Thrashers still seeking a clue how to get Niitty-Monkey off their backs

David Perron…St. Louis Blues…with a power play goal.

No, that’s not a final solution to a Clue game. What it is, however, is the answer to the question, “who was the last player to score a goal on the Thrashers at Philips Arena during the third period”?

In fact, that goal is the only one scored against the Thrashers at home in the third period during the Month of November so far… and only twice in October was a visiting team able to beat a Thrashers goalie between minutes 40 and 60. In all, Atlanta has outscored their opponents 20-3 at home during period number three this season.

The Thrashers going 2-1-2 earning 6 of a possible 10 points on their recent 5-game homestand is...?

  • Good! That's getting over 50% of the points available (3%, 2 Votes)
  • Meh...it's OK but coulda been better (49%, 38 Votes)
  • Un-Good! Have to do better at home (48%, 37 Votes)

Total Voters: 77

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Under normal circumstances, that type of prowess during the third period…when the game is in the balance…would indicate a lot of success for a team. Unfortunately, there is this little issue regarding the two periods that the NHL rulebook simply insists must be played prior. 

In the first period, Atlanta has been outscored 9-5 in the comfy confines of Philips Arena…in the first 40 minutes, that number becomes 25-16. However, one quarter of those 16 goals came in one game alone, when they outscored the L.A. Kings 4-0 in the second period of Friday the 13th’s 7-nuthin’ beatdown.

So as you can see, in most cases…by the time Atlanta gets around to the final frame, there is quite a bit of catchin’ up to do.

This past weekend was much the same ‘ol same ‘ol…get down by two or three goals, make a great effort at the end, but fall just short. Saturday it was a 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins…Sunday it was a 4-3 overtime loss to the Bolts. In both cases, the Thrashers fell behind in the first-40 and waited until the last-20 to score their goals.

Making the most recent game just that much more frustrating to endure is that in net for the Bolts was long-time Thrasher nemesis Antero Niittymaki, who improved is overall record to 15-0-0 against Atlanta…the previous fourteen coming while playing for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Now, I’m not 100% sure…and Trixie has flown to Las Vegas for vacation this holiday week, so she’s not around to look this up for me…but I don’t recall ever even getting as much as  the consolation point for simply getting the game into overtime against Niittymaki. Atlanta at least got that Sunday, even though they didn’t completely get the monkey…or “Niitty-monkey” …off their backs.

Whether in a Flyers uniform or Lightning, the Thrashers cannot seem to get the Nitty-monkey off their backs (AP Photo/John Amis)

Whether in a Flyers uniform or Lightning, the Thrashers cannot seem to get the Niitty-monkey off their backs (AP Photo/John Amis)

But earning that solitary point didn’t come absent yet another thrilling late-game rally by the home towners. Down 2-0 after two…and 3-1 with almost three-quarters of the final period gone, the Thrashers once again made their run. Slava Kozlov scored to cut the margin to one after taking a Nik Antropov face off win and beating Nittymaki with 4:23 remaining.

Hey…I got to say “Kozlov scored” and “Nik Antropov face off win” all in the same sentence!

One minute and fifty-two seconds later, Evander Kane knocked home number seven on the season and Atlanta was level with Tampa Bay with 2:31 remaining…and once again, the joint was jumping!

In the past couple of games, Maxim Afinogenov was the player providing last-minute heroics for the Thrasher. Thursday night it was a blast from the right circle to tie the game against Boston and send the game to OT. Saturday night he was the goal-scorer that pulled Atlanta to within one against the Pens. On both occasions Max’s dramatics happened with under a minute left in regulation.

But the man who has played the role of Mr. Clutch recently was denied such a chance this time as Steve Downie, who averages 12:27 TOI, was able to coheres Afinogenov into a scrap with 53 seconds remaining and the two spent the rest of regulation…and the first 1:07 of overtime in the sin-bin. Thus, keeping max off the ice for that last shift of the third period.

Steve Downie off the ice in exchange for Maxim Afinogenov off the ice when the game is at such a crucial juncture. Hmmmmm…I’d say that’s a pretty good swap for the Lightning, eh?

Steve Stamkos then ended the possibility chance hopedream of taking two points from Niittymaki for the first time with 1:04 left in the 5-minute extra time period…leaving the Thrashers and their fans to wonder just what it might take to finally take down this goalie that torments us so.

Well, I mean…outside of getting Prof. Plum to do so, in the library, with a wrench.

