Thrashers ride Moose to blank Canes headlines this morning’s Sunday Thrasherville Times

Thrasherville Times

- If it isn’t in the Thrasherville Times, it didn’t happen -

Sunday March 28, 2010

I Guess The Message Was Received, Coach

Friday morning before the team took to the practice ice at the Duluth Ice Forum, John Anderson held a closed door meeting with the coaching staff and players. Well, whatever was said needs to be repeated …and repeated often… for the remaining seven games of the season as the Thrashers then flew to Raleigh, North Carolina and shutout the Hurricanes 4-0 behind Johan Hedberg’s 34 save performance.

Atlanta got away 43 shots on Manny Legace.

It was win number 20 on the season for Moose and his GAA dipped to 2.63 and saves percentage raised to .915.

“It’s always fun. It’s not often I get a shutout,” Hedberg said after the game. “It was a total team effort. We got some great goals, some amazing goals. We stayed with it the whole way. We didn’t have any lapses, which was the key.”

Not two weeks ago it was Legace that shutout the Thrashers 4-0 here in Atlanta. Turn-about being fair play and all that, I suppose.

By collecting the two points in Carolina the Thrashers keep hope alive in the playoff picture as the 78 points they now have in the standing are but two behind Boston and Philly. And in my opinion…if the Thrashers are going to catch either, it’s probably going to be the Flyers. They are a mess right now and fell to Pittsburgh 4-1 earlier in the day.

Also helping matters for Atlanta was New Jersey downing Montreal 4-2 allowing the Thrashers to pull to within 4 points of the Canadiens. A big thanks goes to the Leafs  as well for their come-from-behind 3-2 overtime win over the Rangers…putting two points between Atlanta and New York.

Manny Legace stopped the first 20 Thrashers shots he faced, 18 in the first period alone…numbers 21 and 22, not so much. Rich Peverley got Atlanta on the board with his 21th goal of the season at the 7:46 mark of the second. 57 seconds later, Evgeny Artyukhin…the A-Train…raced his way in from the right side and snapped off a shot that beat Legace, putting the Thrashers up 2-0.

Nic Bergfors made it 3-0 with under three minutes before the second intermission. On a 2 on 1 break, Bergie entered the zone on the right said with Maxim Afinogenov to his left. When Jamie McBain opted to cover Max, Bergfors said, “Thank you very much for the space”…and shoveled a backhand past Legace. It was his 8th goal as a Thrasher.

Colby Armstrong and Tim Stapleton celebrate with Jim Slater after his power play goal in the third period (AP/Gerry Broome)

Colby Armstrong and Tim Stapleton celebrate with Jim Slater after his power play goal in the third period (AP/Gerry Broome)

The icing on the cake came in the third while on the power play as Jimmy Slater scored his 11th goal of the season…a new career high for the 30th overall pick in the 2002 draft.

Coming into the game, Atlanta had failed on all 14 power play chances against Carolina this season, but they went one for three on this winning night. The penalty kill stopped all of the Canes four man advantage situation…this after surrendering 7 power play goals to them on 20 chances in the previous four games played this season. They’ve now gone six consecutive games without allowing a power play goal, denying their opposition on all 17 chances in those games.

Same teams, different venue Monday night as the Thrashers host the Hurricanes in Philips Arena. If the Devils take care of Philly this afternoon in regulation, the the Thrashers will be playing to pull even with the Flyers at 80 points. At the same time, we’ll be watching the scoreboard as Boston plays Buffalo.

Gotta be a Sabres fan again….aack, gag…ew, I just spit up a little in my mouth…why is that?

Being a Braves Fan in the 80s Prepard Me To Be a Thrashers Fan Today

Last Tuesday night, after the disappointing 4-0 beating the Thrashers suffered at the hands…or is that paws…of the Boston Bruins, I remarked to a friend of mine that being a Thrashers fan in the first decade of their existence has been a lot like being a Braves fans back in the 1980’s.

Back then… long before the Braves remarkable streak of 14 straight division titles, five NLCS Championships and one World Series victory… the Atlanta Braves were just about as miserable a franchise as there was in professional sports. We used to have a running joke in these parts that went something like…”There’s good news and bad news about the Braves. The bad news is they’ve started the season 3-8. The good news is…they are already in mid-season form”!

The Braves finished that decade with but one playoff appearance…1982 when the won the Western Division by one game over the L.A. Dodgers…but were swept away in the NLCS by the St. Louis Cardinals. While they flirted with a return to October’s extra-season play the following two years, they fell short, finishing in second in ’83 and ’84.

The manager for the Braves during those three seasons was none other than Joe Torre, who managed the New York Yankees to four World Series titles and six AL Championships in the ‘90s. After being fired in ’84, he remarked, “I finished first, second and second. If I had finished second, second then first…I would still be managing in Atlanta today”.

For the rest of the decade, however, the Braves’ main mission was to try and not finish the season with 100 losses. Something they failed to do in 1988…and only once between ’85 and ’90 did they lose fewer than 90 of the 162 games played.

