Thrashers focused on game at hand, not dire playoff picture

The Thrashers have little margin for error.

Such a luxury is long gone. A 30-game stretch, just over a third of the NHL season, with a 7-17-6 record has put the Thrashers on the brink of elimination from the playoff race. The Thrashers (29-29-12) have 70 points and entered Wednesday’s schedule tied with Toronto and New Jersey, six points behind Buffalo for the eighth and final playoff spot. Carolina, which hosts Toronto Wednesday, leads by four points for the ninth spot. The Thrashers, who have points in four of their past five games, enter Thursday’s game against Philadelphia with 12 regular-season games remaining. There are not a lot of chances to gain an edge on four teams.

“We are all agreed, we have to win, whether it’s 10 games or 11 games,” Thrashers defenseman Ron Hainsey said. “We have to win. If we string together a couple of losses we’ll be in deep trouble. Really the focus is on whatever it takes [to win]. It doesn’t matter who scores, who blocks a shot. We just need wins.”

Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay and his players admit the difficulty of becoming fixated on the big picture as dire as it has become. Their job is the task at hand. Play – and win – the next game.

“I’m speaking for myself, but you can’t help but looking at the big picture when you are not at the rink,” goaltender Chris Mason said. “Especially the situation we are in. We need help from other teams but ultimately we have to win our games. The other stuff we can’t control. You can just watch and cross your fingers. It definitely takes a conscious decision to tell yourself that the only thing you can control, and the only thing we should be worried about, is doing our job. Right now, we have to be desperate. We need guys to get out of their comfort zone. A guy that typically doesn’t block shots, we need him blocking shots. We need guys clearing the front of the net. We need the ultimate sacrifice for us to get in the playoffs.”

Last season Philadelphia and Montreal took the last two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference with 88 points. It appears it will take about that many points to get in again. The Thrashers would have to earn 18 of a possible 24 points just to hit that mark.

Adding to the difficulty has been the emotional roller coaster the Thrashers have been on. On Saturday, they scored four third-period goals en route to a 5-4 overtime win over the Flyers. On Tuesday, they allowed four straight goals in a 4-2 loss to the Devils.

“Those things are very difficult,” Ramsay said. “There were a lot of sad people around [Tuesday] night. To have a lead, blow it, apparently tie it up and have it taken away from you again. Coming off the Philadelphia game you have to regroup. In the hockey business you don’t get a lot of time to sit on it. We are right back to it [Thursday] against a team we just had a tremendous game against.”

Etc.

* Ramsay said he watched video replays of the disallowed goal Tuesday against the Devils “enough” to reinforce his thought that officials should have allowed the goal before turning to video replay.

Evander Kane tipped a shot into the net with 43 seconds left that would have tied the game at 3-3. However, on-ice officials waved off the goal, saying Kane played the puck with a high stick. The call was upheld after video replay.

“It’s disappointing with all the replays we do have, something that is pretty close like that probably should be a goal and then check it and see if there is a reason it’s not a goal, not the other way around,” Ramsay said. “I thought it was such a close call. We’ve been looking at various replays and I still find it a very close call.”

Ramsay said he was unaware if someone with the Thrashers inquired with the NHL about controversial call.

* Dustin Byfuglien and Bryan Little did not practice Wednesday but Ramsay said he expected both to play Thursday.

* Defenseman Noah Welch, re-called from AHL Chicago on Monday, was re-assigned on Wednesday. He was brought up with Byfuglien questionable with a lower-body injury.

* Jim Slater, who has missed 33 games with a concussion, skated for 40 minutes prior to practice Wednesday.

* The Thrashers will auction special St. Patrick’s Day jerseys Thursday. Each jersey will be autographed after it is worn by a player during pre-game warm-ups. The auction will take place in Philips Arena’s Main Concourse and fans may bid on the jerseys beginning when doors open at 6 p.m.

23 comments Add your comment

thrash head

March 16th, 2011
4:04 pm

First – AGAIN!

Keebler Elf

March 16th, 2011
4:19 pm

I want Timmy’s jersey, I bid one quarter.

sisu

March 16th, 2011
4:29 pm

so where has all this effort been for the last few months? If the team had cared earlier then perhaps playoffs would have been a possibility….

Not Blind

March 16th, 2011
4:33 pm

Another year of letdown. In December anything seemed possible. I think Buff started believing the All Star hype. He hasn’t been the same since being voted in.

Riddle me this

March 16th, 2011
4:47 pm

You get what you pay for. Our payroll and players stink. You can blame ownership on this one.

Buzzeng

March 16th, 2011
5:22 pm

Ramsay: ” Ramsay said he watched video replays of the disallowed goal Tuesday against the Devils “enough” to reinforce his thought that officials should have allowed the goal before turning to video replay”

If I were the Coach, I would be looking at the video to see what changed from Period 1 to Period 2. Did we shift to the prevent defense (thus preventing ourselves from winning)? Did the Devils adjust and if so, how and how could we have counter-adjusted?