42 comments Add your comment

ben

November 23rd, 2009
1:30 am

Tim

November 23rd, 2009
1:43 am

I’m not sure if it was Nitty in net but I recall a game where Moose got us to shootout but Coach Hartley pull Moose and put a cold Kari instead as a “stopper”. Of course, we lose that game :)

Rawhide

November 23rd, 2009
1:58 am

Tim – You recall correctly…that was 3 years ago.

Thanks

Dwayne

November 23rd, 2009
6:30 am

getting closer against nitty

LAC

November 23rd, 2009
7:41 am

Bill, time to make changes period.

white/little must GO. Same with hainsey, he cost us the game Sunday
he is TERRIBLE in the defensive end.

We had TB skating rings around us, it is awful.

Changes MUST be made to bloster the team, This is NOT a playoff team,
plain & simple, we are in sinking mode and things look bleak to say the least unless we rid the team of a couple slakers… And get people here who want and know how to WIN !

Zoomo

November 23rd, 2009
8:02 am

The first two periods were as flat as the team has been all year. Terrible offensive presence. I think we had 16 shots on goal after 2, and 5 of them were soft toss into the net from the blueline. No sustained attack at all and that put the pressure on Pavs and the D. If was not pretty, but Pavs kept the team in it.

Ok we’ll get the “ship is sinking crowd” in here all day. We earned 6 of 10 points on the homestand. Not what we should have ended up with when it started. But not terrible either.

I think the team was gassed from the Pens game and third in 4 days. No execuse for that. Bolts had played and traveled on Saturday as well and they had plenty of juice.

Anderson mixed the lines up in the 3rd and it seemed to work. I agree that Little is still lost, and White is invisible. Hainsey had a terrible gaffe on the game winner, but the guys plays hard and makes some great plays, as well as some bad puck handling plays in our own end.

We were in this same spot about 10 days ago and the team won 4 in a row. Gotta get the mojo back fast.

Toby

November 23rd, 2009
8:28 am

I still see a bunch of positives. I thought we played great against the Pens. I believe we’ve gotten at least a point in 6 of the last 7 games. Maybe we can fix whatever is wrong with those first 2 periods on the road and get it back together. No need to panic at all.

Dwayne

November 23rd, 2009
8:46 am

ON THE ROAD AGAIN, JUST CANT WAIT TO GET ON THE ROAD AGAIN……Thrashers played one period of hockey yesterday and got a point. Is that a positive? I think so. Kovy had a bad game. It happenes to the best of players in all sports. Still only a point or 2 out of 6th place, with games in hand. Chillax my friends.

World Be Free

November 23rd, 2009
8:49 am

Gotta tighten up on defense. Too many shots and too many chances given up. There’s an easy fix, but it has to happen soon.

Matt

November 23rd, 2009
9:10 am

Rawhide,*ahem* the word you are looking for is “consolation”. But, otherwise I have to agree with you, this not showing up to play the 1st period is beyond old already. What will it take?? Maybe that 7 p.m. start time really is to blame.

Fan from Carolina

November 23rd, 2009
9:29 am

Love that Kane! Unfortunately the guy I always compare him to scored the OT winner. This sure isn’t the Lightning team from the past two seasons even with Lecavalier off his game. If not for goal post ’saves’ this would have been real ugly. A fortunate point and still in the hunt.

docsbro

November 23rd, 2009
9:38 am

A little off topic here but can anyone give me a good answer why the NHL puts up with guys like Matt Cooke? I am a life long hockey fan even played as a kid and it seems to me that guys like this do nothing positive for the game unless you like knee injuries. The worst part is he is too chicken sh** to even play by the code and take his “beatings” like he should if he is going to “run” guys. Also, before any says it I DON’T want this guy on my team. Unlike say some “instigators” Avery or Barnaby…they knew the code.

just curious if anyone has any good answers.

MashaPlayer7

November 23rd, 2009
10:21 am

Watching the Thrashers play at home is like watching Groundhog Day – except we don’t get the girl in the end.

MashaPlayer7

November 23rd, 2009
10:22 am

docsbro – I agree! I even posted a similar comment on the NHL’s facebook page (not even sure they read that stuff). The NHL needs to protect it’s players – guys like Cooke are more dangerous than the goons that patrolled the ice in the 80s and 90s.

