Eleven most pleasant surprises so far this Thrashers season

Given that the Thrashers are 10-6-1 and currently riding a four-game win streak, there have been quite a few pleasant surprises seen so far. As such, I’ve compiled a list of what I feel are the eleven most pleasant surprises to date in this still-young Thrashers season and have bundled them up to present to you now for two reasons.

1. I would like for you to vote on which one you feel is the #1 most pleasant surprise 17 games into the season, and…

2. To give people like Jack Bryan IV at Inronstone Bank something to read and think about while killing off another four days between games.

So, why “eleven” and not the customary “ten” that normally accompanies such a list? Well, as I was putting this piece together I found myself struggling to limit the list to just ten…which is odd seeing that in years past, come mid-November, I would have been hard-pressed to come up with just a half dozen or so. I guess in a way that alone is a pleasant surprise.

Anyway…so this one goes to eleven.

Now keep in mind that when it comes to some of the players on the list, it isn’t that I’m “surprised” at the fact they are playing well…really, it’s the level or degree of play they have sustained over the course of the first month and a half of the season.

With that in mind and with no further ado…here are my 11 nominees for most pleasant surprises of the year, in no particular order.

Ilya Kovalchuk: Not that anything really “surprises” me anymore when it comes to the captain’s on-ice prowess…but this year even more than in seasons past, he seems to have grabbed this team and propelled it to a level of play it otherwise could not have realized. He started off scoring 9 goals in the first 7 games…breaks his foot…is supposed to missed 3-5 weeks, a dozen or so games…instead returns after missing just six games…then proceeds to score 3 more goals and chips in 5 assists in his first 3 games back, leading an offense that has scored 15 goals in those three matches.

Now that’s what I call taking ownership of your team.

The Record: The 10-6-1 start is exactly what the doctor ordered for this team. The past two years have seen them get off to horrific beginnings and it set the tone for the whole year. We began to see last spring a foreshadowing of things to come, but questioned whether or not the good play then would leap over through the summer to this fall.

I think any such doubt has been officially dispersed.

So far, the Opie & Moose tandem has worked out very well (AP/Gregory Smith)

So far, the Opie & Moose tandem has worked out very well (AP/Gregory Smith)

Rich Peverley: After 17 games, the Thrashers leading scorer is the player who makes the least amount of money on the forward line…at least until his nice raise kicks in next season. The Peever just continues to dispense out the points, netting 8 goals and his 15 assists is second behind Nik Antropov’s 16. 5 of those goals have come on the power play and 3 have been game-winners. This isn’t too bad for a guy that the Nashville Predators where trying to slip through waivers last January.

Gawd-almighty…could you just imagine the bitchin’ and moanin’ we’d all be engaging in if the situation were reversed and it was Don Waddell who allowed this guy to get stolen off the waiver wire?

Evander Kane: The fourth overall of last June’s draft was welcomed with open arms by Thrashers fans as we all knew he held a promise of good things to come. But how many figured those good things would come so early just this fall. Thus far, the 18-year old has accounted for 6 goals and 5 assists. Those 11 points are 6 best on the team…right between the two most recent young stars Toby Enstrom, (12 points) and Zach Bogosian, (10 points)… and Evander’s +9 rating leads the team.

Yeah…I think the kid can stay.

Zach Bogosian: And speaking of Zach…his 8 goals equals Peverley for second most on the squad and his 10 overall points are 7th highest. 2 goals have come on the PP and one was a shorty. Watching him guide the puck up ice in his powerful fashion is a thing to behold, my friends. Combine that with his play in the defensive zone, and sometimes one forgets that he only has 64 total NHL games under his belt.

No sophomore slump here.

Most Pleasant Surprise So Far This Season?