Just sayin…

Barry

March 16th, 2011
6:25 pm

Ya that 2nd period was brutal and what was more brutal is nobody did anything to stop it and turn it around!!! Ramsay should at least called a time out and try to change momentum or get his team playing a different way to take charge of the game again. To only muster 2 shots on goal in the 2nd period is unacceptable and completely laughable at this time of year. This team has some mental issues as they can’t be consistent and if things don’t go their way or they get scored on it’s like they completely shut down for a period.

Tom Lysiak

March 16th, 2011
7:06 pm

“Those things are very difficult,” Ramsay said. “There were a lot of sad people around [Tuesday] night.”

Yeah, see that is part of the problem. They should not be sad about it. They should have been mad about it. Sad doesn’t drive you to play hard. Mad usually does though.

Devilsfan

March 16th, 2011
7:25 pm

Maybe you guys need a coaching change? Worked for us.

Tom Lysiak

March 16th, 2011
7:42 pm

Devilsfan – Lots of people here would agree, some wouldn’t though. First priority is an ownership change in my mind. Gotta agree that it worked for you. It is a different team, without wholesale changes of players. Definitely amazing results.

Tommy2time

March 16th, 2011
10:41 pm

What do you expect. Loser franchise. Joke. Funny thing is they sent me an email today offering free club seats for the penguins game if I buy season tcikets for next year. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Iron League 13

March 17th, 2011
7:05 am

Why the urgent play now? Oh well, that’s not exclusive to this team. It happens every year in every sport with many teams, regardless I don’t get that mentality. Anyways I’m hoping for the best. If they can muster another November/December 2010 moment then maybe they’ve got a chance. At least the future of this team looks brighter with reports of 2 prospective ownership groups and an individual owner. The latter is very intriquing.

Mr. Obvious

March 17th, 2011
8:17 am

This downhill slide all started soon after our mascot when to jail.

Crazy Diamond

March 17th, 2011
9:51 am

You had to know before the first game of the season that we would be in this position – looking up at the teams that make the playoffs.

jimcee

March 17th, 2011
10:09 am

Has anyone heard anything regarding the potential new investors looking at the Thrashers and Hawks? Any news reports in the past few days that I may have missed?

Brendan

March 17th, 2011
10:16 am

I’m surprised Ramsay didn’t say, “Ya know. I think we played a ‘wonderful’ game. And our players are just ‘terrific.’” Folks, this team had a minimum budget. It was asked to hang the moon, to make the playoffs. Everyone knows that games in October and November are easier to win than those in March and April. At least we banked points thennnn … to still be able to talk about the playoffs at the Holidays and even in February, too. Being in a season where your team is essentially eliminated by Thanksgiving … is the worst kind of season of all. The Thrashers didn’t deliver some 54-point season for you. They could conceivably get back to 76-points, like they did in 2008 and 2009. Last year’s 83-points will still be a challenge.

joedaiceman

March 17th, 2011
11:05 am

Glad to hear the Thrashers are focused on the next game and not the playoffs. I guess that is part of Dudley’s master plan – focus on stupid and meaningless monikers instead of building a team that can win. Actually, Dudley is not that bad, but the idiot owners are. These guys are a joke.

One piece of good news, maybe Slater comes back before the end of the season. Someone with heart gets back in the line-up and makes the games more interesting.

Riddle me this

March 17th, 2011
11:16 am

I will accept no less than 24 points in the remaining 12 games – anything short of this and the season has been a failure and I should be fired. That is what I want Rammer to say.

Sage of Bluesland

March 17th, 2011
3:01 pm

“….Everyone knows that games in October and November are easier to win than those in March and April…..”

Brendan, I don’t think people understand this at all….This corresponds precisely to what a hockey-wise historian from Buffalo taught me all those years ago about the game. He would caution on such “hot” streaks in November/December–as most teams are still juggling lines and getting their “sea-legs” for the real season. It is a marathon, after all.

Of course, the sheep see an early-season hot streak and are ready to start making plans for the playoffs….which have only happened once in our generally wretched history. The silly sheep–who actually thought things were “different” this year under “new” coaching and a “new” GM!

I know, it’s hilarious, isn’t it?

It makes it all worthwhile, though…

ManUp

March 17th, 2011
3:47 pm

What was really hilarious = the person walking up and down the aisle with a tin foiled Stanley Cup !! How embarassing ! Hopefully not one of the posters on the site :-) Or was it ???

g time

March 17th, 2011
4:23 pm

the CUP GUY – he’s ok, if I were him I might leave the cup in the case for now

Brendan

March 17th, 2011
4:58 pm

Well Sage, you know how it is. If a hockey fan begins the season down in the dregs, it’s not likely to improve any. I liken it to “Opening Day” in baseball. Even Baltimore, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Kansas City, and San Diego have a ‘chance’ … on Opening Day. What about the Pittsburgh Pirates?? Don’t THEYYY still have ’some shot’ at the postseason, on Opening Day?

No. They don’t. Asked and answered. Move it along, counselor.

Crazy Diamond

March 18th, 2011
7:11 am

What early season hot streak? What is the team all-time record for wins in a row? Could it be 6? When was it?