Hockey Biltong

November 23rd, 2009
10:35 am

If you were to pick one guy, on offence or defence, at the trade deadline, to help be a game changer for the Thrash, who would it be????
Now don’t go pie in the sky on me.
Pick a legit player who would help, not harm, the teams chemistry.
eg. Manny Malhotra seems to be doing quite well, and I wish he was here with the existing crew…..I thnk he could have been that guy.

Alan R.

November 23rd, 2009
10:43 am

Sobering fact: Our next game is Wednesday, against my Western Conference favorite.

Toby

November 23rd, 2009
11:01 am

Not very sobering when we’ve gone 6-2-1 on the road. I’m happy they’re heading out for a couple…

Dwayne

November 23rd, 2009
11:10 am

need the nasty players to have more to talk about? maybe..press, media, alltho negative, it is print. Not saying I agree…just saying
Hockey Biltong…lets say Carolina, Toronto and one other team are sellers at the deadline and the Thrashers in at 7th or 8th at that point, who off those type teams would Thrashers want?? Rod Brind’amour?

h

November 23rd, 2009
11:23 am

Certainly a couple of weird games this weekend. Kovy was just ugly last night and I thought his run at Cooke was ill-timed to say the least. The captain needs to be smarter than that. In the 2 games this weekend I counted Hainsey approaching the puck and missing it completely about 9 times in his own zone. What is up with that? That dude needs to focus a little better. At least 2 of those misses resulted in a failure to clear the zone and a subsequent goal. I found myself thinking after last night game that I was happy they were going on the road for 2. I am getting sick and tired of being down 2-3 goals each game. Maybe I should just show up for 3rd period, like the team. Seriously. Ugh. Anyway, a couple of wins on the road will cure my ailment.

JS

November 23rd, 2009
11:26 am

Why no quotes from Kovy these last two games? He plays below par for a couple od games and no one wants to talk to the captian?

gretschdrum

November 23rd, 2009
11:45 am

JS- Agreed inre: Kovy. He was downright bad on Sunday. At times he looked totally disinterested and a few times he regressed a few years and tried one of his patented “I’ll take on all five of the other team” only to turnover the puck in the neutral zone. Also, Kovy played terribly in his own zone and has a -3 to show for it.

h-Hainsey was the worst player on the ice Sunday. He’s been scuffling pretty badly for the last few games. I wonder if he might be hurt? He’s had some great games this season and made some fantastic individual plays however yesterday’s OT gaffe that led to the losing goal was very Andy Sutton-like.

Spud Webb

November 23rd, 2009
11:56 am

This season will be good, we’re fine. Deep breaths!!! Hainsey is fine and far from the only reason we lost yesterday.
I still say lets go old school and send out bolts or thorns and just start a fight. I know a lot of folks on here won’t like that, but we have to do something to get the team JACKED up. We need something.

Hotrod

November 23rd, 2009
12:01 pm

I agree with Toby, fix the first period effort and lets move on.

The team is definitely good when it wants to be. IE: down by 2 with 2 mins. to go in the 3rd. That effort needs to be duplicated in the opening moments of the 1st.

rightshot

November 23rd, 2009
12:36 pm

Went to the game Sunday. On the bad side, we were slow starting out, looked like the team wasn’t always sure what to do at times, some of the players (Kovy) looked like they were generally half a$$ing it on D. On the plus side, the team knows how to come back and make a game of it, they can get the puck past Nitty, and when they are playing well on O, it translates, mostly, to a better D game.

They have the ability to be one of the elite teams. I personally think, they are having trouble believing they can win on a consistent basis and/or that they just lose confidence unless they are able to get the lead. I have no idea what it will take to get the guys firing on all cylinders, but they will need to soon or we will end up looking at a very very long summer.

World Be Free

November 23rd, 2009
12:48 pm

It all comes down to playing better in your own end. This team allows too many quality scoring chances and point shots. We are putting too much pressure on our defensemen, which is causing them to run around in our zone.

Defense is a team game, backchecking, covering points and having the centers cover the high and low slot areas. Forget going anywhere in the playoffs, much less making the playoffs unless we learn to play defense.

Ravenwynd

November 23rd, 2009
12:48 pm

Well, until this team plays 3 full periods night in and night out, they are not a playoff team. Its frustrating because when this team plays full games, skates and attacks with JA’s system they can beat anyone. Alas, they just can’t do it. Once they can consistently play whole games, then they can be mentioned as a playoff team.

