Familiarity Breeds…Success?

This past weekend I, along with a handful of other Atlanta Thrashers bloggers, received an e-mail from Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski requesting a quote…one or two lines… that he could use in an upcoming story he’s doing. He was looking for a couple comments regarding what we’d be looking for from the Thrashers this coming season.

Here is my reply to his inquiry:

“I look for the Thrasher to avoid the type of slow start that plagued them the past two seasons. With so many returning cast members from the team that played so well last spring, I think they’ll avoid the “getting to know you” phase this fall”.

Now, as I said, Greg asked for just one or two lines only from us to help with his piece…but I thought I’d expound on my comment here.

Peverley Kovalchuk and White will reunite to try and build upon last springs success

Peverley, Kovalchuk and White will reunite to try and build upon last spring's success, (AP photo/Gregory Smith)

As you’ll recall, the Thrashers finished off last season on a rather high note. They played to a winning record in the second half of the season and made life hard on a couple of teams that were in the thick of playoff battles down the stretch. During that time, residents of Thrasherville were treated to some of the best hockey they’ve seen in many, many moons.

What makes all that even more exciting, in my viewpoint, is that there are so many of that squad that will be returning once the team reassembles for training camp, preseason and, in just 33 more days, the drop of the puck on yet another NHL season. For the Thrashers, it will be their tenth such campaign.

Given the current roster, here is what I have oft opined as my possible opening-day lineup:

Kovy – Peverley – Antropov
Kozlov – White – Little
Kane/Stewart/Crabb – Reasoner – Armstrong
Boulton – Slater – Thorburn

Hainsey – Kubina
Enstrom – Bogosian
Valabik – Oystrick/Salmela

Lehtonen
Hedberg

Of those 23 players listed that could make up the possible 20-man lineup on October 3, nineteen of them were with Atlanta last spring…seventeen were with the team on opening night. Peverley arrived in January, Salmela at the trade deadline, Kane drafted in June while Antropov, Kubina and Stewart were acquired since July 1.

Thus, I just don’t think it is too far of a stretch to believe that last spring’s play can…and will…translate to a better start of a season than what we’ve witness in these parts over the past two years. Such familiarity among the players can only be helpful in bringing about a certain measure of success.

This time last year there were still some big question marks hanging over the heads of some of the new-comers to the team. Armstrong and Christensen, brought over from Pittsburgh at the trade deadline in March of the previous season, were beginning their first full season with the squad.

Armstrong worked out just fine…Christensen, not so much.

Centerman Marty Reasoner was a big success…Jason Williams was reluctant to buy into John Anderson’s style of play, was a major disappointment and, come January, was gone.

Rookie Zach Bogosian lived up to his billing as the third overall draft pick in the summer of 2008…Mathieu Schneider, acquired via trade from Anaheim, just didn’t work out.

The more question marks there are going into a season…the greater the likelihood that they’ll be problems. Right now, the biggest questions that I see regarding the players is…1). How successful will the addition of Antropov to Kovy’s line be?…2). Can Kubina help turn the Thrashers Swiss cheese defense into something a little more respectable?…3). Will Evander Kane play his way into the lineup…not just for a couple games but I mean for the duration of the season?

Those issues are a far cry better than the ones that hung over the team a year ago.

Also, Thrashers players will begin play in what will be coach Anderson’s second year behind Atlanta’s bench. These guys understand what their roles in his system and, most importantly, buy into it and seem to very comfortable with the parts they play in it. There won’t be a learning curve during October and November.

To that point, Todd White recently stated in an interview with Chris Vivlamore, “The biggest problem at the beginning of last year is I didn’t think we had 20 guys that wanted to [commit to the system]. On any given night we had guys reverting back to the way the team used to play, as opposed to the end of the year, when we were all committed to doing what we were supposed to do. The best teams play a system and stick to it. All five guys on the ice are committed to it. That’s how you have success in this league.”

So, there will be a fair amount of familiarity in the Thrashers’ lineup and behind the bench. Familiarity that should…knocking wood… help to breed success.

