Afinogenov is right at home in the big city

After bringing in Nik Antropov to join Ilya Kovalchuk on the front line, resigning Marty Reasoner to keep stability lower down in the lineup and cutting a deal with Colby Armstrong…the Atlanta Thrashers were looking around for that one last little piece to complete the makeup of their offense.

To that measure, in September they extended an offer to Maxim Afinogenov…who had spent all of his nine NHL seasons with the Buffalo Sabres…to join their training camp on a professional tryout. It didn’t take long to see that the 30-year Moscow native was going to fit right in with this club and he was signed to a one-year $800,000 contract to play in Atlanta.

Upon joining the team, Max said that John Anderson just wanted him to play his game… to simply utilize his skating skills to help the Thrashers score goals.

“He told me to just be myself”, Max said of his new coach.

He’s certainly done that so far…and he’s brought a very entertaining style of play to Thrasherville, often sprinkling in a dash of dramatics as well.

Maxim Afinogenov thrilled the Buffalo crowd with his first ever goal as a Thrasher last October (AP/Don Heupel)

Maxim Afinogenov thrilled the Buffalo crowd with his first ever goal as a Thrasher last October (AP/Don Heupel)

In October, during the Thrashers first trip to Buffalo this season…and with the home fans dishing out their own special brand of hockey hospitality…Afinogenov gave them exactly the type of response that was called for.

Amidst the warm and touching homecoming “welcome” by the fans of western New York, Afinogenov to scored his first ever goal as a member of the Atlanta Thrashers. Just 17 seconds after Drew Stafford had netted a goal to pull the Sabres to within one, Max took a pass from fellow countryman Slava Kozlov, completely undressed Taylor Myers on his way through the defensive zone and beat Patrick Lalime…providing the Thrashers again with a 2-goal cushion with just over 3 minutes left to play.

“It was fun scoring that first goal in Buffalo”, Max told me recently. “I was so happy”.

But he went on to say that he was even happier about the timely score because it helped his new team win a big game on the road. At the time, Atlanta was playing its fourth road game of an important five-game trip at the beginning of the season…one that ended up 3-1-1.

That goal was the first of what is now 12 total goals for the season…tying Rich Peverley for second behind Ilya Kovalchuk’s 20…and his 31 overall points ties Antropov for third on the team. In fact, 31 point after 35 games played puts him on a pace to finish with something around 73…which is exactly the same as his career-high put up during the 2005-06 season. Then he had 22 goals and 51 assists during 77 games played.

November proved to be a very good month for Afinogenov as he produced 8 goals, 10 assists and was a +12 in the 14 games played in that month. Several of those tallies came late in games or periods…none more dramatic than the game-winner against the Panthers with just 5.5 seconds left in the third back on November 30.

This earned his the player of the month award from the Atlanta Thrashers Fan Club, which was presented to him last Saturday.

Max has enjoyed celebrating golas with his new Thrashers teammates as well as living in a city with so much to take advantage of (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Max has enjoyed celebrating goals with his new Thrashers teammates as well as living in a city with so much to take advantage of (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Afinogenov has enjoyed the offensive style of play that the Thrashers and coach Anderson employ here in Atlanta, a type of play that is about as opposite from Buffalo’s as the weather in the two cities. “In Buffalo, it’s so defensive…Miller is the main guy there and the defenders help him win games like 1-0, 2-1”.

Around these parts, those types of games come around about as often as measurable snow fall.

Helping this Thrashers team win, as he said, is something that he takes a lot of pride in so far this season. But what about living in the big city of Atlanta…how has that been for you Max?

“I’m originally from Moscow, you know”. He said. “It’s a big city and there is a lot to do [like in Atlanta]. My friends and family enjoy visiting me here”.

OK, so…you are now in a large city where there’s many things to do. But don’t you miss dealing with 10-feet of snow for six months out of the year?

His laughter pretty much answered that question.

“I like four seasons, definitely. The [seasonal] change is good…it’s a big plus”.

So Max is indeed enjoying playing and living a big, vibrant city with much more to offer him than previoulsy.

“I like it here…it’s a beautiful city”.

55 comments Add your comment

NYC

December 23rd, 2009
8:35 am

First?? Good Morning?

World Be Free

December 23rd, 2009
9:00 am

You know Bill, Max had plenty of opportunity in Buffalo; he played there for 10 years. Compare this to the fact that there are no Thrashers still in our organization from 1999 and you can see he was more than welcome for a long, long time. Some fans gave him a rough ride when he returned, others wore their Max jerseys with pride. Every time the Sabres came to Atlanta, the 3 most popular Sabre jerseys were Max, Miller and Vanek. Vanek and Miller are all-star caliber.

