Operation ‘Take Sixth Place’ – Mission Accomplished! (well, at least for now)

I take you back to Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 pm. In that post, your humble blog host opined that there was a mathematical formula in which the Atlanta Thrashers could take over sixth place in the Eastern Conference. All that needed to happen was for Tampa Bay to beat Montreal and the Hurricanes defeat the Rangers that evening. Then, on Thursday night, Carolina needed to return home to take care of the Islanders and…most importantly…the Thrashers would then need to take care of there end of the deal by beating the Flyers in Philadelphia.

And with that…Operation “Take Sixth Place” was a go!

First, the Canes smacked New York 5-1 while the Bolts were shutting out the Habs….and we’re halfway home. Then tonight, Carolina continued to hold up their end of the deal by thumping the Islanders 4-1. Three down…one to go. All that was left was for the Thrashers to do their part in Philly.

Mission accomplished!

Well…I mean, at least we are in 6th place for now.

Behind a pair of goals from Jim Slater…and what in the world has gotten into this guy of late?…and one from Ilya Kovalchuk and Rich Peverley, the Thrashers did indeed catapult themselves into sole possession of sixth place in the east. They needed three in the third period to do so as they found themselves down 3-1 after 40 minutes of play.

Jim Slater celebrates his first goal of the night in the first period (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Jim Slater celebrates his first goal of the night in the first period (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The eventual game-winner was an absolute thing of beauty as Evander Kane streaked up the left side boards, wrapped himself around the backside of the goal and found an open Slater in front who simply had to direst the puck into an empty net.

In fact, it was very similar to his first period tally…that assist also going to Kane.

Kovalchuk got things rolling just 29 seconds into the third when he slipped behind the Flyers defense on a faceoff from the left circle. He then gathered the puck and moved in from left to right, getting Ray Emery to drop to the ice before lifting it top-shelf.

Peverley then tied the score less than four minutes later via a breakout pass from Pavel Kubina…he raced in one-on-one with Emery and buried his shot. Todd White earned a secondary assist on the goal.

Slater’s second goal of the night then put the Thrashers up 4-3 at the 13:28 mark.

And as exciting as all that was…play of the night honors goes to Johan Hedberg, who was making his third consecutive start. With just under four minutes to play and the Thrashers nursing a one-goal lead, Simon Gagne raced into Atlanta zone on the left side… Moose raced from his net to cut him off at the pass, sliding in to poke the puck away. In the collision, Hedberg lost his helmet…and almost lost his head.

In fact, it almost looked like he did as his jersey came up over his noggin. As play continued, he jumped back to his skates looking like the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.

For the night, Moose saved 34 of 37 shots faced and improved his season record to 12-8-4.

Tonight’s thrilling win, coupled with Tuesday night’s 2-1 victory over Anaheim, means the Thrashers have won back-to-back regulation wins for the first time since last November when they shutout Philly 1-0 then beat Florida 4-3 two night’s later.

Hmmmm…oddly enough, that’s the same night that Panthers’ netminder Tomas Vokoun almost lost his head.

And Now…It’s On To Nashville

Saturday night the Atlanta Thrashers make their way to the Music City of Nashville, Tennessee to take on the Predators…and they will not be alone. Hundreds of Thrashers fans will taking part in the Atlanta Thrashers Fan Club’s invasion of Sommet Center by hopping on buses and making the journey to Nashville.

I will also be making my way to the capital of Tennessee along with The Blueland Chronicle boys.

Local authorities have been notified and placed on high alert.

And Speaking of Bus Trips

The Thrashers, TJ’s Bar & Grill and I are planning another Thrashers Party Bus trip on Saturday March 20 when the Flyers return to Philips Arena. Like last October’s Trip-A-Paloosa, the bus will depart TJ’s Bar and Grill in Alpharetta, drop fans off at Philips for the game, then return to TJ’s afterwards.

$55 buys ya a  lower-level ticket to the game as well as gets ya on the bus and avail you to the drinks onboard. Prizes will also be raffled off on the way down.

If interested, please shoot an e-mail karin.beckman@atlantaspirit.com…or leave me a message below.

154 comments Add your comment

jcwhitingjr

January 28th, 2010
10:43 pm

See you in Nashville! Could this be the beginning of the team coming together again and playing like they did the last half of last season? The talent is there. They just have to make up their minds that they are going to do it!

Brendan

January 28th, 2010
10:45 pm

The “On the Fly” Anchorman Dan Pollard was playing up the Thrashers and their rist to sixth spot. Trouble is, there’s nearly 30 games left to play before “sixth place” would really matter.