216 comments Add your comment

JLH

August 31st, 2009
11:10 pm

My quick reply to “why the Thrashers will start off this year better than last” can be summed up in 4 players and those they replaced from last years starters.

Antropov replaces Williams.
Peverley replaces Christensen.
Kubina replaces Schneider.
Bogosian (1 year later) replaces Bogosian (the rookie)

All significant upgrades, in my opinion.

First?!

Smoothie

August 31st, 2009
11:18 pm

Nice work JLH!!

And kudos to Billy for getting tabbed by the Puck Daddy for his column!

R. Stroz

August 31st, 2009
11:20 pm

THIRD, or Bronze,

Where’e my sign?

Wayne stuck in AL

August 31st, 2009
11:43 pm

One thing people are overlooking is a killer road-trip in games 2-7 (St. Louis, Ottawa, Newark, Buffalo, and Montreal), and early-season road-trips have been a killer for us.

Furthermore, a killer SEVEN-game road-trip around the holiday season (Boston, Tampa, Newark, Boston (again), Buffalo, Long Island, and Pittsburgh) will tell us if we’re going to be contenders or pretenders by the time most people have finished with college football…

ben

September 1st, 2009
12:01 am

R. Stroz

September 1st, 2009
12:53 am

The April 1st win against Buffablow was a blast. Great Picture.

The look of disgust on the Buffalo’s fans faces as Kovy broke into the open with the puck was PRICELESS!

Sadtoseeitthisway

September 1st, 2009
1:44 am

There will be the usual plenty of empty seats at Blueland early in the season. It IS crucial for the Thrash to get off to a good start. There are a lot of fans who will have a “show me” attitude about committing their support when football is front and center on their sports entertainment list. I`d sure like to see hockey get the attention it deserves after football season is over.

World Be Free

September 1st, 2009
6:35 am

Now, now Stroz let’s not start tossing grenades.

Thrashers deserved to win the April 1 games between BUF-ATL. The win was combination of the Thrashers showing up and Buffalo staying home.

The team seems to enjoy challenging each other to do better, compared to the Sabres who rolled over and played possom.

Toby

September 1st, 2009
7:57 am

Wayne

I agree those are tough trips, but they also have a 5 game home stand in November and another in March. It evens out…

Hip Czech

September 1st, 2009
8:03 am

The preview of the Thrashers at CBS here:

http://www.cbssports.com/nhl/story/12137609

Starts out negative but kind of warms up towards the end.

The biggest question in my mind is between the pipes. Someone needs to step up (especially during that early road trip)…can Pavelec handle it? Can Hedberg handle being a #1…when does Lehtonen return, and when he does can he stay healthy and keep his head in the game?

If we get #1 type goalie play, this team could be in the playoff picture…if the goalie situation turns into ‘05-’06 with Lehtonen injured and Moose not holding up to being a #1 and Pavelec not turning it up a notch we could be buried early.

Sara

September 1st, 2009
8:09 am

Rawhide I have to respectfully disagree with one statement. I think Schneider worked out exactly as he was intended to. He wasn’t brought here to be our top defenseman or even to put up a bunch of points. He was brought here a) to get us above the cap floor and b) to mentor young Bogosian. Both of those missions were successfully accomplished IMO.

Wayne while it would have been nice if the first lengthy road trip could have come a bit further in the season, I think the potential exists for it to be turned into a big positive. As Vivlamore’s recent article shows, Waddell is certainly aware of the road trip and its potential pitfalls and I’m sure Coach Anderson is as well. If Coach approaches the road trip the right way and has the guys prepared, it can be a great bonding tool for the entire team. Road trips often are. And having them bonding right at the start could do wonders for not only the trip, but also the entire season.

Riceowls8891

September 1st, 2009
8:26 am

The early road trip is actually fortuitous, IMHO. We get Ottawa (disfunctional), Buffalo (4-0 last year) Montreal (half the team is new.), and NJ (split there last year). If, and I mean if, they gel early, they could be 3-2 or 4-1. Open with a win against TB and defend home ice against this year’s biggest division rival Wash, and the Thrashers are in double digits before October ends.

