Newbies help Thrashers dispose of Islanders 6-3

That giant skid mark smeared all over the ice of Philips Arena was what remained of a New York Islanders team that are finding themselves falling father and farther out of the playoff picture. They came into Thursday night’s game losing seven of their last ten and the Thrashers, who have been heading in the opposite direction of late, took advantage of some early chances to push New York right out the back door…in the end, dropping them 6-3.

Playing major roles in flushing the Islander were newbies Evgeny Artyukhin, Clarke MacArthur, playing their first games as Thrashers, and Niclas Bergfors…a veteran on seven whole games now.

The Antropov-Little-Bergfors line was responsible for the first two goals. At 5:01 into the first period, Bergie notched the game’s first goal on a nice pass from the right side of the net by Little… Antropov earning the secondary assist.

That Bergie kid, all he does is score goals. He’s got four now in his seven games as a Thrasher.

Maxim Afinogenov scores goal number XX of the season against the Islanders (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Maxim Afinogenov scores goal number 20 of the season against the Islanders (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Antropov then netted goal number two for Atlanta 3:47 later, cracking one off from the left circle… Little again with the assist off a fine pass from the right circle.

But shortly after the fans backside’s had found their way back into their seats, just 25 seconds later MacArthur scored his first goal as a Thrasher to make the score 3-0. The play was set up by a forechecking Maxim Afinogenov behind New York’s goal to get the puck out in front of Dwayne Roloson.

It was the last shot Rolo would see on the night as he was lifted in favor of Martin Biron..the decision coming as the Islander troops were massing at the bench for a timeout. Roloson allowed four goals on seven shots during his 9:16 TOI and it was the second game in a row that the Thrashers caused their opponents to burn their timeout before the first intermission.

But much to the Islanders dismay, the goalie switch wasn’t enough to stop the bleeding as just over five minutes later Afinogenov took a Peverley pass crossing the blueline and buried a shots past Biron to give the Thrashers a four-goal lead.

This type of fast start is in stark contrast to the way so many other games have started off this year. I like this way much better, thank you very much.

Not to be ignored, however, on the other end of the ice was one Mr. Johan Hedberg who was in the process of stopping the first 20 shots he faced in the opening period before allowing a Mark Streit power play goal on the twenty-first.

Uh-huh, you saw that right…Atlanta’s defense allowed 21 shots to get through on the Moose in the first. They also took the only two minor penalties and lost 11 of the 18 face offs in that opening period…but found themselves up leading by three after twenty minutes of play. The Thrashers took but ten shots on goal themselves, but they managed to pop out four goals nonetheless.

Halfway through the second period, Bergfors got in on yet another goal, launching a wrister from the left circle. Antropov was providing the screen in front of Biron and it was determined Nic had deflected it in for his second of the game. It came while the Thrashers were enjoying a man advantage…the power play resulting from a hustling Afinogenov who was tripped up while pursuing the puck behind the net.

Five minutes later, another newbie… Evgeny Artyukhin… put on a speed skating exhibition. He scooped up the puck behind Hedberg…scooted unmolested up the right side and out of the zone …gathered speed as he flew past the benches, through center ice and into the Islanders zone…zipped through the defense…moved in from the right to slip the puck past Biron in an almost nonchalant manner.

Ya know, I had read a few pieces about this kid’s deceptive speed given his size…but just dah-YUM! He moved through the Islanders system faster than a bean burrito lunch special.

And just like that, Atlanta was up 6-1 after two periods of play…the Islanders obviously missing defenseman Andy Sutton who was shipped off to Ottawa Wednesday morning.

Johan the Magnificent Magical Moose uses his amazing skills to suspend the puck in mid air. Hedberg stopped 34 of 37 shots face Thursday night (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Johan the Magnificent Magical Moose uses his amazing skills to suspend the puck in mid air. Hedberg stopped 34 of 37 shots face Thursday night (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

A couple of Islander goals in the third help put a prettier face on the score sheet, but by that time the damage had been done.

However, I must say that despite the nice victory, I didn’t like the way the Thrashers seemed to let take their foot off the throttle in the final twenty minutes…only able to squirt through three shots on the Islander goal. When you have a team dangling like that in the end, you can’t relax…instead you have to just keep on pushing until the remains are circling the drain.

