First of all…I’m working this morning from an office that resembles an over-stocked flower shop. All of you people that sent Valentines Day roses to Trixie…just thanks. I’m not going to get any work out of her at all for the next several days as she reads all of the cards attached to them. Plus, since she absolutely loves getting flowers, she is just beside herself if happiness and bliss…and work has taken a backseat.
So just thanks…thanks a pant load!
Well, at least she is letting me have some of the chocolate.
Anyway…the Thrashers return from their three game road trip with a record of 1-0-2, gaining four out of a possible six points. Anytime you can net 2/3 of the points available, you’re doing well. But at this juncture in the season, a team that considers themselves as a playoff contender has to find a way to get that extra point from games that made it to overtime…which was the case in two of the three games.
Making things just a little more frustrating is the fact that both OT losses came after the Thrashers surrendered third period leads. Wednesday night in Colorado Atlanta relinquished a two-goal advantage with less than nine minutes left to play in the third…then saw the Avs skate away with the extra point after only 9 seconds worth of overtime has elapsed. Then last night in Chicago, after turning a 3-1 first period deficit into a 4-3 second period lead, the Thrashers let another one slip away, this time in the shootout.
Two points left on the table…albeit from two very good teams. But if you look at the standings this morning, that is exactly the amount of points separating this team from the eighth and final playoff spot.
Of course, that’s the “glass half empty” side of this discussion…what about the “glass half full” side?
We, if you consider we were playing three Western Conference teams, one of which is the second seed out west and the other is currently tied with Vancouver for first in the Northwest Division, the fact that the Thrashers played them all as well as they did has to be an encouraging sight indeed.
I mean, show of hands…how many out there last Tuesday would have seen four out of six points this week as a good thing considering the opposition? Uh-huh…yeah, me too.
And given that the overtime games were played out west, none of the points surrendered in OT gave anything to teams the Thrashers are battling with back east…so 1-0-2 is really no different than 2-1-0. It’s still four points in the standings.
Another promising sign here is that the team is getting balanced scoring across the lines from players that do need to step up in the post-Kovalchuk era.
In the five games since the trade, Nik Antropov has 2 goals, 6 assists and is a +1, (+3 since the loss to Washington)…Evander Kane has 3 goals, an assists and is a +2…Bryan Little has 2 goals, 2 assists and is a +2…Toby Enstrom has 2 goals and an assist…Maxim Afinogenov has two goals…Rich Peverley has a goal and an assists…and Jimmy Slater scored last night in Chicago and is a +1 since the Thrashers began life A.K. Slates, along with Kane, was a +2 versus the Blackhawks.
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Then there are the contributions from Niclas Bergfors…3 goals, two of them game winners, an assists on 18 SOG and he’s a +2.
As a team, the Thrashers have continued to score goals at a better than 3-per game clip…notching a total of 16 in the last five games plus 5:09 worth of overtime play. As you can see, the goals are still coming from this squad, which is a very encouraging sign indeed.
So, given the way this team has responded since the Kovalchuk trade, going into the Olympic break…going 2-1-2 in the five games played in that stretch, do you have a “glass half full” or a “glass half empty” view of this team.
Me…I’m of the “glass half full” opinion…but not as full as the glass vases containing all the roses on Trixie’s desk. That’s just out of control.
Next year guys, just send the chocolate…OK?