Hedberg, Thrashers survive Moose season in Manhattan

Was Monday night the opening of Moose season in Manhattan?

It sure seemed that way as Johan Hedberg took shot after shot during Monday night’s 3-2 shootout win in New York. In fact…the Rangers fired off 48 rounds at the Moose, who turned away 46 of them.

The shots came early…often…and constantly.

Johan Hedberg was everywhere...on the ice...on the puck...on the players (AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill)

Johan Hedberg was everywhere...on the ice...on the puck...on the players (AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill)

First there was the highway robbery committed by Hedberg on Ales Kotalik in the first period…diving to his right to get the paddle down to deny the goal. Then there was the stuffing of Christopher Higgins during a Ranger 2 on OH MY GAWD break with about two and a half minutes left in the third to preserve the 2-2 tie.

In between, the Moose put the Thrashers on his back and they rode him once again to a win.

All four goals scored came during special teams play. In the first period, Slava Kozlov score his sixth goal of the year while the Thrashers were on the power play. At the time, Wade Redden was sitting in the sin-bin for holding, grabbing and clutching Chris Thorburn who had just worked his way past him on the left side boards.

With 2:50 left before the second intermission, Moose was beaten by Ryan Callahan who had slipped between Zach Bogosian and Christoph Schubert coming through the neutral zone. Zach took a hooking call on the play and the Thrashers again played a man down.

But Hedberg proved to be Atlanta’s best player on the ensuing penalty kill by stopping all five shots faced during the two minute New York onslaught.

Two minutes into the third period, the Thrashers took a too many men on the ice call…but were still able to execute the oft-practiced and highly-difficult “185-foot Ron Hainsey pass down the left hand boards, wrapping around behind the back of the net to find Colby Armstrong between the right circle and the boards who then takes the puck to the net to score” short-handed type goal.

It’s a thing of beauty…really.

Hedberg turns away Sean Avery's shot. There was no rebound and, thus, Avery was denied a sloppy second chance (AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill)

Hedberg turns away Sean Avery's shot. There was no rebound and, thus, Avery was denied a sloppy second chance (AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill)

However, Marian Gaborik scored his league-leading 23rd goal of the season during the very same power play just 59 second after Army’s.

By the time that second period ended…Moose had faced 35 shots on goal. Remember, he only faced 19 all game last Saturday night. He then turned away all 12 shots taken in the third to get the game into extra time…none more important than the afore-mentioned stop of Higgins when the game was on the line.

After the Thrashers and Rangers failed to end things during the 5-minute OT, Moose then stopped Gaborik and Kotalik…if you wanna call stopping a slow rolling puck after it rolled off Kotalik’s stick a “stop”….while Ilya Kovalchuk and the Slavamatic beat Henrik Lundqvist on their shootout attempts.

Kovy broke out a nice move during the first round as he moved left-to-right…waited out Lundvist…then snapped it over his shoulder once he committed. Kozlov just moved in and blasted it into the net.

Sean Avery was being his normal annoying pest-self…as if we expect anything less. Twice he attempted to draw a Thrasher into doing something. The first time he was wrestled to the ground by Boris Valabik…the second time the ref did him a favor by getting in between he and Christoph Schubert.

Before skating away, it appeared as though the 6’-3” 230-pound Thrasher defender looked down on the 5’-10” 195-pound twerp and said something like, “Sie wollen jenen Fehler nicht machen”.

But in the end… this was once again the Night of the Moose. Johan has now won 8 of his last 10 starts and his overall record is now 9-3-0 with a very nifty 2.19 GAA and .932 SV%.

And yeah…I’m gonna say it again. The Thrashers should continue to ride the Moose while he is playing the way he is. I’d start him again in Florida, then put Pavelec in there Thursday on the tail end of the back-to-backer when Dallas comes a-callin’ to Thrasherville.

129 comments Add your comment

Smitty

December 15th, 2009
1:54 pm

Rawhide, I would like to see a Kane-Peverly-Little line. Lot of speed and some defensive reponsibility. It also would give Kozzy a little break from playing second line minutes. White is hurting the Thrash. Maybe a couple of games upstairs will wake him up. Wish they would get the Kovy situation resolved before the season starts, I mean before Thanksgiving, I mean before Christmas.

