Archive for April, 2009

A Night To Remember

Looking back over the hockey season that has just come to a close, there is one game that sticks out in my mind the most…the game that I think can be looked back upon as the one that turned the entire 2008-09 Thrashers season from a complete and total devastating disaster, to one that has left us facing the 6-month long off-season more hopeful than disgusted.

It was Friday night January 16th and the Toronto Maple Leafs were in town. Coming into the game the Thrashers were 7-17-3 in their previous 27 and had not won consecutive games since the 5-game win streak that ended in mid-November. They were fresh off a 3-2 loss to Ottawa two nights prior and their record at the time was an abysmal 14-25-5 for 33 points…a pace that, if continued, would have seen Atlanta finish around the 61 point mark. That’s bad…New York Islanders kind of bad.

They were the Titanic and the NHL 2008-09 season was their North Atlantic.

It was Ilya Kovalchuk’s second game since being named team …

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Last Game Of The Season Quick Shots

Boulton vs. Konopka (Photo by JOHNNY CRAWFORD / Jcrawford@ajc.com)

Boulton vs. Konopka (Photo by JOHNNY CRAWFORD / Jcrawford@ajc.com)

22-18-1…That’s the record the Thrashers played to in the second half of the season…capped off with a 6-2 B-slappin’ of the Tampa Bay Lightning! After winning months in February and March, the team went 3-3 in the short-scheduled month of April.

Atlanta finishes the season with a G/G stat of 3.05, (9th in the NHL)…a 3.40 GA/G, (29th)…they averaged 28.1 S/G, (26th)…32.7 SA/G, (27th)…a power play that scored 19.3% of the time, (11th)…and a 76.0% efficient penalty kill, (29th). Oh, and when leading after two periods, the Thrashers held on to win 91.7% of the time…which was the 6th best in the league.

Colby Armstrong began the night by being awarded the Dan Snyder Award, given as the unsung hero of the team. He celebrated by taking to the ice and scoring twice on seven shots on goal!

Unless Eric Perrin has a huge change of heart this summer, we saw him play his last game in an Atlanta Thrashers jersey. If so, he …

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I Really Don’t Want It To End Tonight

It’s almost hard to believe that we are coming to the end to yet another Thrashers season. Tonight they welcome in the Tampa Bay Lightning and then tomorrow…both teams will begin their off-season rituals. For the second consecutive year, both the Bolts and Thrashers will not only be spectators in The Great Hunt for Lord Stanley’s Cup, they will also be looking at their logos on lottery ping-pong balls.

Atlanta comes into the game with a record of 34-41-6 for 74 points and a win tonight would match their points production of one season ago. Tampa Bay has 66 points after finishing last year with 71…which was the league low. Regardless of the outcome, the Thrashers will end up in fourth place in the Southeast Division, thirteenth in the Eastern Conference and 27th in the NHL overall standings. Last season they were 4th, 14th and 28th respectively.

But as we approach the end of this campaign I…as I am one to do…tend to look back on the season that is getting ready to close …

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Cats Survive Big Zach Attack

The Florida Panthers played in Atlanta Thursday night and were eliminated from the playoffs. Unfortunately…it wasn’t because the Thrashers beat them, it was due to the New York Rangers defeating Philly 2-1 and Montreal gaining a point in their 5-4 overtime loss to Boston. Both of those teams now have 93 points and the Panthers have 91. Each team has one game remaining but the Rangers and Habs own tie-breakers against Florida.

The Cats skated away 3-2 winners despite a Big Zach Attack as rookie Zach Bogosian scoring both Atlanta goals. One was on the power play, the second was of the short-handed variety. Bogey now has 9 goals on the season to go with 8 assist…he’s also now a +12. The power play goal by Bogosian ended an 0-21 stretch in which the Thrashers failed to convert on the man advantage.

The season will come to an end Saturday night when the Tampa Bay Lightning come to town.

Congrats To Marty, Kovy, XLB & Bolts

Thrashers captain Ilya Kovalchuk won the Heineken Three …

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Ovie & Co. Don’t Spoil So Easily

When you play the Washington Capitals there are two things that you need to do to enhance your chances of winning. One is to keep the NHL’s leading goal scorer Alex Ovechkin from adding to his total…now at 55…and the second is to stay out of the penalty box. This is especially true when your team’s penalty kill unit comes into the game ranked 29th in the league at 75.6%.

Tuesday night Atlanta did both…but it still wasn’t enough. Alex the Great was held scoreless…although he did help out with a pair of assists…and the Thrashers spent only 47 seconds of the game a man down. The Cap’s one and only power play was cut short by a Sergei Fedorov boarding call with 1:13 remaining on it.

The Caps took both games of the home-and-home series over the past few days…winning 6-4 Sunday and 4-2 Tuesday night. Both games were close entering the third periods…but Washington outscored Atlanta by a combined 5-1 in the last 20 minutes of the games. Recently the Thrashers have been enjoying …

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Opie’s Back…Start Him

The last time we saw Ondrej Pavelec play in a Thrashers’ uniform was back on December 18 at Philips Arena. He lasted but 27:57 against the Penguins that night…giving up five goals on only 13 shots in Atlanta’s 6-3 loss.

This was two short days after his 28 save on 29 shots stellar outing in Ottawa, coming just 1:19 away from his first career shutout. However, just prior to that was the forgettable night in which the Boston Bruins netted three goals on just four shots in the first 8:41 of the game against Opie. After Johan Hedberg proved to be little help in relief that night, Opie was placed back in goal. For the night, he had two saves on five SOG in 17:28 of playing time.

Pavelec’s stay in Atlanta started off just fine. He was called up from the Wolves after Kari Leghtonen went down with a bad back following the Thrashers 3-2 loss to the Rangers at the end of October. It didn’t take him long to see action, being called upon when Hedberg was lifted after allowing six …

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Leave It To Peever…And Moose

When there is a low scoring game in baseball, they call it a pitching duel. In football it’s known as a defensive struggle. In soccer, when there is very little scoring, it’s called…well, it’s called soccer.

But what we were treated to Friday night from Sunrise, Florida was a fantastic battle of the goalies as the Thrashers’ Johan Hedberg and Florida’s Craig Anderson put on a wonderful performance between their respective pipes. Moose stopped 35 of Florida’s 36 shots on goal while his counterpart turned away 29 of Atlanta’s 32. That’s a collective 64 saves on 68 SOG, a .941 SV% between the two. Really, it wasn’t as much the amount of saves in as much as it was the quality of so many of the stops. For a low-scoring game, there certainly was a great deal of action in front of the nets.

Hedberg made quite a few truly nice ones, including stopping a couple of breakaway attempts. But by far the save of the night belonged to Anderson as he denied Jimmy Slater in the middle of …

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Slug-Nation Sent Slithering Away In Defeat…Again

I don’t know about you, but the only thing better than beating the Buffalo Sabres is watching as their fans…who infest Philips Arena twice per year…skank out of our barn after yet another loss to our Thrashers. They just don’t seemed to be quite as loud and obnoxious after losing…again…in Philips Arena, do they?

Now, don’t get me wrong here…there are a great number of fine, well-adjusted, fun-loving, decent hockey fans that originate from western New York. These folks could be found in Taco Mac after the game…kicking back a few adult beverages and mingling with Thrashers fans. But for some odd reason, this fanbase also seems to breed more than their fair share of fans who just don’t seemed to be secure enough with themselves to simply come in, root for their favorite team and just enjoy the game.

As Sean Grace pointed out so wonderfully just the other day…”Sabre fans fully intend to roll through Blueland and disrespect our team and our fans”.

To be sure, this crowd make …

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