Thrashers Have Come A Long Way, Baby!

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.

Brett Sterling Scores The Game-Winning Shootout Goal On Patrick Lalime

Brett Sterling Scores The Game-Winning Shootout Goal On Patrick Lalime (AP Photo)

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.

HA-ha! Good!

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.

100 comments Add your comment

Spud Webb

March 16th, 2009
12:33 pm

Rawhide, I think it’s just easier if you set the date (though more people probably will be available for the Sunday game) and we will come!!!!

Nikita

March 16th, 2009
1:06 pm

Speaking of Boults, we have him for one more year, is that right? He looks like a likely replacement candidate re: age and such. Though he’s really doing well under JA’s system. He plays like he’s 5 years younger, and has a better shot than I’ve seen him display since he got here.

Switching gears slightly, my husband wants a Sterling jersey. Anyone want to hazard a guess as to whether that’s a good idea or not?

Nikita

March 16th, 2009
1:09 pm

P.S. Valentine isn’t up to snuff yet — he’s too slow, and he’s penalty bait. Neither is Oystrick, who plays well but isn’t quite up to speed yet. But they both need to play to improve. Tyler Perry’s Mama, meanwhile — I think he’s wearing down, and I in general don’t think he’s tough enough to be a top D unless he gets tougher over the summer. He needs to sit a game or two.

Tony C.

March 16th, 2009
3:02 pm

Tyler Perry’s Mama?

uhm.

Maybe use the guy’s given name so the rest of us know what the heck you’re talking about Nikita???

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 16th, 2009
3:20 pm

I assumed she meant Hainsey but I have no idea where the TPM is coming from.

Boulton is only 31, is a fighter (not many in the wings now that Stoesz and Desbiens are gone), and he is still signed for a year at only $600k. I don’t see him as “blocking” any of the younger talent, nor do I see him as a detriment to the current roster in the fourth line role he’s playing.

Alan

March 16th, 2009
3:25 pm

I was wondering about that too, Tony. Real names would be nice to see. Also wondering who the hell Valentine is.

Nikita

March 16th, 2009
3:32 pm

Valentine = Valabik. (birthdate 2/14. popular with the ladies.)

Tyler Perry’s Mama = Hainsey. Come on, guys. You’ve seen that hideous hair.

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 16th, 2009
3:34 pm

I assumed Valentine was Valabik…again, I’m not sure why.

kracker

March 16th, 2009
3:50 pm

RH, I vote for the Sunday Apr 5th date for TJ’s but I can likely make either one.

Jimbo

March 16th, 2009
4:02 pm

Way to go Blue! Sorry that we’re out of it but it’s given us a look at some of the talent in Chicago. Crabb looked OK. Stuart looks like a real keeper and Lavallee looked OK. Now we get another look at Sterling and Machachek.

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 16th, 2009
4:04 pm

Tyler Perry’s Mama = Hainsey. Come on, guys. You’ve seen that hideous hair.

Tyler Perry has NEVER come to my mind when watching hockey, or even when generally living my life. If he (or his mother) does come into yours while watching the Thrashers, you have my sympathy.

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 16th, 2009
4:15 pm

By the way, who would’ve guessed that at this point in the season (~65 games played) that Mark Streit would be making nearly half the money of Brian Campbell while outperforming him in every statistical category except PIMs (52 for Streit vs 18 for Campbell).

Now, for those of you who would’ve guessed such a thing, would you have considered that anomaly to be possible with Streit playing on the NHL worst New York Islanders, while Campbell is playing on the Western Conference’s 4th place Chicago Blackhawks?

Remember, this is the same Mark Streit that some here considered not worth pursuing because he was “so bad” at defense in Montreal, he filled in for injured players as the fourth line wing.

If that’s not enough, here are two interesting stats he beats Campbell in thus far: +/- (7 vs 1), and hits (108 vs 28).

Just thought I’d air that one out for you to take a whiff of…Campbell’s good, but I’m still doubting he’s $7.14M good (or more had he come to Atlanta).

Tony C.