For the night, Hedberg stopped 34 of 37 shots to improve his record to 16-9-5. The sixteen victories are the most Moose has piled up since going 25-34-7 in 2001-02 while with Pittsburgh. He is now 52-40-13 as a Thrasher.

Both Afinogenov and Bergfors finished with a goal, one assist on three shots and was a +2…Bryan Little had a pair of assists and was a +2…Bogosian, Hainsey and Peverley each had one assists, Ron and Rich finished a +2 while Bogey was a +1…R2 scored on his only shot on the night and was a +1…and Nic Antropov had a three point night with a pair of goals, one assists on two shots and was a +1.

Meanwhile…as the Thrashers were pinching off the Islanders, the other New York team was busy netting a point in the standings as the lost to Pittsburgh in overtime and Boston gathered two points by downing the Maple Leafs in a shootout.

That means the middle of the Eastern Conference standing are really packed tight with Atlanta and Rangers moving into a tie with Montreal for eighth place…each have 66 points pending the Canadiens game in San Jose.

If the Sharks can beat Montreal in regulation, then the Thrashers would technically own eighth place in conference given the fact that they’ve played fewer games.

Boston is clinging on to seventh place with 67 points and Philly is stuck at 69 after their 7-4 loss to the Panthers Wednesday night.

One last note…the Thrashers now have 66 points after 62 games played…which is 16 points better than what they had after this many games last year, (22-34-6 for 50 points). If they finish 16 points better then they did last season, they would have 92 points.

EDIT: According to Chris Vivlamore on Friday afternoon, Bergfors has been credited with the power play goal in the second period. Thus, he had a pair of goals and Antropov finished with one.

131 comments Add your comment

R. Stroz

March 4th, 2010
10:53 pm

August

March 4th, 2010
10:54 pm

Love your writing Rawhide, but the Islander “turd” jokes are becoming dated….

stendek

March 4th, 2010
10:59 pm

Hi Rawhide. The C for crabby is gone replaced by the K for kind. I hope to maintain a milder demeanor on future posts. Although I cannot promise I will be all peaches and cream if the situation warrants a bit of tough love. My sister’s daughter’s baby was murdered with her new baby going in for surgery in a few days. Entire family justifiably on edge. Want best for Thrashers. Do wish them all well. Even though sometimes I want to kick their fannies! With IK and KL gone I am a contended bird watcher. Have a great evening! ++STENDEK++ (With a K) Thanks for asking! Still upset with USA Olympic hockey teams though.

Taggart

March 4th, 2010
11:02 pm

…waiving hat in the air…

What in the wide, wide world of sports is a-goin’ on here???

Matt

March 4th, 2010
11:02 pm

Rawhide-Had a friend offer a ticket and went to the game and I was generally impressed. Puck movement was much better than I remember and the team seemed, at least for the first two periods to be much better at moving the puck out of their own end.

Something looks different, but I can’t quite get it other than the puck movement and possibley the team speed seems up. Thrashers had a nice Powerplay in the 3rd, even thought they failed to score. Count me as cautiously optimistic about this team.

Artyukhin is just HUGE and has speed to boot. That could be a VERY intersting pick up over the long term.

Huge difference in the team from tonite to the last game I attended which was the Crapitals disaster.

stendek

March 4th, 2010
11:04 pm

I LIKE THE TURD JOKES! Keep em coming. Just a different viewpoint much like Cynthia Crosby. Will always hate what he did to USA but would welcome him with open arms to any hockey team I operated. Never liked Chris Chell-e-os. That opinion has changed since he is now one of the guys. Hope he does well. ++STENDEK++ Age? Anyone remember George Blanda? Uh huh!

Rawhide

March 4th, 2010
11:05 pm

August – I’m sorry…I couldn’t hold it back. :grin:

stendek – Please give my best to your niece and I hope and pray all goes well with the surgury.

Matt – Agreed on all counts. What a burst by R2, eh?

R. Stroz

March 4th, 2010
11:10 pm

For those of you wondering what’s going on, well, it’s simple, it’s March and the aliens have returned for their second early spring visit to Blueland.