  • Ilya Kovalchuk (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Overall Record (3%, 5 Votes)
  • Rich Peverley (8%, 16 Votes)
  • Evander Kane (16%, 30 Votes)
  • Zach Bogosian (2%, 4 Votes)
  • Goalkeeping (13%, 26 Votes)
  • Road Record (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Special Teams (32%, 62 Votes)
  • Maxim Afinogenov (12%, 24 Votes)
  • Playing as a Team (9%, 18 Votes)
  • Pavel Kubina (1%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 193

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Goalkeeping: Hard to believe that just two short month ago, many of us were wailing and gnashing our teeth over the fact that “Kari Down ’09” had actually come upon us even before the season began. We had the likes of Manny Legace in camp on a pro tryout…but instead the brain trust of Waddell, Dudley and Anderson decided to turn to Ondrej Pavelec…who at the time owned career stats of 6-10-0 with a 3.42 GAA and .890 SV%…with Johan Hedberg backing him up. Many thought they were smoking Opie-um for going this route, yours truly included…but it’s seems to be working out just fine so far, thank you very much. Opie is 6-5-1 with a 2.90 GAA and .917 SV% and just last Friday he laid the first goose egg of his career, blanking the Kings 7-0. And not to be overlooked is Johan Hedberg, who is kickin’ it in the support role. Moose has compiled a 4-1-0 record with a 2.63 GAA and .923 SV%.

I guess unlike that “other stuff…Opie-um isn’t bad for you.

Road Record: The Thrashers have indeed become road warriors…going 6-2-1 outside of Thrasherville. Two of those losses, a 4-2 defeat in Ottawa and a 2-1 shootout loss in Montreal, have already been avenged as Atlanta has returned to the scenes of the crimes and come away with a 3-1 win against the Senators and 5-4 victory versus the Habs.

By the way…we return to Long Island the day after New Years. Just sayin’…

Special Teams: OK, I know it’s placed down the list…but this is the one that gets my vote for the #1 most pleasant surprise so far this season. This is especially true with the penalty kill unit, which has been effective 84.5% of the time, (5th best in the NHL). Compare that to last season when they were only able to deny the opposition success during the man-advantage 76.0% of the time, (29th). Then there is the second best power play in the league right now, which makes teams pay for their on-ice transgressions 26.5% of the time.

You remember, of course, that it wasn’t too long ago that we wished the team could decline the penalty like they can in football?

Maxim Afinogenov: Mad Max is seriously earning that $800,000 the Thrashers organ-I-zation is paying him, eh? So far Afinogenov has 7 goals, 17 overall points and is a +1. In the last three games he’s tallied four goals and is a +4. Along with fellow countrymen Antropov and Ilya Kovalchuk, Max has completed the top line for this Atlanta team and the trio seem to be creating more and more chemistry by the week day hour minute.

Oh, and who do you think leads the team in shots on goal? Why…it’s Max with 41.

The Thrashers are playing...and fighting...better as a team (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The Thrashers are playing...and fighting...better as a team (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Playing Like A Team: Sounds kinda cliché…yeah, I know. But really, this version of the Atlanta Thrashers is playing more like a cohesive unit than any has is many, many moons. It shows in their passing…the overall flow of their play…the way forwards back check more than in days gone by…and how they fight for each other and with each other.

You pick on one…you pick on ‘em all.

Pavel Kubina: I’m gonna name all of the quality, solid, dependable defensemen on par with Pavel Kubina that the Thrashers have had in their history…awkward silence…OK there, want me name them again? Look, this guy is big, knows how to use is size to his advantage, is a strong presence in the defensive zone and knows how to step up in John Anderson’s offensive style of play. The coach told me recently that his veteran leadership extends off-ice in the locker room as well…that he knows just what to say and when to lighten the mood with a witty quip. Kubina is just what this team needed this season.

Of course, we could just sum up this way:

Kubina = 3 goals, (2 PP), 5 assist, +7 with 16 PIM in 16 games played.

Exelby = 0 goals, 0 assist, -7 with 15 PIM in 10 games played.

With apologies to NASCAR Dave…’Nuff said!

147 comments Add your comment

Dandylions

November 17th, 2009
9:41 am

Dandylions

November 17th, 2009
9:43 am

I always wanted to say that but now that I’ve done it …well it’s kinda silly.

World Be Free

November 17th, 2009
9:43 am

Very nice piece Bill. We are off to a good start.

I have enough nice things about Max-the season is young, he has plenty of time to be Max!

five_hole

November 17th, 2009
9:46 am

Did I get first?

Bill, I voted for Evander Kane. There is no way I thought a scrawny 18 year old could stay on an NHL roster, let alone perform at the level he has. I’ve been most impressed with the way the kid plays defense. He just seems to have an instinctive ability to know what to do in all 3 zones and you just can’t teach that.

