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

Miami Screaming Eagle

December 16th, 2009
9:38 am

Kovy-what a mess

Alan R.

December 16th, 2009
9:47 am

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.

I agree on the first part. On the second part, I consider it a long shot rumor. No offense to Russian, but the press out there isn’t exactly reliable. I want more conclusive evidence before I believe what has been “reported.”

In other words, he’s either signed or traded. That’s the only way we’ll learn the truth to the matter. Until then, it’s just speculation. The rumors aren’t helping anything, so it’s best that we ignore them.

five_hole

December 16th, 2009
9:58 am

I think everyone screaming about “if we can’t sign Kovy then trade him” seems to be forgetting one thing; WE’RE IN A PLAYOFF RACE excuse me for yelling

As of this morning, we’re in 6th place. Why would we get rid of our best player and our captain in the middle of trying to make the playoffs? Conversely, if we didn’t have a Kovalchuk and were in the playoff hunt, wouldn’t we try to trade to rent him for the rest of the season anyway? If we traded him, what would that do to team chemistry?

Quite possibly the dumbest thing I’ve heard since “you gotta fight them over there, so we don’t have to fight them here”.

Paminski

December 16th, 2009
10:02 am

I enjoy Darren’s delivery. He’s funny and insightful. Sure, he’s Thrash-centric. Is that so wrong?

Hockey Biltong

December 16th, 2009
10:13 am

Per Kovy; It’s all a part of the negotiation process. We will never know what gyrations the two sides are going through.
Just keep up the hope/good vibe thingy and we will be fine.

Spud Webb

December 16th, 2009
10:25 am

Brendon, Have to vote for Pevs. Just an all around player. I think some of you are realizing Max is hot and cold, when its good its GREAT, when its bad, its horrid!!!!
Just spit my coffee out when I saw the 10 years at 11.5 for kovy. I hope thats incorrect and a rumor.
On that note, Five Hole I have to respectfully disagree. Yes we are in a playoff race and in the middle of it. But can this franchise afford to let a top 5 player just walk with nothign in return?? I don’t think so. As Sara has posted before, if Kovy doesnt sign its not the end of the world. If he doesnt sign we HAVE to trade him. Team chemistry could possibly get better if Kovy is shipped out before the deadline, I tend to look at the glass half full. We can get a boatload for Kovy, especially from some DESPERATE teams up in the northeast, Philly, Rangers to name 2. We have a decent if not great base at this point w/Pevs, Kane, Bogo, Toby, Hainsey, Little. Say we ship him out, at that point we will certainly retain Kubina for next year and have some cash for other free agents??
Now, All of that said, if a trade of kovy happens, I will never, ever forgive DW or the ownership. My dislike now is pretty high and always has been, despite this seasons mild success!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bob

December 16th, 2009
10:26 am

“Why would we get rid of our best player and our captain in the middle of trying to make the playoffs?”

Because if you can’t sign him by the trade deadline, then he is free to walk on July 1st 2010 and sign with whomever he wants, and the Thrashers get nothing in return.

You cannot let Kovy walk away and get nothing in return, it would completely hamstring the team.

Yes, it’s horrible to trade away Kovy in the middle of a playoff race, but there would be no other option.

Miami Screaming Eagle

December 16th, 2009
10:47 am

This is why Kovy needed to be signed BY NOW. So we could focus on making playoffs and not have to focus our attention to whether he is going to be here after July 1, 2010. And it does make a different; you have no hope of signing our other UFAs if the club does not show a commitment to Kovy.

If he’s not going to sign, trade him. Remember, we have already won this season without. Get up Kovy, get up and sign the contract!

R. Stroz

December 16th, 2009
10:49 am

In the words of Yogi Berra, this seems like deja vu all over again.

J.B.

December 16th, 2009
10:59 am

for what it’s worth, spector’s not buying it and he’s very good with rumor-type information…

KovyRules

December 16th, 2009
11:15 am

Miami, saying Kovy needed to be signed by now ignores the central question – is his salary demand fair? If it is not fair, as we are hearing it may be, then he never would have been signed – last summer or this winter. What is a fair price for Kovy? And what would we sacrifice in locking up that much salary cap?

Rawhide and Bob – I hear you, I need to be at more games. But 7th man? I’m as rabid as it gets when I’m in my seat, but let me forever disgrace myself with this tidbit: I was enjoying that incredible pasta bar dinner in the Club for the first three goals of the Kings game. That is sad and pathetic!!