Rawhide

January 28th, 2010
10:53 pm

Trouble is, there’s nearly 30 games left to play before “sixth place” would really matter

Brendan – True that…but a loss tonight and the Thrashers could have found themselves as far down as 12th place if Florida, Boston and TB win their games tomorrow.

Lots-o-hockey left to play, that’s for sure…but it’s better be in this position now than otherwise.

Petty Officer Thrash, USN

January 28th, 2010
10:54 pm

Was watching the game highlights from Game 2 of the series against NY after listening to the on-line broadcast. I was there that night. The Moose was unbelievable, and I maintain that without that freak goal we win that game and the series maybe goes a little differently. My point? I would love to see a Philips Arena that full and that full of energy for a hockey game again!

Great come-from-behind win, but when is this team gonna start playing from the first dropped puck to the last buzzer? Dan Kamal was even questioning the lackluster effort in the 2nd period. No bueno. I guess 6th place is still 6th place though…

On the upside, Dan Kamal is my new favorite play-by-play game announcer. His thoughts on Slates’ second goal? “Wake up and smell the hummus!” I’ve never heard an announcer go crazy like he does when the Thrashers score.

Brendan

January 28th, 2010
11:10 pm

But it’s going to be like this, pretty much, from this point forward. Where a win puts up into the playoff field or a loss puts us at 10th, 11th, or 12th. The reality is, there are eight teams separated by 3-points, with only three (3) playoff spots left. It very well may come down to the final game of the season. And if our 82nd game puts us in 8th spot, is everything solved? Or does Don Waddell still need to go? Especially, with a still untraded Kovalchuk.

Brendan

January 28th, 2010
11:15 pm

Just to throw this out there, even if the Thrashers manage to be among the playoff invitees, would even two playoff wins do it? I still say … that this team is nowhere near ready, depth or grit-wise, to compete past the 1st round of the playoffs. And that’s not just a ‘little problem,’ that’s a BIG PROBLEM, after six lottery draft selections and 9 Top 10 overall picks. This team should be loaded for bear, but it’s not. It’s time for change, even if the playoffs happen.

Brendan

January 28th, 2010
11:17 pm

I’m watching the Flames vs. Coyotes, from Phoenix. And both times that the Flames scored, the arena ERUPTED by fans wearing red Calgary jerseys. I had to check several times … to really be sure this game was being played in Arizona. The Flames fans are out in FORCE. And this is a Coyotes team that is well within the playoff field.

KovyRules

January 28th, 2010
11:22 pm

Can’t let Brendan just talk to himself. I believe you need to win a playoff series to get the fans to believe (and the huge NHL playoff monkey off the city of Atlanta’s back). But to win a series you gotta make the playoffs, and at least this team has seemed to care about that for the last half-dozen games, so here’s hoping…

mr. Heat Miser

January 28th, 2010
11:22 pm

The last time the Thrahers visited Nashville I was able to witness a 7-2 win. Stood downstairs after the second period and shook hands with the Predators fans as they left en masse. “Thanks for coming” Looking forward to Saturday. Fang Fingers? U gotta be kidding me……..

KovyRules

January 28th, 2010
11:24 pm

Brendan, after living in Calgary for 26 years, I can tell you why there are thousands of Calgarians in Phoenix. It is currently 18 F in Calgary…

Somaatl95

January 28th, 2010
11:25 pm

Hard to say Brendan, but at least we aren’t last in the league at the moment, and that is nice. Maybe this is a nice spark that will help Kovalchuk perform auto cranial-rectal extraction and either lower his price tag or start playing a little more defense, if he really, truly wants to win like he has been saying. DW has called in specialists for his own cranial-rectal extraction and the docs have said that its nearly impossible for that to happen. This feels like its the start of “Make it or Break it” period for the Thrashers and hopefully we get a good bounce for once.

Still think if Phillips revokes their naming rights that Coca-Cola should step in. BTW. If I were smart enough to create a facebook page called “Change Phillips to Coca-Cola!” I would.

LAC

January 28th, 2010
11:39 pm

Absolute Great Win in The City of Brotherly Love, Loved watching those Philly fans
Pout and Moan it was Excellent.

Good game even from #17, he DID an excellent job backchecking a 2-1 break, and it saved a good SOG.

All around EXCELLENT Effort, What has gotten into Jim Slater, I admit I have never been much of a Slater fan, but he is playing well at this point.

Also excellent game from Boris, who continues to improve every game !

Brendan

January 28th, 2010
11:45 pm

Good point, KovyRules.

