Good start to Thrashers tenth season

There have been a few very memorable opening night games at Philips Arena over the past decade. First there was the 4-1 loss to begin their first ever season in 1999…hockey was officially back in Atlanta that night. Then there was 2003 when the team and the fans paid their respects to the late Dan Snyder before a very emotional 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Last year saw a 7-4 win over the Capitals in which John Anderson earned his first NHL coaching win over his good friend Bruce Boudreaux.

Look everybody...I score goal (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

Look everybody...I score goal (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

And now, ten years and one day after that initial opening night against the Devils, the Thrashers kicked-off season number ten with a thrilling 6-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in front of an electrified crowd announced at 18,545. The game played out much like last years opener when they got off to a 4-0 lead…saw the caps come back to tie…then pulled away in the third. This time, after building a four-goal lead, the Lightning scored three unanswered goals…two by Martin St. Louis…and then put the game away with two of their own.

Leading the way was captain Kovalchuk who notched a pair of goals and added an assist. The Pevs Dispenser also had two goals and a helper while defenders Zach Bogosian and Anssi Salmela stepped up into the attack to score goals as well.

I hear that John Anderson likes that kinda play from his blueliners.

Rookie Evander Kane picked up his first ever NHL career point after cutting through on the left side and assisting on Peverley’s first goal of the night. EK also led the Thrashers with 4 shots on goal. That’s a nice first game in the NHL, eh? He keeps this up and the team is going to have a tough decision to make in a couple of weeks.

Ondrej Pavelec, I thought, had a very solid game Saturday night…holding the Bolts scoreless on their first nineteen shots on goal. Pavs stopped 36 of 39 Tampa Bay shots, which equates to a .923 SV%…not shabby at all. He saved some of his best for when it counted most in the third…holding his ground on a Andrej Meszaros breakaway and then made a quality stop on Steven Stamkos.

Evander Kane picked up his first career NHL point Saturday night (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

Evander Kane picked up his first career NHL point Saturday night (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

“He kept us in the game early”, Anderson said of Pavelec afterwards.

See, I told you Opie was gonna do just fine…nothing to worry about!

Eric Boulton got the evening off to a raucous start when he absolutely plastered a Lightning player in the far corner. I didn’t see just whom it was that got knocked silly…all I could see was a pair of skates sticking up outa the ice. It was simply a ferocious hit!

Along with Kane, three other players made their debut in Thrasherville. Defenseman Pavel Kubina finished the night a +1 in 20:22 TOI. Forwards Nik Antropov and Maxim Afinogenov also played in their first regular season game in a Thrashers uniform. Antropov didn’t figure in the scoring, but finished with 2 shots and a +1 while Max joined Kovy in assisting on the Peever’s second goal and was a –1 with 3 SOG.

Mark Popovic finished a +1 in his return to the Atlanta lineup.

One play that did not result in a goal that stands out in my mind came during the second period. Kovy made a beautiful cross-ice pass from the left side of center ice over to Antropov crossing the blueline on the right. Antro then found Brian Little streaking through the left side and fed him with a picture-perfect pass for a quality scoring chance. Again, while not resulting in a goal, it’s the kind of stuff Thrashers fans are looking for from this top line.

Also, Nik did a great job of denying Tampa Bay a goal during the first period, taking away the far side of the post on a wrap around play.

Bogosian's goal put Atlanta up 3-0 (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

Bogosian's goal put Atlanta up 3-0 (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

Best fight of the night? Has to be the Chris Thorburn vs. Zenon Konopka bout in the second period. It came right after Peverley’s goal and they traded several heavy blows during the lengthy battle.

Now the Thrashers get a break, in my opinion. Unlike the last couple of years, they do not have to go on the road to play the second game of the season the very next night. They will get four days of rest before their first away game in St. Louis on Thursday night. The Blues will be coming home after two wins against the Detroit Red Wings in Sweden.

Now Matter Where I Sit…There’s Hockey Biltong!

Along with the number of lurkers I had the pleasure of meeting last night, it was very nice to share section 104 with a few of our regular contributors. Darkhorse, his lovely wife and their friends were just a couple rows behind me…and just a section over, none other than World Be Free and the charming Mrs. WBF. Following me from section 119 to the club section Saturday was Hockey Biltong…who I swear is stalking me…and the engaging Mrs. Biltong. She’s finally come up with a snappy username to post under…I hope she unveils it here soon.

Just prior to the drop of the puck, the four of us gathered together for what could only be classified has a high-level, Rawhide/Iceman blog power confab.

Closeby was Bill and his adorable daughter Jessie…I always enjoy seeing those two at games. Also, it was very nice to have met Rightshot while enjoying the Taco Mac post game show.