WM

December 15th, 2009
2:01 pm

Just a question. How many think that if Atlanta doesn’t resign Kovy he either a)stays in the NHL or B) goes back to play in the KHL? Also, regardless of choice, what would you consider a fair replacement cost for Kovy? Equal valued star player (assuming he stays in the NHL), prospects, draft picks, combo of players, cash, or all the above? I personally think if he leaves Atlanta (which I hope he doesn’t) he’ll leave for the KHL.

Miami Screaming Eagle

December 15th, 2009
2:10 pm

NHL-the best we can expect is prospects and draft picks.
Great huh?

Hockey Biltong爽

December 15th, 2009
2:12 pm

Moosehead beer Not….
WBF – see you Thursday.

World Be Free

December 15th, 2009
2:12 pm

Spud-Doris needs to hit the weight room and bulk up. He and Kari seem to avoid training for the purposes of improving.

Doris would become Boris if he would start knocking people down!

Jimbo

December 15th, 2009
2:33 pm

Never have been a real fan of the Moose. He always seemed to be battling the puck. Now, he appears to be far more comfortable and on top of his game. Not many of the 48 shots were real threats to go in. The Rangers were firing from everywhere, apparently trying to come up with anything to break there recent scoring drought. Enstrom once again played well. I agree with many posters that a Pevs-Little-Kane line could be both a good scoring line and a defensive shut-down line when we need to slow down someone else’s top line. Little isn’t scoring but boy can he play defense- great positioning, good hands, a harder hitter than most his size. Love the kid!

Nate

December 15th, 2009
3:12 pm

Yeah…that was a bit fortunate last night. Looked like a repeat of the Ottawa game earlier in the season. Hopefully we see a stronger effort against the Kitties. And like other’s mentioned, looks like Kovy’s been working with Slava on the shoot-outs. So much so it was like watching a mirror image last night. That should help his sniper move even more if goalies have to watch for the hesitation wrister.

Glovesave29

December 15th, 2009
3:57 pm

WBF – just passing alonmg what I read in the Canadian media (so take that for what it is worth). Burke supposedly has been less than happy with Alexei and has offered him up in a few trades. They need goaltending up there. I think so far “the Monster” has been overrated, plus he has heart defect issues. They have the best goalie coach in the business, and I can see them having some interest in Kari. It’s all just speculation, though.

I can’t see Kovy or any top star really considering the KHL. Top athletes like to play at the highest level available, and while the KHL is a good league, it does not touch the NHL. My gut still says he stays here. I certainly do not think it has affected his on ice play as of late. The whole team is in a bit of a scoring funk, Kovy included. I do not think his contract status is even on his radar when on the ice.

TableHockey

December 15th, 2009
4:01 pm

WM – I think that if Kovy doesn’t resign with Atlanta he will stay in the NHL. I personally think he wants to hoist the Stanley Cup more than the gads of money that the KHL is reportedly offering him.

I imagine the olympic hockey gold medal match will be Canada vs. Russia – if Russia pulls it off then Kovy will only be short a Stanley Cup of joining the triple gold club. There are only 2 dozen or so players that have accomplished that – pretty exclusive club.

On Twitter they are reporting that both the Kings and Canucks have called about Kovy and the Kings are supposedly willing to part with Dustin Brown in a package. No word on what the Canucks are willing to part with.

I posted something on the last blog but it got lost in between some lengthy rants – the other day Doug Maclean was on 590 and supposedly said they are not in a hurry to resign Kovy and he apparently acknowledged the possibility of selling the team. I heard this on Twitter – did any one hear the actual interview and can shed light on what was said?

Spud Webb

December 15th, 2009
4:08 pm

WM, I think he’ll stay in the NHL, like some of the others here, I believe he wants his name on that cup, to truly cement his “greatness”.

TableHockey< i'll start digging to see if I can find the Maclean bit, interested if he actually said that.

KovyRules

December 15th, 2009
4:17 pm

Rawhide, I can’t see reassembling the Kovy-Max-Antro line as long as Kovy is on cruise control. That line was a defensive nightmare for the few games before and during the road trip. Having Little or Kozlov in Max’s place balances that line much better.