The young lady I was dating back then used to rib me about retaining such loyalty to a team so bad. ”They’re terrible, simply awful”, she used to say. “They’ll never win a World Series”.

However, she would sit with me in old Fulton County Stadium on many a Saturday night nonetheless…doing needlepoint. By the sixth inning, we would be on first name basis with the 1,400 or so other fans that bothered to show up as well and we always managed to have fun, regardless of how bad the Braves were being beat that night.

Now, to fair to the Thrashers, this season they managed to work themselves closer to a playoff birth than Lotterypickville with their recent 5-1-2 record over the last eight games and Saturday’s win in Carolina has helped turned the feeling of despair that followed Tuesday night’s giant ice-steamer into another renewed sense of hope. The Braves, on the other hand, never ‘teased’ their fans this way during the mid-to-late ‘80s. They just got it over with quick and easy, right at the beginning.

But this past decade of frustration has been painfully close to what Braves fans suffered through a quarter century ago…you know, just before they made a general manager change and began an unprecedented string of success throughout the 1990s and the first few years of the 21st century. Like the Braves of the ‘80s, the Thrashers have but one playoff appearance…being swept by the Rangers. Since that time, late season games have taken on little more significance than an exercise to see just where they would wind up in the land of lottery ping-pong balls.

So, I suppose following those Braves teams back then sort of prepared me for following the Thrashers over the course of their initial 10 seasons. I am hoping that it’ll pay off soon much the same way it did for Braves fans starting in 1991. I promise you, if the Thrashers become a regular inthe Stanley Cup Playoffs during this next decade…it won’t be too much more of a surprise than it was around here in the ’90s.

Oh…and the lovely gal that suffered through the painful 1980’s Braves seasons with me? Well, when the Braves did actually win the World Series in 6 games over the Cleveland Indians back in October of 1995… she and I celebrated together while our two sons, ages 3 and 2, slept in their rooms.

My youngest one, now almost 17, recently asked a young lady to go to a Thrashers game with him. She responded, “The Thrashers? Aren’t they terrible…”?

Funny…where have I heard that before?

Boulton vs. Artyukhin – Who to Re-Sign?

Two Sundays ago while I, along with several others in the Thrasherville blogosphere, viewed the Coyotes game from high atop the press box. Toward the end of the first period, the Falconer leans over to me to say how well Eric Boulton was playing so far. Not 5 minutes later, I receive a text from a “lurker” that read, “Give Boulton more ice time”.

Eric Boulton has been the Thrashers main enforcer for four years now, but could he lose his spot on the fourth line to Evgeny Artyukhin? (Johhny Crawford/AJC)

Eric Boulton has been the Thrashers main enforcer for five seasons now, but could he lose his spot on the fourth line to Evgeny Artyukhin? (Johhny Crawford/AJC)

Indeed Boulton did play with a good deal of energy and jump during the 3-2 shootout loss to the Coyotes…as has been the case since sitting four straight games in the press box just after the trade deadline acquisitions that brought in Evgeny Artyukhin and Clarke McArthur.

Bolts has on a constant basis provided a lot of energy and fight for the Thrashers in his almost five season in Atlanta. However, one could get the impression that he is also performing for his job these days.

Both Boulton and newcomer Evgeny Artyukhin are UFAs this summer and, as such, the Thrashers may opt to bring just one back for the 2010-11 campaign. If that is indeed the case, which would you prefer to see return?

Boulton, the 6’-1”, 225-pound native of Nova Scotia, is currently playing out the final year of a contract that pays him $600,000 per season and is scheduled to be a UFA come July 1. Artyukhin… who was obtained two weeks ago from Anaheim in exchange for Wolves defenseman Nathan Oystrick and a condition draft pick in 2011…is finishing up a contract that pays him $950,00 per season.

If the Thrashers chose to re-sign only one of the two, who would you like to see remain?

  • Eric Boulton (26%, 23 Votes)
  • Evgeny Artyukhin (74%, 67 Votes)

Total Voters: 90

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For the season, Boulton has 2 goals and 6 assists and has a -1 during 59 games played this year. His 106 penalty minutes are also indicative of the enforcer role he plays for the team. He is in the fifth year in a Thrasher uniform and has amassed 545 PIM in the 305 games played here.

Last season alone he collected 174 PIM in 76 games…and back in the 2002-03 campaign he racked up a whopping 178 penalty minutes in just 58 games played as a member of the Buffalo Sabres. The year before that he managed 129 PIM in just 35 games.

Evgeny Artyukhin has combined for 7 goals and 7 assists during 49 games between the Ducks and Thrashers with 55 PIM on the year. Since making his way from SoCal, the 6’-4”, 255-pound native of Russia has 3 goals, 2 assists in 12 games played with 14 penalty minutes and is a –3.

Evgeny was the 94th overall pick by the Lightning in the 2001 draft and between Tampa Bay, Anaheim and Atlanta he has put up career numbers of 17 goals, 30 assists, 296 PIM and is a –6 in 194 games played.