Betweeen Zack & Bogosian (and yes, Little too) we have some really good young quality talent for years to come.

Midfield

November 17th, 2009
9:46 am

Yeah. I like X, and I don’t like Toronto, but, seriously, what on earth have they been think… I mean, smoking?

JLH

November 17th, 2009
9:47 am

Peverley. We saw what he could do last year, but I feel he has become the “poster child” for the optimism we have for this team, mostly because of his play, but also because he represents, in many ways, a turn around of our management’s ability to make smart decisions, and by extrapolation Kovy’s confidence in the team.

h

November 17th, 2009
9:48 am

It is tough to pick the MOST pleasant surprise from that list. I can narrow it to my top 4….Kane, Max, Special Teams and Goaltending. The road record is a surprise, but when you look at who we played, it is not a total shock. Good teams must win on the road. I’m not surprised about Kovy and Peverley. I really didn’t think Pevs was a fluke. I am shocked that Kane is playing so well and doing it the way he is doing it. He is a warrior to the net which is one of the things this team needed. Max’s play and his +/- are a surprise to me as well. I knew he’d score some pretty goals here and there, but he is playing awfully well and not a real defensive liability. The goaltending has been really really good, but honestly, I think alot of that is the superb defense in front of the net. Rebounds are getting cleared instead of ending up on opponents sticks. Special teams are a surprise, but only on the PK side. The aggressive PK units are much more effective than in seasons past when 4 guys would form a square and barely move. Good post Rawhide.

TableHockey

November 17th, 2009
10:20 am

Hard to narrow down the most pleasant surprise but I think for me it’s Evander. I fully expected him to be back in Vancouver by now but instead he is positioning himself to be a strong contender for rookie of the year.

Viking

November 17th, 2009
10:23 am

Until last year I had managed to not see “Spinal Tap” and the “amplifier analogy” would have been lost on me. But now I thankfully get it and the mockumentary is on my top 11 list of movie favorites!

Some of the items on your list are great things, and are not too surprising. Rather fullfilled expectations. However, my 3 main worries for this season is on the list of positive surprises:

1) Penalty Kill. There are some new faces on the team, but it appears that the main problem was how the coaching was conducted. The PK video research over the summer and transformation of this knowledge into action by our coaches is nothing short of remarkable.

2) Pavelec. I had no faith in his readiness going into this season. While he frequently scares you with his style, he manages to get the job done. At first I thought it was just pure luck, but the statistical sample of his success is still growing. Maybe we can compare him with his countryman Hasek, whose unusual style must have induced similar feelings among Redwings fans.

3) Kane has also completely surprised me. Used to be unhappy with him getting his continued hockey upbringing while occupying a roster spot. I was very wrong.

ChippersLoveChild

November 17th, 2009
10:49 am

Going with the special teams and the road record. Although I am enjoying everything about this team. I hope we can re-sign the team in the offseason! I’d hate for this to be a one year thing… we have Kovy, obviously, due for a (fingers crossed) extension, but what about Max, Kubina, Army….. eh Slava and Slater….. lots of guys to pay this summer. Keep it up boys! And I think Antro leads the team in helpers at 16, not Pevs with 15.. just saying.

Spud Webb

November 17th, 2009
11:03 am

Had to go with Kane. The team chemistry appears to be AWESOME, but I never, ever expected Kane to do this so soon.
GREAT JOB THRASHERS…

Smoothie

November 17th, 2009
11:03 am

Wow Bill, that was EPIC!

I love pleasant surprises!

Get The Puck Out

November 17th, 2009
11:06 am

Kubina- no doubt. The biggest problem has always been defense. Scoring always seemed to be the least of their problems, but Pavel has the defense playing like a defense should. I know he’s not doin it on his own, but i think he has made everyone else’s game step up. As long as everyone stays relatively healthy, they’ll be in the playoffs.

Rawhide

November 17th, 2009
11:11 am

five_hole – You’ll have to add Pavelec to that list of young stars.

ChippersLoveChild – Right you are…Nik has 16 and Rich has 15. Noted and corrected. Ya know, one could add Antropov in that list of surprises as well.

See you at Hooters!

Smoothie – Pleasant surprises and happy endings…yup, all good things indeed!