Plus I thought Kozlov-Pevs-Max looked good last night – generating chances, but still being responsible defensively.

Will be there Saturday and Monday, which should be good. Due to travel I’ve only been in my seats 4 times, but all 4 are wins…

Manley

December 15th, 2009
5:02 pm

Agree with others about Darren Eliot’s “Get Up, Kovy”. At least he is not too much of a homer to call that one. Also, loved the look Schubert gave Avery after one scrum, then again after the blatant dive by Avery by the net. Thought for sure he would force Avery into going at it. Wasn’t a big fan of Schubert before that, but he is growing on me and had a good game.

By the way, The Hockey News website has TWO stories about the Thrashers on the home page and Goalies’ World Computer Rankings have Moose listed no. 7 in the NHL. Considering that Moose is sharing the net, this is pretty impressive since Goalies’ World weighs games played in their rankings.

rightshot

December 15th, 2009
5:13 pm

First, nice to see you again Bill.
Nice meeting Mr and Ms Smoothie, Bluenote, and the guy from the blueland chronical.

Please excuse my cynicism but is it possible that in addition to still not being at 100%, Kovy is coasting because he knows he will sign a contract here and knows he can mail it in a few games because he’s gonna get paid anyway?

I did enjoy the last game but got the impression after the first period, since we had done so well controlling the pace in the first, the thrashers backed off a little and the rangers picked it up some. They came out expecting the slow rangers and got the fired up version instead. just my opinion

Definatly looking forward to the next game, it’s already pre-tuned on center ice.

five_hole

December 15th, 2009
5:26 pm

I’ve only been in my seats 4 times, but all 4 are wins…KovyRules

In that case, you definitely need to go see more games. ;-)

Brendan

December 15th, 2009
5:35 pm

Moose stole that game for us with the breakaway save on Higgins. He stole the Habs game with the save on Kostitsyn. If you had to pick an MVP for the Thrashers, so far in this young season, who would it be? And why?

KovyRules

December 15th, 2009
6:18 pm

Five_hole, I do need to. But by my count I’ve turned at least three clients who had never seen an NHL game into hockey fans! ASG ought to subsidize me.

Dwayne

December 15th, 2009
7:33 pm

Doris needs to sit vrs fla-i-duh. Need more speed on the blue line for this one.

Dwayne

December 15th, 2009
7:37 pm

While listening to NHL on the Fly yesterday afternoon, the guys were talking about the Kings, I wanted to call and ask them about the touchdown Atl. hung on them.

R. Stroz

December 15th, 2009
8:02 pm

Dwayne – Touchdown and extra point.

World Be Free

December 15th, 2009
8:21 pm

Glovesave-I’ve been reading alotta stuff these days. I think the media and the rumor sites are all going crazy cause there’s no trades. Speculation goes off the scale on some things. I just hope they get Kovy’s signature on a contract soon. One long losing streak and this thing could get out of control.

Manley-all of a sudden, Schubert is getting tough and I think it’s great. Maybe he thinks he’s going to have to protect Doris.

World Be Free

December 15th, 2009
8:23 pm

Darren Eliot is one of the best color guys in the league; very few better. What I like the most about Eliot is he is not a homer. He calls it down the middle, which is great. I used to like Mickey Redmond in Detroit, but Mickey has become a major league homer.

Big props to Darren Eliot.

So when do we start talking about Chris Chelios coming to Atlanta?
That would be like getting Tim Horton in the 70’s.

Brendan

December 15th, 2009
8:23 pm

What player (not say, Coach, Assistant Coach, GM, or Associate GM) would you vote to be MVP of the Thrashers, so far, this season? (1) Johan Hedberg, (2) Ilya Kovlachuk, (3) Rich Peverley, (4) Zach Bogosian, (5) Nik Antropov, (6) Max Afinogenov, (7) Pavel Kubina, (8) Ondrej Pavelec, (9) Toby Enstrom, (10) Evander Kane. Or (11), someone ELSE? (Kozlov, Reasoner, Thorburn, Hainsey, Armstrong, White, etc.)

