So far after three games played, the Atlanta Thrashers’ offense has performed, as many would have expected, very well…scoring a total of 12 goals, four goals per game on the average.
Ilya Kovalchuk has led the way as he’s been involved in exactly half of those dozen scores…five goals and an assist. Fellow linemate Bryan Little has yet to notch his first tally of the season, however he has already contributed with four assists. Throw in last Saturday’s assist by Nik Antropov and the players that make up the first line have 5 goals and 6 assists between them…one of those goals and two helpers have come via the power play. Little is a +3, Kovy and Antropov are each a +2.
That’s some pretty good production so far, eh?
Dropping down to the third line you’ll find some decent numbers as well. Rookie Evander Kane has already found the net once and chipped in with an assist. Rich Peverley has a pair of goals…one on the power play… and four overall points, while Colby Armstrong has one assist in the two games he has played. That’s a total of three goals and four assists coming from the third line of your attack. After just three games, those are very promising numbers.
Kane and Peverley are +2 while Army is a +1. When Marty Reasoner centered the third line on opening night…he was a +1. So, like the top line, all positives from the third.
The fourth line has also done their part…Eric Boulton has a goal and an assists and is a +1, Chris Thorburn is a +1 with a pair of assists, Marty Reasoner’s assist came while on the fourth line in St. Louis when he was a +2 that night…he was a –1 in the loss to Ottawa.
So that’s a goal and four assists coming from the energy/checking line and all are on the good side of the +/- or even.
On defense, there have already been three goals accounted for from the blueline…25% of the total offensive production. Hainsey, Salmela and Bogosian with the honors there. Pavel Kubina and Tobias Enstrom have served up three assists each while Salmela has added another. That’s seven of the 22 overall assists coming from the defensive corps.
All of this is very, very good, indeed…have we overlooked anything?
Oh yes…then there are the un-good numbers that belong to the second line of Todd White, Slava Kozlov and Maxim Afinogenov.
Slava Kozlov has zero goals and zero assists to go with his –2 rating.
Todd White…zero goals, zero assists and a –3.
Maxim Afinogenov has produced one assist but no goals and is a –3.
It should be noted here that Afinogenov’s point was a secondary assist on a Rich Peverley power play goal against the Bolts with Kovalchuk getting the primary.
Also, there are only five players on the team that are below even in the +/- this season so far and three are found on that second line. The other two are defensemen Bogosian and Enstrom…each are –1.
So the question is…is this cause for alarm?
I’ll cut to the chase and answer by saying, ”No…at least not yet”.
White, Afinogenov and Kozlov are getting their chances… between the three they have accounted for 16 SOG, or roughly 20% of all Thrashers’ shots. Max’s 7 shots are only bettered by Kovalchuk’s 11 and Kane’s 8. The first line of Kovy, Little and Antropov have 18 shots between them and the third line of Peverley, Kane and Army have 17…18 if you count Reasoner’s 1 SOG against Tampa Bay.
So there’s not a lot of difference in the SOG stats between the top-three lines.
Last Saturday, Max almost had his first goal as a Thrasher in the loss to the Senators… but was robbed by a great save from Brian Elliott. Slava Kozlov’s “goal” in the third would have cut Ottawa’s lead to one…but it was ruled played by a high-stick. Listening to the radio feed from Kamal and Eliot, they seemed to think that it was possible from the replay they saw that the stick could have been below the crossbar when coming in contact with the puck…but I digress.
Now this isn’t to say that there haven’t been times when the trio has seemed out of sync or still trying to get into the flow of things…certainly they have at times. But looking back on preseason, if I remember correctly, this line didn’t get a lot of action together during those games. So maybe there are still some kinks to be worked out.
There are those, I’m sure, that might suggest shuffling the lines as a remedy to the lack of production from this area. But if Anderson chose that route, then it would mean monkeying with the first or third line…both of which are doing just fine, thank you very much.
Regardless…after just three games, I just don’t think it’s time to hit the panic button.
At least…not just quite yet.