Somaatl95, I sure hope you’re right. If this team were to go on a tear, it might start a wave of belief. But really, what has this organization done to DESERVE our support? Other than raise ticket prices on STH’s, then discounting them later on, in the midst of 76-point campaigns? With no accountability at the GM position.

I’d love to see some more playoff hockey. Every fan would. But what would be the ‘greater good?’ (1) Waddell fired at season’s end or (2) Thrashers make the playoffs, Waddell handed another 2-year contract extension. And bear in mind, 53% of the NHL’s teams make the playoffs. Difficult questions, I do realize. It just seems ‘wrong’ to root against success for your favorite team. Especially knowing that the consequences of no playoffs … are probably NOTHING. It won’t, necessarily, spell the end for Waddell in Atlanta, for oversight of the team. And see, to me, that’s the BIGGEST PROBLEM we face. Yes, Yes, Yes, the ownership is inept and terrible. No argument. But if they grew enough of a brain to realize that Waddell should be fired, that … ALONE … would signal that real changes are happening. Ownership that holds people accountable for failure … might help to bring people back.

But the playoffs! The magical playoffs! The end-all, be all, of hockey existence!! Well, maybe not so much. Kovy obviously has reasons for not re-signing here. Would all his concerns magically disappear with the arrival of four more postseason games? Our team is run the way it is. And has been. Until THAT changes … aren’t we just rearranging deck chairs? Fortunate that the other teams around us as just as tepid and underachieving? The 8th spot might go to a team with 88 or 89-points this year. It will be an anomaly. It will be the exception that proves the rule. But does it mean that the Thrashers are suddenly ‘well-run,’ from Top to bottom?

LAC

January 28th, 2010
11:47 pm

Quick note… I see that the NHL is helping in the sale of the Tampa Bay Lighting, When did this happen ? WHY can’t it happen here ? Check TSN…

Brendan

January 28th, 2010
11:48 pm

Somaatl95, I would love it if Coca-Cola wanted to buy the naming rights of the arena. It beats “Kotex Place,” or “Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific Arena.”

Somaatl95

January 28th, 2010
11:49 pm

If Dudley or someone else than DW is running things, yes. Otherwise we will always have the Weakest Link at the very top.

Somaatl95

January 28th, 2010
11:51 pm

“Kotex Place” where you can win an all new Apple iPad! Brings new meaning to “Spotty play”

Brendan

January 28th, 2010
11:58 pm

R.Stroz, you want to get in on this ‘naming rights’ ideas? I welcome your suggestions, too.

R. Stroz

January 29th, 2010
12:00 am

Maybe a septic tank service can buy the naming rights to the arena.

The catch phrase:

It Smells Like Money

Brendan

January 29th, 2010
12:02 am

I can hear LAC, now. He’s always saying the owners need to take off the diapers. So why not, “Depends Arena.”

sisu

January 29th, 2010
12:07 am

Great win, I will enjoy this until Saturday when we head up 75 and 24

Somaatl95

January 29th, 2010
12:10 am

SavannahBlue

January 29th, 2010
12:21 am

Growing up a New Jersey Devils fan but now being a die-hard Thrashers fan, it’s extremely frustating watching this team flounder year after year. As much as I like John Anderson, I just don’t believe his system is a playoff winning system. If your team can’t defend, you simply have no chance of winning in the playoffs. Relying on your defensemen to score can win you hockey games. It will work to win the Calder Cup and it may get you to NHL playoffs, but I don’t see how it stands up in a seven game Stanley Cup series. Hopefully I’m wrong in my thinking.

Also, with the Eastern Conference being so tight, we better hope the Thrashers have a playoff spot pretty much locked up prior to April. The Thrashers last five games of the year:

@ Capitals
@ Penguins
Home Devils
@ Capitals
Home Penguins

KovyRules

January 29th, 2010
12:41 am

Good point on the end of season schedule, Savannah. That’ll either get us ready for the serious post-season level of play or get us ready for the golf course.

Wayne stuck in AL

January 29th, 2010
12:50 am

From HockeyBuzz:

http://graphjam.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/first1.gif

Oddly, for the FIRST time, no one pulled this FIRST! crap on this site…

Dwayne

January 29th, 2010
5:49 am

Hey SavannahBlue…I’m StatesboroBlue, I didn’t know there was another Thrasher fan south of Macon.

World Be Free

January 29th, 2010
6:43 am

Wanye, I have given up reading Eklund’s garbage. Him and his stupid dominos.

Stroz-I would wear my Jim jersey with pride, though I really have my eye on that Lubos Barteko game jersey in the Thrashers’ store. Lubos, wherever he may be now.