Keep in mind, I’m asking a “light and fuzzy, warm” question. You’re not required to make a doctoral dissertation defense, armed to the teeth with charts, and graphs, and expert witness testimony. This is a blog. Ya know, a FUN PLACE where Thrasher fans come to hang out and not firebombed by trolls.

I’m really curious as to your responses. I wonder who will get the most votes? I know. I know. Some of you just won’t be able to help yourselves. You’re going to say Assistant Coach Randy Cunneyworth, for the team’s remarkable PK conversion percentage improvement rate. Or that Rick Dudley is the Associate GM of the Year, if there were such a distinction. Or that Waddell did a masterful job getting Afinogenov, Antropov and Kubina during the offseason, while drafting Kane. Those aren’t players. :grin:

World Be Free

December 15th, 2009
8:25 pm

Brendan-Rich Peverly
I just do not see any holes in his game.

I can’t vote for Max-I am still not sold that the old Max will not resurface again and break our hearts.

Brendan

December 15th, 2009
8:29 pm

If Valabik needs protecting, Waddell wasted that 10th overall pick in 2004. Uh, forget I said anything.

WBF, Darren Eliot is a sharp guy. I have no doubt of that. Cornell doesn’t graduate many idiots. But, there has been AMPLE evidence of Eliot towing the company line throughout the YEARS, during Thrasher broadcasts. He’s much more … uhh … FREE to speak his mind while doing neutral games for Versus. I chalk it up to him liking his paycheck. I don’t rightly know the deal with Natalee Taylor, but I think she’s fond of her paycheck, too. So, as Thrasher employees … sometimes the truth is the first casualty of getting paid.

Brendan

December 15th, 2009
8:34 pm

WBF, Max is nearly a point-a-game type player. Antropov and Peverley are that, or close to being that, too. And, almost certainly, Kovalchuk will finish the year with more than 82 points. Rawhide once posted that if Finny were north of 50 points, or was it 60-points?, that Max had more than earned his roster spot and that Waddell should be given credit for having procured him. Max is only $800,000 a year, with no bonus incentives in his contract. God forbid that things turns badly for the Thrashers at the trade deadline, but if they did, “Point-A-Game Afinogenov” might fetch something very, very nice at the deadline. Of course, my wish is to keep him and finish the year in the playoffs.

rightshot

December 15th, 2009
8:46 pm

Brendan-I would say Moose is MVP, most consistent and has stolen a couple of games for us.

Bob

December 15th, 2009
9:07 pm

I agree re. Eliot being a homer. He was NOT a homer in calling for Kovy to get up, but Derwood has been the biggest apologist for this club over the years. Remember him going on and on about how great Sutton was in prior years? It was the equivalent of if he was just blowing praise up Doris’ rear this year.

Moose is MVP this year and Peverley is a close second. If KovyRules would get his butt to more games, he’d have the 7th man locked up this year.

HookyBob

December 15th, 2009
9:18 pm

I agree with WBF. My vote is for Rich Peverly, with Pavlec placing and Hedberg finishing (w Moose coming on strong). This is not to diminish the contributions the others have made. As far as I am concerned all the choices have more than earned their pay this year (although Kovy has slipped a bit on earning his pay lately).

Brendon, good points on D Elliot. No question he knows this game and can communicate. It is a bit disappointing though that there is also no question that he toes (or is it tows)the company line.

Brendon, another good question would be “Who has been a pleasant surprise?” For me it is Chris Thorburn, he has found a niche on the PK and cemented his place on the energy/grind line. Along with Bolts and Reasoner/Slater these guys remind of Wings McCarthy-Draper-Maltby LIne back in their day. I haven’t looked at the detail but it seems like our 4th line draws more penalties per minute of ice time than our other lines. Schubert is another pleasant surprise. He’s an offensive D-man who likes to hit.

Let’s see who steps up tomorrow night. Go Blue.

five_hole

December 15th, 2009
9:19 pm

Brendan, MVP’s are usually picked by the # of points they put on the board. If that’s the case, it would be Kovy.

Me, I’d rather pick Pavel Kubina, for the simple reason that by far he’s the best defenseman the Thrashers have had, and a big reason that the defense (and PK) have been vastly improved. I know you said we didn’t have to quote stats, but I’ve got 1 I’d like to throw out: 14. That’s Kubina’s +/-. No one on the team is even close to him.