Bob

December 16th, 2009
11:42 am

“spector’s not buying it”

Do you have a link to that? I just looked at Spector’s site and don’t see where he’s “not buying it”.

kracker

December 16th, 2009
11:49 am

If that figure is correct – $11.5M for a decade or so, then a trade probably has to be made with the highest bidder. I don’t think this franchise in this market can ice a competitive team if one player has 20% of the payroll. They could pay him 9 or 9.5 maybe, with that difference paying for one good veteran player or two or three young or bottom line players.

It’s probably all just an over-hyped Russian article or maybe a Grossman back-door leak as a negotiation ploy.

five_hole

December 16th, 2009
11:51 am

Spud Webb &Bob it’s your right to disagree, but I ask the same question; if we didn’t already have Kovy, wouldn’t we try to trade for him, knowing that we might not resign him in the offseason? Isn’t that exactly what we did with Tkachuk (rent him for a couple of months)? Isn’t that what Florida did with Bouwmeester? They wanted to make the playoffs, so they kept him, then traded him just prior to the draft & him becoming a free agent. Maybe Florida could have gotten more for him if they had traded him earlier. But sometimes, you gotta take a chance.

I’m certainly not advocating not resigning him. I would love Kovy to stay for the next 10 years (11.5 mil; might be too rich). I just think it would be silly to trade our best scorer when we’re trying to make the playoffs.

Miami Screaming Eagle

December 16th, 2009
11:52 am

Kovy-I just think that management needed to move the process along alot quicker and make a determination of the conditions for resigning before the season. It seems like all of this is coming to light now, at a time when we are in the mix for a playoff spot.

Rick Nash is valuable to Columbus, just like Kovy is to us (more or less). Columbus got Nash locked up last summer; both parties knew that they did not want to deal with this issue during the season. Columbus has problems right now, but Nash’s contract is not one of them.

We should have known the terms before this, so a decision could have been made to sign him or trade him before mid December.

Distraction, distraction, distraction

J.B.

December 16th, 2009
11:56 am

Bob – wasn’t on his website (yet; I’d be surprised if he didn’t mention it on the Rumors page tomorrow). I directed a tweet at him about the article and this was his response…

per @SpectorsHockey…

“@braggjc I don’t put much stock into NHL trade rumors originating from Russia”

Alan R.

December 16th, 2009
12:01 pm

Bob, see here. Not exactly detailed or anything, but that is Spector and that is his official response to the Russian article..

kracker

December 16th, 2009
12:40 pm

Can’t be anything to this Sovsport article….Eklund doesn’t have word one on it so ya know there’s nothing there, hehe.

Hockey Biltong

December 16th, 2009
12:42 pm

Hold on to your hats!!!

TableHockey

December 16th, 2009
12:43 pm

What a conundrum – I see the point in moving Kovy before the Olympics to get the most in return. But if the team stays intact and makes a good run in the playoffs would that help Kovy decide to resign? Or do you fall short of the playoffs and become the next Florida that left a prize walk for practically nothing?

Glad im not a GM.

stendec

December 16th, 2009
1:21 pm

Best non-shutout effort I have ever witnessed from a goaltender! Moose virtually singlehandedly swiped two points for the Thrashers at Madison Squaresville Garden in the rotten Big Apple. Bravo. A breakaway on a penalty kill? PLEASE SPARE ME! Moose was under siege for three periods plus overtime. The seasoned netminder took control during the shootout. Nothing got past him. The Thrasher offense stirred from its slumber long enough to score a couple of times. Still completely unacceptable. The overrated Ranjerk goalie is simply not that damn good! Oh well. Two points! Get two more tonight. ++STENDEC++

Spud Webb

December 16th, 2009
1:29 pm

Five Hole, I see what your saying. Lets just end all of this and sign him, make us all happy!!!!!!!!!!!

five_hole

December 16th, 2009
1:42 pm

Spud Webb Amen!

Tony C.

December 16th, 2009
1:48 pm

I would think #17 realizes that if he signs for max-cap (at least here) he’s pretty much eliminating playing for a perennial playoff team. That seems to be his driving passion; playing Stanley Cup hockey.