Lets hope the aliens enjoy the weather so much they stay till May.

stendek

March 4th, 2010
11:14 pm

I certainly will. Thanks. ++S++

R. Stroz

March 4th, 2010
11:16 pm

A few observations:

1. The Thrashers are playing as a TEAM.

2. The Thrashers are close to rolling four lines.

3. There is no way anyone with a brain would get in front of Arty/R2 when he is going full speed. The guy is a full size truck with speed. Hopefully, Slater will introduce Arty/R2 to his piano instructor over the summer to improve his fine motor skills/puck handling.

4. The remaining and new Russian(s) are playing with heart. Very good to see, in fact, they accounted for four goals (yes, I know Antropov is not technically Russian).

stendek

March 4th, 2010
11:25 pm

Bill. Just wish to say one thing if I may. I have no patience or respect for fans who continually defend a certain former captain. They say he did so much during his tenure in Atlanta. What did he do? The Thrashers made the playoffs once with no post season wins. The captain cost the team valuable points with his tiresome figure eight skating act as he threw teammates and goaltender to wolves. Not THOSE Wolves! You, I and other rational Thrasher followers believe he cost the team valuable points with his apathetic play prior to his trade to New Jersey. Add those gone forever points to Thrasher total. The Thrashers would be in firm control of a playoff spot instead of on the fringe having to battle like heck! The captain WAS a cancer to my team. Thanks for allowing me to get that out for others to digest. Have a great evening. Thrashers gave us a wonderful start! ++STENDEK+

Mr. Heat Miser

March 4th, 2010
11:27 pm

Atlanta has a new A-Train.

Rawhide

March 4th, 2010
11:29 pm

For what it’s worth…Kari Lehtonen played his first game as a Dallas Star tonight. He relieved Marty Turco after he allowed 4 goals on 11 shots. Lehtonen entered with Dallas trailing the Blues 4-1 at the 1:50 mark of the second period and stopped 14 of 16 he faced during 38:10 TOI. St. Louis won the game 6-1.

Atlantafanatic

March 4th, 2010
11:34 pm

heres what happened: Bergfors and Oduya added a new bounce to the team. While the departure of Kovalchuk led to the end of an era. An era filled with disappoint ment, one associated with the tragedy of Dan Snyder, one where we attended the postseason once iin which we won no games, and one which was a one man team. Now we are truly a team with a goal in mind and EVERY player is focused on that goal and believes they are as vital to the team’s success as the next guy. This is why we will make it to the playoffs and take a step in the right direction!

James Brown

March 4th, 2010
11:34 pm

I`m old and my eyes are bad but this team looks light years faster than they did a month ago…………much quicker!!

English Teacher

March 4th, 2010
11:35 pm

Wow! These guys look hungry!

Arty looked like a giant Hossa on that goal only he didn’t have to do Mary-Anne’s little skip to get around a defender. I imagine if the kid keeps it up, defenders will be skipping to get out of the path of that big Mack truck!

When Bergfors and Oduya first came over from NJ, they seemed kind of shell-shocked in their interviews. I wonder how they’re feeling now.

Tincup9

March 4th, 2010
11:36 pm

For a decade this team has lacked Consistency – Time to prove it is a new era. Love the streak, more please.

Sharon

March 4th, 2010
11:36 pm

Here’s an interesting read from John Manasso about the Thrashers recent wins and The Ewing Theory…

http://yankeewhistles.blogspot.com/2010/03/thr.html

LAC

March 4th, 2010
11:47 pm

WOW… Impressive since the “BIG” trade… The team is just that a team now, remember a rope with one thread will break, an entire rope will not.

Just much more Interesting to watch play, Where everyone is doing their job and I have seen little, IF any, coasting !!!!!

Satyrday will be a test, so let’s hope things continue to mesh… But a Good last two games,
NO Doubt about it !!!!!!

Brendan

March 5th, 2010
12:00 am

Rawhide, thanks for the Kari update. I do wish him well. I hope he can one day be a healthy and productive goalie in the NHL. As Kari is no longer a Thrasher, at least his failures won’t bother me anymore. But I do, sincerely hope … that his time in Dallas is a fresh, new start for him.

