Thrashers ‘The good, the un-good and the ugly’

October has come and gone…as has 10 games of the 2009-10 Thrashers campaign. So here are my “good, un-good and ugly” of the season so far. As you’ll see, there are far more “good” than “un-good” this time around.

Which is, of course, a “good” thing.

The Good

Well, let’s just start with the 5-4-1 start. Not that this is a blistering pace, mind you, but a winning record after the tax exemptions have perused the neighborhood to extort candy on Halloween is something we haven’t seen in these parts since the fall of 2006 when their record in October was 8-2-3. If memory serves…that’s the season they played more than 82 games.

A 4-1-1 road record is also very nice indeed.

Rich Peveley has dispensed the puck into the net 6 times so far this season and leads the Thrashers with 13 ponts (AP/Gregory Smith)

Rich Peveley has dispensed the puck into the net 6 times so far this season and leads the Thrashers with 13 points (AP/Gregory Smith)

The offense is popping in goals at a rate of 3.40 per game…which is tied with San Jose for 5th highest in the NHL. While this doesn’t come as a big surprise to me…it’s still “good” nonetheless.

Leading the O-fensive charge was Ilya Kovalchuk’s 9 goals and10 overall points before his injury sidelined him for about a month. But now the leading scorer is Rich Peverley with 6 goals and 13 points. Four of those goals and one assists have been on the power play.

Remember, too…even though he’s recently signed a new contract, The Peever is the lowest paid forward on the ice right now.

Speaking of the power play…Atlanta’s 27.8% effectiveness while on the man-advantage is tied with Cal-GARY for 2nd in the league, just behind Toronto’s 28.0%. That’s very, very good.

The penalty kill has been a pleasant surprise…even though it has slipped a bit from its 88.0% of just a few games ago. Still, the Thrashers killing opponent’s power plays 82.2% of the time…which is 9th best…will land it in the “good” column for me.

Even though the Thrashers only take 26.2 SOG on the average, they havenetted 34 goals. That means they are scoring once every 7.7 shots on goal. Very impressive.

Evander Kane has 3 goals, 2 assists and is a +4 in his first ten NHL games, (AP/Gregory Smith)

Evander Kane has proved himself worthy of playing in the NHL with 3 goals, 2 assists anda +4 rating in his first 10 games (AP/Gregory Smith)

Evander Kane proving that he is indeed ready for prime-time has been goodgreat news. After 10 games played he has scored his first 3 goals and 2 assists and is a +4. This kid just seems to be pulled toward the net and his speed and aggressivestyle make him hard to defend. Kane’s 22 shots on goal tie him with Peverley for 4th highest on the Thrashers.

Ondrej Pavelec’s .920 SV% and 2.60 SV% has eased the fears of a lot of us who were nervous about him starting in place of the injured Kari Lehtonen…yours truly included. His performance in Ottawa Saturday afternoon was nothing short of spectacular. He stole a game for us when we really…and I mean, really…need it.

Nik Antropov has yet to score his first goal as an Atlanta Thrasher…which certainly is not “good”…but his team leading 10 assists and +3 definitely is. I could point out that Antropov only has 7 SOG so far, though….but that may just be a bit …ahem…Nik-picky.

Zach Bogosian is fighting hard to avoid any sophomore slump…5 goals and1 assists is a good way to do so, even though he’s a -2. This kid is just a monstrous figure handling the puck out of the defensive zone and through center ice.

Pavelec makes on of his 30 saves on Hallowwen without the protection of the mask (AP/The Canadian Press, Fred Chartrand)

Pavelec makes one of his 50 saves on Halloween without the protection of the mask (AP/The Canadian Press, Fred Chartrand)

With Kovy out of the line up…the third-highest point total on the team is 7. Maxim Afinogenov’s 3 goals and 4 assists, as well as Toby Enstrom’s 7 assists place them both at that level.

Gotta give some props to the fourth-liners…Boulton, Thorburn and Slater/Reasoner. They have provided a lot of pop and energy when called upon and Reasoner’s PK efforts have been what we’ve come to expect of him. The four players that have combined to make up that fourth line have a total of 2 goals and 6 assists.

