Thrashers set to face first big test of season

Unlike the last couple of seasons, when game number two followed right behind game number one the very next night, we are being forced to endure five days in between Saturdays 6-3 romp over the Bolts and Thursday’s game in St. Louis. And I don’t know about you…but it just seems like it’s taking an eternity to get from there to here.

Of course, it’ll take even longer before we get to head back down to Philips Arena for the second home game of the year. After playing the Blues, the Thrashers make their way to Ottawa for a date with the Senators, then we wait again for next weekends games in New Jersey and Buffalo on Friday and Saturday nights.

Lot’s-o-gaps in the schedule early on, eh?

Then there is a return trip to Canada the week following…Montreal will be the destination this time…before finally welcoming the Washington Capitals to town on Thursday the 22nd.

Yup…nothing like a nice five-game roadie toward the beginning of the season to provide a nice test for the team. A lot of people gasped at the sight of such when the schedule came out last summer…as well as the seven-game roadie around the holidays…but personally I think this affords a fantastic opportunity for the Thrashers to further gel and bond as a unit.

How many points will the Thrashers earn during this road trip?

  • Zero: They're gonna lay a big goose egg! (1%, 1 Votes)
  • 1 - 3: Looks like a very un-good trip (4%, 4 Votes)
  • 4-6: Something in the mushy middle (49%, 51 Votes)
  • 7-9: Very nice roadie on tap for LeThrash! (40%, 42 Votes)
  • 10: That's right, you heard me... all TEN Ba-BEEEeeee!!! (6%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 105

Loading ... Loading ...

As an example, let’s travel back to last February when the team headed out west for a four game excursion. At the time the Thrashers were long-since removed from any playoff contention and they were facing some teams that were in the thick of the postseason hunt. Anaheim and San Jose eventually made it in while Los Angeles faded away…but at the time the Kings were riding a 7-2-1 streak when the Thrashers made their way to SoCal.

In short, there weren’t too many in Thrasherville that expected much from the team on that trip.

But we remember what happened, don’t we? On a Sunday evening they stepped on the Ducks 6-3…the very next night they found it was good to beat the Kings, 7-6 in a shootout…and wound up the roadie with a 2-1-1 record and played some pretty darn good hockey throughout it.

That was about the time a lot of fans here started to realize something good was happening with this team…and the solid, more consistent play continued for the remainder of the season.

Fast-forwarding back to present day…there is much we can learn regarding the makeup and character of this year’s edition of the Thrashers team early on as three of the teams they’ll face on the road trip qualified for the postseason last year…and Buffalo and Ottawa are not exactly pushovers either.

As for Thursday’s opponents…the Blues should be over any jetlag experienced from returning home from their opening pair of games in Sweden. Of course, being able to come home with two wins against the Big Red Borg certainly makes getting re-acclimated to the central time zone just that much easier for St. Louis. Last weekend they beat Detroit 4-3 and 5-3, though they were outshot by the Wings by a total of 72-55.

For the hometown ice combatants… given that Boris Valabik is out with an ankle injury, the defensive pairing should be the same as against Tampa Bay.  However, Colby Armstrong’s possible return could mean changes in the front lines. If the way coach Anderson divided them up during practice is any indication, Marty Reasoner would slide to the fourth line to center Eric Boulton and, possibly, Jimmy Slater. Army would play on the right side of the third line while Evander Kane remains on the left…Peverley would then provide the pivot between the pair.

This would leave Chris Thorburn to man the snack buffet in the pres box.

As for an extra defender for the trip, that would have been newcomer Christoph Schubert…but per C-Viv, Anderson indicated he was having “immigration issues”. Let’s hope that gets dealt with soon.

142 comments Add your comment

Buzz

October 7th, 2009
8:10 pm

Last year has no bearing on this year, in my opinion. Yes, that was a pretty good road trip, but the rosters change so much (particularly in ATL and LA) that last year’s records mean nothing.

I think the Thrashers have a good squad, but after seeing LA dismantle San Jose last night, I wonder if they are up to the task. We’ll find out soon enough.

I am not sold on the Kane-Peverley-Armstrong line, but it makes sense if coach is gonna throw 3 FAST lines at folks like the Sabres used to do. The goalies are gonna have some terrible stats, but it will make for exciting hockey. We have no Ryan Miller to clean up the odd-man rushes.

I would have left in the minors, personally. I think a Peverly, Reasoner, Armstrong line is almost as good, and you still get to keep Slater strong in the faceoff circle on defensive zone draws.

Time will tell, been fun so far!