March 16th, 2009
4:17 pm

We’re talking about the cross-dresser here right? The one with the “Madea” franchise?

Wow. Youngblood for Reasoner and now Hainsey’s a cross-dresser. I bet we keep the room in stitches.

Nikita

March 16th, 2009
4:40 pm

Actually, what comes to mind is those crazy Bo Jackson in drag commercials. The hair is BAD. But I was going for a more current association. If you know of any other men wearing mops on their heads, I’d love to use those as a substitute.

Reasoner’s odd…he looks sort of like Casper Van Dien without the helmet, and a toothless Rob Lowe with it.

Now, on more serious topics: Machacek! Machacek! Machacek! I can’t wait to see what he’ll do — he’s very talented, and was a smart acquisition.

And I hope over the summer Grant Lewis either matures or gets traded for a defensman with genuine offensive potential.

I’m completely underwhelmed by Lavallee.

Nikita

March 16th, 2009
4:42 pm

Oh, also, when we speculate about White, something to remember is that Kovy likes him. He’s one of few players that Kovy has gone on record as preferring to work with. So I think he’s a natural second liner, but we may see him on the top line if Kovy continues having trouble finding a good center.

Russ

March 16th, 2009
5:04 pm

Ranallo – I think Campbell reaped the rewards financially of being considered the best d-man in a weak free agency class. NHL GM’s have shown time and again they have no fiscal responsibility. If a player, in this case Campbell, is considered the top player available he is going to get top dollar whether he is truly a tier 1 player or not. If Hossa would have signed long term last off-season his deal would have probably been similar to Campbell’s, which when you consider the impact they have on a game is ridiculous IMO.

Spud Webb

March 16th, 2009
5:33 pm

Yea, Campbell did benefit from a weak free agency class. His numbers aren’t all that. But as pointed out early in this blog, he transitions the Hawks from O to D very, very well. He skates the rock out of trouble regularly and starts that offense. Doesn’t show on the stat sheet but the Hawks are getting exactly what they want out of him. They are happy.

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 16th, 2009
5:48 pm

“Hawks are getting exactly what they want out of him. They are happy.”

Of course they are, I’m definitely not doubting that. But do you think they’ll be happy with him when it comes time to re-sign Keith (again), Ladd, Toews, Kane, and still have enough to piece together a good blueline?

He’s an offensive minded defender, who does well on the transition (as you said). Every team needs one…I just don’t think every team needs a $7M+ one that is only marginally better (thus far) than a $4M offensive defenseman.

But yeah, he definitely benefited from the weak FA class. Bouwmeester is good, but we’ll see exactly the same thing with him this offseason. He’ll likely be paid top dollar from some team, though he’s not the best defender in the league (top 20 yeah, top 10 maybe at best, top 5 definitely not). Whatever team signs him will be happy they “won”, but how far back will it set them to have signed a guy of his caliber to a $6M+ contract? Some teams can absorb that salary, but not many are in a better position team-wise than Florida is currently…

Anyways, it’s just my opinion. I’m sure we’d all love him on this roster, but hate his salary cap hit.

Brendan

March 16th, 2009
6:18 pm

I kinda thought Atlanta would be in the hunt for Streit. He’s one of the guys I thought Waddell would identify, since he was a lesser free agent, who theoretically could be had for far less than Campbell. Personally, I was STUNNED we were even in the HUNT for Campbell. But then, I realized his agent was using Atlanta to up the ante in Chicago. Well played by Mike Barnett (his agent).

Wanna look at some OVERPAID players? Let’s revisit the Free Agent Market for Centers in 2007, when Waddell snared White (4 year/$9.5 million) and Eric Perrin (2 years/$1.75 million?). Noooo, they’re NOT the overpaid ones, SHEESH. I’m referring to Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, and Daniel Briere. Those guys made out like bandits at $7-something million in cap hit. Have any of them really lived up to those kinds of dollars? Briere’s been hurt a lot. Drury, who is a player I really like, and that Buffalo should have kept, is not really performing at that high of a level. And Gomez … I can’t even remember his last “highlight.” I don’t recall his name being mentioned in the past year.

kracker

March 16th, 2009
6:23 pm

Who is Tyler Perry?

kracker

March 16th, 2009
6:40 pm

Brendan, Me, you, DW and most Thrashers fans and players couldn’t be happier that White is more than earning his salary this season. Todd was underwhelming last season at 37 pts but the whole team was pretty bad (has it only been about a year since Hossa left?) Anyway, White is looking like quite a bargain…ok, at least like a good signing these days.