But like alotta relationships, it was time for Max and Buffalo to part ways. Max did not fit the Sabres defensive style-currently 2nd least amount of goals allowed in the league behind Chicago. Defense first wins alotta close games, something the Thrashers cannot do these days.

Max and Kozlov needed to get out of Buffalo, a small city where you cannot hide if you are feeling the hockey heat. It’s a hockey town with rinks in every village. Atlanta is a town where a hockey player can hide in plain sight, play his game and get comfortable.

I hear guys like Mike Milbury claim that free agents do not want to come to Atlanta. If I were a UFA, this is exactly where I would want to come. Get a chance to bond with your teammates and as you stated, play your game. I am still leery of Max in the long term, but I like what I see right now. Remember, the Thrashers took a flier on Max, at a K-Mart price.

Let’s hope his motor keeps-a-racing.

LAC

December 23rd, 2009
9:05 am

I am Happy for Max, I think he has done well and hustles a WHOLE lot more than the guy with the C on his uniform, that is for sure !

Smoothie

December 23rd, 2009
9:07 am

Nice job as always Bill! It must’ve been a thrill to meet “Inspector” Afinogenov on Saturday…what a nice perk of the blog! Did you tell him we are all very happy to have his exciting brand of hockey here in the ATL? I should’ve asked you to ask him if Ben Wright had asked him my “if you were borsch, what would be in it” question for the team website feature “Ask a Thrasher”. I’ll ask him personally on Jan. 10th!

Rawhide

December 23rd, 2009
9:22 am

“if you were borsch, what would be in it” question for the team website feature “Ask a Thrasher”. I’ll ask him personally on Jan. 10th!

Smoothie – I would be very interested in hearing the answer to that question :lol:

WBF – I was hoping to get your response to this post…given the fact you’re from Buffalo and have followed the Sabres and Max while he played there, (same for Paminski and Spud Webb). And as always, you did not disappoint…very insightful and thoughtful comments, my friend.

World Be Free

December 23rd, 2009
9:32 am

I am happy to contribute; trying to stay away from the Braves’ blogs today. Still ticked about the Vasquez trade, so stupid. The Braves get a guy who has no power or speed.

So it’s much happier over here!

five_hole

December 23rd, 2009
9:34 am

When we signed Max, my only concern was, how is his knee? Max may not be the best defensive forward in the league, and his size precludes him from being tough in the corners, but he is fun to watch with the puck in the offensive zone! He gives us speed, slick moves and really good puck-handling skills.

Smoothie

December 23rd, 2009
9:55 am

Wow Bill, looks like you’ve got a link-back to an Al-Jazeera type website…what the hell kind of language is that? That’s not Cyrillic!

Anyway, the first question Max answered in his Ask a Thrasher web feature was “where does he go to find some Russian home-cooking?”. And ironically enough, he started talking about borsch and how he stumbled upon some really good borsch at a Japanese stakehouse or sushi joint.

I posed a similar question to Colby Armstrong, Toby Enstrom and Rich Peverley to see what they would put on their own special sandwich and each time it has been the first question. And a couple of times it has led to a funny exchange in the TV interview portion. Colby took the bait and said he would obviously have ham and Colby jack cheese on his sandwich. Rich said he likes warm sandwiches and Colby told him that they could market Peverley’s Paninis!! For the Russians, I had to go with the borsch though as it is so popular in Eastern Europe!!

Merry Christmas to you and yours Bill! Hope you have a lovely couple of days of rest, relaxation and egg-nog induced frivolity with family and friends. And we’ll see you on Saturday night along with the boys from TBC at TJ’s for some “lightning”-quick Thrashers’ strikes and action!

Rawhide

December 23rd, 2009
10:16 am

Wow Bill, looks like you’ve got a link-back to an Al-Jazeera type website…what the hell kind of language is that? That’s not Cyrillic!

Smoothinator – Actually, you’d be surprised to see where this thing gets linked to sometimes. Most of the time the “pingback” messages just go blog purgatory…but every once in a while some get through. I sent it where it belongs….

Russian

December 23rd, 2009
10:16 am

**If anybody interesting for Borsch recipes I can give it to you.**:-)
I met Max in Phillips arena at September 21. Thrashers played with Carolina preseason game. He was not playing at this game. It was funny thing, because he was walking in Phillips Arena and nobody recognizes him. I stopped him and shake his hand and just tell him that I am very happy if he can make a team. At this time he did not get contract. And He did it. I very like to see him play for us. I hope Don will sign him to another contract.