In addition, look at the division: Washington, while they have Ovie, may have goalie issues: high-priced Theodore sits behind Varlamov? Carolina; we split with them last year and they just got older. Florida added no one and lost their best defender. TB? Still has no goalie.

I believe.

Get The Puck Out

September 1st, 2009
8:33 am

Is lets gonna be game ready opening night?

Glovesave29

September 1st, 2009
8:34 am

I look at the long road trip as an opportunity to bond early as a team. It’s an Olympic year, so the compressed schedule makes these longer trips inevitable. The Canucks play a home game on Jan 27th, and won’t se their home ice until March 13th. Sure the Olympics are in there, but it sandwiched inside a 14 game road trip. They are screwed!

J.B.

September 1st, 2009
8:54 am

Found a new Kovalchuk interview via Google>beyondtheblueshirts> initially searching for the goods on Zherdev….

Assuming google’s translator didn’t COMPLETELY butcher it, Kovy states he wants to win the Stanley Cup in Atlanta and cites Pittsburgh a few years ago as a comparison. He also confirms Nicole is pregnant again with their third child which I believe was just rumor up until now.

The possiblity of Zherdev in Atlanta with Kovy & Antro is mentioned as well.

Russian, can you confirm what the google-translated interview states? I don’t want to be posting bad info here…

http://www.sovsport.ru/gazeta/article-item/345070

J.B.

September 1st, 2009
8:57 am

another interesting tidbit from the interview: Apparently the Bentley Ilya keeps in Moscow is black and has the tag # 17

J.B.

September 1st, 2009
9:01 am

It’s a fairly long interview, so here’s the good part:

Q. According to most fans, you will bury itself as ice hockey, if sign a new multi-year contract with the «Atlanta». Rather, in the Caribbean will snow than «Thrashers» win the Stanley Cup.

A. Why? All depends on the hosts. Remember, in what state was «Pittsburgh» to lockout. But the team to choose for NHL Entry Draft, spent intelligent personnel policy. And now «Pittsburgh» became a champion.

Now even easier to make such a jerk – because the league imposed a ceiling of salaries. All equal opportunities. I am interested to win the Stanley Cup with the «Atlanta».

Rawhide

September 1st, 2009
9:14 am

For those of you that receive Thrashers/Hawks 360…there is a wonderful picture in the latest edition, (the one with Zach Bogosian on the cover), that is located on page 19 of the Thrashers side. It’s a lovely shot of the inside of a diner where Bluecrew members and sisters Kristin and Liz are enjoying their visit. The photography is simply exquisite…very well done indeed.

Sara – I agree with you on both your points. If one only considers Schneider’s measure of success in the light of helping the team get over the cap floor and mentoring Bogosian during his primary days in the league…then yes, he fulfilled that mission. I was referring only to his on-ice play.

Wayne stuck in AL – Agreed. As I look at the schedule, if this team is anywhere close to .500 and within shouting distance of a playoff spot when they come off that 7-game roadie, I like their chances. Especially given the amount of home games thay have after the Olympic break.

RStroz – GO HOME, BUF-AL-LO!!! heheheheh!!!

Riceowls8891 & Glovesave29 – Agreed 100%…plus, on the October road trip, we just might be catching teams on the road who are still trying to working out the early-season kinks….who knows.

J.B. & Hip Czech – Thanks for the links!

SadtoseeitthiswayI`d sure like to see hockey get the attention it deserves after football season is over.

Winning will go a lonnnnnnnnnnnnng to to accomplishing that goal!

The Drunge Report

September 1st, 2009
9:19 am

The Atlanta Thrashers Fan Club has entered the ticket scalping business.

http://www.nastynest.net/forum/topics/prospect-games-tickets

The Earl of Bud

September 1st, 2009
10:26 am

Kudos to Kracker for mentioning the lack of new players coming in on the last blog.

Why are we breaking out the bubbly and singing “for he’s a jolly good fellow” simply because we beat a team in Buffalo that didn’t even make the playoffs last year?

This team DEFINITELY needs to come out of the gate strong, but signing Kovalchuk before the season can be a big help.