John Anderson has to pick a group of guys to have out for the last minute and stick with it. Just make sure Antropov is not one of them. I like Antro, but not in the last minute. He gave me a heart attack against the Ducks, no help needed. You have to give these 2 wins to the Moose, especially the way he played in the final periods of both games.

LAC, I still say the best thing that even happened to Slater and Boris was quality time in the press box. You cannot discount the value of damaging a player’s pride, then seeing if they have what it takes to come back. Both are playing the best hockey of their careers. Or maybe I should make a point of ragging on a player for weeks, since everyone I rag on (including Thorburn) seems to elevate their game.

Brendan-wish I could have taped the Chicago-San Jose game last night, forgot. Must have been a good game!

Petty Officer Thrash, USN

January 29th, 2010
6:43 am

Any thoughts on the current net minder position after tonight’s performance from Moose? Other than a couple of mistakes in that second period, he’s been pretty solid. I’d love to see him stay in Atlanta for at least a couple more years, but with his good showing of late is it possible DWad will try to deal him at the deadline to try to work a package deal? Or does he take the starting role for now?

World Be Free

January 29th, 2010
6:59 am

Petty-Moose has elevated his trade value for the club. I think he’s gone by March 3rd, unless the organization decides to trade Kari instead and resign Moose for 2 more years, which could happen. The next few weeks could be very interesting for this team, depending on what they do with Kari and Kovy. Toss in Colby Armstrong too, though I would like to see Colby stay.

Putting On The Foil

January 29th, 2010
7:10 am

Savannah Blue and Dwayne. There’s one more in Sylvania.

Zoomo

January 29th, 2010
7:13 am

“You cannot stop Jimmy Slater , you can only hope to contain him” :)

Eileen

January 29th, 2010
7:31 am

Rawhide and others going to Nashville, is anyone concerned about the weather? It looks like Nashville is in for a huge storm. Since we were planning on traveling there on our own, I am wondering if we are all going to make it.

Smitty

January 29th, 2010
7:37 am

Bad stretch in the 2nd period last night almost lead to 13th place. Hard to believe NHL defensmen could play so many bad 2 0n 1s. Did not notice Annsi on the ice too much in the third period.

Pierre Lebrun noted that Evander could be ATL’s next franchise player. I hope that does not jinx us in that he will be the next star player to leave. Hard to believe an 18 year old is becoming our best player and maybe leader. He made Pronger look old last night. He seems to be bringing out the best in Slater and Colby.

This team needs the Kovy situation settled immediately. Yes, Kovy scored last night. Just think how much better this team would be if Kovy drove to the net like he did last night on a more consistant basis. Perhaps getting a couple of young players similar to Kane in a trade with Kovy would not be so bad.

Mrs. Zoomo

January 29th, 2010
7:40 am

I hate how Moose comes out of the goal so much but that play last night was hysterical! It wouldn’t have been funny if it didn’t work out.
See you in Nashville, be careful driving!

World Be Free

January 29th, 2010
7:48 am

Smitty-Pronger is old. Hard to rag on our management when you look at Philly’s giving up 4 first rounders to get Pronger, then give him a long term deal. He’s a pylon, another long term “investment” like Danny Briere. Stupid Briere took a dumb penalty at the end of the game, pretty much sealed the deal for the Thrashers.

Philly has not learned their lesson; don’t overpay players that are over the hill!

Smitty

January 29th, 2010
8:06 am

I would have liked to have seen somebody go after Briere after his hit on Colby. Colby was on his knees after being tripped up along the boards and Briere drove his head into the boards. Maybe it was because it was a tight game. I hope Colby does not forget.

Hockey Biltong

January 29th, 2010
8:13 am

I wanted Schubert out there for the end of the game. When did he get hurt and how?
I am also happy to see Slater doing better. I said he would improve this year and voila! he is really clicking with his line mates.

GaVaHokie

January 29th, 2010
8:23 am

Slater is benefiting from hard work and communication… go figure that those two elements make you a good hockey player.

World Be Free

January 29th, 2010
8:24 am

Smitty-Briere acts tough when he has so many goons around to protect him.
That’s why I love to see the Flyers lose-so goon hockey will finally go away forever!

Hockey Biltong

January 29th, 2010
8:25 am

R.STROZ -#4!!!! that is great.
and HOOKYBOB – Curieuox gave you a headache?? Well it is 10% alc. but so is Brooklyn Double Chocolate Stout. Buyer beware!!!! lol.

Hockey Biltong

January 29th, 2010
8:25 am

WBF. you going to the game on Tuesday??? If so we must hook up.