The Man With The Bag Over His Head Is A Paying Customer, Mr. Yormark

Fans showing up to games with bags over their head has become a common form of displaying displeasure with the team they support when things are going poorly…especially over long periods of time. It began, I believe, back in the late 70’s or early 80s when New Orleans Saints fans were suffering through what was then yet another abysmal season.

Oh…and haven’t times changed for them, eh?

Anyway… recently Chris Lisi, a fan of the woeful NBA New Jersey Nets, donned the proverbial paper bag over the head during a home game against the Miami Heat. With the Nets trailing 79-67 between the third and fourth periods, Brett Yormark…the team’s CEO… left his courtside seat, making his way up the steps into the stands. As he passed Lisi, who was seated in the second row, Yormark noticed the bag-headed fan and asked why he do such a thing.

Because the Nets are so good”, Lisi quipped back sarcastically.

The two then proceeded to throw verbal jabs at each other in front of other fans and the cameras.

Neither Lisi, or the friend he was sitting with, are season ticket holders and didn’t seem to know who they were having the little spat with. But if I’m Yormark, I would be thankful anyone is paying money to show up to watch a team that is now 9-64…bag on the head or not.

Quotes of the Week

“We played a great game and they had nothing” – Ondrej Pavelec following the 3-1 over Philadelphia Sunday night.

“They beat us at every situation. They beat us at faceoffs, goaltending, loose pucks. They beat us all over the ice” – Johan Hedberg after the Thrashers 4-0 loss to Boston Tuesday night.

“I’m disappointed and really dismayed. We’ve got to show that we want it. We didn’t put forth our best effort tonight, and that really bothers me” – John Anderson after Thursday night’s 2-1 overtime loss to Toronto.

“They had some good scoring chances…they just didn’t shoot” – Leafs goalie Jonas Gustavsson on Atlanta’s 20-shot effort Thursday night

“They came out more desperate than we did” Carolina’s captain Eric Staal regarding the 4-0 loss to Atlanta Saturday night.

“I’m happy with the effort. They did the little things we asked them in the meeting. They responded very, very well” — John Anderson after the 4-0 win in Carolina which came a day after the closed door meeting

135 comments Add your comment

Mr. Heat Miser

March 28th, 2010
1:42 am

Mr. Heat Miser

March 28th, 2010
1:51 am

I am proud to announce the Nasty Nest invaded with a slight reduction in force in the grounds of RBC Center. We arrived mid afternoon and met our Canes bretheren with open arms. These fans are the best to hang out with. This was our 4th year here and in my opinion the best! Long story short-Thrashers played a great game. Nobody got thrown out. We all pretty much behaved as we should BUT represented the team in AWESOME fashion! Dang we were loud!

Brendan

March 28th, 2010
2:20 am

A very interesting Thrasherville Times. A nice trip down memory lane for Braves fans. Baseball’s 162 game season is still a little too long for my taste. Hockey is almost half that, as love it as much as I do, I’d actually favor a reduction of games down to 76 or so, to make those game actually played more meaningful. But, that won’t happen. Not while there’s money to be made off those six additional games.

Segue, speaking of additional games, could we really be seeing games #85 and #86 at Philips Arena? Right now, I’d have to say Atlanta is a better team than the Flyers. With Carter out, and goaltending woes … it doesn’t look too good for them. Assuming the Flyers don’t make it, who gets in? The NY Rangers or Atlanta? Shrugs. I know what I’m rooting for.

But, I want to be clear … even if the Thrashers do make the playoffs … and do manage to push the Capitals to five games, Don Waddell should still be fired. And clean out his desk. Both things have to happen. Kicked upstairs, isn’t good enough.

Segue to the poll question, if Rick Dudley is the new GM, post Waddell, I think Eric Boulton will be gone and Artyukhin may be back. R2Kin would have to AGREE to sign here, however. Always a big IFFFF in Blueland. Whereas, believe it or not, I don’t think Boulton would hesitate to re-sign here. He probably owns a house here, and would like to retire here. And lord knows, $600,000 or $625,000 isn’t going to break the Thrashers. Boulton and Slater, if re-signed, will become Team Leaders in total games played with the bird crest on their chests. Some would say, “If Slater and Boulton become the team leaders in longevity, isn’t that a symptom of Waddell being in charge, too long?” Well, every team needs “role” players. Slater knows his role. Boulton knows his roll. Hedberg knows his role. In fact, I’d guess Hedberg would re-sign, if offered a deal, too. His price is $1.25 million. And this year, he’s EARNED three or four times that. Look at his wins, GAA, save .pct. Etc. Trouble is, is the 37-year old the ‘direction’ Atlanta needs to go in, next year? I believe that this season was the last and final flap of Moose’s wings. And I thank him for the GIFT of the season he has delivered. But if we are banking on a repeat performance next year, I’d say we were lucky to get the performance we got this year. And I say that … with Moose being one of my all-time favorite Thrashers. I sincerely hope there’s a job waiting for him here, when he retires. He’s earned that.