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 16th, 2009
6:41 pm

I too thought the Thrashers would pursue Streit, and was utterly surprised Campbell kept Atlanta on his short list after removing San Jose (who also could’ve been used as a salary driver, for arguments sake). And I wouldn’t have minded Streit.

As for this offseason, I’m keeping my eye on Matthias Ohlund. Currently he’s making $3.5M, is 31, has a heckuva slap shot, and is a physicalish defender. He, in my opinion, could be a top pairing defender that could compliment Enstrom or even Bogosian and still be relatively cheap at ~$4.5M – $5M per year.

Glovesave29

March 16th, 2009
6:43 pm

I think a lot of players are going to be in for a rude awakening this summer. With the cap expected to shrink, and the amount of salary players must put into escrow will probably grow over the current 15%, teams will have to be more savvy with their dollars and the big FA’s cannot get the kind of cash they got in the past. There is going to be player movements in greater numbers than in the past, but the dollar amounts are certainly going to shrink. Even with the turmoil in the KHL, I can still see players going over there in pretty good numbers, as the teams in the NHL just won’t have the available capital. A smart agent now should ask for the shorter contracts as we ride out the current economic malaise…then once things improve and the cap rises, they go for the big bucks again.

Glovesave29

March 16th, 2009
6:55 pm

People are beginning to notice…the Hockey News has the Thrash up to #17 in their “Power Rankings”. I know they mean nothing, but at least we are getting some positive feedback for the teams play over the past 7 weeks.

Tony C.

March 16th, 2009
6:57 pm

So rannallo you’re talking about:

Ohlund/Enstrom
Hainsey/Z-Bo
Oystrick/Valabik/X

???

Not too shabby, but where will the $4M come from? I mean, who’s going to get left out in the cold? I think we’ve all pencilled SlavaMatic as retiring at the end of his current contract-but we don’t know that it will happen, if not, would he take less when he re-signs?

Fascinating stuff to ponder. Puck’s about to drop-I’m psyched to see what we do against a good team that knows us.

waffleboy

March 16th, 2009
7:26 pm

Always nice to score one when our fourth line is out against their first!

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 16th, 2009
7:38 pm

That’s precisely what I’m talking about, Tony.

Ohlund – Enstrom (ideal due to the language similarity)
Hainsey – Bogosian (not so ideal, would rather a better d-man to pair with Bogosian)
Oystrick – Valabik/Ex (fine third pair, if Valabik and Oystrick continue their curve)

I’d also be fine pursuing Nikulin, again.

As for the $, I have no idea where it could come from. My hope would be the owners would green light a “more than cap minimum” spending, if such a talent agreed to a contract with Atlanta. My skepticism tells me it wouldn’t happen.

Thefan

March 16th, 2009
9:03 pm

Thrashers 4-Caps 0

Thefan

March 16th, 2009
9:24 pm

Thrashers 5-Caps 0

stendec

March 16th, 2009
9:33 pm

Who are these guys? Where did they come from? Are they going to be around for awhile? WOW! The Capitals were not only beaten but completely eradicated. Only a shutout would have been sweeter but this is damn sweet enough! I am completely flabbergasted. Watching hockey is fun again! Compliments all the way around. Well done!

Glovesave29

March 16th, 2009
9:49 pm

12 games left to erase the negative…20 goals allowed more than we have scored. It’d be really nice to end the year in the positive.

Boris – gotta work a bit harder than that to help your goalie get the shutout!!!

Overall – GREAT game. The Caps pushed HARD the last half of the game. Congrats to Anssi for his first NHL goal.

