Five Questions With … Bryan Little

Bryan Little moved to center this season and finished with a career-high 30 assists. He finished with 18 goals and led all Thrashers with a plus-11 rating.

In the next of a series of interviews with Thrashers players following the 2010-11 season, here is some of what Little had to say about his new position, his need to improve his faceoff percentage and playing with Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler.

Q. What are your overall impressions of the season?

A. It’s very disappointing when you don’t make the playoffs. For me, it’s three years in a row now. It’s hard coming in this early and packing up your stuff. As far as the season went, it was strange because we had such a good start and were in playoff position early. Then we had that rough month or two where we were struggling to get wins and that put us behind and it was too much to make up.

Q. How about for you personally with a new role [playing center]?

A. It was the season I was the most happy with as far as my all-around game. I got a chance to penalty kill this year and do more things. I think I improved a lot, especially playing in my own end. I thought it was one of my more complete years, but there is always stuff you want to do different and work on in the summer.

Q. What would those things be?

A. I’m going to be a centerman again next year so I want to continue to get better at faceoffs. I was pretty disappointed with how they went this year. I do feel they got a little better but I need to get over that 50 percent (win percentage) if I’m going to be taking that many. I also want to shoot more, especially when I’m in a slump I can definitely shoot more.

Q. So the coaches have told you they see you as a centerman again next season?

A. Yes, especially with the success we had with that line (Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler). We clicked real well. As the season went on, I became more and more comfortable at center and I’ve come to like it a lot. I think I will stay there.

Q. Why do you think your line that line was so successful?

A. We had real good chemistry. We moved the puck well to each other. The good thing was anyone could be the shooter. Those guys have great shots. You set one of them up, there is a good chance they are going to score. It’s easy to play with those guys because they are so good at controlling the puck and doing give-and-go plays. It was pretty easy.

The series will continue over the next couple of weeks. Coming Thursday, Blake Wheeler.

29 comments Add your comment

chief of smoke

April 20th, 2011
7:46 am

First. Good Article. I agree with Bryan, He needs to work on getting his face off percentange up. He had very good year, I was surprised Team Canada did not take him to the World’s, perhaps they will still pick him up

Double Zero Eight

April 20th, 2011
8:00 am

The Thrasers should change their name to the
“Atlanta Thrashees”.

Double Zero Eight

April 20th, 2011
8:02 am

Spelled “Thrashers” incorrectly in line 1 of my previous post.

The Real Thrash

April 20th, 2011
8:06 am

Tape to tape passes win games.
Work on that for next year.

Yuvno Ballzerdik

April 20th, 2011
8:52 am

Bring back Craig Custance.

Michael B. Shapiro

April 20th, 2011
9:08 am

Agree with Chief of Smoke, Little has been the most perceptive so far. His faceoffs do need to improve (we need Slates back too), but his line has chemistry and his +11 was very commendable on a team that featured a -27 (would that Zack truly addressed that issue, his thought that he was better in the 2nd half of the season ignored that he was -15 during the second half, although I admit he did SKATE better). Also like that Little admits to the disappointment of an early end to the season, that should motivate him for next year.

Ben

April 20th, 2011
9:17 am

Watch the Vancover power play vs ours. Note the spacing allowed due to superior players with puck handling skills. It’s amazing how bad our players are.

moriler

April 20th, 2011
9:18 am

No problem at all with Little-Ladd-Wheeler line; they showed they can hang with any team out there and can be creative on the fly. Good to have a solid top line going into next year that will be used to each other for a change.

Also good to see that they aren’t overthinking it — work on the basics (faceoffs), everything else will come as gravy. Win more faceoffs, get more opportunity to be in the offensive zone, get more experience being there, learn D-man tendencies and how to change it up on them, etc. etc.

Ben

April 20th, 2011
9:23 am

Basically what I am hearing is that he is going to jump ship like the rest.

KLS1

April 20th, 2011
9:33 am

When you play center +/- is everything…it illustrates he did his job at both ends of the ice.

It was a good season for him, think there is still a lot of upside to his game once he gets consistent line mates and confidence.

TrueBlue

April 20th, 2011
9:44 am

…And this is why Little is one of my favorite players. Unlike another young guy (starts with a B and ends with an ogosian) he admits to his faults and talks about what he can do better. Even after being the HARDEST worker on the team the entire season, he still talks about things he can work on. Little is awesome in every way possible.

Tony C.

April 20th, 2011
10:20 am

Yeah, I like this guy.