Dwayne

November 23rd, 2009
1:18 pm

Spud…I still say lets go old school and send out bolts or thorns and just start a fight. I know a lot of folks on here won’t like that, but we have to do something to get the team JACKED up. We need something.
I’ve been saying that for the last week. I would love to see it…Kovy did it against the pen-gwens because no one else would, (and the fact that cooke is avery’s twin)

hip czech

November 23rd, 2009
1:20 pm

Same song, different verse:

Rangers-
“I could sit here and write chapter and verse on the amount of dead wood on our squad- nearly too long to list – changes that need to made – yes, I agree bring up some fresh bodies from Hartford and expose some of our players to waivers and send them down – and how our come out flat, fall behind 1- or 2-0, score a goal to make it 2-1 with one of the goals against teh fluky kind, realize after the second period that we are in a game and come out with a stronger effort in the third only to be stoned by the opposing goalie and lose by one goal. But hey, all of you already did that and think someone I just summarized our issues in that too long second sentence.”

Caps-
“The team is not pleased with their recent play. There has been no desire in their game and their lack of consistency is frustrating everyone. The coach can only do so much when it comes to motivation, the rest is up to the players. In this particular instance, Bruce Boudreau has done his part, but his players have not lived up to their end of the bargain.”

Seems to be an epidemic…it’s a LONG season, teams go through funks. Let’s see if the coaching staff, and more importantly the players, can work through it.

The slow starts at home are perplexing but I thought Darren Elliot had a good observation, look at the teams the Thrashers have lost to at home – Washington (twice), San Jose, Pittsburgh, Columbus…all playoff, top 5 or so teams in their conferences. It’s like the Thrashers are in awe at the start of the game and think they can’t skate with these teams. The third periods show that they can…they just need to start playing THEIR game from the opening faceoff.

Hockey Biltong爽

November 23rd, 2009
1:51 pm

Rod Brindamor would be awesome!

Brendan

November 23rd, 2009
1:59 pm

Rawhide, thanks for the link to that game when Lehtonen, like a relief pitcher in the 9th inning, was brought in to “close out.” Moose had stopped 29 of 31 shots and played 65 minutes of action. But Coach Hartley would not allow the Moose to try for the win.

But it’s got to be Niittymaki himself. Look at the lineups from that game. Only three (3) Thrashers skaters remain from that team, three years ago: Jim Slater, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Slava Kozlov. Of course, Lehtonen and Hedberg are still here.

These are the departed Thrashers from that game: Hossa, Kapanen, Hnidy, Larsen, Havelid, Sutton, Rucchin, Mellanby, Holik, Sim, Metropolit, Vigier, deVries, McCarthy (who was actually “even” for that one,) and Vishnevski. We’re a LOT YOUNGER now. Thank goodness.

With this new roster, I think we will crack Niittymaki the next time around.

Red Light

November 23rd, 2009
4:46 pm

JS: While I am sure CV and other hacks would like to get a comment from Kovy after poor performances, I’m sure he’s in the showers, getting treatment on his foot, hidden behind the curtain and avoiding the mic like he has anything of substance during his entire career in Atlanta. Captains take the heat when things aren’t going well, particularly in regards to their own performance.

At this stage of his career, Brindy would make a better assistant coach than player. He’s just not the same after his knee injury. 2g 5a and -17 so far this season. PASS!

Hockey Biltong

November 23rd, 2009
4:47 pm

What about the glut of players Chicago has??
Dwayne what would you say to Dustin Byfuglien??? Hossa comes back and they have to move somebody and we do have Dudley who knows Chicago….
I’m just sayin…….

Glovesave29

November 23rd, 2009
6:19 pm

Cannot pin that one on the D. The forwards did not come back to help at all and the Lightning exploited it.

Nate

November 23rd, 2009
7:11 pm

LAC is right. I’m not a doomsayer, but I try to give an honest opintion. There’s simply no way this team will make the playoffs giving up 34.6 shots per game. Anderson can spin it any way he wants, but facts are facts.

Rawhide – When was the last time the team that gave up the most shots on goal per game in the league made the playoffs?

Dwayne

November 23rd, 2009
8:44 pm

Good question Nate, we have debated the amount of shots many times. Mostly before the season started just to kill time. I look at it this way, In the last 3 games, if Atl. goes 1-1-1 instead of 0-2-1, everyone, for the most part(except Stendec) is OK.

Dwayne

November 23rd, 2009
8:46 pm

By-fug-lien, I can say it. Have not seen him play, will he fit JA system?