IMPORTANT SCHEDULE UPDATE: Oct. 10 Viewing Party at TJ’s Cancelled/Rescheduled

Due to the fact that this coming Saturday night’s game in Ottawa is not being aired in Atlanta or Ottawa…the game will not be on Center Ice. Thus, there will be no viewing party at TJ’s on Oct. 10. Instead, Mark, Tim and I have agreed to reschedule it for Saturday night Nov. 7 when the Thrashers play on Long Island. The game will not be on local TV, but there will be a feed from MSG Network.

Also, remember that we’ll have a viewing party with the Atlanta Thrashers Fan Club on Saturday Oct. 17 when the Thrashers are in Buffalo. Also, the Party Bus event is on for Oct. 24 from TJ’s to the game in Philips when Dany Heatley and the Sharks are in town…and there’s still a few seats left. We will then do the viewing party on Nov. 7 as discussed and the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving when we play in Detroit.

Godspeed And Good Luck, Nikita

Please join me in wishing Nikita a fond farewell as she attended her last game before moving to Pennsylvania.

Good luck, Nikita…remember, there is this little thing call NHL Center Ice and I’m sure the internet has found it’s way to the Keystone State. Don’t be a stranger!

123 comments Add your comment

World Be Free

October 5th, 2009
12:56 pm

Glovesave-I stand corrected-
Oakland Seals
Arenas: (1)

Oakland Coliseum 1967/68-1975/76

Trixie (Rawhide's Secretary)

October 5th, 2009
1:07 pm

Mr. Kracker – Please check your e-mail inbox.

Thank you

Brendan

October 5th, 2009
1:15 pm

WBF, completely agree. I don’t give that Winnipeg story any credibility. I like Winnipeg. I wished, truthfully, for them to retain the Jets. But they didn’t and couldn’t. And that’s sad for them, but there it is. If hockey fans in Winnipeg engage in shadenfreude, it’s that the Coyotes haven’t won a playoff series since the team relocated to Phoenix.

Buzzilla in CT, I just renewed Center Ice at a cost of $163.80. Comcast allows you to divide that into 4 payments if you prefer it. I think I saw a number to call in those Center Ice commercials, but I never wrote it down. They offer it for four payments of something like $41 each. Last year, I believe Center Ice was $169.99, unless you took advantage of the “early bird” special, where they dropped it to $159.99. If fans wait until January, the price will probably drop to $119.00 or $129.00. But then, you’ll be on that January to January billing cycle, and you’ll have to call Comcast to get it reinstalled at some unknown point in January. It’s better to get on the October to October billing cycle, so as to not have Comcast turn it off in mid-season. Then again, you’re getting the product for $119-$129 for a full year, instead of $163.80. That’s something to consider. If you wait until February, Comcast usually offers the last few weeks of the season for $49.00 And then, you’re on that February/March to February/March billing cycle. Now, I hear ya. For $49 a year, that sounds pretty smart! Smarter than paying $163.80 in October for the same number of games. Yeah, but … you won’t have Center Ice until Feb/March if you go that route.

Center Ice is free until October 24th or 28th, as a PREVIEW, I believe. The commercial says, “sign up before October 31st to get the ‘early bird’ special.”

Alan R.

October 5th, 2009
1:17 pm

Atlanta to Al Strachan: Shut up.

It’s about damn time the front office started responding to these things swiftly.

Rawhide

October 5th, 2009
1:25 pm

Any of you have a birthday coming up in October or November? Well…the Thrashers want to give you a free ticket to celebrate! If your birthday is later in the season, you can get a free pass to a game during that month

If you’re like me and you’re birthday is in May…or anytime during the summer…you can participate as well during October or November.

Happy birthday!!!!

Buzilla in CT

October 5th, 2009
1:35 pm

Brenden, I get the package every year. Even when I had season tickets to the Thrashers. I always did the 4 payment thing. My problem is that these knobs won’t offer it in the backwoods of CT where I currently live. I won’t have that problem with Direct TV. PLUS all the games on Direct TV are in HD. Not so with Comcast, which also pisses me off. BUT in the past, once I ordered the Hockey package I never had to order it again because something got messed up on my account that the channels weren’t scrambled every year. I actually didn’t move one year in Atlanta becasue I wanted to keep the NHL package for free…

I will give Comcast one week…Then I am putting on my hockey mask and Buzzzzzzzillaing the five trees in question. I will send photos to Rawhide for posting

J.B.

October 5th, 2009
1:42 pm

Gratton’s on waivers per Kevin Allen’s Twitter – @kausatoday

Smoothie

October 5th, 2009
1:44 pm

Pardon moi Mademoiselle Trixie, my post has seem to have disappeared, why does this always seem to happen to me? They were such salient and compelling points, they must be heard! j/k LOL

How ’bout that Evander Kane kid eh? Yaa eh?

Smoothie

October 5th, 2009
2:12 pm

Nice to see the ASG step up and tell the Winnipeg Free Press to put a peg in it, to put it succinctly.