R. Stroz

December 23rd, 2009
10:20 am

Smoothie

December 23rd, 2009
10:28 am

Russian, I would LOVE some good borsch recipe ideas! Rawhide has my e-mail if you’d like to send to him and I can get them from him. Are you going to be at the TJ’s Party on Saturday??

World Be Free

December 23rd, 2009
10:31 am

Stroz and his hockey crystal ball…..

stendec

December 23rd, 2009
11:13 am

Hi Bob. Today is the day I lost my father to lung cancer many years ago and my lovely grandchild was born not many years ago. I have plenty to be thankful for. Again wish you and yours best of holidays. The only Atlanta pro athletes I extend such wishes to are Falcon Tony Gonazalez and Thrasher Moose. Only men accepting big paychecks who give a damn about fans! That said…Statistics are for losers. Can see why they are always consulted when apologists defend Kari Lehtonen! This Finn is a quitter and crybaby. Come to think of it, he does fit in perfectly on this dysfunctional squad! ++STENDEC++ Rumors of his imminent return sure Scrooged holidays!

Paminski

December 23rd, 2009
11:15 am

I wasn’t following Buffalo hockey very closely for a while after I moved here in ‘95, so I can’t say much about Max’s good years up there. However, it’s been plain to see recently that he was no longer a good fit. I like to look at Max as a list of pros and cons.

Pros:
*sleight-of-hand stick work
*good scoring chances
*speed
*low low price
*his name is really fun to say

Cons:
*speed is not as good when you’re sacrificing position
*defensive liability

To be fair, the cons are not cons in every situation. A lot of good shooters are not particularly good on defense. Plus he at least works harder at it than Kovy. Max is a win for the Thrashers as long as he keeps the same attitude and work ethic he has displayed thus far. He seems to be a good fit in JA’s system.

J-man

December 23rd, 2009
11:15 am

For what it’s worth, I do not share’s Smoothie’s enthusiasm for such off the wall questions, but Max’s English is good enough that he is likely to understand that question. Not sure I’d bet that he’ll give the kind of creative answer that Armstrong did about the sandwich. Even Peverley, a native English speaker, seemed a bit puzzled by the question. Borshch is the most correct spelling in English based on the Cyrillic spelling in Russian.

Paminski

December 23rd, 2009
11:16 am

Forgot to mention…see you at TJ’s on Saturday!

JLH

December 23rd, 2009
11:18 am

Pretty cool Stroz. Max and Nik had been on my list for a while too, but you had the balls to post it.
Waddell makes some good decisions at times.
Re: Kovy, I’m not happy about the “snag” in negotiations, but I’ve got to say that I’m fully supportive of the inclusion of a conversation about the quality of players that we can “surround” Kovy with if his salary demands are too high. It strikes me as inconsistent that Kovy is claiming he is all about winning at the same time his agent is pushing the envelope salary-wise. But, we really don’t know what the $numbers$ are, so I choose to reserve judgement until we hear from Don or Grossman.

Spud Webb

December 23rd, 2009
12:03 pm

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I’m glad max is doing well here. But I have to disagree with this statement from Max… “In Buffalo, it’s so defensive…Miller is the main guy there and the defenders help him win games like 1-0, 2-1”.
Uh, Max, do you remember how WIDE open Buffalo played, until this season? Yes, Lindy wants a defensive team, and wings who play responsibly (johan hecht is a great example), go figure, he wants you to back check!!!! Yes, they’re leaning on miller this season and their scoring is down, but Buffalo was one team the clearly benefited from the rule changes a few years back. So I don’t buy it Max!!!
And by the way, Merry Christmas to all!!!

Dwayne

December 23rd, 2009
12:14 pm

Merry Christmas Stendec, you cuddling up with the Kari build-a-bear you bought for $1025.00? So kind of you give money for charity. We all know you are not a scrooge.

World Be Free

December 23rd, 2009
12:16 pm

Spud-agreed but Lindy always expected his players to be responsible defensively. Not this damn the torpedoes stuff Anderson does.

Miami Screaming Eagle

December 23rd, 2009
12:23 pm

Stendec-how old are you man? Reading your posts, I thought you were a teenager or something.

lilibeter

December 23rd, 2009
12:31 pm

“…entertaining style of play…” is a very good description of Max, Rawhide. The ability to accelerate like that has got to be just plain fun! I agree that his speed definitely puts a notch in his pro column, but I think his acceleration is an even bigger benefit. His ability to accelerate more quickly than everyone else seems to keep winning him all of those break-away chances, and the fact that he knows how to drop his shoulder and drive net when he gets those break-aways makes him a very exciting player to watch. I think he’s been a very enjoyable addition to the Thrashers.