WBF – Yeah…there is still time for Max to be Max, and I’m sure I’ll lose some more of my hair in the coming weeks over him. Of course, there has been plenty of time for him to “be Max” already…but as we speak, the guy, so far, is on pace for 34 goals and 82 overall points. In last week’s Thrashers Math 101 class, that number was projected to be something like 17 goals and 64 points.

Smoothie

November 17th, 2009
11:11 am

Peverley does have 16 assists…if you count his rescue of his adorable adopted dog “Bear”…nice promo work by the ASG and marketing staff. Kudos to Rich “Ten Gallon Dick” Peverley for realizing his potential with all of the ice time he is now getting.

But did anyone expect him to be the Eli Whitney of the NHL? He is the human version of an “interchangeable part” as he is successful no matter what line he is on and he makes every linemate better when he’s playing with them.

ChippersLoveChild

November 17th, 2009
11:21 am

Haha, touche Rawhide, touche…. and yes, Nik has been solid as well. I love the first line, very nice to see them playing at such a high level. Hopefully Nik can make it off your island soon as well. We all know Slates will be the last man standing, just a matter of time.

Dwayne

November 17th, 2009
11:23 am

special teams, its the biggest difference from last year to this year, Kane is a pleasant surprise, but he prolly dont make(most) anyone else’s opening day roster unless they play similar to waht JA does. (^^^)

Bluenote

November 17th, 2009
11:26 am

Eli Whitney of the NHL? Pretty obscure (but on-target) analogy there Smoothie.
Gotta say Special Teams have been the most astonishing turnaround for me…as it seemed DECLINING PENALTIES might have been the best way to go for some past squads.

No doubt it’s been fun seeing some best-case scenarios with new faces becoming leaders.

Does Jeff Schultz know about this?

Brendan

November 17th, 2009
11:33 am

I can’t believe it, but I actually voted for Max. My 2nd choice was the 6-2-1 road record. I would have added a lower GA stat, for where I thought they’d be this far into the season. And my third choice was Evander Kane.

Peverley and Kovalchuk aren’t surprises for me. I’ll tell you what I am truly surprised about: (1) No goals for Nik Antropov, (2) one (1) goal for Slava Kozlov, and (3) Todd White’s lack of production. Those are the biggest surprises to me. But, it’s still very early. And like WBF says, “there’s still plenty of time for Max to be MAX.”

But so far, Finny is smiling. And Kovy is smiling back at him. And I find that to be a good thing. (Even though I’d never thought of Afinogenov as a “top line” forward.)

Riceowls8891

November 17th, 2009
11:38 am

To me its goaltending. I had no faith in Opie, none. I was wrong. I like Moose, and think he is the perfect back-up, but I was afraid he would have to carry the team when Opie imploded. I was wrong.

And Max won’t “be Max.” He doesn’t have to be a star here, or carry a team. He can be a support player and play within himself. Besides, the knock was he would skate and skate and turn over the puck because his teammates couldn’t keep up. As we have seen over the last few games, Kovy can keep up.

But maybe the biggest surprise occurs November 28th, when we beat Philly. Man, I’m tired of losing to those guys.

Smoothie

November 17th, 2009
11:42 am

Bluenote – I specialize in the arcane and making observations that might otherwise go left undiscovered…or if nothing else my arcane references end up toiling in obscurity until someone as astute as yourself elevates it with your keen recognition! What?

Damn, and I’m not even drinking right now! But I wish I were!!

And yes, the penalty kill prowess we have exibited thus far is nothing short of miraculous…luckily, I think, barring injuries, we have the horses to continue it. Although Slater and sometimes Army scare me. I would prefer we make Whitey a PK specialist to take some of the pressure off of Pevs while Army gets more net-clogging duty on the PP unit with SKozlov, Little and Enstrom / Kubina (Kovy is the default of course!). Then you have a “big man” on each unit with a playmaker, a garbage man (Army & Antro) and a wildcard who can do both (Little & Fins). No wonder we have the best PP in the league…woo hoo!

Pass the Maker’s!

Smoothie

November 17th, 2009
11:45 am

Nice point Rice-cakes about Max! Before, other than Roy, who did the Slugs have who could keep up with him. In 2005-’06, they still had the play-making artist Briere who could get him the puck and a fairly speedy Pomminville to crash the net.