Smoothie

September 1st, 2009
10:27 am

Uh oh! A condo in Miami! Do the Panthers have cap space to sign our hero next season now that Bouwmeester is gone? j/k

Miami real estate has been in the dumpster and condos have probably never been cheaper! Can’t blame Kovy for getting into some good old fashioned speculation.

He must be sick of the Russian media trying to goad him into saying something bad about Atlanta or the Thrashers.

Smoothie

September 1st, 2009
10:28 am

Our Sabres brethren seem to be quite sensitive. You weren’t that good last year, get over it.

Zoomo

September 1st, 2009
10:35 am

We better get off to a decent start. I’m hoping that some team bonding will happen on the early road trip. If we are out of it again by the end of October, I’ll be sick.

Last year we had the surprsing opening night scoring binge. And, I thought “maybe Anderson’s system is going to really open up the offense”. Only to have the next few weeks be filed with miserable play.

There’s nothing worse than being out of it so early. Takes all the fun out of watching the rest of the season. Nothing to be hopeful about.

Of course, just when I was going through the motions of using my tickets and going to games in the second half of the season, they start to show promise and suck me back in.

Oh pity me for having renewed hope for this year. We gotta stay above .500 early. My fanatical fandom and mental health are at stake!

Rawhide

September 1st, 2009
10:40 am

Why are we breaking out the bubbly and singing “for he’s a jolly good fellow” simply because we beat a team in Buffalo that didn’t even make the playoffs last year?

EOB – I mentioned it because one of the reasons Buffalo failed to qualify for the playoffs was because of the Thrashers and their 4 OT wins against them…and, to me, points to the play of the Thrashers last spring when playing against contending teams.

Same could be said about Florida…they came within one single point of qualifying for post-season play. I believe the Thrashers beat them during the next-to-last week of the season.

Point being…that Atlanta did well down the stretch against such teams and I enjoyed watching it happen. At the time, I felt that it signaled good things for the futre of the team.

R. Stroz

September 1st, 2009
10:48 am

The Thrashers stretch run helped knock the Sabres, Panthers, and Oilers out of the playoffs.

In the words of Exelby, “If we’re not making the playoffs, neither are you.” Hopefully, someone will his type of leadership void this season.

The Earl of Bud

September 1st, 2009
10:56 am

Our Sabres brethren seem to be quite sensitive. You weren’t that good last year, get over it.”

Smoothie, read the posts again –

“..simply because we beat a team in Buffalo that didn’t even make the playoffs last year?”

“Thrashers deserved to win the April 1 games between BUF-ATL. The win was combination of the Thrashers showing up and Buffalo staying home.”

“…compared to the Sabres who rolled over and played possom.”

Atlanta shouldn’t get excited by beating a bad Sabres team, Buffalo didn’t make the playoffs, the Thrashers showed up while Buffalo stayed home, Buffalo rolled over and played possum. Those are comments by posters from Buffalo. Why is it you think Buffalo brethren are sensitive and need to “get over it” that they weren’t that good when they are the ones saying that the Sabres sucked last year?

Pam on Weck

September 1st, 2009
11:01 am

Sara – I agree. Schneider fulfilled a role. I’m glad if he finds a place to fit in elsewhere. I’m still glad he’s not here now along with Christensen and Williams. I was very happy to see those moves last season. I thought it was a positive thing to let go of those who don’t work with the system. Poor EC doesn’t seem to work with any system yet. He’s got some work to do. I’m guessing Antro will buy into the system quickly. He knew where he was signing and Kovy will help him adjust. I’m not so sure with Kubina, but still optimistic.

Everyone – I have to wonder if some of you pick on Buffalo just because you know there are a few of us here to read it. I take it all as a little friendly trash talk. I am a Thrashers-first, Sabres-second fan. I wear my Thrashers jersey to the games. Please remember what you all get culturally from Buffalo: Taco Mac!

Rawhide

September 1st, 2009
11:01 am

My quick reply to “why the Thrashers will start off this year better than last” can be summed up in 4 players and those they replaced from last years starters.

Antropov replaces Williams.
Peverley replaces Christensen.
Kubina replaces Schneider.
Bogosian (1 year later) replaces Bogosian (the rookie)

All significant upgrades, in my opinion.