Oh, and one more notch in his pro column…the Russian Rock-Star hair makes him easy to identify when he’s out on the ice and his number is obscured.

Scotty

December 23rd, 2009
12:40 pm

Max has been a great addition to this team. He got knocked around on this and C-Vivs blog by some, but I’m glad that he has fit in so well here. I’m also glad to read his comments about the city of Atlanta, too. I’d like to see him stick around here for a while.

I have to agree with those who have stated that Max and the whole team must start playing better defense. That’s the one thing that will doom us if not addressed.

Merry Christmas, Rawhide and to all of those who contribute to the blog as well.

Midifield

December 23rd, 2009
1:22 pm

Rawhide. Your definition of a big city is pretty broad. Moscow is closer to big city as like New York than it is as like Atlanta.

World Be Free

December 23rd, 2009
1:57 pm

Midfield-I think Bill was comparing Atlanta to Buffalo, which is a small city and getting smaller every day.

NASCAR Dave

December 23rd, 2009
2:51 pm

Nice link STROZ… That was a funny read!!!

Dwayne

December 23rd, 2009
2:52 pm

real quick….trade Kovy :-( , do not resign Slava, :-( use money to sign Max, Kubina and Little. I do not think Colby will sign, then you have the Kari situation.
What do yall think?? I know some of yall like to crunch numbers.

Hockey Biltong

December 23rd, 2009
5:26 pm

Colby would sign, he has said he likes it here, especially in the city…

stendec

December 23rd, 2009
8:51 pm

Laughingstocks of NHL are on display tonight! Anyone who would like a good holiday chuckle should tune in to the Yardbirds against the Boston Bear Cubs. Moose ia a sieve with four marshmallows in two periods. The no-score offense of Coach John Petrino is clicking on all cylinders. Kapitan Ilya Kovalchuk is doing enough figure eights to make an Olympic figure skater proud. Russian has become worthless piece of shet biding his time before escape from Atlanta. Cannot be faulted for that. Can be faulted for his Maryann Hossa act while under PRESENT contract. The losing streak lives on. Not a damn thing to look forward to except quick drop to bottom of standings. No playoffs for these heartless quitters. Damn them all. ++STENDEC++

Stay Thirsty My Friends

December 23rd, 2009
9:04 pm

Stendec – your non-stop negativity must be clouding your vision to see the game!!! Moose has only given up 1 goal in 13 shots to this point.

stendec

December 23rd, 2009
9:07 pm

My apologies Moose. Should have known it was Pavs pulling a Kari Lehtonen! My error. Just so damn pi$$ed right now. ++STENDEC+++

stendec

December 23rd, 2009
9:11 pm

Make that TWO damn goals by Moose! Heartless uncaring bestards. To Hell with these untalented a$$holes! Ship the ball-less wonders to Hamilton. As soon as damn possible! ++STENDEC++

Dwayne

December 23rd, 2009
9:44 pm

Kari Kari Kari…..help me out Stendec….Kari Kari Kari

stendec

December 23rd, 2009
9:48 pm

Hey Dwhine. Had Sori Letemin relieved Pavs instead of Moose the final score would have been 9-4 or 10-4 without empty net tally. Dumb a$$hole bestard! ++STENDEC++ Yardbirds do not deserve fans in arena. Hope Loseland is empty when quitters return to home ice! MFSOBs.

Putting On The Foil

December 23rd, 2009
9:56 pm

Is bipolar the word I’m looking for?

The Joker

December 23rd, 2009
11:41 pm

Is bipolar the word I’m looking for?

Nope, Koo Koo for Coco Puffs sums it up.

LAC

December 23rd, 2009
11:55 pm

Yes Stendec does get wound up, but this team has quit.

anderson has lost complete control and the downward sprial is well underway.

I ask all those who beat up on Stendec, Stroz, Bob and myself…
20 goals in 4 games ? 5 GA per game !?

Tell me anderson knows anything about defense, I say NO !

He has lost complete control of this team, and the contract mess is not a GIANT distraction, and since that all came out, the team has tanked big time.

We are not going to be anywhere near the playoffs, pavlec looks like a low grade ECHL backup goalie, zach B. has become the WORST defenseman on the team, time to dump this guy before he costs us MORE games, cost us at least 5 this season.

So all you feel good guys can say what you will, BUT the record speaks for it’s self… NO DEFENSE !

Also the refs tonight were AWFUL, NHL must never punish them.

Lastly good old “We won’t be talking about this at Christmas” don waddell, looked like a COMPLETE FOOL in the interview, this BUM lies and lies and lies… Somebody needs to SLAP his face and SOON !