R. Stroz

October 7th, 2009
8:20 pm

Second, or Silver

sisu

October 7th, 2009
8:25 pm

From what I have read the reason why Kane is here is because he can play on any of the 4 lines. So who knows where he ends up but based on the townhall before the season the indication to me was that he was here to stay…

As to the Blues, it will be much different result if Opie is flopping around like a fish like the game against Tampa. With the Blues they added a great player basically for nothing in Kariya…I think they can win this in extra period.

Rawhide

October 7th, 2009
8:39 pm

Last year has no bearing on this year, in my opinion. Yes, that was a pretty good road trip, but the rosters change so much (particularly in ATL and LA) that last year’s records mean nothing.

Buzz – Point taken. However, my analogy was made to point out how these types of road trips can produce the type of energy that can propel a team. Much like how the Thrashers came out of that roadie last winter with a sense of accomplishment, so too could this team if they play at the same level over the next five games.

Smitty

October 7th, 2009
8:50 pm

The Blues will be a stern test. I believe the last 4 games should be pretty even. Montreal was out-played in their 2 OT wins. Ottawa barely beat the Leafs last night. The Devils are winless and the Sabres still cannot finish around the net. If Pavs can hold up I think we can go 3-2 maybe 4-1 on this trip.

World Be Free

October 7th, 2009
8:50 pm

St. Louis is young and pretty talentewd. They will be hungry, having finished last year in the playoffs and starting this season pretty strong.

This will be a good test for my favorite phrase, team defense! They have to play as a team in front of Pavs, limit prime scoring chances, win the battle and cover the points. Covering the “D” was a major issue in the TB game.

Any news on Kari? When will he start his rehab assignment in CHI-town? I assume we will not see Kari until November 1 or later.

Wonder when Moose will see some action on the trip?

five_hole

October 7th, 2009
8:56 pm

This will be no pushover game. St. Louis claims that they can roll 4 scoring lines, and they have pretty good D. They’ve been home for almost a week so I’m sure they’re over whatever jetlag they might have had.

Rawhide

October 7th, 2009
8:58 pm

Wonder when Moose will see some action on the trip?

WBF – Next weekend there is a back-to-back set in NJ and Buffalo. I would imagine he gets a start somewhere in there.

sisu

October 7th, 2009
9:31 pm

Hope you are right Rawhide, if Moose is in net before then that means big TROUBLE since Pavs has faltered!

Thrashers27

October 7th, 2009
10:24 pm

“Stepped on the Ducks”…LOL!!! Good stuff! GO THRASHERS!!!

Buzzeng

October 7th, 2009
11:20 pm

“Good to beat the Kings” – Ha! I can always count on a good laugh out of your blogs, Bill. Excellent! I concur – the early road trip may be more about team bonding and team buiding. Let’s hope so! Go Thrashers!

Cup Guy

October 7th, 2009
11:32 pm

Guys… We need to check up here. First off while our D was not that solid expect it to tighten up. We all know that Anderson doesn’t allow slackers to get off the hook. While Pavs was not on top of his game, I do believe that he will be the No 1 guy in the end. Kari is just way to injury prone and I would much rather see him gone now and get something for him as opposed to waiting till it’s to late to get anything. The best thing for Pavs right now is to force him into the No 1 spot. Make him start all the games (except the back to back) and tell him this is your shot and time. Look at Osgood. He was behind Legacy who was behind Hassek. Granted he is without a team right now, but you can’t blame his bad stats last season all on himself. The blues didn’t give him a chance. No Dmen around him = no chance. I seriously believe the Thrashers are going to come home with 5 wins. If i’m right someone owes me a beer. I sit in section 414, with the big Stanley Cup at every home game.

Tom

October 7th, 2009
11:38 pm

I am officially calling it here:

There will be no Canadian team in the playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

None… Not One…

Watching Vancouver take apart Montreal right now just further proves the fact.

Now we can return to our regular programming.

Brendan

October 7th, 2009
11:41 pm

St. Louis finished sixth last year. Sixth. They were 13th at about the halfway point. They became the best 2nd half team in the NHL. They have a few high end draft picks, including a fairly recent 1st overall selection. But, I’m always reminded that the time to beat GOOD teams is in October, before they’ve gotten their ’sea legs’ under them.

I’m hesitant to mention this next point. I realize that we’re not headed to Toronto just yet, but Waddell seems to feel ‘defensive’ about bringing his product to the Great White North, where it will surely be scrutined at a higher level. That goes for Head Coach John Anderson, as well. Toronto fans THINK “we’re nothing but talentless GOONS,” as our games turn into fight-filled bloodbaths. I repeat, “only against the Leafs.” We’re really not a THUG team, like they think.