JLH – Congrats on winning the “first” prize last night.

The only switch I’d make there is that Pevs replaced Williams last year and that Antropov replaces Christenesen…picking at nits, I know. Either way, spot on observation and yes indeed they are all upgrades.

Like you, I’m really geeked about seeing Bogosian 2.0

World Be Free

September 1st, 2009
11:05 am

I think most of the Sabres’ fans in Atlanta have warmed to the Thrashers. None of us are sad over what happened last year, becuase we are kinda used to it. So let’s ALL get over it and get ready for the upcoming season.

The Earl of Bud

September 1st, 2009
11:06 am

I mentioned it because one of the reasons Buffalo failed to qualify for the playoffs was because of the Thrashers and their 4 OT wins against them…and, to me, points to the play of the Thrashers last spring when playing against contending teams.

BT, the reason I don’t think this is worth mentioning is because they were bad last year they didn’t do well against lots of bad teams. For example, while Buffalo earned 4 points in 4 games against the Thrashers, the Sabres only earned 3 points in 6 games against a bad Ottawa team (that only finished with 7 more points than us). Thus, we weren’t the only team beating up on the Sabres so no need to jump for joy.

The Earl of Bud

September 1st, 2009
11:09 am

“Please remember what you all get culturally from Buffalo: Taco Mac!”

Pam on Weck, I just fell off my chair. TACO MAC – proud sponsor of the Atlanta Thrashers with a restaurant attached to Philips Arena. Oh yeah, and also started by two guys from Buffalo.

Smoothie

September 1st, 2009
11:14 am

I rest my case.

“The win was combination of the Thrashers showing up and Buffalo staying home.”

“…compared to the Sabres who rolled over and played possom.”

Sounds like lame-o, sorry a$$ excuse making to me.

Thrashers fan: “we sucked to high heaven for the majority of the year, but we finished strong and have reason for optimism because of the influx of youth and new talent.”

Sabres fan: “if we had only showed up in those four games against the Thrashers, we could have been in the playoffs. I just know we could have taken Boston out…Miller is sooo much better than Thomas!”

The Earl of Bud

September 1st, 2009
11:16 am

BT, since I had the schedule up, you are proud of our Thrashers because the Sabres only earned 4 points in 4 games against us. But do you know which other two Eastern Conference teams the Sabres only earned 4 points in 4 games? The Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Islanders. So we did just the same as Tampa and NYI did against the Sabres, and worse than Ottawa. Can we put away the bubbly now?

Smoothie

September 1st, 2009
11:17 am

EOB – you don’t get to decide when and why we “jump for joy”…it’s our right as fans to revel in Buffalo’s misery and our modicum of success at the end of the season.

R. Stroz

September 1st, 2009
11:19 am

EOB – Go fish

Pam on Weck – I have to wonder if some of you pick on Buffalo just because you know there are a few of us here to read it.

No, there was a group of us together at the April 1st game. To say the least, the evening turned into April Fools Night Out.

Also, I am a Thrashers-first, Sabres-second fan. I wear my Thrashers jersey to the games.

Good for you. I wish more of the Buffalo/Pittsburgh/Philly/New Jersey/Detroit transplants handled themselves in the same manner.

The Earl of Bud

September 1st, 2009
11:21 am

Smoothie, you are right, the Sabres fans were really saying “we played horrible against the Thrashers, Islanders, Lightning and Senators, 4 out of the bottom 5 teams in the Eastern Conference. But CLEARLY it was the Thrashers that knocked us out of the playoffs, forget that we played just as bad or worse against all those other non-playoff teams.”

R. Stroz

September 1st, 2009
11:23 am

Smoothie – You should know by now that EOB decides when to close cases and when jumping for joy is allowed.

The Earl of Bud

September 1st, 2009
11:32 am

Smoothie & R. Stroz, the NY Islanders won 4 Stanley cups in a row about 25-30 years ago and we finished with a better record than they did last season!

hip-hip HOORAY!!!

hip-hip HOORAY!!!

hip-hip HOORAY!!!