HookyBob

December 15th, 2009
9:23 pm

Manley,..good to hear from you again. Where are you these days (stateside I hope)?

Dwayne

December 15th, 2009
9:24 pm

At this point of the year, right now. Moose hands down MVP. Look at the record, look at the SOG against, save % and shootout #’s.

Rawhide

December 15th, 2009
9:32 pm

Manley – Hey buddy…great to see you around here again. You stayin’ stateside these days???

Moose is MVP this year and Peverley is a close second. If KovyRules would get his butt to more games, he’d have the 7th man locked up this year.

Bob – Spot on about Mr. KovyRules. If he does and the Thrashers continue to win with him in attendance, I’ll make the public push for him to assume the 7th man throne this spring.

Matt

December 15th, 2009
9:47 pm

Bill, you gotta be proud of the number of comments and increasing number of posters this blog is getting. You are doing a fabolous job and I submit that this blog’s success is directly attributable to your frequent postings. Who says there are no hockey fans in Atlanta?!

Rawhide

December 15th, 2009
9:53 pm

Matt – Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww…shux :oops:

Thank you very much for the kind words…and yes, I am proud of what WE have done here. But it’s people like you and the many, many others who frequent this forum that deserve any and all accolades. All I do is set the table for discussion and you all bring the goodies for us all to enjoy.

I always tell people that the best part of this blog is what happens below what I post.

Brendan – Per the post that Trixie just freed from blog purgatory, I would list my top five MVP possibilities in this order:

1. Johan Hedberg
2. Rich Peverley
3. Ilya Kovalchuk
4. Maxim Afinogenov
5. Marty Reasoner

“What???”, you say. “Marty has only 2 goals this season”. True that…but I would place him in the list of possible MVPs to represent the penalty kill unit for the fine job they have done so far.

LAC

December 15th, 2009
10:32 pm

Good news, Tampa LOST to Nashville and Pitt beat Philly to keep them down. If we win in FL Wednesday night, we can open up a good size lead on TB who just cannot score.

Important game as FL is only four back…

Smoothie

December 15th, 2009
11:20 pm

1) Hedberg

2) Kovy

3) Peverley

4) Kubina

5) Antro / Max (tied)

Unsung heroes: Kane, Tobes, Thor and Marty.

Moose is 6 gms over .500 and so are the Thrashers.

As Kovy goes, so go the Thrash who are like 9-2-1 when Kovy scores. He allows Pevs and Co play vs weaker comp.

Peverley? PEVERYWHERE, duh.

Defense is way improved due to one man: Pasha who has given us a true top pairing and a fairly complete top 4.

Antro and Max have done things differently, one quiet and one loud. But I don’t think u have this success without both.

Dwayne

December 16th, 2009
6:29 am

Just a thought on improved defense, and I use the word defense lightly. SOG??????

Smitty

December 16th, 2009
7:00 am

Good teams are usually built from the net out. If that is the case Moose could be MVP. However I have to agree with Five-hole that Kubina has made the big difference this year. The plus 14 and his play on the PK I feel should swing the vote his way. He is as close to a shut-down defenseman that we have ever had. The year that Peverly has had should give him some votes. I feel MVPs should show up for every game and that has not been the case for some of the other nominess.

World Be Free

December 16th, 2009
7:28 am

Brendan-I partially agree with your assessment of Eliot. My point is that there are soooooo many color commentators in the league that are major league homers. Eliot is smart enough NOT to the tear his meal ticket. But at the same time, he does offer as close to objective comments about the Thrashers that you can expect from a home color commentator. Eliot’s “get up Kovy” comments was a nice way of saying “get off your ass Kovy and get back in the play”. I have no opinion on Natalie Taylor.

FYI-Sabres had a color guy in the 80’s named Pat Hannigan. He was so cruel (i.e. honest) about the Sabres, he only lasted a few seasons. He was the opposite of Mickey Redmond.

World Be Free

December 16th, 2009
7:29 am

Bob-What’s Eliot supposed to do? see comments on Pat Hannigan

World Be Free

December 16th, 2009
7:31 am

Brendan-still leary of Max. I have seen this act before, only to see it go south. You next subject should be unsung hero. And for that I would would say Thorburn. The guy has little talent, but plays 100% every shift, every game. I was calling for his departure last summer. I am glad management didn’t listen to me.