Rawhide, if the Tampa Bay Bucs, the team that invented losing, can win a Super Bowl, then anything can happen. If the New Orleans Saints, who in the first 42 years of existence, owned all of two (2) playoff wins prior to this season, can win a Super Bowl, anything can happen. If the Boston Red Sox, after 86 years of drought … can win a World Series, anything can happen. If the New York Rangers, after 54 years … hoisted the Cup … anything can happen.

Shoot, I think the L.A. Clippers, with proper ownership and a good GM, could win the NBA title. Once the Spirit is gone, and Waddell is removed, the Atlanta Thrashers could become a team that vies with Washington for supremacy of the Southeast Division. In an era of salary cap, it’s about making good decisions. I repeat, once Waddell and the Spirit is gone, the possibility for better decision-making opens up. And with it … can come prosperity. :)

hoosier_hoser

March 28th, 2010
3:05 am

During the Boston debacle I observed that the Bruins played a 1-4, an aggressive 2 man forecheck and a 1-2-2 trap. All 3 brought the Thrashers to a standstill. After the match JA channelled BH and demanded more dump and chase.

The next day (I think) I watched the Pens play the Caps. Both teams, like the Thrashers, rushed the puck up ice. There was no dumping and chasing until the Pens went up 2-1 in the 3rd.

The Bruins slow down neither the Pens nor the Caps, yet they bring the Thrashers to a standstill. What is it about the style or personnel of the Thrashers that allows Boston to throttle us? Is the issue that we now longer have Kovalchuk skills toback off a defense?

Another question …
Watching other teams play, players in the defensive zone seem to know instinctively which man to take. The defensemen and center for the Thrashers hesitate and take a quick peek before picking a man to check. Does anyone have any insight regarding the defensive system of the Thrashers? What rules govern who takes whom between the defensemen and center? What is the responsibility of the center?

Thanks …

LAC

March 28th, 2010
6:37 am

Complete Game… Last evening was the most complete game the Thrashers have played in a long time… They were the team in control and John & Tripp were praising them left & right.

They controled play for the entire game, except two streaches in the third period, but did not allow a goal. Nice to see the Carolina TV show ATLANTA Fans in attendence, esp the gorl with the Moose Head !!! Great Game and let’s see if it can continue Monday night.

moriler

March 28th, 2010
8:27 am

Hoosier: This is kinda simple. For the Pens, they have some guy named Crosby, Malkin, and Staal. For the Caps, they have Ovechkin and Semin. When you have a world-class offensive player (or several), defenses can’t risk him blowing past with a clever move, and they back off.

And yes, that was exactly the difference — with Kovy, we could let him carry the puck up-ice and defenses would have to back off. The problem was that he didn’t know what to do with it once he got in the zone; I think as much as we’re going to have to adapt and play a bit more dump-n-chase, we’ll be better off with the mob we have now. (I certainly think that getting Bergie and Oduya for a _rental_ was an absolute steal at this point.)

Rawhide: Interesting thoughts. I, too, was a Braves fan in the 80’s (and have a bunch of stories to tell about the ‘91 season!) and remember when “So… how ’bout them Braves?” was a humorous moment. Perhaps that’s why I tend to take a longer-term view about the Thrashers and … now that we have Dudley handling the player evaluations… am not as worried about Don.

Well done regardless by the boys; hope it comes back Monday.

Bob

March 28th, 2010
9:30 am

Better late than never, but why didn’t they have that closed door meeting while they were crapping the bed 4 in a row after the break?

Good showing by Heat Miser and all the fans that traveled up there, that’s great to see.

I refuse to get my hopes up as that seems to be the jinx that causes the guys to play like crap, so in an anti-jinx mode I’ll be watching the games but not expecting us to get in. Now go prove me wrong, fellas.

Joe Friday

March 28th, 2010
9:31 am

Sage of Bluesland

March 28th, 2010
9:44 am

Interesting observation by the blog-writer, making a comparison between the 80s Braves and the Thrashers. I hope the parallels are real–but I followed the Braves during those lean years, as well and the ONE thing they had that the Thrashers do not is also one of the biggest: committed ownership.

Once Turner let the baseball “people” do their job without any influence–and with plenty of support (via completely revamping the scouting and minor leagues–there was the real key to the Braves’ decade of dominance).

Hiring Bobby Cox as the GENERAL MANAGER was the pivotal move in the entire equation and, as an aside, he does not get near-enough credit for building that eventual juggernaut as he should (whereas folks tend to forget that Schuerholz left a sinking ship in KC right as the Braves were ripening–he signed a few free agents which hit the jackpot and he is relatively worshipped by some as the person who turned it around. The real turnaround came in the mid-1980s when the team bagan to build in earnest from the ground up. This is somewhat similar to what the Falcons are appearingly-trying to do today.).

OK, back to the point: Two things in this comparison do not favor the same decade-run of excellence are committed ownership and a competent GM/scouting staff.

