November 30, 2009…34 days ago. That was the last time the Atlanta Thrashers won a regulation game. Since that time they have played to a record of 4-10-3, earning 8 points in the standings while surrendering 34…29 to teams in the Eastern Conference.
Since their last win of any kind…a 6-5 overtime victory against Dallas…they are winless in eight consecutive going 0-5-3.
After starting the season with a road record of 9-2-1 in their first 12 away from Philips Arena, they have stumbled to a record of 1-8-2 outside of Thrasherville since. The last time they won on the road was on December 14 when they downed the Rangers in a shootout. The last time the won in regulation outside of Philips was back on November 27 when they lit the lamp 5 times in the third period up in Carolina.
Ahhhh…these are indeed the times that try mens souls. At least, if they are Thrashers fans.
The Thrashers wake up this morning tied with Tampa Bay and the Islanders for ninth place in the east with 42 points. When they began this little seven-game excursion on the road, the held the sixth spot and looking to leap over the Bruins for the fifth spot with a win in Boston to start the trip.
Looking back over the six games played so far on this roadie from hell, only once have they been totally destroyed in a game. That was the 4-0 B-slappin’ they suffered from the hand…er, paws…of the Boston Bruins last Saturday. They lost 4-3 in Tampa, 3-2 in New Jersey and the 6-4 loss in Beantown to start the trip was 5-4 prior to the empty-netter at the end. Most recently are the back-to-back losses in OT to the Sabres and Islanders to begin 2010.
Now, the only thing they have to do in order to avoid an Oh-fer the road trip is travel up to western Pennsylvania and beat the defending Stanley Cup champs…something they haven’t been able to do to the Penguins in Pittsburgh since Dec. 27, 2006.
It’s tough to put a finger on one single thing that has one wrong over the past seventeen games given that there are several options to chose from…defensive lapses, lack of full 60-minutes worth of effort, goaltending not being able to keep up the torrid pace of October and November, forwards failing to backcheck regularly, intensity level, etc.
Which quote is best applied to the Thrashers now?
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And of course, there is this little matter of the Kovalchuk contract issue looming over the team’s head that will just keep growing in size and importance as each and every day that passes between now and when the ink gets put on paper or…or….or…Well, just “or”.
So what is the answer to what ails this team? Well…I’ll echo what radio voice of the Thrashers Dan Kamal said prior to the Islanders game in his “Key to the Game”
They need to find a way to piece together 60-minutes of effort…find a way to work through the adversity…man-up to the situation and get the job done. The talent is there, I believe and I still have faith in the coaching staff.
But like Kamal said…they just have to win. Sometimes that’s the entire breakdown needed. And they’d better find a way to do it…and soon…because the second half of the season is now upon us.