For some people, their 1st marriage is just a flop. And their next one is much better, for having overcome and learned from the 1st marriage. But for others, their next marriage is just as disasterous as the first, and winds up being #2 of 4 marriages in their lives. If not, more. For these folks, they aren’t really any happier with their future spouses as the 1st one. I think, with Kari, he has the chance to make this 2nd marriage, with Dallas, a good one. With guys like Kovy and Hossa, I think they’ll just bounce from team to team. I’d make a friendly wager Hossa won’t finish his career in Chicago, with the Blackhawks. And Heatley won’t finish his career with the Sharks. And lord knows what will become of Kovalchuk. I doubt he’ll become the NHL’s “new” Nikki Zherdev. Right now, Bergfors has more goals than Kovalchuk, since they swapped jerseys.

Smoothie

March 5th, 2010
12:15 am

Okay, one miserable streak over…turd flushed. Next: time to shock the Nitty-monkey. DO IT.

StateBird

March 5th, 2010
12:16 am

Hate to be negative but I hope that JA will put tonight’s tape to good use. This game could have gotten out of hand early … for the NYI. In addition to the 21 first period shots they hit 3 posts. Love the 4 lines, new guys and offensive attack but the Thrashers are still the worst team in the league in clearing the zone. Better teams will continue to take advantage of that. Lets clean that up and the Nitti hex should come to an end.

Brendan

March 5th, 2010
12:16 am

With new faces like Oduya, Bergfors, Artyukin, and MacArthur, one might think that these players would need a lot of time to gel. But if anything can be said about two games against the NHL’s underbelly, in the form of the Panthers and Islanders, it’s that these guys are playing as a team. And it is good to see.

Hockey is the ultimate team game.

John Anderson now has his chance to show how well he can truly “coach.” Cunneyworth, too. Remember when I talked about the “depth” strategy? I’ve been doing it for years now, actually. But it’s predicated on having 20 goal scorers who each make LESS than $3 million per year. Bergfors just scored #17. He’s on his way to 20. Finny just scored #20. Colby Armstrong is capable of 20 goals. Bryan Little is certainly capable of 20 goals. He potted 31, last season. Shoot, I’m not even sure Zach Bogosian, alone, won’t get 20, one of these seasons. And he’s a defenseman. But I digress. If Atlanta can procure enough 20 goal scorers, to roll four lines, with some form of identity, like “team toughness” or “team speed,” or “team defense,” then it will be a force in the NHL. And it won’t take STARS or SUPERSTARS to make it happen. And it doesn’t have to break the bank, either.

When each man on the team knows and understands his role, and performs it well, the results will come. And in the end, the best player on our team … will be the TEAM, ITSELF. That’s when we will have arrived. And those teams that can only roll out 2 lines, or 2.5 lines, will lose games to Atlanta, 4-3, because of the “depth strategy.” I’ve always said, “Atlanta might be the perfect market/situation to try it.”

I first talked about it in 2006-07. It was met with, “No, we need MORE Hossas, more Heatleys, more Kovalchuks. Atlanta fans will only turn out for STAR players, because their team allegiances are still with their hometown clubs.” Well, I think that’s changing. I think Atlanta will come out for WINS and TEAM PLAY.

Somaatl95

March 5th, 2010
12:19 am

Looking at the stats for tonight’s game it was great to see that every Thrasher was even or better, no minuses tonight. Truly one of the best games I have seen the Thrashers play since the start of the season.

StateBird

March 5th, 2010
12:25 am

Love the win but if giving up 21 shots and 2 posts in the first period represents “one of the best games” I would hate to see the others.

R. Stroz

March 5th, 2010
12:29 am

Well Brendan, plenty of fans turned out for the Atlanta Flames, when the city was half to a quarter of its current size and had far fewer transplants.

BTW, the Atlanta Flames NEVER had a player named to the NHL HOF.

We just wanted to see a hard working, physical hockey team, kind of like what Poile has put together in Nashville.

BTW, Poile was the understudy to Cliff Fletcher when he was the GM for the Atlanta Flames.

For what its worth, I believe Dudley is making all the player decisions and Waddell has been Rich McKayed. This strategy may work as Waddell is good at working an audience and Dudley prefers to scout and stay out of the limelight.

Whatever it takes, just WIN.