I would like nothing more than to believe in these parallels–and believe it or not, I DID think in these terms during the period ‘99 to ‘02, thinking we were building a core-nucleus which would be the envy of every other team in the league (similar to the ‘Young Guns’ circa even in 1990 as they were being referred to then; the Braves had a large ’stable’ of arms) and lead us to a run of playoff appearances. However, it’s become painfully apparent we are a shambles from the top to the middle management to the lower management…

chris

March 28th, 2010
9:53 am

So you’re saying that the Thrashers will start winning when we get Bobby Cox as our manager?

CHIEF OF SMOKE

March 28th, 2010
10:07 am

Ice Man, I am from Buffalo and it is easy to be Sabres fan, but it is better to be a Thrashers fan
Go Thrashers excellent effort last night

Brendan

March 28th, 2010
10:40 am

hoosier_hoser, today’s game is really all about speed and grit, but it’s also very much a “thinking man’s game.”

What do I mean? Well, imagine hoosier_hoser, the play is coming straight up the middle. Every player in the league experiences this reality, every single game. But what happens next? Does the attacking team dump the puck in? Do they attempt to skate it in? This requires a decision on the part of the player possessing the puck.

Ilya Kovalchuk is blessed with enormous God-given shooting, passing, playmaking and skating skills. But one thing he seemed to lack, sometimes … was good decision-making at the blueline. If there are four awaiting skaters (1-4 system), skating it into the attacking zone, by himself, might not be such a great play. Also, who is flanking him? If it’s a Thrasher who is speedy and gritty, then winning the puck battle in the corner boards … that would surely ensue … becomes a higher percentage play. Kovalchuk would try to do it all himself, a lot of the time. With Rick Dudley “seemingly” having more control over decisions and player development and personnel, those forwards are apt to be bigger, like Antropov and Artyukhin. These are guys who can win puck battles, knocking the opposition off the puck, to gain control in the offensive zone.

If the other team is using a neutral zone trap, the trap can be defeated by using a series of drop passes. In other words, the puck is advanced through the neutral zone, where the receiving player is immediately marked by a positional defender. Instead of trying to chip the puck FORWARD, into the attacking zone, he uses a “set play,” whereby he passes the puck behind him to a fast skating teammate who sees and reads the play “as a standard neutral zone trap.” This “drop pass” hits his teammate in stride where he has the option of dumping it into the zone, or finding a seam to skate it in. If it’s a “dump in,” then the play, at a bare bones minimum, forces the defenders to corral the puck, control it, and clear their zone. But, if they don’t, and cough it up, it can lead to a scoring chance. But what was important, hoosier_hoser? Give yourself a gold star if you said, “correctly identifying and reading the play.” I would also accept, “thinking” as an answer.

The key, here, is coaching … coupled with intelligent, “thinking man’s” hockey players. Reading the play is essential. The rote “dump-n-chase” is for mindless buffoons, who can’t think. They just “react.” Stupid players don’t last in this league, but a few seasons. Players who can’t skate, likewise, get left behind. The era of hooking and holding is over.

I repeat, in today’s game … it’s about speed and grit. Speed forces the defenders to take penalties to slow you down. Then it’s up to your PP unit to cash-in. Grit is what allows you to gain control of the puck, deep into the attacking zone. The teams who possess both speed and grit tend to be in the playoffs every year.

Speed. And grit.

rob

March 28th, 2010
10:47 am

Bolts vs Artyukin? Hmmmm. Every team HAS to have someone who isn’t scared to drop the gloves now and then. That being said, Artyukin isn’t a fighter per se. He has shown a good flash of size and speed though that we need IMO. I would like to see him come back next year. I like Boulton, but the way this team is lining up, we are getting contributions from every line, and it would be nice to have someone on the bottom lines who can finish the chances they create, rather than watching a chance that occurs after a hard checking line go wide as is often the case, sooo… if they are choosing between them, then Artyukin, with the knowledge that while they aren’t fighters, Thorburn, Slater, and maybe even a few of our Dmen may be called upon to step up when needed.

Red Light

March 28th, 2010
10:56 am

Brendan: From my July 27 post…

“Not sure where my prediction is supposed to be predicted, but I can’t see more than one point per game, so I’ll peg the Thrashers at 82 points.”

Will comment on Rawhide’s fine work after church!

Brendan

March 28th, 2010
11:01 am

Remember last week, when Detroit was the #10 seed in the West? Well, this week, they’re one (1) point from being the 5th seed. I think they’re 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. Detroit is hitting their stride at the right time. San Jose and Chicago breathe a sigh of relief, as Detroit as a 7th or 8th seed was not the REWARD that they hoped their very fine seasons would produce as a 1st round opponent.

I want to talk about Nashville. Yes, we like them, in these parts. We see GM David Poile and dream about what might have been, if the NHL award the 1998 entry to Atlanta instead, including the stellar 1998 draft year, compared to 1999. Nashville, in their history, has never won a playoff series. They are 0-2 versus Detroit. They are 0-2 versus San Jose. And well, I think the Preds would like to face someone other than Detroit and San Jose.