R. Stroz

September 1st, 2009
11:39 am

EOB – You seem somewhat contorted about being a Thrashers fan. Are you happy that the team played well during the final stretch or not?

Aaron

September 1st, 2009
11:46 am

Good lookin lines, Rawhide. A couple of weeks ago, all I kept seeing was folks putting Pevs on the second or even third lines – he belongs with Kovy and Antro on the top line.

Smoothie

September 1st, 2009
11:52 am

Even if we didn’t technically knock the Sabres out of the playoffs, the two wins (on 3/14 and 4/1) had a lot to do with their demise as they were both critical games for the Slugs. Having said that, I’m still elated anytime we beat the Sabres at the Bulb and shut up the thousands of fans from Buffalo…it’s nice not having to hear a chorus of “let’s go Buffalo” chants echoing in the arena concourse bowels as I leave.

Speaking of bowels, what IS that thing on the front of Sabres’ jerseys nowadays??

Stroz – forgive me, you are right. I lost my head there for a bit. I’ll try to refrain from such silly comments in the future…and the Thrashers are a lock to make the playoffs! ;-)

Sara

September 1st, 2009
11:53 am

Pam on Weck you haven’t taken crap about other team loyalties until you’ve had Stroz wipe his nose on your championship t-shirt. :p

Believe me, it isn’t just a Sabres thing.

Smoothie

September 1st, 2009
11:55 am

Aaron, I sure hope you’re right! You’re not Portzline from the Columbus Dispatch looking for dirt are you?? ;-)

Actually, if you are, will you put in a good word for us with Malhotra? We’re reeeeeal close to being contenders and M-squared could quite possibly put us over the top…of Buffalo for the 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. I don’t know why, but I think I will derive a perverse amount of satisfaction if that were to happen as such.

Rawhide

September 1st, 2009
12:06 pm

EOB – Understand that I am viewing this through the eyes of a Thrashers fan. I am indeed proud of my team for helping to play a small part in denying the Sabres….and Florida…and Edmonton…a spot in the playoffs. To me, it just was indicative of the way the Thrashers played last spring. They wore they lable of “spoilers” like a badge of honor…and I liked the edge that they came with in those games.

popping bubbly…pouring glasses for myself, EOB, and everyone else

Here…let’s share this and toast to a successful upcoming Thrashers season.

CHEERS!!!

Aaron

September 1st, 2009
12:28 pm

Smoothie – Not Portzline, but agreed on Malhotra. He’d be a proven commodity on the lower two lines.

Rawhide

September 1st, 2009
12:30 pm

Good lookin lines, Rawhide. A couple of weeks ago, all I kept seeing was folks putting Pevs on the second or even third lines – he belongs with Kovy and Antro on the top line

Aaron – Thanks…I see ours yours and mine are not far off. I guess great minds do think alike.

And so do ours :lol:

BTW, I loved the “punk rock in a hick town” line!

World Be Free

September 1st, 2009
12:31 pm

I think you have all regressed to childhood today. Today is one of the few days the Thrashers’ blog sounds more like the Hawks’ blog.

We are Thrashers fans folks, we just so happen to cheer for another team, like most of the people that show up for Thrashers games.

You guys must be bored.

R. Stroz

September 1st, 2009
12:33 pm

Sara – That was a championship t-shirt? I would have blown my nose too.

R. Stroz

September 1st, 2009
12:38 pm

WBF – I think you have all regressed to childhood today. Today is one of the few days the Thrashers’ blog sounds more like the Hawks’ blog.

That may be true, however, we spell better.

World Be Free

September 1st, 2009
12:47 pm

Update on Manny from Columbus–

– Believe it or not, Manny Malhotra represented the Blue Jackets in Chicago at the NHLPA meeting on Saturday. This is strange, because Malhotra is no longer under contract with the Blue Jackets and has virtually no chance of returning to Columbus, which signed free agent Sammy Pahlsson over the summer. Still, the Blue Jackets have not congregated to elect a new representative, and, hey, Malhotra has lots of time on his hands these days. He remains unsigned, although Atlanta and Florida are believed to have been interested. Malhotra has been skating, both in Columbus and Vancouver, where his wife’s family resides.