WBF & Spud – was that the line Max was on the year they went to the Conf Finals? Pommes – Briere – Max? Roy was still pretty young and still on the 3rd line right? And I’m thinking the 2nd line was Vanek – Drury – Kotalik.

Holy s_!$ that team was loaded…how did they not win the damn Cup!?

World Be Free

November 17th, 2009
12:15 pm

Smoothie – cannot remember who Max played with back then.

Kane is my new favorite on the team. Not a big kid (yet), but he’s certainly no afraid of anything. If he grows by 20-25#, he will be a force.

Also-big ups to Max, only because I thought he was going to be a total flop-loser and he’s played well so far. If you remember, he played well in Buffalo for several years. Max is still a fan favorite in the Queen City. And he was never asked to be the star or carry the team in Buffalo, just play both ends of the rink. He earned his spot in the press box the past 2 seasons.

Playing with Kovy and Antropov could make alotta players look good.

Darren

November 17th, 2009
12:16 pm

Good list. My vote would also go to special teams, since it’s not often a team leaps all the way from the bottom of the league to top five in penalty killing.

Looking at the roster, it’s really not a surprise the power play has been good, but definitely the PK gets my vote.

However, very honorable mentions go out to goaltending, Kane, and Afinogenov as well.

GaVaHokie

November 17th, 2009
12:48 pm

I voted for ‘Special Teams’, but I have to say Evander Kane’s defense is definitely a HUGE surprise… most of us were worried about him being a defensive liability… I stuck him on Reasoner and Armstrong’s line preseason just so he would “actually have someone to back him up”, but he’s actually tops on the team… go figure.

Bogosian just one goal away from tying Tremblay’s goals record for a Defenseman… awesome, just awesome!

KovyRules

November 17th, 2009
12:51 pm

Great list, Rawhide, but there are too many positives to pick just one. I never thought Kane would stay, and I never saw the potential others did in Opie, so being dead wrong on those two aught to make them the biggest surprises. But I voted for “Playing like a team”. I think that bleeding for each other thing feeds into special teams, road record, Kovy staying inspired, etc. And I don’t just mean brawling. I mean the diving poke checks, the extra hustle in the corner, the electing not to skate out to be recognized as a star after scoring 4 points so you goalie can have all the glory for his first shutout…

Another surprise – small margins of defeat when we do lose. We may not give 100% effort some periods, but we were absent for entire games in past years. This team has enough pride not to let that happen any more.

And Midfield, I’ve come to realize that for Toronto the Kubes – Ex trade was more about salary cap than talent or ability. But good on DW for capitalizing on their bad/sad/ridiculous situation. As a former western Canadian, I can’t miss an opportunity to rip on TO, so… they have an astounding $32.6 million of cap space tied up in goalies and Dmen, and the worst D in the league. Heehee!

JS

November 17th, 2009
1:01 pm

I can’t believe no one has picked Kovy. I know we all are not surprised by his on ice flash (that’s expected), but does no one remember Hossa’s contract year? He simply mailed it in and was concerned about nothing, but himself. If Kovy had taken the same route we would not be having half of these conversations. If he starts the season at half mast then the team does not gel as quickly and as well as they have. I know they have played six games without him, but look at the difference in play when the captian is on the ice. Surprised might not be the right word for Kovy’s play and leadership so far, but I surely think he needs to be recognized for not pulling a “Hossa” on us!! Keep it up Captian, this is your team.

Buzzeng

November 17th, 2009
1:02 pm

I’m going with “playing like a team”. We knew we have some talented players, but with some of the pre-season major personnel additions, it wasn’t clear if we were going to get better or get a basket of individual egos. So far, the team members have all stepped up and the contributions to the record are more widely dispersed than I remember in years past (Yes, Kovy’s always on top, but seemed like there was a big drop in numbers after #17 and maybe one other) – this year, goals and assists are plentiful and are coming from many players. As further support – would you have predicted the team’s record if you knew we were going to lose Kari before the first game and Kovy for six games of the 17 (more than 1/3rd of the games)? That’s the surprise to me – lots of contributors in G, on D and on O.

Midfield

November 17th, 2009
1:06 pm

Tremblay holds a record? Why did you have to remind me of him? I’m going to have a nightmare tonight.

