We’ve been ‘round and ‘round the whole subject of whether or not John Anderson’s “play more in regular season games” comments were in reference to Maxim Afinogenov or not. Did he accidently slip up and let loose a company secret…or did he just error in names, instead meaning to say that Nik Antropov would play more minutes once the games started to count for real?
Who knows…but to be honest with you, it just doesn’t matter. The Thrashers should just go on and sign the man and be done with it. Come to terms with him, allocate the necessary funds to pay him, sit him down at the table and get his Russian John Hancock on the contract.
The only real question regarding Max is this…does he make the Thrashers a better team with him on the roster? You may answer that however you wish, but my response to my own inquiry is “Yup…he does”.
Who will make the Thrashers opening day lineup?
Total Voters: 119
Take Friday night’s game in Carolina. Max had a hand in two of the three Thrashers goals scored during a 4-3 loss to the Canes. A goal and an assist on 3 shots during 16:08 TOI…up from his 11:40 minutes played Wednesday night against the Preds by the way. Sure, that’s an “OK” line during a preseason game, but the fact of the matter here is that the Thrashers played a regular season type Hurricanes lineup while half the guys that suited up for them will be catching flights for Chicago in just a few days…if not just a few hours.
Afinogenov helped motor an offense that consisted of players like Michael Vernace, Tim Stapleton and Jason Krog to a competitive effort against a lineup that made its way to the Eastern Conference Finals after defeating the top-seeded Bruins.
Sure, it’s just one game…one preseason game at that. But the exhibition portion of the 2009-10 NHL campaign isn’t that long and it wraps up tomorrow afternoon. Time is short and it’s time to act.
If the Thrashers choose not to sign Afinogenov, then the player that most likely fills that roster spot is 18-year old Evander Kane. OK, that’s not too shabby of an alternative…but I honestly feel like the kid needs one more season in the Juniors. If the team were short-staffed as was the case in years past, then maybe I could see him starting at the NHL level a year or so sooner than necessary. But that isn’t the case given the options the team has in camp this year.
If nothing else, Maxim Afinogenov provides the buffer that the Thrashers and Kane need between forcing Evander into the lineup and allowing him to do so when he and the team are both ready to do so.
My hope is that they sign him quickly…hopefully this weekend.
Oh, And Speaking Of Signing…
Manny Legace looked strong in his Thrashers preseason debut, didn’t he? The line for his work in Carolina in Friday night was two periods of play facing 27 Hurricanes shots…turning away 25. He singlehandedly kept the team in the game buy stopping 14 of the 15 shots fired at him in the first period alone.
Atlanta managed but one single, solitary shot on Cam Ward in that opening 20 minute frame…thank you Jim Slater.
One of the goals that got past Manny was while the Canes were on a power play…and it deflected in off of Paul Postma’s stick. Simply put…he did his job and kept the game from getting out of hand which allowed the skaters to make a game of it.
What more can one ask of a goalie?
Personally, I’d like to see the man start in goal next weekend when the season gets underway, but I think the men who make that decision are behind Pavelec in that role. To his credit, Opie has done well in his two start, going 1-0-1 with a .930 SV%, (66 saves on 71 shots). But I must admit that the thought of Pavelec being handed the keys to the nets while Kari is on the mend makes me shiver.
I’ve seen that movie before…and it didn’t end very well.
Even if Pavs is the starter and Hedberg backs him up, Manny could be signed to a two-way deal, sent to Chicago with MacIntyre and called up if need be.
Eventually a decision will have to be made in some regards when Lehtonen returns, but until we know when that time is, Manny is a great option to go with…but he’s gotta be signed.
Now, About Last Night…
Oh, and there was a game last night too. As I said earlier…and as I’m sure you already know by now…the Thrashers lost 4-3 in Carolina Friday night. There preseason record now stands at 2-2-1 with one more game that doesn’t count left to be played.
Truth be told, though, the Thrashers played pretty well from what I could gather from the Hurricanes’ streaming radio feed. Half of our squad were players that will not make the opening day lineup and they went up against Carolina’s starters for the most part.
Tim Stapleton and Michael Vernace joined Afinogenov in scoring for Atlanta. Jason Krog, Nathan Oystrick, Mark Popovic, Paul Postma and Marty Reasoner all had an assists.
Drew MacInytre played in the third period and stopped 9 of the 11 shots he faced.
Though Carolina did score twice on the man advantage…once while enjoying a 5 on 3…radio voice of the Hurricanes Chuck Kaiton remarks a couple of time that Atlanta’s penalty killers were being “very aggressive” and doing a good job of pursuing their attackers.
It was still a losing effort…but not a bad showing at all. If nothing else, it just serves to prove a point I’ve been making for the past few weeks. The Chicago Wolves are gonna ice one heckuva team this season.
Tampa Bay will be in town Sunday afternoon to close out preseason. The Thrashers have indicated that they want the lineup for that game to closely resemble that of next Saturday night’s season opener when the Bolts return to Thrasherville. We should get a better picture of just who will make up that roster as the Thrashers are set to announce cuts later today.
Maybe we’ll also get news of a couple of signing too…hmmmm?