DWTOO

December 16th, 2009
7:43 am

MVP – has to be Peverly. Plays both ends of the ice and the turnaround of the team began when he showed up. Moose is a close second.

As for announcers – whoever said they like their paycheck is spot on. Reminds of the story of the businessman hiring an accountant – he interivews countless numbers asking them what two plus two is. One who gets the job answers “What do you want it to be?”. All about pleasing those who write the check. Eliot does a real good job on Versus. Here, he has good insight, but, too much of a cheerleader.

World Be Free

December 16th, 2009
7:57 am

I think you guys are underappreciating Eliot-alot.
NHL Center Ice gives us a chance to compare Eliot against the rest of the color guys in the league. Most of the other color guys in the league offer no insight. Jimmy Fox in LA is good, but most are forgettable.

Eliot is near the top in quality and insight. That’s why Versus has him on nightsd when the Thrashers are not. Better on Versus? Of course, he has no obligation to either club playing. Too bad…..

Russian

December 16th, 2009
8:44 am

BIG RUSSIAN RUMOR. I will translate it later. I have to go to meeting.
http://www.sovsport.ru/gazeta/article-item/361483

Scotty

December 16th, 2009
9:02 am

There is no way you don’t start Moose tonight. He is on FIRE! Go with Pavelec tomorrow and hopefully the kid has an amazing start to get back to where he was in the first six weeks of the season.

Either way it’s nice to have this “problem” in Blueland.

Get The Puck Out

December 16th, 2009
9:06 am

I think Kubina is the MVP so far. His +- is WOW, and pk is great. Pevs is one of the best all around players and Moose is lights out. EFFORT is evident from almost everyone and EFFORT is what wins games. Thanks Rawhide for all you do.

Bob

December 16th, 2009
9:08 am

Good find, Russian. And it throws a lot of fuel on the fire that many of us think has been simmering and manifested itself in Kovy’s play and attitude lately.

If I translated it properly, it says that Russian sources have confirmed that negotiations between Waddell and Kovy’s agent have come to a stop. Kovy’s agent wants 10 years at $11.5m per year and since that’s more than Crosby or Ovechkin got, that Waddell is now looking at trade options and will trade Kovy at the deadline if he can’t sign him.

It was pretty obvious to me that something was wrong with Kovy and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out it was the contract.

Alan R.

December 16th, 2009
9:27 am

You’re assuming the rumor, as reported by the Russian press, is true.

If Kovalchuk is asking for 10y/11.5m per, then I don’t blame Waddell in the least for exploring trade options. However, I sincerely doubt it. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this 11.5m per talk is just a rehashing of the Schultz blog post that generated a stir in the international press just a few short months ago.

Kovalchuk is likely playing just hard enough to make an attempt at winning these games prior to mid-February in an effort to conserve his energy for the Olympics.

Bob

December 16th, 2009
9:29 am

Trade deadline is just after the Olympic Break ends. No way Waddell can risk Kovy getting injured at the Olympics, so the trade deadline is effectively Feb. 16th, when the Olympic Break begins. With the holiday trade freeze coming up soon, this has to come to a head quickly, Waddell’s probably fielding offers for Kovy at the GM meeting this week.

Bob

December 16th, 2009
9:36 am

“You’re assuming the rumor, as reported by the Russian press, is true.”

Couple that with the basic fact that Kovy indeed has not signed a contract that should have been done long ago, and the obvious drop off in his play and attitude lately, and where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

“If Kovalchuk is asking for 10y/11.5m per, then I don’t blame Waddell in the least for exploring trade options.”

Agreed, they can’t pay him that unless they decide to go max cap every year. The main problem is this, Kovy hasn’t signed yet, and it should have been done long ago, that’s a sign of a real problem. Now hearing that his agent is making those demands, means he never wanted to sign here and they’re just forcing Waddell’s hand to trade him. Problem now is this, there’s no way we get fair value for an unsigned Kovy at the deadline. Look at the crap return we got on Hossa, you can expect the same on Kovy.