Sara

November 17th, 2009
1:34 pm

I voted for special teams but I’d say it’s neck and neck with the PK/Kane – with one impacting the other. Kane isn’t the only reason the PK has been so successful -credit is certainly due across the board from the coaches to the PKers to the goalies – but that he’s been so effective as a part of it has been stunning.

Bob

November 17th, 2009
1:36 pm

I’ve got Max as the biggest suprise, I thought he would completely flop here and be a huge turnover machine and liability for us. Pleasantly suprised.

I am not suprised by Peverly, he showed last year what he could do and has carried on this year. Great job by Anderson telling Waddell to get him off the waiver wire. Coach should get a lot of credit for the “playing like a team” suprise, it seems that the guys have all bought into the system and that’s 2/3rds of the battle right there

Smoothie

November 17th, 2009
2:06 pm

Peverley was just on fan590 radio in Toronto. Pevs was cordial and answered their questions well, but man are those two hosts a couple of douches?? Their first comment to Rick was something about Filatov going to the KHL and they thought there were all clever and funny. You could tell Rick couldn’t care less for what they said and was like: just get on with it chuckleheads, I don’t have time for your sophomoric crap.

Jimbo

November 17th, 2009
2:40 pm

No question that the PK is the most pleasant surprise. Great to see opposing players pressured all over the attacking zone instead of just sitting back in the box. #2 Bounce Back Ability- team just doesn’t quit even when we fall behind by a couple. In past years, team often folded up too quickly. #3 Goalie that doesn’t allow rebounds- Pavs gloves or smothers chances around the crease. Kari kicked them to permits rebounds coming back. #4- Thorburn and Bolts actually looking like enforcers. Summer training obvioulsy helped. #5 Almost complete absence of negative stuff from Stendec.

3stripes

November 17th, 2009
2:47 pm

I voted for special teams. Two new pieces on the PK – Thorbs and Kane, and they’re playing very well. I never thought of Thorbs as a penalty killer – very pleasantly surprised. I’ve always thought we had the talent to have a strong power play – and we finally do.

I’m still pinching myself that we’re this deep into the season and we’re top 5 in both PK and PP. Just… wow.

NASCAR Dave

November 17th, 2009
2:56 pm

NUFF SAID RAWHIDE!

It’s about time KOZLOV STEPPED IT UP!!!

MB

November 17th, 2009
3:04 pm

Went with special teams, but had to suggest another one…Waddell’s recent track record (though with all due recognition to Messrs. Dudley and Anderson).

Think about it…what would your expectations have been if you’d been told:

1) Waddell will make a deal with one of the league’s “top” GMs, moving two fan favorites for a high-priced veteran D-man and a prospect
2) The Wadd will pick an 18-year-old undersized power forward and keep him up with the big club for, potentially, the whole season
3) Don will take a flyer on a 30-year-old vet with “mercurial” talent who for the past two years has been in the doghouse of one of the most respected coaches in the NHL
4) He’d bring back a former Thrashers defenseman who couldn’t stick with the team and spent last season in the KHL
5) He’d give 236 goalies a shot at the job in camp, including a solid vet with #1 experience, only to ultimately give the job to the heretofore frustrating Ondrej Pavelec with Moose as his backup.
6) That instead of bringing in a “true” #1 center, D-Wadd would go out and pick up Nik Antropov, a center/right wing hybrid who had frustrated fans in Toronto and New York, and place him on our top line.

Add in the doubts that went along with picking up a Nashville Predators cast-off, and the Wadd’s success record of late is approaching his failure record for the first, oh, 8-9 years. Again, lots of credit to Dudley and Anderson, but since we’d no doubt hammer Donny Boy if these moves had failed, we should also give him some credit for their success (to this point).

Brendan

November 17th, 2009
3:24 pm

Alan R.

November 17th, 2009
3:31 pm

Smoothie:

a. Got a transcript of what Peverley said? Or perhaps a link to the interview?

b. That whole Filatov thing has been decided, and he’s already spoken to the media about it.

Interesting news, to say the least.

Red Light

November 17th, 2009
3:40 pm

Shame on you Rawhide, World B., Brendan, et al. Only Bob and MB mentioned John Anderson, who at this point in time deserves the most credit for sticking to his plan, working in the new faces along with the holdovers, giving Bogo, Peverley and Kane the ice time necessary to flourish, not sounding the alarm when Kovy was on the shelf, and sticking with a two-goalie system when things weren’t perfect a few weeks back.