Somaatl95

March 5th, 2010
12:31 am

I call a solid team effort resulting in plenty of scoring (which had been dry for too long) and lots of excitement one of their best games since coming back in Carolina. In November. Especially against a team that we have been unable to beat all season. Was under the impression that my opinion wouldn’t be “put in quotes” if someone disagreed.

“Sorry”

Smoothie

March 5th, 2010
12:52 am

Yessss!! Sharks tie it with 7 mins left! Only time ill ever celebrate a Heatley goal. Cmon Sharks!

Smoothie

March 5th, 2010
12:59 am

Malhotra with the one-timer!!

Nail-biting time now with 4 mins rem.

Smoothie

March 5th, 2010
1:13 am

Well, MTL snatches defeat from the jaws (ha, they got eaten up by the Sharks) of victory!! Thank u San Jose, u just gave the Thrashers the mathematical lead for the 8th spot in the Eastern Conf — the latest in a season the Thrash have been in a playoff spot in 3 years. Now, can they keep it going???

WTFN?

HonkyTonkHero

March 5th, 2010
1:20 am

I got to the game 10 minutes late…yeah…missed alot. We walked in and I heard the horn go off…then I said…I could have sworn I heard them blow the horn twice. Next I went to the beer place and heard the horn go off again…and go three times. Could it be…my team…scoring 3 goals in such a short period of time? Hell to the yea!

Fortunately there was more scoring to be had and I didnt feel jipped. I was very impressed with our new guys and I though the team as a whole played tough. We got a bit sluggish in the 3rd but I’m not too worried about that right now. Moose was the real 1st star if you ask me. His positioning was excellent all night. I have great confidence in him to take us into the playoffs. He won’t quit and he knows what he needs to do.

Bergfors leaves me speechless….R2 made my jaw dropped as he took his towering frame around that Islander and scootched in front of the goal….Schuby took a few dumb penalities but was policing the ice pretty well…glad he is back. Our D was a bit spineless (save Kubina) without Schuby around. Max seems determined to make the best out of his situation…I see no quit in him..his hustle was stellar tonight.

You know..I saw Eric Bolton the other night…said hello..nodded and went back to putting my kids skates on. I was gonna walk back his way and ask him if he had met R2 yet and get his take on things. Glad I didn’t…might have been a sore subject seeing as R2 might be taking his spot in the lineup.

Great game Thrashers! Keep it coming!!!

FormerIslesFan

March 5th, 2010
6:19 am

Following up on RH’s note about Lehtonen playing his first game for the Stars: Did anyone see his mask? If you’re a fan of goalie masks like me, you’ll have to admit that it falls in the “way cool” category: http://twitpic.com/16lvir

TheFan79

March 5th, 2010
6:48 am

Have to win next two games .It is not going to be easy .Carolina has been playing much better as of lately.Go Thrashers.Like this new look.

Tom

March 5th, 2010
7:26 am

REALLY like the look of this team right now. The biggest concern I would have heading down the stretch is experience being in this position and understanding the grind and what it takes. Dare I say it, but it might worth bringing up Chelly for that factor alone. Don’t think this team has much of a chance to do anything really special this year, but next year, especially with some additions in the summer, might be VERY good.

World Be Free

March 5th, 2010
7:35 am

Really funny how the NHL Network talking heads applaud NJ for getting Kovy, but mention nothing about what Berfors has done here. They have been ESPN-ized.

“Arty” is a monster, and with that speed maybe he will blossem here?
MacArthur “The General” is just like Max, in the sense that he needed to get our of buffalo and away from Lindy’s defense-first posture. He’s not a star, but he plays well in both ends of the rink, despite his negative plus minus on defensive team. I text my Buffalo friends that Mac and Max both scored in the first period!

It’s just one game, but it is fun making Jeff Schultz look like an idiot. Sure isn’t hard!

Russian

March 5th, 2010
8:19 am

We went to game yesturday. It was lot of fun. But more important I saw a TEAM. They are not looking for #17 anymore, they scored, passed puck very well. I just loved it. Arty goal was a Brilliant. He is a Full Size Truck, went thougrth and scored. In Russia we used to have ships called Ice Crusher. This a big boat with lot of power. Arty is ICE CRUSHER. I hope we can kepp playing a same level for rest of season. Let’s Go Thrashers! :-)

World Be Free

March 5th, 2010
8:32 am

This team has gotten alot bigger very quietly.