That said, as this team heads up north, to Montreal and Ottawa, they’re going to be looking at Ilya Kovalchuk. Looking and wishing and hoping that he becomes available on July 1. I don’t personally think #17 is planning any Marian Hossa-like auditions for Detroit on this, or any other, road trip. Not that I’d mind if #17 potted “hat tricks” in any of those games. But they’ll be looking at us. They’ll be trying to size up … if they were Ilya Kovalchuk, if this team is worth remaining a part of. We can wish that they won’t be thinking it. But they will. And even though relocation rumors to places like Winnipeg will continue to fester, those media outlets in Ottawa and Montreal will evaluate our franchise, in terms of where it is, where it’s been, and where they think we’re headed. They’ll WRITE about it. And they’ll either declare (1) Atlanta has turned the corner, Ilya’s got to be thinking about staying after all, or (2) they’ll proclaim that these are the same ol’ Thrashers, nothing special, headed back to the lottery draft, yet again. Then the other Canadian media outlets will run with the syndicated story. I know. Why should we care? They’ll never give us a fair shake, anyway. Fair enough. But what I’m saying is … we have the chance to SHAPE THEIR OPINION with wins over Montreal and Ottawa.

Think about that for a minute. Ottawa had a terrible season, and was forced to make the Heatley trade, plus a “gift” 5th rounder, to San Jose for Michalek, Cheechoo, and a 2nd rounder. If Ottawa loses to Atlanta, they are going to question where their season is headed. Considering how low they view our franchise, that is. Okay, let’s look at Montreal, who made a STATEMENT during the offseason. I got the message loud and clear. Montreal had 10 pending UFA’s, and NONE of them (zero) got re-signed. Instead, they traded for Gionta, added Cammalleri in Free Agency, along with Hal Gill and Jaroslav Spacek, etc. Bob Gainey, the GM, felt the heat. Montreal SPENT BIG MONEY. And if the result is … they CAN’T EVEN BEAT THE THRASHERS, it’s going to have its effect. As Sage of Bluesland says, “The Threat is Real.” Lose to us, and you can and maybe WILL get fired. I’d love to see the Icebirds have this kind of early-on effect.

World Be Free

October 8th, 2009
5:35 am

Like I said Brendan, as long as Kovy remains unsigned, his status and our future will remain media kindling. Not until he’s signed will it put out the fire.

Distractions

GaVaHokie

October 8th, 2009
8:20 am

A win tonight will go a LONG way on this road trip… I think we can walk all over Ottawa on Saturday, they did not impress me one bit the other night against Toronto. Leclaire is standing on his head to keep them in the game.

I think tonight’s game will be more physical than Anderson thinks… I believe they’re expecting a big game of “keep away” and “fast breaks”, but St. Louis can pound you. I hope we’re ready to do the same.

J.B.

October 8th, 2009
8:30 am

Rawhide- “Christoph” Schubert, not Christen.

I expect we collect 8-10 pts. on the roadtrip.

Smoothie

October 8th, 2009
8:37 am

The biggest distraction is not winning. If the Thrashers win games then the media might forget about the Kovy situation for a minute and actually talk about what a nice team we have assembled. A 10/22 showdown with Wash for 1st place would distract the media.

Tall order tonite against the Blues but our team can skate with anybody. Tighten up the D and keep shots at Pavelec’s # or less and they can come out victorious. A 4 – 1, or even 3 – 2 roadie will do wonders for this young team’s early season confidence.

Sara

October 8th, 2009
8:37 am

One, never take any opponent likely – if we didn’t learn that by watching our own team down the stretch last season, it’s sure a lesson the Pens learned last night (snicker snicker). Two, this is also the Blues’ home opener so they should be pretty fired up. We have to be equally fired up and ready to go from the drop of the first puck to the final horn.

Sara

October 8th, 2009
8:39 am

likely .. *sigh* not enough coffee … never take anyone lightly

J.B.

October 8th, 2009
8:45 am

Sara – BTW, Nice comment setting straigh the yankee yahoos about our ownership and the Winnepeg rumor yesterday on the Puck Daddy live chat. Can I assume that WAS in fact you?

five_hole

October 8th, 2009
9:10 am

Sara Was that your “bubble-head” side showing? ;-) I agree, and if there’s anyone we should not take lightly, it’s the Blues. They certainly laid the “smack-down” on Detroit.

Rawhide

October 8th, 2009
9:12 am

Cup Guy – If you’re right and the Thrashers bring home 5 wins from this road trip…I will personally buy you TWO beers!