And Pavel Kubina rounds out my “good” column. His +6 leads the team, he only has 8 PIM and has chipped in with 5 assists. He’s been solid and dependable on the blueline…not a heckuva lot of mistakes.

If anyone wasn’t sold that Atlanta got the better end of that deal on July first…compare Kubina’s numbers with that of Garnet Exelby while in a Maple Leafs jersey…0 goals, 0 assists, -5 and 13 PIM in 8 games played.

The Un-Good

The prospect of facing a dozen or so games without Kovalchukis definately “un-good”. But if the tean can continue to score three or so goals per game in his absence, then I will be able to put this situation in the “good” column the next time we do a G,U & U.

Shots on goal…way too many. For the year so far they are averaging 34.6 shots faced per game…only the Ducks 35.5 and Florida’s 36.4 are higher. Maybe this is just a by-product of John Anderson’s “system”…but let’s be honest, if not for the stellar performance in goal this season, we wouldn’t be looking at a winning record right now. Gotta play better team defense…and I’m calling on the forwards here as much as the blueliners.

Oh, and the two times we did in fact hold teams to below 30 shots in the game…we lost. Go figure.

1-3-0 at home is an “un-good” record…even if the three losses have been by 1 goal to San Jose and Washington twice.

Todd White had a slow start. In the first four games he had zero points and was a -4. However, he’s had 3 goals and an assists to go with a -1 since. But that -5 still leads the team and the numbers are still off from where they need to be….on pace for only 33 points for the season.

Maxim Afinogenov scored a great goal in Buffalo to seal the deal, but his -5 helps to show he can be somewhat madening in is all-around game (AP/Don Heupel)

Maxim Afinogenov scored a great goal in Buffalo to seal the deal, but his -5 helps to show he can be somewhat madeningin is all-around game (AP/Don Heupel)

Afinogenov is right behind White with a -4 for the season, which is not good. Oh, and that play on Ovechkin’s second goal last Thursday…very un-good. Max can be somewhat maddening, as a few have pointed out…and he’s displayed as much on several occasions. My main concern with placing him on the top line a while back was the liability he poses in the defensive zone. But still, if he nets anywhere north of 50 points for Atlanta this season…and he’s on pace for 57… then I will consider the $800,000 Don Waddell signed him for as money well spent.

But, yeah…he will probably make me pull out what little I have left of my hair in doing so.

And then there is Slava Kozlov, who has just looked slow during these 10 games. No goals and 4 assists are well off the level of expectations for him.

And The Ugly

Here I have a tie…

First, there was that 185 foot… thing… that made its way to and through Ondrej Pavelec during the 5-4 loss to the Caps back on 22nd. It’s one thing to allow that to happen…but it’s made worse even when you lose by that one goal.

Which was uglier?

  • The 185-foot goal (52%, 56 Votes)
  • The 51 shots against (48%, 51 Votes)

Total Voters: 107

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Gotta say though…given the overall performance of Opie so far this year, I hate putting anything that about him in the “ugly” column of this entry.

Unless it’s something like this next one…

Ugly option number 2…the 51 shots taken on Pavelec last weekend by the Ottawa Senators. That’s not just ugly…that’s butt-ugly. Every single skater on the ice for the Thrashers should pick up his dinner tab for the rest of the year given the fact that he saved their bacon Saturday afternoon.

So, I’ll let you decide. What was uglier. The 185 foot thing…or the 51 shots?

116 comments Add your comment

Brendan

November 4th, 2009
8:27 am

Terrible news on your brother, Rawhide. I’m glad it’s going to turn out okay. Thoughts and prayers are with the family this morning. Sara, nice scoop from the Montreal papers. Good job.

WBF & LAC, I’m starting to suspect Dave Reid is actually taking the time to watch some Thrashers hockey this year. Maybe Reid makes up his mind coming out of training camp which teams he’ll watch and which he’ll put on the permanent “ignore list,” and this year … we’re off the “ignore list?” The other NHL OTF guy said, and I quote, “The Atlanta Thrashers have been a fun team to watch this year.” He also added that Atlanta was in a bit of a “tailspin” a few games back.