Segue, the #4 seed is Phoenix, a franchise whose history dating back to 1979 as the Winnipeg Jets, includes a GRAND TOTAL of two (2) playoff series wins. If the Preds can just hold off Detroit for the #5 seed out west, they’ll get the Coyotes. And, by definition, someone has to win!! If SURGING Detroit get the #5 seed, it will be Detroit and Phoenix.

Stop. Geeeeeeee, just what Coyotes fans ALWAYS wanted: Detroit in the 1st round, after the tremendous season they’ve just had. If Detroit remains at #6, they’ll likely play Vancouver in the 1st round. Whoever finishes 7th, will probably get Chicago, but maybe San Jose. If you’re Nashville, and you finish 7th, this isn’t good. Another potential matchup with the Sharks. If Nashville finishes 6th, they could get Vancouver. I think that’s a decent series for them. But really, I think the Predators fans should root for the matchup with Phoenix as the “best route” to their 1st-ever franchise playoff series win.

Los Angeles and Colorado are not steaming, full-speed ahead, into the playoffs. Both teams have yet to solidy a playoff spot. But #9 Calgary isn’t exactly surging towards the playoffs either, dropping recent games to the Minnesota Wild, NY Islanders and Boston Bruins. If Colorado finishes 8th, they’ll get either Chicago or San Jose. The deal is the same at #7. So, for Avs fans, they need to leapfrog up to 6th … to draw Vancouver. I hope the L.A. Kings get #6 to face Vancouver. That’s the series I most want to see the Kings play.

Brendan

March 28th, 2010
11:11 am

Red Light, my apologies. I never saw your July 27th post, but if you made one then, that’s certainly “before” puckdrop in October. 82-points it is.

Brendan

March 28th, 2010
11:28 am

chris, Bobby Cox is the biggest “player’s manager” in baseball. And Don Waddell, in my opinion, is a “player’s manager.” It’s a rarity when Waddell calls a player out in the media. I suspect his “player friendly” approach has contributed to the record over the years. I’m NOT saying, “bring in Mike Keenan,” the polar opposite of the “player friendly” guy. But there’s got to be some sort of “happy medium.”

To Bobby Cox’s credit, he won 15-straight division titles, dating back to the Toronto Blue Jays, and, as Braves skipper, went 5-4 in nine LCS. And yes, there was one World Series win. Many would say, “I’d love for the Thrashers to have this kind of success.”

Uhhh, yes and no. I don’t want to be the St. Louis Blues. What do I mean? For something like 27-straight years, the Blues were in the playoffs. But they never won a Cup. Since the 1970 “Flight of Orr” Finals, the St. Louis Blues have been to two (2) Conference Finals in all that time (40 years). They lost them both. In 1986, the Blues lost to the Flames. In 2001, the Blues lost to the Avalanche. I don’t want that.

I repeat. I don’t want that. I want the natural ebb and flow that comes from success and failure. Failure is what allows your team, ANY team, to RELOAD. Reloading is NECESSARY. Being the PERMANENT #15 team in the NHL isn’t my cup o’tea. I’d rather be in the lottery draft for a few years to load up, taking our lumps. The lumps are part of the parade route down International Boulevard and West Peachtree Street.

I’m fine with three (3) playoff berths in a decade, so long as those three playoffs are ones whose memory will endure for years to come. A CSF, CF, and SCF berth over a decade … is a good result. If the Thrashers were to play for the Cup once every decade, I’d be happy with that. I wouldn’t be happy with ten straight years of playoffs, going 1-9 in the 1st round. Or 2-8. Or 3-7. That’s crap. That’s junk. Fifty-three percent (53%) of the league’s teams make the playoffs, every year.

hollywould

March 28th, 2010
12:11 pm

A-Train all the way. i love that nickname. He might not be a fighter but you tube him and you can see if he wants to he can hurt you. Sign Boulton too. Nice job by the Thrash last nite and to all the folks who made the trip up.

Lee

March 28th, 2010
12:32 pm

I think Bergfors is better than Kane by far. Not to say that Kane is bad, but Nic and him don’t even compare. Funny thing is that Nic was a lower draft pick than Evander. It just shows you that Waddell didn’t really take much time picking his pick.

Lee

March 28th, 2010
12:34 pm

Sign Arty. LOVE Boulton a LOT, but Arty can actually score. I liked to see them both stay, but if I had to pick, it’d be Arty.

Thrashfan01

March 28th, 2010
12:48 pm

A history lesson.

In 1990 Sports illistrated did a story on the Braves mentioning they could be the team of the next decade because to the youth movement Bobby Cox and the Braves had undergone. The Braves had aquired Lemke, Justice, Blauser, Glavine and Smoltz, it was the next off season the team aquired a number of vets and the Braves took off.

The Thrashers are going through much the same process. We have as much young talent under the age of 23 as any team in the East. Some of the vets may well leave this offseason but it is the kids who are going to direct the fortunes of this team. Bergfors, Enstrom, Little, Bogosian, Pavelec, Kulda, Vish, Machacek and Kane are going to be here for some time much like the young Braves were.

The parallels between those Braves and the Thrash are in place.