Start O-P tonight…. even despite of the recent two-game slump, I think if you go back and look-the loosing streak coincided with Coach shaving off “The Fu”-no idea what counteracted the loss of the mojo (and certainly, not playing CGY & VAN helps a lot) but I’m just sayin’…

Smoothie

December 16th, 2009
1:49 pm

stendec – well said! Wait, did I just type that? I agree with every single word you just typed. Wow, perhaps I need more caffeine.

Anyway, on to the whole Kovy situation. The fact that the deal is not done (or may not get done before the end of the year) is a big problem. The bigger problem is what do you do with him now that we are in a position to challenge for a playoff spot?

It is crucial that we bank mad points NOW in the next ten games (9 of which are against Eastern Conf foes) to get closer to 10 games over .500. If this team goes 6-3-1 over the next 10, that puts our record at 23-14-4 for 50 points thru 41 games or a pace for 100 points. More importantly, it gives us a bit of a cushion going into January.

At that point, the leverage swings to Waddudley I believe. And the reason why might just be Kari Lehtonen (gasp!!). Should Kari manage to get himself ready to play by late Jan or early Feb, the Thrashers will then have more trade leverage at the deadline. Teams like NYR, Mtl and even Tor may be desperate for goalie depth if they are on the playoff bubble. Tantalize them with Lehtonen, after showcasing him before the Olympics, and tell them they can have Kovy too. But they’ll have to give us their best player in return.

If talks break-down and the Kovy situation becomes desperate, then Lehtonen might just be the key to a blockbuster type deal that would not only get us value in return, but also help us make a serious push into the playoffs during March & April, when we play 14 of our last 22 games at the Bulb.

A team like the Rangers, who have already spent some insane loot in FA, may be willing to trade for Lehtonen since their back-up goalie situation is in shambles AND Kovalchuk because he’s a goal-scoring bad-ass. Even if we can’t get Marian Gaborik in return, we could probably wrest away a solid 2-way player like Drury along with one of their RFA youngsters like Dubinsky or Callahan, one of whom they may not be able to afford if they become $3-4 M men.

Hey Glen Sather, how about this deal?

Rangers get: Kovy, Lehts, Todd White and Salmela

Thrashers get: Drury, Dubinsky and a first round pick in 2010

Smoothie

December 16th, 2009
1:57 pm

Whoa! Nevermind on Drury! I thought he had one more year left on his ridiculous deal paying him $8 M this year and NEXT YEAR! I was thinking next year was the last year that pays him *only* $5 M. Chris Drury is making Todd White look like a bargain right now.

I guess I’d rather have Anisimov and Callahan than take on that albatross of a contract for Drury, who is more of a 3rd line C at the ripe old age of 32.

Manley

December 16th, 2009
1:59 pm

I might have sounded a bit too critical of Mr. Eliot. I have had dealings with him through youth hockey and he is a very nice, intelligent guy, who is great for youth hockey in the Southeast region (not just Atlanta). His commentary on Vs. is very good, as well, and there are far worse homers, but there are times…

My MVP vote is for Kubina for the reasons noted. While SOG are still atrocious and the overall defensive play of the team could use some more “fine tuning”, he is a smart defensive player on a team that has been in DESPERATE need of such players.

I am back stateside now at an undisclosed location in lower KY (Ft Campbell) but I am still able to follow Les Thrash on Gamecenter Live (gotta love modern technology). I hope to be at the game in Nashville on Jan 30–anyone making the trip? My son plays for the squirt version of a certain TN team, but he sports his Thrashers jersey to practice on occasion. I troll the blog frequently but usually at work and our system security usually keeps me from posting. Besides, you guys usually say all that needs to be said by the time I get to read it.

Rawhide

December 16th, 2009
2:00 pm

Brendan

December 16th, 2009
6:26 pm

Wow. The voting is almost completely neck-n-neck between Moose, Kubina, and Peverley. My vote does go to Kubina. His plus-minus, coupled with that he brings to our PK, and the way he rounds out out D, solidifying it as a legitimate corps of defenders. It’s not as if Kubina “wows” anyone on a stat sheet. But it’s what he brings that the stat sheet DOESN’T capture … that matters. I think Moose has six votes, Peverley has six votes, and Kubina has five. Hey, that’s awesome that we cannot AGREE on a Thrasher MVP. It means things are going well. And surprisingly, it wasn’t KOVALCHUK who ran away with the voting. Because, let’s face it, he’s the face of the franchise. And if someone asked you, “who’s the best player on the Thrashers,” wouldn’t the knee-jerk reaction be, “Kovalchuk?”