I am finding hard to come up with the right word to truly describe Saturday night’s 5-4 loss to the New Jersey Devils…and un-good doesn’t seem to do it justice.
Frustrating comes to mind. So does aggravating…and maddening…and puzzling…infuriating, maybe? Bedeviling…I suppose that word could be considered appropriate.
I do, certainly, have some other words that could be used…but I do try to keep things at least a PG-13 level around here.
Things started out in a manner that one could say was fortunate for residents of Thrasherville. The home team somehow found themselves leading 3-1 after one period of play despite being completely outplayed. Their first goal came from Ron Hainsey, who just seconds prior was sprung from the penalty box. Assisting on the play was Christoph Schubert and Pavel Kubina…two defenders assisting on a goal by a third defenseman.
But the main reason they found themselves is such good shape was due to Ondrej Pavelec turning away 23 shots face out of 24 while his teammates put 3 of 6 past Martin Brodeur.
That’s right, outshot by 18…defense playing about as out-of-sync and unfocused as they have all year…but somehow Atlanta was up by two after twenty. If you are a Thrashers fan…ya gotta be feeling bless about where your team stands in this game, don’t ya?
Adding to that fortunate set of circumstances, Marty the Magnificent took a seat at the end of the Devils bench as the team emerged from the locker room to start the second period. Now, I don’t mean any disrespect to the New Jersey backup goaltender…but if I’m nursing a 2-goal advantage with 40 minutes left to play and am given a choice between facing Martin Brodeur or Yann Denis, I’m going to take my chances with Denis…even if he’s coming in 2-0-0 in three games played with a .923 SV% and 2.14 GAA and even if Brodeur did play just the night prior.
So what did the Thrashers do with their good fortune? Well…to start with, they can’t get anything past Denis on 12 shots in the second, continue to look scattered in the defensive zone and watch as the Devils put three past Opie on just 9 shots before returning to the locker room again.
Talk about looking the proverbial gift horse in the mouth…
New Jersey than padded the lead to 5-3 in the third by way of a 2 on 1 break. Dean McAmmond took a pass from Patrik Elias and buried the shot past Pavelec…despite Maxim Afinogenov hooking him all through the defensive zone.
Adding to the overall frustration as a fan is how this team yet again managed to allow 40+ shots on goal to get through on the goalie. On this night it was 42…Thursday night it was 47…Monday it was 48. For the season now, Atlanta surrenders an average of 34.9 shots against…that, folks, is dead last in the league.
Which word best describes how you feel about the Thrashers consistently giving up 40+ SOG?
Total Voters: 101
Of the three goals New Jersey scored in that middle frame, the most agonizing one for me was the third. With the score tied at 3-3, Rod Pelley found the puck around the blueline fired the puck in from there. Pavs simply didn’t look ready for it and in it goes. I was sitting in the press box for this game…and they ask us to be professional and all that while there…but I do believe a choice word escaped my tongue at that point. Sorry Ms. Sunshine.
To be fair, Pavelec was simply outstanding in the first, making great saves much like he did Thursday against the Stars. But it looked like the kid was just worn out after the opening period when he helped his team build the fortunate 3-1 lead.
Fortunate, however, was not the word that Hainsey used when speaking of the early lead…”false” was what he used to describe it. “We got outplayed in the first and built a false lead,” he said after the game. “They outplayed us the entire game except for our goaltender”.
Sleeping was the word Pavelec used to explain what went on out there. “We were sleeping during the first period,” Pavelec explained. “We did not play 60 minutes”.
Of his personal stats of 37 saves on 42 shots, Opie took no solace. “Five goals is five goals no matter how many shots”.
There are some teams you can squeak out two points from while not playing your “A” game…but these New Jersey Devils are not one of those teams. And regardless of whom the opposition is, when you consistently give up 40+ shots on goal, you are looking asking pleading begging for trouble.
Another major concern is this whole “didn’t play 60 minutes” thing. How many times have we heard that phrase used when discussing a Thrashers outing this season? Too many, I’m sure. And if that isn’t addressed…and soon…the “not playing 60 minutes” issue could more than likely equate to “not playing past 82 games”.
And that would indeed be cause for Thrashers fans to begin to utilize many, many more choice words this spring.