It’s over, so enjoy what we had for the time we had it, with these worthless owners and waddell, we will NEVER WIN !

Nikita

December 24th, 2009
12:07 am

Are you high, LAC? Bogosian is a second-season near-rookie. We’re not dumping him.

Things I felt decent about this evening:
1. Slater, who played well.
2. Bryan Little, Moose, Rich Peverly.
3. Maxim Afinogenov, for the most part.

Things that appalled me:
1. Pavs — his flat technique did not work out at all.
2. Very sloppy passing
3. Lots of poor positioning — Antropov particularly.

LAC

December 24th, 2009
12:27 am

Nikita, Are you BLIND ? This kid has turned from a pretty good rookie defensman into nothing at all. He is The Team Creampuff, never hits,
out of position… A Lot, takes DUMB hooking calls at the wrong time
and has looked like crap the past three weeks.

I am not impressed, Also I do not use drugs, “nikita”, I assume people who talk about it use it. So if you don’t like my comments, be more diplomatic, rather than acting like a tramp… OK ?

Nikita

December 24th, 2009
1:02 am

Nope, not blind, just stating the obvious — which is that we’re not cutting bait with the #3 pick, who we rushed into the league and who played very well last year. Heck, we’re not even cutting bait with a certain over-the-average 4th liner who isn’t performing and never has for an entire season.

Nikita

December 24th, 2009
1:04 am

Also, I’m not thrilled with Enstrom because I think he’s playing at about half his ability, but I think the team would be completely destroyed if not for his defensive work even at half strength.

Lepidopterist

December 24th, 2009
1:28 am

STENDEC,

I am a big fan of your writings. I have a question for you which is not related to the subject of the post. Could you contact me, please. sinisiipi32 at gmail. Thanks.

Dwayne

December 24th, 2009
6:07 am

ummmm, still tied for 6th. might not be there long, but…..

Dwayne

December 24th, 2009
8:08 am

Isn’t a Lepidopterist someone who collects, studies, observes bugs or pests?

Midifeld

December 24th, 2009
8:09 am

Officiating bias in Boston was shamefully obvious. That said, I’ve given up on Hainsey. Not only he is not earning his salary, he is a bad influence on Bogosian. How do you bump into your pair defenceman when the latter is trying to move the puck out of his zone – not once, on the same shift? And , good lord, what a drama queen. Don’t look for the wingers to cover the rush when you are standing in front of your goalie with nobody to mark, Ron! That would be your job.

Toby

December 24th, 2009
9:55 am

Isn’t a Lepidopterist someone who collects, studies, observes bugs or pests?

Or a creeper trying to get people’s personal info…

Spud Webb

December 24th, 2009
11:27 am

Just wanted to say Merry Christmas to Bill and the rest of you bloggers, I hope a safe and fun holiday for all!!!

five_hole

December 24th, 2009
12:00 pm

I am not impressed, Also I do not use drugs, “nikita”, I assume people who talk about it use it. So if you don’t like my comments, be more diplomatic, rather than acting like a tramp… OK ? LAC

By your logic, does that mean that either you’re a tramp (if female) or a guy who dates tramps? It’s really immature to call other people names, poopy-head.

Geez, I love reading how everyone thought this team quit last night when they rallied; down 5-2 to make it 5-4. I’m reminded of Kareem-Abdul Jabbaar in Airplane, “Try telling your dad to drag Bill Walton up and down the court for 50 minutes”. They didn’t quit; they forgot how to play defense in the 1st period, but they didn’t quit.

Anyone else upset about the call on Colby at the beginning of the 2nd period? He’s behind the goal with a defenseman literally on top of him. He gets wedged between that guy and another Boston defenseman, pushing him into Thomas. Exactly where was Colby supposed to go? I don’t usually get upset about officials calls anymore but that one blew my mind.

And seasons greetings to all.

Nikita

December 24th, 2009
12:29 pm

Yes. I should have added the officiating to the list of things I’m not thrilled about. That call was ridiculous. For that matter, the Reasoner tripping penalty was iffy. He did make contact — but I think the dude he “tripped” dove.

Overall, I thought the team did o.k. Of course, a moral victory is still a loss, but they did a reasonable job a) of killing SERIOUS PK minutes and b) making up for a disastrous first period. Not good enough, but decent.

Oh, and I’m so glad to see Little doing better. Hopefully this means his groove is on its way back.

And though I think Moose in general did well, but not well enough, he had a great night last night with glovesaves. There were several really impressive ninja maneuvers.

Happy Holidays, ya’ll. I have DVRed a dozen games to tide me over the media blackout. For the Thrash, I’ll be dreaming of White scoring, just like the White we used to know.