While coaching in the NHL is for the most part overrated, who couldn’t win in Detroit for example, personally I think Anderson has done a great job tinkering with the lines and d-pairings, along with trying to get his players to maintain an even keel: such as you’re not as good as you think when you win, and you’re not as bad as you think when you’re on a losing streak.

The best evidence is the ability to win back-to-back games against the Rangers and Kings last week, and the best sign is that the Thrashers endured five-day layoffs, four-day layoffs and three-day layoffs and won games. Those layoffs, while good for the legs, aren’t always best for hitting on all cylinders. Another item is the team, even in its losses when it fell behind by three goals or more, continues working. That’s a very positive sign and a stunning revelation for this franchise.

The Thrashers are 7-0 when scoring first and the only team not to surrender at least one point to opponents when doing so. In addition, the special teams are greatly improved thus far this season, which again is a testament to the coaching staff.

Anderson is my No. 1 choice.

Red Light

November 17th, 2009
3:41 pm

Chicago Tribune report on Toews, Kane and Keith extensions
http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=506414

Brendan

November 17th, 2009
3:42 pm

Duly noted, Red Light. I am slinking to the corner to go feel shame.

World Be Free

November 17th, 2009
3:49 pm

Red Light-I have mentioned J.A. in several posts.

You got me – tomorrow I will be perfect.

Red Light

November 17th, 2009
3:57 pm

“You go to the box, you know, 2 minutes by yourself and…you feel shame, you know…and then you get free”

Rawhide

November 17th, 2009
4:01 pm

Red Light – As I said…there are so many good things going on with this team now that it was tough to narrow them all down. Excellent points though about JA and his leadership behind the bench!

MB – You are spot on regarding Waddell…like I said in the post, we would all be screaming bloody murder had he been the one to let Peverley go and not the other way around. Same is true with what he’s done over the last couple of years…which has been very good.

When ya bash a player, coach or GM when they do poorly…ya gotta be able to give ‘em credit when they do well.

Midfield

November 17th, 2009
4:21 pm

Is that a Bjorn Borg’s pitcure?

ThrashfaninPitt

November 17th, 2009
4:30 pm

I voted for Peverley, although all of those choices were good.
However, let me point out some numbers if you will:
Rich Peverley: 17 GP; 8 G; 15 A; 23 P; +5; 1.35 PPG
Those numbers already look great, but compare with some notable names:
Marian Gaborik 18 GP/ 13 G / 12 A / 25 P / +6 / 1.39 PPG
Patrick Marleau 22 GP / 12 / 12 / 24 / +3 / 1.09
Joe Thornton 22 / 5 / 19 / 24 / +2 / 1.09
Alex Ovechkin 14 / 14 / 9 / 23 / +10/ 1.64
Dany Heatley (Jerk) 22 / 14 / 9 / 23 / +2 / 1.05
Ryan Getzlaf 19 / 2 / 20 / 22 / +3 / 1.16
Steven Stamkos (1st RND pick) 18 / 13 / 8 / 21 / +5 / 1.17
Sidney Crosby 21 / 10 / 11 / 21 / +7 / 1.00

The list goes on and on, but the point is, Rich is in some VERY elite company. That has got to be the biggest suprise of the season!
(Source: NHL.com)

ThrashfaninPitt

November 17th, 2009
4:33 pm

Oops, forgot to point out that his numbers are comparable to all those elite names, yet hes played fewer games than all (except Ovechkin) and in some cases, SIGNIFICANTLY fewer games!

Viking

November 17th, 2009
4:43 pm

Midfield, see what I wrote earlier about the movie “Spinal Tap”.

It is the guitarist that is bragging about his amplifier which can be turned up to 11 instead of 10!

Midfield

November 17th, 2009
4:47 pm

Spinal Slap sounds even more familiar to me, Viking.

Brendan

November 17th, 2009
5:09 pm

I do wonder, though, if it is bashing to factually report recorded events. Actually, I don’t “wonder” about that. It isn’t bashing. Did Don Waddell draft Braydon Coburn? Yes or no. Did Don Waddell trade Coburn for Alexei Zhitnik? Yes or no. Did Zhitnik help lead the Thrashers to a playoff berth, and a Division title? Yes or no. Did Don Waddell ultimately decide to buy-out Zhitnik’s contract, such that it still hit our cap limit in the 2009-10 season? Yes or no. Poster reaction to those posed questions will be very telling. For the answers to these questions both lead themselves to (1) support of or (2) criticism against Don Waddell’s Administration, under the stewardship of the Atlanta Spirit, LLC.