Let’s all wish Bill’s brother a speedy recovery.

Zoomo

November 4th, 2009
8:37 am

I hope your brother is on the mend, Bill. Speed recovery wishes to him and your family.

The turnovers were abundant and cost us what should have been an easier victory.

I thought that Antro had another good game. He’s starting to play his role real well. He’s benn very good with his back to the goal, sheilding the puck and dishing. He did some nice hard work with Pevs on the Kubina goal. Kubina had an outstanding night!

Max had a nice night too. Good forechecking and corner work. He showed some periodic defensive prowess with a few back checks and general annoyance.

The final two goals were very impressive responses. Hard work from Antro, Pevs, and Kubina, and then a great effort in the offensive zone by Kane and Reasoner to set up Army. Heck of a pass from Reasoner!

Brendan

November 4th, 2009
8:37 am

I also wanted to mention that, reviewing the RDS feed, that the French-speaking announcers had plenty of praise for Pavelec, which they pronounced, Pav-uh-leX, for his efforts against Ottawa the other night and against Montreal. The Montreal announce crew was “fair” to Atlanta. I didn’t detect much sarcasm from them. So, that was good. During the intermission, former Montreal Head Coach Jacques Demers said that he considered Plekanec to be the best Canadien player on the team so far this year. High praise, from Jacques. Some people don’t know this, but at the time Demers led the Habs to the Stanley Cup in 1993, he was completely illiterate. He’d have assistants help him out with internal memos and things like that. He’d say things like, “I got this memo, but what does it mean?” That line only worked so long for him before someone figured out, “Jacques can’t read,” … how can he not understand a memo about an office cookout? Of course, he can read and write now, and has column or two in various publications.

Smoothie

November 4th, 2009
8:45 am

Wait a second, Peter Mahovlich is one of OUR scouts?? Didn’t he play in the 60’s and 70’s for the Canadiens?? He must be reviled in la belle province maintenant!!

LAC

November 4th, 2009
8:57 am

Bill hope your brother is fairing better this day, we ALL will be with you in our thoughts, My 7 year old Grandaughter is fighting H1N1 now and it is a struggle the past couple days, but games like last night, albeit tense… make life a little better !!!!!!

Gear up for another toughy thursday night with Columbus, they beat Pitt
so it will be interesting, then off to the Island saturday and home Sunday against our first road conquest of the season St.Louis, so points need to be made !

Al Davis

November 4th, 2009
9:03 am

Just Win Baby!!!!!

Tom Cable

November 4th, 2009
9:06 am

I’ve won all my domestic fights.

Michael B. Shapiro

November 4th, 2009
9:26 am

Rawhide

One of the “goods” that I don’t think has been mentioned: faceoff percentage. We continue to be in the top 6 or 8 teams. Un-good in this area has been Nik, but his point a game plus in assists might be an offset. Guess his linemates should continue to take draws in his place.

Another “good” is the not so shabby +/- for the team. True that the 2nd line has been struggling and Whitey and Max both are -4, and Kubina is a +6. That’s not such a bad spread for a team that frequently has players who work their way into double-digit negatives (yes, I know the season is still young). Still, only 5 players (including Kovy at -1) are below the waves on this figure.

Another “good” is that we’re getting scoring from all over the place (perhaps an unforeseen “good” if there is such a thing from Kapitan Kovalchuk’s injury….maybe it’ll keep rubbing off onto our power play so that the opposition can no longer focus only on Kovy??) Amazingly, after 11 games in the season ONLY Jimmy Slater is without a point (heck, even our goalies…or at least one of them….has an assist!)

And now on to the really important matters of the day…who will be the last person off Schneid Island this year? Fans will recall that last year Jimmy Slater was one of (if not) the last Thrashers to find a life raft and leave the Island.

