough!!! Let’s at least win in the hit department tomorrow.

ashtray

February 26th, 2011
2:06 pm

Please lord, let some NHL team take Oduya off our hands today.

Ray

February 26th, 2011
2:08 pm

Sherry, don’t get defensive, if you’ve read these blogs most of this is what has been written over and over and over the past several years. Anyone with a modicum of hockey knowledge knows this. You don’t need to be GM of the year to know what needs to be fixed here. Basically, everyone is stating the obvious. Until this franchise is sold to a committed owner, nothing will change. Dudley is doing the best he can with the funds that will ice the 29th most lowest payroll in the NHL. That’s the bottom line. Until this changes, nothing changes. Ray

Iron League 13

February 26th, 2011
2:09 pm

Ashtray – I think tomorrow will be a good one, I shoulda gone to that one instead of lasts nights, sigh. Win or loze the Leafs make for entertaining hockey when we play them and I think Stuart and/or Wheeler will get into it with Orr (assuming he’s not on the IR). There is some bad blood for sure with those two having come from the northeast division and Orr’s a jerk, not to mention we’re not exactly friends with Tronna either.

Alan R.

February 26th, 2011
2:09 pm

Sorry that I don’t actually play on the Thrashers, ashtray. Otherwise, I might be able to affect “passion on the ice.”

Iron League 13

February 26th, 2011
2:09 pm

dude I just spelled lose with a z

Iron League 13

February 26th, 2011
2:12 pm

Sherry, those rosey colored glasses are rip offs. I say give em to charity or just throw them out. And yeah, the glass isn’t even half empty it’s bone dry.

Iron League 13

February 26th, 2011
2:15 pm

Sherry, come to think of it, if you’re not related in some way to the F.A.S., LLC or management or coaching, how can’t you see these problems. Tell you what, say something not only optimistic, but true and worth stating. Do that and get back to us before sticking up for this team. Fans that justifiably complain are still very loyal, don’t forget that.

Iron League 13

February 26th, 2011
2:19 pm

Sherry, I concede on that Wheeler bit of positivity. But I said I’d miss Pevs, definitely didn’t moan too much on the actual deal too much other than it’s almost an even trade if Stuart didn’t play (Sopel was still here). I pegged it as possibly good. I digress.

Sage of Bluesland

February 26th, 2011
2:25 pm

I see the institution has expanded its computer lab hours…

(No typos there, Chief…Get your tinfoil hat back on before bedtime…)

Remie

February 26th, 2011
2:45 pm

SHERRIE – You said it, sista! These post boys all like to act as though they could do a better job (and anonymously, too!) Just armchair fat boys talking trash.

BlueSpark

February 26th, 2011
3:07 pm

I know what’s wrong with the Thrashers. Everything. At this point in the season, I can’t think of one positive thing to say.

I think Dudley, Ramsay, Torchetti, Malarchuk, and Ladd have all failed.

Midfield

February 26th, 2011
3:25 pm

Coaching staff aren’t magicians. Thrashers have the bootom feed roster; unstable and incompetent ownership, which is also outright hostile to what’s left of the team’s fan base; and hence very low morale. Players leaving this town have a hard time concealing their relief, for crying out loud.This is not an easy environment to motivate the team in.

Chris Vivlamore

February 26th, 2011
3:50 pm

Alan R: No worries. I told you I would get over it!

kj

February 26th, 2011
4:05 pm

I don’t know where the effort they put forth last night has been but at least they were watchable. Bogo finally showed the effort we’ve been waiting for and FLA cooperated in hitting Mason with some shots.

Glad to see Thorburn got an extension. He always plays with a lot of heart, too bad the whole team can’t join in most nights.

I hate to read those who think Oduya sucks. He’s a damn good defenseman, plays with tenacity and gives 100% every game. I think his fault at times is trying to play both D positions at the same time. That being said, don’t think playoff teams don’t want him. Personally, I hope we keep him and he gets paired with someone he can gel with.

sisu

February 26th, 2011
5:23 pm

Biggest issue with the team? Lack of Goalie coach. If there was a coach working with the goalie it would help. Second biggest problem? #80, too slow too big (still hurt?)

The give a crap has been an issue, if Stewart never scores 3 in one game at beginning does he stick? If not who would have been in his spot?
Rushing Cormier, he has no clear role…rushing any prospect…

WTF?

February 26th, 2011
6:43 pm

Funny how over a month ago I was saying how bad Ramsay is as a coach and fans at Philips telling me I was wrong. Now everyone has seen how bad Ramsay is and now it’s too late to mount anything worthy of a playoff run for spot number 8. The fans here are as emotionless and too calm just like coash Ramsay. Funny how it took until the 3rd period for the fans to wake up last night and the team to get fired up.

Michael

February 26th, 2011
7:12 pm

honestly besides the obvious ownership issues. tobys hand is still wacky buffs showing his weakness with toby not being 100% hopefully he recognizes it and works on it. Oduya has really been meh so far this season and i think its kinda ironic with how many people were riding bogy and that after he and johnny got broken up zach and hainsey I dare say have become our shut down d men those two together last year were awful but theirs a reason why zachs getting more ice time. stapleton needs to just go. honestly i think cormier has been pretty good for a rookie nobody expected him to be a leading scorer but i see him constantly bring grit. i just think we need a trade.

Iron League 13

February 26th, 2011
9:29 pm

Sage – _nlm eat a ****

Remie – Who are you you bomb throwing turd? Is Remie supposed to tell me who you are? My names, Joe and that’s all you’ll get from me on here, but I’d love to see your last name smarta$$. I was acting tough? Fatboys? Try this, I weigh about 150 now say something smart about that too you evil genius.