I think Waddell is doing a much better job than he’s done in the past. But would I, or ANY poster, be guilty of “bashing” Waddell to say that the franchise has finished in the bottom third of the Eastern Conference seven times in nine (7/9) completed seasons? See, ‘cuz I think that’s an explanation of truthful events. There is no inaccuracy about the statement.

If I were to say that the past two seasons resulted in 76-point campaigns? Would it be a “lie?” Is it a “fabrication?” Would I be one of the “lying liars, spewing forth lies?” Would I be guilty of “bashing?” Or, is that just a factual presentation of events as they actually occured? Did the Atlanta Thrashers, in 2008, finish 28th overall? Yes or no. Did they draft 3rd overall, in 2008? Yes or no. Did the Atlanta Thrashers finish 27th overall, in 2009? Yes or no. Did they draft 4th overall? Yes or no. Is a 27th place finish an “incremental progress” from 28th, the previous year? Yes … or no?

Would it be factually inaccurate to say that this franchise has made six lottery draft picks in its decade long existence? Am I “bashing” anyone? It is what it is, is my reply. This team has owned eight picks in the Top 10 overall, since the Inaugural season. Is that a false statement?

Previous lottery draft picks of Stefan and Heatley are no longer here, with two more, Lehtonen and Kovalchuk, un-signed beyond this coming April, with the team’s exclusive rights to them expiring on June 30, 2010. Is that “slander?” Or it is merely “truthful reporting?”

I think, sometimes, lines of reporting and bashing are confused by some posters. To me, Waddell-bashing would be statements like, “our bumbling, lisping little fraud of a GM.” Or comments like, “Don Fraudell.” And so forth. There’s no way to regard that other than as “bashing.” But is it “negative” to report results? Even unflattering ones? My answer is “No, it is not.”

Is reporting that Zach Bogosian appears to an excellent draft selection … a false statement? Yes or no. Remember, that’s an opinion, not a fact. Would calling Bogosian the second-coming of Bobby Orr be engaging in hyperbole? (Well, time will tell.) Would saying that I think Don Waddell is doing better as a GM … make me a “Waddell apologist?” Or a “sheep?” Would a statement announcing Waddell’s improvement at his job be factually accurate? It would seem to be an opinion, that could very well become FACT. In my view, which is admittedly subjective, I think Waddell has become a much better GM since 2007. In my opinion, he’s learning how to do his job better. If that “opinion” is true, does that absolve all previous results? Obviously, not. The past cannot be changed. The results are in. Every year, the Thrashers have some point total to account for the results of their games played. Those results … are what they are. And in the case of the 2009-10 season, they will be what they will be. And when the season is through, they will be recorded. Is that “positive” or “negative?” It’s neither. It is what it is. It will be … whatever it is. Maybe it’ll be 95-points? Maybe it’ll be 85-points? Maybe it’ll be 75-points.

If it’s 95-points, but Ovechkin collapses in his return to MSG, and is done for the season, and the Capitals plummet to the bottom of the division, while the Thrasher win the Southeast division, is it all due to Waddell? Or the Spirit, LLC? If it’s 75-points, one fewer than the previous two seasons, but there are “mitigating circumstances” as to why that happened, is it all Don Waddell’s fault? Or that of the Atlanta Spirit, LLC? The possibility of “misplaced” praise and “misplaced” blame would be equally apparent in 75-point or 95-point results, as outlined above. Still, there’s a “body of work” to examine, since 2004, when the Spirit, LLC assumed control. There has been a division title and there have been lottery draft finishes, and one (1) playoff berth on their watch. With zero (0) playoff wins. It is what it is. Is that praise or bashing?

Would it be factually inaccurate to say that teams all across the NHL fire Coaches and GM’s over lottery draft finishes? Is that “false reporting?” Or, is it merely a reporting of events that is truthful?

That’s a lot of questions. But I think it merits some reflection, to determine what is and what is NOT, “Waddell bashing.”