Last February 21st, a group of us gathered at TJs and watched as the Atlanta Thrashers dropped a 3-1 decision to the San Jose Sharks. Not too many of us were that upset about the loss seeing as it was the last game of a 4-game west coast road trip, the team played well against the mighty Sharks…the score was 0-0 after two…and the Thrashers ended up the roadie 2-1-1.
However, it was still a loss and it dropped Atlanta’s record to 21-33-6 for only 48 points after 60 games played. To place that into some perspective, after 60 games last year Atlanta was 29-27-4 for 62 points, (it was right after that thrilling 10-round shootout win in New Jeresey).
So, as you can see…that’s was a -14 in regards to total points after the same amount of games.
Last night, I…along with about 26 or so other rabid Thrashers fans…made our way over to Tim Ecclestone’s place once again and watched as the Thrashers won a thrilling 4-3 shootout win. Atlanta overcame a 3-1 deficit with a pair of goals in the last six and a half minutes in that game…Todd White tying it up with but 3 and half seconds in regulation. Brett Sterling, just called up from Chicago to replace Kovy, then scored the only goal in the shootout to give Atlanta the win and deny Buffalo of a much-needed second point.
The win was Atlanta’s fifth in a row, sixth in their last seven and seventh in their last nine. It also eneded a perfect 3-0-0 road trip in which they won the last two without the services of their captain, Ilya Kovalchuk.
Are these the aliens…or are these really our Thrashers?
The victory also improved their record to 28-35-6 for 62 points after 69 games played. Compare that to last season when, after the same amount of games played, they were 30-32-7 for 67 points. That means the Atlanta Thrashers have gone from a -14 in the comparison of this season to last…to only a -5 in just nine games. In fact, 62 points in 69 games is a pace that would net them 74 points. While that’s not a points total to brag about…it sure beats the heck out of the 62 they were on pace for just two months ago. And, if they continue to play at the level they have over the past several week, it is entirely possible that they could finish with more points than the 76 they had last season.
Lottery ping-pong balls be damned!
Once again, the Thrashers helped make the road to the postseason just a little bit rougher for an opponent. Buffalo is currently just on the outside looking in regarding the playoffs, just a couple points shy of Florida and the Ranger who occupy the eighth and ninth spot in the conference standings. Like Edmonton on Thursday and Montreal the Friday before that, they were desperately in need of a two-point outing…but came up with less.
Monday night the Washington Capitals will pay Philips Arena a visit and, even though the Southeast Division title is all but a lock, they are currently battling New Jersey for the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. This is very important given that the second place team is guaranteed home-ice advantage in at least the first two rounds of the playoffs. Tuesday night, they travel to Pittsburgh to play a Penguins team that is playing very well of late…7-1-2 in their last ten…but currently are only two points above the playoff cut-off line. Then, Friday night…the Big, Red Borg rumble into town and those Red Wings are looking to tie down the top playoff spot in the Western Conference having recently overtaken San Jose. Next week, Montreal and the Rangers will be in the Thrashers crosshairs. The last week and a half of the season will bring Buffalo to Blueland and there will be a pair of games left with Florida and the Caps.
So, as you can see, there are still plenty of chances for the Thrashers to make life hell on others. And in doing so, they are making life better for themselves. They certainly have come a long way in turning what was an absolutely abysmal season into one that shows great promise for the future.