Tony C.

March 16th, 2009
9:54 pm

Oh I can’t wait to hear how the NHL:O.T.F. @ssbags poo-poo this effort against (arguably) the favorite to come out of the East.

Seriously, this game had my co-workers chirpin!:

“I thought you said they were out of it Tony-these boys look like they showed up to play”

They did. THAT is the biggest difference I think all of us would point to-aside from the obvious individual/lineup changes…the guys aren’t quitting, aren’t taking any trash off anyone (dude what about Sterling getting in Kozlov’s mug? height difference has got to be a foot at least!), in short “These boys show up to play”

NICE

Brendan

March 16th, 2009
10:07 pm

Trixie, a new blog? Or are we gonna keep this one going?

kracker

March 16th, 2009
10:13 pm

WOW What a game!!! Darn, I missed the on the fly coverage, so I catch it next time.

Somebody tell me this: Why are people STILL voting against the Thrashers improvement in the current poll?? They must be very unhappy people not to be optomistic now at the way the Thrash are playing.

Don Rickles

March 16th, 2009
10:19 pm

Stupid, T-lid, sacks of cr@p! Total, gutless, pathetic sons of snitches! Especially that Finnish OXYGEN WASTE, Kari! Why didn’t we trade him at the DEADLINE for a bags of pucks?! Or maybe hold out for some water bottles!!! MAYBE. That ‘drool cup’ loser couldn’t even keep a shutout against a team that has Ovechkin, Backstrom and Semin on it. Lousy, FAT, Scandavanian byproduct!

C’mon APOLOGISTS!! Try to defend 49 saves, will ya? Most of them were from center ice!! And he ‘barely’ stopped those. Shoulda traded him to Philly when we had the chance. Coulda had vanRiemsdyk! Now, we’re stuck with Kari, the LOSER, Lehtonen!! Watch, Waddell will probably lock ‘im up this summer!

kracker

March 16th, 2009
10:44 pm

hehe…you’re a funny guy, Don.

R. Stroz

March 16th, 2009
10:51 pm

Ovechkin – NO SOUP FOR YOU!

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 16th, 2009
10:59 pm

I’m curious the extent of Hainsey’s injury. TSN says it’s his leg…guess we’ll be seeing more of Salmela and Oystrick now.

Rickles — Quality.

Trixie (Rawhide's Secretary)

March 16th, 2009
11:03 pm

Brendan – Mr. Rawhide just arrived in his home office and is busy putting together another masterful piece of writing for your reading pleasure. I am busy preparing the coffee and gathering statistical information.

Don’t worry though…there is still plenty of blogging power left in this one.

Mr. Rickles – Top notch.

Brendan

March 16th, 2009
11:06 pm

Well, gang. 12-6-1, in their last 19 games. that’s 25 of a possible 38-points. So, there’s 12 games left. How many points will the Thrashers get? They’ve got TB twice, Washington twice, and Florida twice. Then, there’s Pittsburgh, Detroit, NYR, Ottawa, Montreal and Buffalo. I’d venture that there’s 12 more points left for Atlanta on the season.

In preseason, I picked 78-points. Remember the contest?? It’s back on, Baby!!!

Kari

March 16th, 2009
11:31 pm

I’m the big bad Finn,

who doesn’t Let-um-in.

Brendan

March 16th, 2009
11:33 pm

In case anyone’s curious, here’s where the bloggers stood.

69-points, LAC, tied to 5th place in the division and 15th in the Conference.

70-points, R.Stroz, tied to 4th place in the division and 13th place in the Conference.

70-points, Sage of Bluesland, tied to 5th place in the division and 15th in the Conference, and 30th in the league

72-points, NASCAR Dave.

73-points, Bob.

74-points, Russ, tied to 5th in the division and 13th in the Conference.

74-points, ThrasherNY, 5th in the division, and 15th in the Conference.

75-points, 12345, 4th in the division, and 15th in the Conference.

75-points, Brickhouse, 5th in the division and 14th in the Conference.

76-points, Don, 4th in the division and 14th in the Conference.

