Nik Antropov struggled early in the season to recover from major hip surgery following last season. He finished with 16 goals and 25 assists in 76 games for the Thrashers, including six goals and six assists in his 19 games.
Antropov said by the end of the season he felt he was “95 percent” back to his form from a year ago when had 24 goals and 43 assists.
In the next of a series of interviews with Thrashers players following the 2010-11 season, here is some of what Antropov had to say about his recovery time and his switches between center and right wing.
Q. How do you think your season went and how long did it really take you to come back from last offseason’s hip surgery?
A. I guess I can divide it into different parts. The first half I was trying to get back on track and then I felt way better, more like myself, the last 20-25 games. Not in terms of points, but the how I felt on the ice and skating-wise.
Q. Your individual numbers were down this season. How disappointing was that?
A. Absolutely. As I said, the first part of the season I was just trying to find myself, find my skating. That was the most important thing. If you can’t skate, you can’t keep up with anybody. You can see the point production was low. The last 20-25 games, I was feeling really good and the points were there. It was just a little too late, I guess. It doesn’t matter what the point production is, as long as we make the playoffs.
Q. What did you think this team can achieve next season based on what happened this year?
A. Overall, it was a good season in terms of learning for us. It’s a young team. We can learn a lot, even from that bad slump we had. We lost the last few games by one goal. That’s something we can improve on too. We did a lot of good things this year. We didn’t make the playoffs and that is disappointing. It’s a lot to learn out of all that.
Q. Why do you think you were so successful against the top-level teams like Washington and Philadelphia?
A. I think we approached those games a little differently than the teams that were on the bottom at the time. We wanted to show that we were not just Atlanta, that we could play hockey. We showed that. We have to play 82 games like that. Then we can be successful.
It’s the whole team, not just the young guys. It’s the responsibility of all 20 guys that go out there. It’s the players that have to change that.
Q. You were moved between center and wing this season. What do you prefer?
A. I was just asked that by the coaches oddly enough. It doesn’t really matter for me. Maybe I feel a little more comfortable on the right wing. It’s up to them where they put me – as long as it’s not on the left wing, I’m good.
The series will continue over the next couple of weeks. Coming Monday, Ron Hainsey.