J.B. – Christen? I wrote Christen?…sigh:roll: Thanks.

h

October 8th, 2009
9:15 am

This will be an interesting road trip…..St. Louis will be tough but the next 4 teams the Thrash play could easily end up in 9th-12th place in the standings. If so, these are the teams you have to beat on the road if you are going to be a good team. I’m looking at 3-1-1 or 3-2 at worst. Anything less means there will still be some work to do IMHO.

Russ

October 8th, 2009
9:32 am

Cup Guy – What are the stakes for you? If they don’t win 5 on the road trip do you buy a beer for everyone at the next home game?

GaVaHokie

October 8th, 2009
9:36 am

I’m kind of glad that St. Louis beat Detroit twice to start the season, because I think the Blues WOULD HAVE been a team we took lightly… even Waddell kind of glanced past them before the season started, discussing how he liked the favorable opponents on the first road trip.

J.B.

October 8th, 2009
9:40 am

Beating the Wings has likely given them a false sense of security as well… Just as those two wins caused the Thrashers not to look past the Blues as an easily beatable team, the Blues may be looking past the Thrashers thinking tonight’s game is likely an automatic “W” for them. They may not be expecting the effort and skill we can dish out and be unprepared to an extent. Just a thought…

Alan R.

October 8th, 2009
9:46 am

Don’t listen to Rawhide, Cup Guy. He still owes me two hot dogs!

GaVaHokie

October 8th, 2009
10:00 am

Bizarre… Bodog doesn’t have any odds lines up for tonight’s games yet.

World Be Free

October 8th, 2009
10:15 am

Smoothie-I agree with you on winning will set aside alotta the rumors about the Thrashers. But Kovy’s signature will put all the moving/selling garbage to bed altogether. I hope our performance on this trip will convince him that we are on the right direction.

J.B.-let’s differentiate between Yankees and Canadians. It’s the Canadians that are chirping all the negatives about Atlanta and the Thrashers. A good portion of us that support the Thrashers are Yankees.

A2B

October 8th, 2009
10:26 am

WBF- well spoken. I’m actually excited bout the road trip the boys are about to embark on. As crazy as it sounds, long roadies make excellent team bonding, and this team shows that it takes this to heart and develops character from it. I expect 3 wins out of this trip and a lot of people having to put their foot in their mouth for previous statements they made about the Thrash. Anyone that was at opening night saw that these boys still have a chip on their shoulder about proving who they really are. I am really excited about this year.

J.B.

October 8th, 2009
10:30 am

WBF- My apologies to you and all offended readers. That’s what a meant. Typed ‘Yankees’ out of habit… I have many many northern friends who I tease in good nature by calling them yankees, especially hockey fans. Either way, the comment was meant more in a funny nature than derogatory. Again, sorry about that y’all :-)

World Be Free

October 8th, 2009
10:42 am

J.B.-absolutely no problem. Just want to make sure we separate the yanks from the Canadians. We have been trying to do the same for years!
Enjoy the game tonight.

World Be Free

October 8th, 2009
10:43 am

A2B-agreed! all the good things that happened with this team last year started on the road, then carried over to Philips. I believe this year is together.

J.B.

October 8th, 2009
10:45 am

WBF- Thanks and duly noted! Like I said, I do know the difference; just typed the wrong word. Doing too much at once this monring…

I have a softball tonight and will be checking the score on my phone in the dugout every chance I get! Was looking forward to catching saturday’s game in beautiful HD but THAT’s not going to happen!

Smoothie

October 8th, 2009
11:02 am

Yes, WBF is spot on to differentiate between our “Yankee” Thrashers-supporting bretheren and all of the ignorant Thrashers-hating “frogs” and “hosers” that don’t know squat about hockey passion in these here parts.

J.B. – you can call me a Yankee anytime as I am from upstate NY. At least I had the sense to get the hell out of there before things got any worse! I feel sorry for my brother who still resides in the sleepy hamlet of Glenville. But I will admit that there are few places that are prettier than the Adirondacks and in particular, Lake George, NY.

Anyway, back on track here. WBF is correct that the only thing to finally silence all of the “haters” in the hockey media is an extension contract signed by one Ilya V. Ko-VAL-chook!! But a successful road trip (I like 3-1-1 or 3-2-0 as a prediction) is the first step towards reinforcing the postive training camp vibes and convincing IVK that this team has real potential.

Predictions? Why the hell not?

St. Louis (OTL) — hard fought 4-3 loss in OT; defensive breakdown (what else?) costs us in the neutral zone leading to a 2-1…Kariya with GW, but Kovy pots his 300th tonight!