Putting On The Foil

March 5th, 2010
8:36 am

Hey Statebird. Hitting the post counts the same as hitting the side of the net, the boards, etc… ZILCH.

Putting On The Foil

March 5th, 2010
8:41 am

WBF-Agree a lot bigger and seem to be a lot faster. But maybe that is just the new adrenaline rush these guys seem to have.

Rightshot

March 5th, 2010
8:46 am

Did enjoy the game. Have to agree with Rawhide the third was flat. Also agree there were to many shots allowed on net. How many blocked shots did we have?

Brenden – As I have said before, if you can get a team full of 20+ goals scorers, you will make the playoffs more often than not. You just need to keep the shots down on net (as I said above, an issue with the Thrashers) and get an above average goalie. (Hedberg right now. Long term, who knows)

Just to change the subject, anyone know where I can find some Grape Nehi in a bottle?

LAC

March 5th, 2010
8:48 am

WBF, Jeff is NOT an idiot…. waddell is. Now school is out, test Monday.

DWTOO

March 5th, 2010
9:07 am

What a game and EA is a beast – he was backchecking, breaking up the play all night. And that goal was awesome. Hoping the change in scenery helps both and MacArthur(won’t call him the General after “Dugout Doug”).

And we finally seem to be getting some breaks (Isles hitting posts rather than nets) and that’s what happens when you’re playing good.

Need to keep the pressure on for three periods. Starting to like thursdays for more than the $3.00 beer!

Monkey

March 5th, 2010
9:27 am

Three dollar beers and the A-Train! What a great night. Glad that L-Dog made it to the house as well.

Must go open up the piggy bank so we can purchase our playoff tics.

Smoothie

March 5th, 2010
9:36 am

Russian – we may finally have a player on the team WORTHY of the nickname “Crusher”…nice going. I like it. How about we keep this going and then re-name the team Thrasherville Ice Crushers!!

Nikita

March 5th, 2010
9:41 am

Jeff’s not an idiot. He’s a lazy hater. Seriously, I finally read his column and it was the same old, same old. He’s rarely, if ever, written anything positive and rarely written anything true.

Addressing other stuff…I said it before and I’ll say it again: the Kovalchuk trade was the right thing for this team. Time will tell how they perform, but they already play so much better.

And, as to the game last night…it was a great game, until they got a little lazy in the third. Butwe won, and that’s all that counts.

Adam

March 5th, 2010
9:42 am

POTF- The difference between the puck hitting a post & and the side of the net is there is no chance it goes in goal when hitting the side, unless a rebound is smacked home, when it hits a post there’s a chance it goes in with no other action from any player on the ice. An inch or 2 one way or the other on those 3 post hits last night and the game is 6-6 going to overtime. Which would have been Un-good!!!

Regardless, I’m loving what I’m seeing from this TEAM. If Bogo starts to “believe” again and steps up his play and with some small adjustments on D-fence I think they will be able to play with the best of’em. The schedule isn’t a very tough one this month and they have a chance to rack some points up going into April and separate themselves from the teams they’re fighting with for a spot.

Russian

March 5th, 2010
9:48 am

**Smoothie** I am with you! :-)

We do not need to change anything on team yet. Everyone is playing very good. Keep Slava, White, Bolton and Pops in press box until we are getting two points.

Savannah BlueFan

March 5th, 2010
9:50 am

Wouldn’t you know this would be the ONE game not televised! I was forced to watch the Rangers/Penguins game on VS and hope for updates during the intermissions (side note: worth the time spent just to see three or four Rangers pile up on Crosby because they felt he dived!) Anyway, the MSG TV announcers mentioned that Kovy only has two goals since the trade but Bergfors has had several. PEOPLE ARE NOTICING!!

ChippersLoveChild

March 5th, 2010
9:52 am

Love that you always write articles after every game and keep the pulse of the Thrashers and their fans going on the AJC, but I could have done without the bathroom humor.

DWTOO

March 5th, 2010
10:03 am

Anyone listen to Bergfors on the post game show. Along with the interview on the ice. He sounds far more composed, relaxed, settled, composed, etc. than the “It is what it is”. Actually seems to like being here.

And note that we have two of the Top 5 Rookie scorers!