World Be Free

November 23rd, 2009
8:50 pm

Big Byf would be great here.
Been saying too many shots for a long, long time.
Gotta play defense even in this league.

Rawhide

November 23rd, 2009
9:23 pm

Rawhide – When was the last time the team that gave up the most shots on goal per game in the league made the playoffs?

Nate – I dunno…but I’d guess never. But while we are on the subject of hight SA/G and making the playoffs, check this out…

The Flyers allowed 32.5 SA/G last year…6th highest in the NHL…and made the playoffs.
Montreal surrendered 31.7 SA/G…7th highest…and barely slipped in.
Boston allowed 30.8 SA/G…10th highest and got in.

Of all the 16 teams that qualified for the playoffs, 7 allowed more shots on goal then they took…including the Stanley Cup champ Penguins.

Boston: 30.3 S/G – 30.8 SA/G
Vancouver: 28.5 S/G – 29.2 SA/G
Philadelphia: 29.8 S/G – 32.5 SA/G
Pittsburgh: 29.0 S/G – 30.3 SA/G
Montreal: 30.0 S/G – 31.7 SA/G
St. Louis: 27.7 S/G – 28.5 SA/G
Anaheim: 30.2 S/G 30.5 S/G

Currently, the Thrashers are averaging 28.9 S/G and allow a league-worst 35.4 SA/G.

Brendan

November 23rd, 2009
11:47 pm

Biltong, I was thinking the same thing. Except that … Chicago will want to keep all of its players. I think we’d have to look at a club like Phoenix or Minnesota, and then see what makes any sense from there. And if what they’re selling costs too much, then WE PASS on it. There’s no sense in giving up a 1st round pick next year. A third rounder might be doable. Let’s not even try to figure out how Kovy’s future figures into that. At some point, you simply must realize that giving away your future building blocks, and SOLUTION out of the murky depths of the league, is NOT a good idea. That’s the lesson of the 2007 trade deadline. That’s the lesson of the Phil Kessel trade. (Kessel does now have six goals.) If the team, as assembled and coached, isn’t good enough, then “accountability” should rear its ugly head. And on the Kovalchuk front, I have it recorded from “Opening Night,” where Kovy says, “Ownership went out and got players. Now it’s on us to deliver.”

Hockey Biltong

November 24th, 2009
12:29 am

Well then……

World Be Free

November 24th, 2009
7:31 am

Hey folks, headed out for vacation so I will be signing off for a few days. Enjoy your Thanksgiving. Turkey and beer (or whatever).

Brendan

November 24th, 2009
12:11 pm

Happy Thanksgiving, WBF!

Biltong, if Minnesota or Phoenix is well out of it, or if they have a player or two that has fallen out of favor in their camp, they might try moving that player to us. But we’ve got to be careful.

The first thing we have to do is evaluate what’s in our system. If that can be recalled, safely, say without a waiver claim, then that’s a great option. Second, if we trade for a player who is anything other than a pending UFA, we have to look at whose ascention we are potentially blocking. In other words, if we really like Kulda, Postma, Grant Lewis, or want to ink Popovic/Salmela to a multi-year deal, that would make us think twice about taking a player with 3-4 more years on his contract. The only Wild player that comes to mind, like that, would be Nick Schultz. Schultz, 26 years old, is a cap hit of $3.5 million. He logs 21:30 in average ice time, he’s 1G, 3A, for 4-points and is a -8. But he’s a +22 career defender in the NHL, including being a +2 in the playoffs. Now, I don’t know why the Wild would consider trading him, especially with 4 years left on the deal, but this is just a “for instance” example of … better be careful before you pull the trigger. You could be blocking someone. And just what on Earth would we have give up to make Minnesota “happy?”

On Phoenix, a guy I kinda like is Keith Yandle, age 22, a pending RFA in 2011-12. He’s a $1.2 million cap hit. 3G, 7A, for 10-points, and is a +3. But he’s a career -13. He logs 19:16 in ice time. And Phoenix probably tells us to go jump in a lake, if we attempt to trade for him. Again, giving up 1st round picks is not a good idea, unless you’re somebody like the Red Wings or Penguins or Sharks, whose pick is likely to be #27, #28, #29, or #30 in the draft. I affectionately call that portion of the draft, “The crapshoot area.” It’s where, as an arm-chair GM, I’d pick a goalie, if I thought I needed one. Or some depth defender or a depth RW, if I felt my roster was a little weak at RW in the pipeline.