Smoothie

April 20th, 2011
10:29 am

Ben, that’s precisely why he signed a 3 year contract as a RFA when he just as easily could have gone to arbitration. Why does Viv’s blog bring out all of the knuckleheads who have no clue about the Thrashers?

Again Chris, thanks for your hard work and due diligence with all of the exit interviews and post-season reporting. I’m sure you’ll keep us up to date on all offseason changes.

EA

April 20th, 2011
10:35 am

Not to pick on Zach, but every other player has told us what they want to improve on for next year. Also, these same players have stated that losing should not be acceptable. No one else is complaining about being tired, missing home, etc. I think we all want the best for everyone on the team including Bogo. He needs to take a hint. Bryan is one of the hardest working members on the team.

Sam

April 20th, 2011
10:43 am

Refreshing to see a young player who so obviously takes the coaches’ words to heart and has a specific plan to improve his game. A big contrast from Bogo, it seems. And I think Bryan has good perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of his game. HE has a great shot, and he should shoot more. Bryan’s improved every season here. He’s become strong on the puck and in the corners; he’s a good passer, who has a good shot and good speed. And to finish at +11 when his linemate Ladd was -10 is pleasantly surprising. He’s definitely a fun player to watch.

I’d add shootout scoring to his to-do list, though. LOL

Sam

April 20th, 2011
10:47 am

Thanks C-Viv, these are a lot of fun to read.

Puck Like A Porn Star

April 20th, 2011
11:25 am

1 Question With Don Waddell:

When will you be fired?

Ben

April 20th, 2011
12:17 pm

Zach said he wants to improve his relationship with his family and get away from hockey for a while.

Ben

April 20th, 2011
12:20 pm

Hey Smoothie: The only stat I’m concerned with is making the playoffs. I’ll leave studying the salary structure to NERDS like you. If you are satisfied with the product you see on the ice then you can take your salary stats and shove them up your….I’m concerned with playing for championships.

hockeygoon79

April 20th, 2011
12:45 pm

Puck Like A Porn Star, I would follow it up with one more question for DW.

Who do you have compromising photos of that have allowed you to not be fired?

Puck Like A Porn Star

April 20th, 2011
1:17 pm

I’d get a seat on the glass for that one! Hell, may as well interview him at center ice.

ThrasherTim

April 20th, 2011
2:27 pm

Little is signed for 2 more years. He signed a 3-year extension prior to the start of the season. Buff signed for 5 years. Stuart and Thorburn signed for 3 more years. Guys are starting to buy into the new structure here, i.e. a team game instead of Kovvy scores and does circle 8’s in the d zone.

Yea

April 20th, 2011
2:46 pm

Met Bryan at the airport few months back, seemed like a real nice guy. I thought his second half play was much improved. He seemed to work on his positioning and also really started crashing the net which was a nice change from other teams and players in the past here.

East Point Bob

April 20th, 2011
3:59 pm

Very lame interview. Bryan Little had a very sub par season, one he should not be happy with.
I would not be opposed packaging him in a deal to bring in some real scoring help. He has gone in reverse the past two season’s and why do we keep playing the same people that we have not had sucess with, we keep bring them back for another round of losing. Grading Little’s season… D+.

TrueBlue

April 20th, 2011
5:12 pm

EPB – Congrats on having the worst post on this blog. Pretty impressive to do around here.

Brendan

April 20th, 2011
7:08 pm

It’s at least good to know Bryan Little is disappointed with the lack of playoffs. When they say things like, “I think we had a great season,” and leave it at that, without adding, “but it’s maddening to be outside of the playoffs,” that the player has to go.

Bryan Little is an asset. We need to develop him back into a 30-goal scorer.

AtlFlamesFan

April 20th, 2011
8:14 pm

Considering that 2 seasons ago, Little scored 31 goals, then yes, this past season was a disappointment. I expect that he will again reach and exceed that level.

cahos

April 20th, 2011
9:03 pm

Look for Little to improve but be an average 25goal scorer if Ladd scores 30+ goals. He’ll be more helpful on the assist. If he gets above 25 well then he over exceeded. Next Season hopefully Atlanta I’d say 25 goals – 40 assist total 65 point, and 24+. Look for Ladd-Little-Wheeler to become a 1st line soon if they can kill scoring goals.

P.S. SCREW YOU ATLANTA SPIRIT OWNERS.
P.P.S. ATLANTA SPIRIT OWNERS MEET MY FRIENDS SCREW AND YOU.

Brendan

April 21st, 2011
1:01 am

Red Wings are about to closeout the Coyotes in 4 straight. Poor Phoenix. Could be their last game in Arizona.