Toby

October 5th, 2009
2:15 pm

Dan Fritsche is making a return to Columbus’s farm team.

J.B.

October 5th, 2009
2:59 pm

Here’s something weird to ponder…

If I recall, Legace did not sign a contract offered by Atlanta because he did not want to do the two-way thing and spend time in the AHL.

Andy Strickland reports on hockeybuzz.com that Legace is signing a professional try-out contract with none other than the Chicago Wolves.

http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog/Andy-Strickland/Legace-To-Sign-AHL-Deal/5/23436

Whiskey…

Tango…

Foxtrot…

Thrashers27

October 5th, 2009
3:02 pm

So, would that mean that Legace is at the disposal of the Thrashers should there be a need here in Atlanta?

Sara

October 5th, 2009
3:17 pm

My guess is that 1 – Legace did not get a better offer anywhere else and 2 – this will make him Wolves property not Thrashers property – at least it appears that way at first blush. We’ll have to see the details.

Midfield

October 5th, 2009
3:23 pm

I guess, Manny likes to ride the bus more than he likes flying after all.

Smoothie

October 5th, 2009
3:23 pm

According to Ben Wright Legace would be sole property of the Wolves and still have other NHL options at his disposal should he get other interest / offers. But at the very least it would be a great mentor of Drew MacIntyre. Manny seems like a pretty loyal guy so perhaps now he’s settled on going to CHI, making an impression with his play and forcing DWAd to make a move when / after the road trip results flesh out Pavelec’s readiness.

Paminski

October 5th, 2009
4:09 pm

Thanks, Rawhide. Good timing on that news. My birthday is today.

Nice move on Legace’s part. Talent and brains. Or at least his agent has brains.

ranallo10 (in AT)

October 5th, 2009
4:09 pm

And what happens to ice time once Lehtonen comes back from the IR and Pavelec is sent down to Chicago?

Tony C.

October 5th, 2009
4:25 pm

I would expect that Legace’s betting on himself in that respect ranallo-He plays at the level he excpects and there’s sure to be an NHL gig opening up sometime around Christmas.

Like say, Detroit-Howard’s been um… how do I say this nicely?… less than hoped for. I mean 10 GA in something like 37 SOG does not an NHL-netminder make.

But seriously, there’s bound to be a team that will look for a known commodity at the #2 G position. Add to that the reputation as a good teammate that Legace (rightly so, from all accounts) enjoys-just the sort of guy I’d ink to a deal if I were GM of a team that has a younger #1-or a team that has an elite veteran #1 (looking at NJD, CGY & EDM specifically here), and only the rawest of rookies as a back up.

Or perhaps it’s all precipitated by budget constraints that loom with the return of KL from the IR?

ranallo10 (in AT)

October 5th, 2009
5:11 pm

As I commented on Vivlamore’s blog I agree that this is for his benefit due to the contractual flexibility if any NHL team comes calling. I also understand why Chicago would want Legace in the short term. However, I think such situations are precisely why Atlanta needs more control over their AHL affiliate so that such logjams aren’t created. But I’m not the GM of an AHL team much less an NHL team, so what do I know?

World Be Free

October 5th, 2009
7:13 pm

Thanks Brendan. It will be tough for any “small” city to ever get another major league sports franchise. Too much money in TV rights and a wide fan base. The only reason Hamilton comes up is the close proximity to Toronto. There’s enough fans in southern Ontario to support another team. Winnipeg just doesn’t have the population or corporate support a team long term.

What ever happened with Chelios? Anybody know?

Thanks for the tip Bill. I am a November baby, many, many years ago.

Buzilla-where are you in CT? I workked in Holyoke, MA for 2 years on assignment. Holyoke makes Hamilton look semi-nice and that’s tough.

Brendan

October 5th, 2009
9:33 pm

Sharon, your complete vote has been entered into the final tally.

Brendan

October 5th, 2009
9:45 pm

I’m very surprised that Legace didn’t opt for Europe, for more money and no taxes. If he must ride the bus, why not get PAID more? I “think” he could just leave some Swiss or Swedish or Finnish league if an NHL contract ever materialized.

Of course, chuckling, if likes Atlanta so much, there’s always the Gwinnett Gladiators? Forget I said anything. Somewhat related, doesn’t the current CBA specify that the maximum number of contracts allowed per franchise, including its farm system, is 54? Where’s that count right now for the Thrashers?

Truthteller

October 5th, 2009
11:08 pm

Yeah, 18,000 for opening night..how impressive. Please! Let’s see the report when there are 8000 for the Tuesday night game vs. Nashville. The Thrashers ownership situation makes them ripe for relocation. Move them to Hartford, Hamilton, or even Quebec City. The fact is that this team’s attendance has continued to plummet. I expect it to be lower this year than last.