GaVaHokie

January 29th, 2010
8:26 am

I’m a big fan of the Brooklyn Double Chocolate Stout. :)

Smoothie

January 29th, 2010
8:29 am

Guess who has as many points, 15, in January as our esteemed captain? That’s right, the irrepressible James “Jimmy Skandalous” Slater, who has 6 goals and 9 assists according to Ben Wright. Does he really have 9 assists?? Wow.

Slippin’ Slates is now suddenly Scorin’ Slates, make him Captain Johnny! j/k

Oooo, but our D looked awful at times last nite. But a huge win nonetheless! Keep it going boys! Let’s make March count!

TableHockey

January 29th, 2010
8:30 am

WBF – unfortunately I agree with your view on Moose. He has elevated his trade value and I fully expect him to be moved at the deadline. A solid reliable back-up tender would be valuable to a several teams in the run right now.

I HOPE JA will at least let Kari play a few games before pulling the trigger on a Moose trade just to ensure we have a reliable duo in Kari and Pavs.

I also wonder if Armstrong’s elevated play as of late isn’t his effort to be a “throw-in” on a Kovy trade – I’m sure inside he still stings a bit about not getting to lift the SC in Pittsburg.

GaVaHokie

January 29th, 2010
8:31 am

I think Hedberg just went from “Moose” to “Turtle” last night. :)

If Philly scores that goal, it goes down as one of the most embarassing hockey moments of all time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrBewSNJd6U

Not Blind

January 29th, 2010
8:35 am

Watch the replay on Slater’s game winner. As he is driving to the net he pushes the Philly D-man into Emery. Seeing that made me like that goal even more !! That’s Karma payback for all of Phillie’s dirty tactics.

Still, if this team would play hard for 60 mins they would be more like Ott. Winning games going away instead of relying on the goalie and luck in the last couple of minutes.

We have to come up with a new nickname for Moose. How about “Moose No-Head-berg”. Moose Nohedberg.

Rawhide

January 29th, 2010
8:43 am

Rawhide and others going to Nashville, is anyone concerned about the weather? It looks like Nashville is in for a huge storm. Since we were planning on traveling there on our own, I am wondering if we are all going to make it

Eileen – Yeah…I’m keepin’ an eye on it. Looks like a nasty system coming through.

Guess who has as many points, 15, in January as our esteemed captain? That’s right, the irrepressible James “Jimmy Skandalous” Slater, who has 6 goals and 9 assists according to Ben Wright. Does he really have 9 assists??

Smoothie - Very interesting indeed. I’d say he is hands down the player of the month for January.

I think Hedberg just went from “Moose” to “Turtle” last night.

GaVaHokie – HA! :lol: Well played, sir!

Mrs. Zoomo – Hellllllo there :cool:

Hockey Biltong

January 29th, 2010
8:47 am

GaVaHokie – you have sublime taste buds!!
Moose makes my wife and I Batsh#t crazy. We love the guy, but think a moment. Carcillos’ goal was because he and Kubina were sucked into one side of the net. Then he was drawn out another time and blocked the shot , but the Flyer[forgot who] had an open rebound shot across the crease which he MISSED…which was quite fortunate for us. If you were watching home video of us watching the game, the dogs are barking insanely as my wife is shreiking at the top of her lungs, “Moose, NOOOOO”, and I am spewing a blue streak of phrases not fit for man nor beastie…..he really can be drawn out too far. And behind the net, his play is very risky, the kind of stuff that will put your dads’ Porsche into Lake Michigan….

Edistoned

January 29th, 2010
8:50 am

Great, great game last night. Have to follow it up with a good string between now and the break for it to mean anything.
Love the Kane, Slater, Army chemistry. Time to see these guys on the PP. Kid needs to keep his head up with those wrap arounds. Plenty of film on him now. Somebody’s gonna be gunnin’ for him.
Unreal pass from Kubina.
CANNOT trade Hedberg with this team in contention. He is the heartbeat of this team. Tough decision on which goalie goes.
WBF – I think I’ve seen Barteko name on the Solvokien Olympic roster.
Safe travels to Nashville. Great town. Need 2 points.

hip czech

January 29th, 2010
8:52 am

Wow, a Kovalchuk back-check…who would have thought?

Can’t remember if it was the Flyers 2nd or 3rd goal, but one was directly on Salmela. What on earth was he doing up at the Flyers blue line being the lead forecheck?

I understand Anderson gives the green light to the D in this system, but that was ridiculous. That led directly to the odd man rush and the goal.

The ‘Turtle’ had to be the funniest thing I’ve seen in an NHL game. I can’t imagine the ribbing Hedberg took after the game.