Smoothie

March 28th, 2010
1:27 pm

A little perspective from a road_weary and hung-over Smoothie. While Bergfors has certainly played quite well in his short time as a Thrasher and has huge upside, let’s keep in mind Bergie is 4 years older than Kane, a relative eternity in hockey. In two years, Kane will have matured into a man and has the potential to grow into one of the most dominating and powerful skaters in the league. Yes, he still has some ways to go in developing his hands, but the raw talent is there. As he gets stronger, he will be much harder to stop and he’ll be going thru Chris Pronger as often as right around him. His potential upside is even higher than Bergfors in my opinion as he will likely grow into the prototypical NHL body with a well-rounded skill-set that can help him score goals, dish the puck and forecheck like a madman. Can’t wait to see what the Pain Train will look like when he’s twenty!!

Rawhide

March 28th, 2010
1:30 pm

Mr. Heat Miser - The blue invasion of Carolina was a success!!! You guys made a great showing and represented Thrasherville well. Agre with you 100% about Caniacs…good people, indeed.

Sage – Excellent post…I enjoying reading it. Bobby Cox certainly does not get enough credit for laying the groundwork in the front office before taking over as the field general.

Brendan – Thanks for reminding us that Cox won 15 straight division crowns as a manager…1985 with the Royal, then the 14 here. Also, that was the first year MLB moved from a best of five series to a best of seven. Toronto took a 3 games to 1 lead over KC…a year before and the Blue Jays would have gone to the WS…but the Royals took the next three games to win the ALCS. Of course the World Series with the Cards that fall was the one in which the umps “jobbed” the Cards…allowing the series to get to a game seven…which turned into an 11-0 blowout for KC.

Anywhoooo…do you remember who the winning pitcher was in game seven in the ALCS that year? Charlie Leibrandt…who was a big part of that worst-to-first 1991 season for the Braves.

Chief of Smoke – Being from Buffalo, I’m sure it easy easy to be a Sabres fan…I will give it my best effort tomorrow night to “root” for them against the Brooooooo-uns.

fes

March 28th, 2010
3:09 pm

Boults is a proven commodity. He’s going to give a spark when the team needs it and usually won’t take a penalty at an inopportune time. What do we really know about Artyukin’s accumluated PIMs? Were they of the enforcement variety? Were they a pick-me-up at a time when the team had to have it? Or were they ill-timed and cost his team? To compare these two players would assume that Arty is going to be called upon to fill the enforcer role. If this is the case, I think they need to kick the tires and let’s see what he’s got in these remaining games. If Boults has to sit, so be it. Until then, I voted Boults (though I do like what I’ve seen from Arty as a non-enforcer).

Nice comparison to the 80s Braves. Those were indeed some miserable years. Brendan, I think those that say that they would accept the success of the Braves for the Thrashers also wish to have a Stanley Cup as part of the deal. If it’s simply making the playoffs a high percentage of times but not producing, then I doubt many of us would want that either.

As was mentioned prior, whatever was said in the closed door meeting needs to be repeated before each and every game. The guys can’t let up if they are to overtake the Flyers and possibly the Bruins.

Red Light

March 28th, 2010
3:14 pm

In terms of overall talent and size, you have to go with Arty as he is younger. But, if you want to discuss respect and willingness to play the enforcer role, then it’s Bolts all the way and he’s cheaper.

Sage points by Sage. Thanks Smoothie for pointing out the differences. You can’t compare Bergfors and Kane, they are two entirely different commodities.

Players aren’t going to respond to closed-door meetings after every game, but maybe this one will have some holdover for Monday night.

Lets go Devils!!!!!

HookyBob

March 28th, 2010
3:33 pm

Speed and grit,…… aka Evander Kane. Man do I (and the Thrashers). He is going to be another Shanahan or Iginla (his boyhood hero) with-in a few years. For Kane I’d add “skill” too as Slates has speed and grit coming out his,….ears. Nothing against Jimmy. Also, I have to think Artuken is high on the speed and grit scale.

Question: Who was the last Thrasher not named Kovolchuk or Hossa to get a hat-trick?

I too, refuse to get excited about this team and the play-offs. Part bad-luck, part not getting let down,..again.

Brendan,…anybody else pulling for the Yotes and Preds? Feel good stories all the way.

So,..is tomorrow’s game a big one?

Go Blue.

Brendan

March 28th, 2010
4:13 pm

It might just be us, HookyBob. I would really, really like to see the Preds vs. the Coyotes. Someone has to win!

Imagine a Super Bowl between the Vikings and Chargers? Or Eagles and Bills? Someone has to win.

What I’m about to say next will make me as popular as a finger in a bowl of chili. But, I don’t want 14 straight years of playoffs and one Stanley Cup. Others do. Others would. Not meee. In those same 14 years, here’s what I’d want. Zero playoffs eight times. Four trips to the Finals. Three Stanley Cups. For if we went 14 straight times, including nine (9) trips to the Conference Finals, and five trips to the Show … with only one (1) Cup to show for it … it means we fundamentally misjudged what we needed to do … beyond our own Conference. Or, it potentially means that, just like thissssss year, that Eastern Conference is weak. Only, weak for a prolonged period of time.