Ottawa (W) — province of Otta-WAAA sends in the WAAAAmbulance to dole out drugs to soothe the pain after a 5-2 Thrashers drubbing of the Sens (Colby scores 2 and Kovy with a G and 2 assists)

Buffalo (W) — another exciting, breath-stealing game of pond hockey against the team we love to hate; Thrashers come out on top 5-3 with an empty netter by the Czar to seal the deal

New Jersey (L) — not even a fresh and “loose” Moose can lift the somewhat fatigued Thrashers as a lackluster effort results in the wake of the Sabres hi-octane track meet; Devils prevail 4 – 2, and 36 SOG against spell disaster for the Thrash

Montreal (W) — les Frogs, ahem, les Canadiens sont décimé par un assaut implacable et perdent le jeu au Thrashers 4 – 1. Pavelec shines brightly and Thrashers’ fans’ hopes are buoyed by this loud message delivered by our beloved boys in blue (and white). Kovy scores twice and Antropov sits on Brian Gionta in the crease until he begs for mercy.

J.B.

October 8th, 2009
11:12 am

LOL. The image I have in my head of Antropov sitting on Gionta’s head in the crease has me DYING over here!!!

Rawhide

October 8th, 2009
11:13 am

One other thing to be on the lookout for tonight…Ilya Kovalchuk’s 2 goals Saturday night give him 299 for his carrer. He’s a mere one goal shy of 300!

Russian

October 8th, 2009
11:16 am

**to Smoothie**
I like it. 3 wins and 2 loose. Nobody knows. But I believe in team for this season. They can do a BIG push. May be they will bring all 5 victories. :-)

Paminski

October 8th, 2009
11:17 am

Is there a time limit on being called a Yankee? As most of you know, I’m from Western NY (yes, Sabres are now my no. 2 team), but I have been in Atlanta for over 14 years.

Smoothie – Great predictions! I hope you’re accurate.

sisu

October 8th, 2009
11:20 am

for those that do not like the “face of the NHL” look at the pictures:)

http://www.iltalehti.fi/jaakiekko/2009100810388218_jk.shtml

Dandylions

October 8th, 2009
11:31 am

sisu – priceless!!!! GO THRASH!

kracker

October 8th, 2009
11:33 am

Hey, Bill, Help! I am still trying to talk to Karin about the TJs Party Bus and game ticket. So far, she has not returned my calls. Karin appears to work for the Thrash ticket office, so if the Thrashers are involved w/ this outing, can’t I ask my regular ticket rep to help with getting me on board?

Rawhide

October 8th, 2009
11:39 am

kracker – No worries. I already told her about you and they’ll be a seat for ya! She’ll give ya a call.

sisu – Nice…very nice!!

Smoothie

October 8th, 2009
11:50 am

Russian, if we manage to win all 5 on the road, then I will find the best Russian vodka (actually, any advice on this would be great!) on this planet, add Blue Curacao to it and market it as the Blueland Blast!

But I will personally buy you a vodka drink of your choice at Bill’s Thrash Bash extravaganza on 11/13 if this monumental road-winning streak of 5 comes to be.

five_hole

October 8th, 2009
11:52 am

sisu I think “Sami Lepistö debytoi Phoenixin paidassa ryminällä. ” translates to Sami Lepisto of Phoenix crushes a little girl into the boards. Am I close Russian>

Sara

October 8th, 2009
11:52 am

J.B. yeah that was me. Those people only see what they want to see and what their pandering local media tells them.

Rawhide nice observation about Kovy – 300 sounds so sweet! :D

Smoothie

October 8th, 2009
11:56 am

kracker, worse comes to worse, you can buy my upper deck seats in 318 for $25 apiece and I’ll throw in the Party Bus certificate since Punch Bunny and I can only attend the game. We got the lower level seats, which we plan to use in lieu of our normal season tkts. But if for some reason things don’t work out and you need access to the bus, you can simply have my certificate even if you procure tkts another way.

Tillzy, are we still getting pacifiers for the occasion to dangle in front of Mr. Heatley from Section 121??

World Be Free

October 8th, 2009
12:02 pm

Smoothie-sounds like you have your fingers on the pulse of what’s happening. I hate to toss “Canadians” under the bus, but alotta them have earned it with the garabge they’ve said about the us, both fans and the Thrashers.

Paminski-great question, because I have been in ATL for 15 years!
My trips back to my “old home” become less and less frequent as the years unfold. I even sold my bowling ball.

Alan R.

October 8th, 2009
12:18 pm

Is there a time limit on being called a Yankee?

Nope. You are where you’ve come from.

That said, people incorrectly refer to me as a Yankee, and I’m from Detroit. Figure that one out.