The numbers are ugly.
The Thrashers’ scoring woes have become a point of frustration for management, players and fans as the team’s playoff chances are slipping away.
Despite out-shooting the opposition in the past 10 games, including surpassing 40 shots in each of the past five, the Thrashers have a 2-7-1 record. A two-month long drought with has them 11th in the Eastern Conference, seven points behind the New York Rangers for the eighth and final playoff spot with 17 games remaining.
Time is running out.
“It’s not like we aren’t getting any chances,” Bryan Little said. “If that was the case I think we would be a bit worried. It’s just a matter of just relaxing. The games mean so much right now we might be squeezing the sticks too tight. If we keep getting those chances, we are bound to have a big night. Hopefully it’s sooner rather than later.”
Consider the following statistics:
* The Thrashers have scored one goal in four of the past five games, despite having more than 40 shots on goal in each.
* Their shooting percentage in the past five games is 3.2 percent (7-for-214). Their shooting percentage in the past 10 games, all while out-shooting the opposition, is 5.6 percent (22-for-393).
* The Thrashers are 7-17-6 in past 30 games, having scored 63 goals. They scored 114 in the first 35 games of the season while compiling a 19-11-5 mark.
* They have been held to one or zero goals four times in first 35 games and 10 times in the past 30 games.
* The Thrashers, without back-to-back wins since Jan. 2 and 5, have not won a game by two or more goals since Dec. 20, a 6-3 win over Toronto.
Shots on goal are one thing, quality scoring chances are what really matter. In Thursday’s 3-1 loss to Ottawa, holder of the worst record in the Eastern Conference, the Thrashers had many prime opportunities.
Turning the shots into scoring chances means “not shooting right into the middle of the goalies belly,” Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said. It also means using screens and traffic to make it difficult for the opposing goal to see and catch the puck.
“We are working hard to get those chances, we just have to put the puck in the net,” Thrashers captain Andrew Ladd said. “If you are throwing pucks at the net, that’s great, but you have to have bodies in front of the net. You’ve got to have one guy in front of the net and everybody else storming to pick up the rebounds, pick up the garbage.
“If our D-men are shooting the puck and we have two guys standing on the side of the net, that doesn’t do too much. You’ve got to have a screen. … We can make it more difficult on goalies.”
On an individual basis, the Thrashers’ top scorers are failing to deliver. Consider the following numbers:
* Chris Thorburn and Little have one goal in the past 17 games.
* Evander Kane and Anthony Stewart have one goal in the past eight games.
* Alexander Burmistrov hadn’t scored in 27 games before missing the past eight games with a broken foot.
* Dustin Byfuglien’s goal Thursday against Ottawa was his second in the past 23 games, which included a 13-game pointless streak.
* Tobias Enstrom hasn’t scored in 15 games.
Ramsay said he sees several differences between the first 35 and the last 30 games.
“We are not scoring on the rebounds like we were,” Ramsay said. “Our defensemen aren’t scoring as much but they are trying to get involved. … There are too many times when we are not holding the puck long enough to open up our points. We are not getting quite the screening. We are standing to the side of the net. I don’t want everybody standing in the crease. I’ve made that quite clear but I need somebody standing in front of the goalie. We are not always getting a good enough screen.”