This year we’re down to six contestants: The Professor (sorry, MaryAnne has already left the Island), “Harry” Reasoner, the aforementioned Nik Antropov, newcomer Christoph Schubert, Tobi Enstrom, and last year’s winner, Jimmy Slater. In fairness to Jimmy, I must note that he’s played a mere 4 games compared to his opponents who have all played 11, except Schubert who has played 9 games. The Professor leads the pack going 0 for 19 shots, followed by Tobi’s 13, Schubert’s 11and Nik’s 9. “Harry” and Jimmy trail with only 6 shots.

So sports fans….who’ll be the last to launch their life raft and escape Schneid Island this year? (Inquiring minds want to know).

Go Thrash!!

Alan R.

November 4th, 2009
9:51 am

My thoughts are with your brother, Bill, as well as your granddaughter LAC. May they both get well soon.

Rawhide

November 4th, 2009
10:21 am

Thank you everyone…brother is resting well, though still in considerable discomfort.

LAC – My thoughts and prayers are with your grandaughter and family.

Now, as promised…a new blogity-blog to discuss last night’s exciting win.

Midfield

November 4th, 2009
10:22 am

Brendan, in Quebec, both English and French announcers pronounce Pavelec with the ‘tz’ sound at the end, which is close to the proper pronounciation in Czech, I believe.

Smoothie

November 4th, 2009
10:23 am

Bill, so sorry to hear about your brother. Many prayers to you and your family for a speedy recovery. I too hope he won’t suffer too much pain and discomfort while healing.

LAC, thoughts and prayers to your family as well for your grand-daughter’s full and speedy return to good health.

Smoothie

November 4th, 2009
10:24 am

I think I’m the new ranallo! I’ve been “smoothinized”!!

Tim

November 4th, 2009
10:33 am

I think the Kovy injury will eventually be a good thing… assuming he is back on the ice on or ahead of schedule of course. He was so hot that some of his teammates were going even further out of their way to get him the puck. More guys remembering that they can shoot the puck too will be the silver lining to the cloud that is Ilya’s broken foot.

SOAPBOX ALERT!!!

ONE BLOG, ONE SPORTS RADIO TALK SHOW HOST AND ONE SPORTS CENTER ANCHOR AT A TIME! I WILL PREVAIL OR DIE TRYING!!!

EFFORT is not a verb!

Libby

November 4th, 2009
10:39 am

Bill, Our prayers are with your Family. Loved the game last night. Pevs is just such a great player. I do believe that this team has more heart than any Thrasher team ever.

Red Light

November 4th, 2009
10:52 am

The thought occurred to me before last night’s game that some teams actually benefit from their star player being out of the lineup, because collectively they simply cannot look for him to bail them out with a highlight-reel goal in tough situations. While these Habs are shadows of their former selves (they haven’t won the Cup since 1993!), are too small and defensively inept (last night anyway), these Thrashers showed me something last night. Gave up two two-goal leads, and each time responded with quick goals to take the lead again. Kubina’s goal was downright comical with the defenseman draped all over him and he still was strong enough to get his stick on the puck. Look, I am, and always have been, tough on this team because I can’t stand the way management deals with personnel issues.

However, at this juncture hope is more realistic than ever, due to the presence of Bogo, Kane, Little, Enstrom and the new leader of this team: waiver-wire Peverley. He makes a huge gaffe with a giveaway on Plekanec’s goal, but still led all Thrashers forwards in ice time and wins 75 percent of his draws last night. He has two goals and four assists since Kovy went on the shelf and competes as hard as anyone. I know many of you are fans of RP and rightly so. While Antropov isn’t cut out of the same mold as Peverley, he has eight assists in the last five games. Of course, it would be nice to see him end his goal-less streak soon. He hasn’t scored in 13 straight regular season games. The good news? He went 19 straight games without a goal last season in Toronto and still finished with 28 goals.

Sadly, there is a home game on the horizon. Maybe Rawhide can ask Anderson why the team won’t practice more often at Philips when it’s available. The dungeon on Satellite Blvd no way mirrors their home rink and the Thrashers are 14-24 in their last 38 games at home.