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

Iron League 13

February 26th, 2011
9:30 pm

Oh my reading comp blows, ok act as though not tough oopie daisy.

@Chris Hope to See You SUN at 3:30 Taco Mac

February 26th, 2011
9:46 pm

SUN: We are meeting informally at 3:30 pm before the game outside Philips Arena in front of Taco Mac – more information via link below:




February 26th, 2011
11:36 pm

Simple – Dudley couldn’t build a team if God handed it to him. This guy is pointing his finger at the hard working players, when he singualry built the the most medicore team in the NHL. He is a joke. For example – who does he go out to get for the final push – Wheeler and Stuart – 2 more rather regular players. I choked on my cheerios when I read that announcement. I think he is intentionally building a loser so he can move the team. REALLY!. There can be no other explanation unless he is plain stupid. But why would he get a 4year re-up if he was plain stupid ????


February 27th, 2011
1:40 am

They should put Evander Kane at Center and have Cormier and Bergfors be his wingers. Anthony Stewart should be on the third line with Antropov and Thorburn. The 4th line should consist of Burmistrov Modin and Boulton. The defensive pairings are fine the way it is. The line combinations make no sense to me right now. Why would the Thrashers put their fastest skilled offensive player (Kane) on the wing with the slowest center in the league and then put a role player (Stewart) on the other wing? They’re handicapping Kane severely when his game is all about speed. Now that the season is pretty much over, Ramsay should start to experiment with the lines and change it up.


February 27th, 2011
6:46 am

The Thrashers have no urgency about them. Maybe they’re demoralized by news of the ownership situation? Or, maybe Ramsay can no longer motivate them? Or maybe they’ve tuned out the ‘game plan,’ since it’s apparently not working anymore.

This season is now about the draft pick this summer. So, might as well give some of the pipeline talent a look in the bigs, to see what they can do, without setting the RFA clock ticking.

Putting On The Foil

February 27th, 2011
8:28 am

Some good teachers make for over-analyzing coaches. When the Thrash were winning early in the year, we heard, “Yea, we won, but we still have much we need to improve on” instead of “Great job guys, we kicked some arse tonight”. Now, when the Thrash are losing, we hear, ” I really like the good things we are doing out there even though we fell short tonight” instead of “When it comes down to crunch time, we just suck”.


February 27th, 2011
8:31 am

Kharma is starting to look like a beotch, ain’t it boys?

East Point Bob

February 27th, 2011
9:05 am

Most have it correct. This team is a 3 on the 1-10 scale. Poor goaltending. Terrible defense, I mean terrible, it has been noted over and over. Lack of scoring. Very poor coaching, from the head coach.
Failure of the GM, to act to correct the problem. What disturbs me most is this buddy system
the Thrashers seem to have. Waddell knows Dudley, Dudley knows Ramsey, Ramsey knows Modin and so on. This is a problem, not an asset. You cannot have all your friends work effectively
for you. It will not work. Thrashers are a prime example. Comier has been here for about 25-30 games and has done nothing. Like one blogger said, Eager stood up to defend another player and what happened, he gets traded, and for what a fifth round draft pick ? I have to question Dudley. He seems not to have a solid handle on this mess. He has simply taken it to another phase of failure.
I have not been impressed with him one bit after the season started. He, like some players, seem lost. Not knowing what to do to try to win. There are several players who need to go, yet he keeps them and plays them, and is awarded for failure, like Waddell was. When a new owner is found, I hope he has the guts to fire Waddell, Dudley and Ramsey and get people in here who will build this team. If they won’t the get someone else. At some point this has to stop, and the regime in charge now is just another step in the continued failure of the Thrashers.


February 27th, 2011
9:40 am

From 29th in the league in payroll to 11th in the standings does not justify all the criticism. Consider the New Jersey Devils at 3rd in payroll and 16th in the standings.


February 27th, 2011
10:07 am

Hey Jerry, they are 24th spot overall, 11th in the East. But you are right, we should give them a break. This ownership BS has a lot of negative vibes that filters into the dressing room and the ice.


February 27th, 2011
10:34 am

It’s Philips. Move them to Gwinnett!

Andrew G

February 27th, 2011
11:07 am

Hockey and Sex are not too far from each other. It’s all in your head a lot of the times. Confidence is the biggest difference maker in the NHL. In the early part of the season, they had the swagger of a superstar. Now, every goal that they give up and every penalty that get, ‘deflates’ them similarly to the deflating of ….oh wait, I can’t write that here (you get the point) or they get a lead and ‘quickly blow it (you see the correlation).’ From there, it is very difficult to get back that swagger.

I like some of these guys, but Tim Stapleton and Spencer Mahachek are not necessarily the ‘Peter North’s’ of the NHL. Thanks ASG for being so frugal with your money. 29th in payroll does not bode very well either. When you think of low budget for over a decade, think of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hey, at least they made it to the NLCS in ‘92!

Andrew G

February 27th, 2011
11:10 am

Atlanta Thrashers = Brooks Conrad in the NLDS!

Andrew G

February 27th, 2011
11:23 am

Brendan – what prospect talent do you speak of?

Besides our obvious 1st round picks(Little, Kane, Bogo) that a monkey could have picked, what talent do the Wolves and our draft ever produce? Brett Sterling? Spencer Mahacheck? Tim Stapleton? As good of a position that Atlanta finds themselves(due to high spot on the draft order selection for being a sub-par team), rarely does our farm system produce a good crop.

This has been one of the most frustrating seasons I have ever experienced (and I have unfortunately experience them all). I am an optimistic guy but I simply am at a feeling of hopelessness as an Atlanta sports fan.

Listen to the song, “Get off on the Pain” (it’s about loving something that does not love you back and constantly hurts you) and that sums up me and Atlanta sports (Hockey, Baseball, Football)


February 27th, 2011
11:36 am

Thanks for the article C Viv, another good, discussion generating topic. For me, Thrashy’s current demise is really quite simple. Atl is one of the teams with the lowest combined salary pay out in the league. Duds is hog tied, the owners won’t give him the $$ to get top talent – or enough of it to make a difference every night. That then cascades to Rammer, and frankly, I think he is doing as well as any coach in the league would do with what he is given. He is forced to play role-player lines as his #1 and #2 lines against some of the tops in the league. And if his #1 and #2 lines have the abilities of most teams’ 3rd and 4th lines, what does that say about our 3rd and 4th lines? Bush league is what it says. We simply don’t have the horses and the players are scared crapless that they will be playing in Canada next year. The tools Thrashy has to win games in this league is akin to rebuilding an engine with two screwdrivers a rubber mallet and one jack stand.


February 27th, 2011
4:42 pm

did anyone see kanes attempt on the shootout friday? what was that?

this team wont be making the playoffs, and wont be making any more trades

unfortunately, the guys that do deserve to be here need to step up and lead, and the others who dont (and still getting paid quite well) need to go

there is no heart, spirit, drive, push, hustle, or otherwise in any of these guys…it must feel nice to get paid really well to play a game you love and suck so horribly, with zero consequences for horrible play at the NHL level

i will still watch them, but thats the nature of the beast for hockey in this city, and wont be changing anytime soon


February 27th, 2011
6:37 pm

Andrew G, for the longest time, I’ve wanted to see Klingberg, O’Dell, Redmond, Lasu, etc. It’s still too early for that, of course.