76-points, Glovesave29, 5th in the division and 14th in the Conference.

77-points, Sharon.

77-points, Smoothie, 4th in the division and 13th in the Conference

78-points, Brendan, 3rd in the division and 13th in the Conference

78-points, PJ, 5th in the division and 13th in the Conference.

78-points, Polskidawg, 5th in the division and 15th in the Conference, and 29th in the league

80-points, Buzilla.

80-points, Jarndynce, 4th in the division, 13th in the Conference.

82-points, Michael B. Shapiro, 5th in the division and 14th in the Conference

82-points, Sweetlew.

82-points, Thrashers27.

83-points, Scotty, 4th in division, 12th in Conference.

84-points, Baldheaded Thrashers fan, 4th in division, 12th in Conference.

84-points, Five_hole, 4th in division, 11th in Conference.

85-points, Alan, 3rd in division, 12th in Conference.

85-points, BG33Brown, 4th in division, 12th in Conference.

85-points, Jameson, 3rd in division, 11th in Conference.

85-points, viking, 3rd in division, 11th in Conference.

86-points, HookyBob, 3rd in division, 11th in Conference.

86-points, Nikita, 3rd in division.

86-points, Rawhide, 3rd in division, 11th in Conference.

87-points, Other JB, 1st in division, 10th in Conference.

88-points, Tony C.,

89-points, Christy, 3rd in division.

89-points, ThrashDawg, 2nd in division, 8th in Conference.

90-points, Kracker, 2nd in division, 9th in Conference.

92-points, Smitty, 1st in division, 8th in Conference.

92-points, Volgrad1985, 2nd in division, 8th in Conference.

93-points, Spudd Webb, 2nd in division, 7th in Conference.

Good luck to all the bloggers who participated. It’s going to be an interesting finish to the season. And, of course, it’s too late to vote now. Voting closed in October, 2008.

Jethro

March 16th, 2009
11:38 pm

Hay Brendan, I picked 96 points. You furgot mee.

Brendan

March 16th, 2009
11:51 pm

Well, that’s mathematically impossible at this point, Jethro. And besides, alter ego’s don’t get to vote. Otherwise the poster who always lists a former Thrasher player as his ID (Marc Savard, Marian Hossa, Frank Kaberle), followed by a post of “suckers!,” would always win the contest!

Jason

March 16th, 2009
11:57 pm

Tony-Did you see Larry Murphy having to sweat and swallow his ego to give the Thrashers props, AND they all agreed they were a team on the rise with young guys like Little, Bogo and Enstrom??

I really enjoyed watching this game and performance tonight in person. The crowd was mediocre in size, but pretty vocal, chanting Kari’s name a few times. He played absolutely fantastic tonight.

On another note, I thought Ovechkin took some cheap shots and runs at our guys toward the end of the 2nd and early 3rd. No penalties were called on him of course. Was really suprised no one on the team leveled him later on. But we made them look like fools in the end without Kovy. 6 in a row!!!! Whoohoo!!!

Brendan

March 17th, 2009
12:07 am

On Versus, you could really hear the Blueland Faithful chanting, Kar-i!, Kar-i! It was a proud moment. It’s been quite a while since that chant circulated in Philips Arena.

Tony C.

March 17th, 2009
12:30 am

Jason-just got home and watching OTF now

earlier they were “poor effort on D, un-strong goaltending” (both true).

I thought that the VS. guys were pretty gracious, during their post-game thinger.

I’m not going to hold my breath on the OTF crew being nearly as gracious.

Jason

March 17th, 2009
1:44 am

The OTF guys revisit the game and highlights towards the end of the hour long show. That’s when they all gave Atlanta some praise and specifically talked about what they liked about the team over the past few months. But “Hair Club For Men” chairman, Larry Murphy, still talked as if he had no idea who was doing what for this team, and just looked at the stats to say Little has had a great year. But I guess any positive praise from the northern homers is good for us.

R. Stroz

March 17th, 2009
10:23 am

R. Stroz

March 17th, 2009
10:31 am