To be that dominant … over 14 years … with 5 berths in the Stanley Cup Finals … ON PAPER … might look fabulous. But the practical reality is … we’re chokers in that scenario. In my scenario, we stink out loud to get good, the go to the show … and bring home the hardware. Then we suck for a few years while we reload. Then bring home more Stanley Cups. I like that better. That’s just meeee. Personally.

The Florida Marlins may not be baseball’s model franchise. By a longshot. But an incontestable truth about them, is as follows. “The Florida Marlins baseball team has never, ever lost a playoff series.” What??? Go ahead. Look it up. The Florida Marlins … have never lost a playoff series. Every time they make the playoffs, they win the World Series. Those are playoffs that matter. Those are playoffs that are memorable. And yes, sadly, the Florida Marlins own more World Series victories than do the Atlanta Braves. And both World Series wins, by Florida, were done as a “wildcard” team. So, they didn’t even win their division in those years. I’d rather … that our playoff years be memorable ones. The Saint Louis Blues have never won the Stanley Cup. The Vancouver Canucks have never won the Stanley Cup. The Los Angeles Kings have never won the Stanley Cup. The Buffalo Sabres, Washington Capitals, and Phoenix Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets … have never won the Stanley Cup. All of those teams have been in existence … for OVER 30 years. Several of them have been around for FORTY or more years. And yet, the Tampa Bay Lightning (1992) own a Cup. The Anaheim Ducks (1993) own a Cup. And this year, it’s quite conceivable that San Jose (1991) will win its first Cup. Or possibly Washington (1974).

It’s about making your playoff experience, whatever it might be, memorable. Just ask Saints fans. They had two playoff wins, in TOTAL, for 42 years, coming into this season. Now, they have something that the Eagles, Bills, Chargers, Vikings, Lions, Seahawks, etc. have never experienced. When Atlanta gets to the “showcase” event called the Stanley Cup Finals, I don’t want them to have to invent excuses. I want them to be READY. If they’re READY, they’ll win.

Rawhide

March 28th, 2010
4:15 pm

For those of you with the NHL Network…the Chicago Wolves are taking on the Texas Stars right now on that channel. Good chance to watch some of our prospects in action.

Brendan

March 28th, 2010
4:38 pm

It’s Calgary 5, Washington 2, after two periods. The Flames once led, 4-0, in this game. The Capitals have already set a franchise record for point, at 109 this year. They eclipsed the mark they set last year, at 108-points. The last time the Washington Capitals were in the Stanley Cup Finals … it was 1998.

Joe Friday

March 28th, 2010
4:51 pm

Oh, I’d love to watch that Wolves game but knee keep in taxes, at least I got the NCAA games on the puter.

Put me down for Preds and Yotes as well. And put me down for thinking Kane has a much bigger upside than Bergfors. I’d like to see Kane on the 3rd line again next year but I see him on one of the top two lines the year after.

AuburnZ

March 28th, 2010
5:21 pm

Turned on the Woles game, they are currently down 4-0.

Brendan

March 28th, 2010
5:29 pm

We’re in the final minutes now, 5-3, Capitals are making a game of it.

kracker

March 28th, 2010
8:19 pm

My Braves memory/comment. For years, the early Atlanta Braves had a bumper sticker that simply said GO BRAVES! with a flying baseball on it. They continued to market that BS (lol) on into the 80s…maybe they still do. Throughout most of these same years, the Falcons also stunk (where is Marion Campbell now?) Some joker came up with a bumper sticker saying “GO BRAVES! and take the Falcons with you”

Brendan

March 28th, 2010
8:24 pm

Despite Fleury trying to give it away, the Penguins prevailed in the shootout over the Leafs, 5-4, in the shootout. Toronto almost closed this one out in regulation, but Matt Cooke, yes him, tipped in a shot from the point with a little over 2 minutes left in regulation.

Thrashers27

March 28th, 2010
8:40 pm

Flyers winning 4-0 at the second intermission. Leave it to Ilya Kovalchuk to choke when the playoffs are on the line for The Thrashers. ;)

Brendan

March 28th, 2010
9:22 pm

Kovy is one goal from 40. Again. Atlanta had to handle its business. It was in 8th spot 10 days ago. It let it slip away to where it is.

Krust

March 28th, 2010
9:35 pm

Thrasher27,

Watched it too skating around the blueline. Leave it to kovy. I think he is bi polar. Just wait that old coach up there in NJ is going to put kovy in the press box.

World Be Free

March 28th, 2010
9:49 pm

Chief of Smoke, we have chewed the same dirt it seems. Tyler Ennis will give Boston trouble with his speed Monday night. I was gassed when the Thrash hired Dudley, one of my favorite Sabres EVER.

Bolts or Arty-I say BOTH.

Bolts will go with anyone and that’s a good thing to to have on your team. He’s a great community guy too. Arty is more talented, if given a chance to play on a regular basis he could drop 15-18 goals.

Baseball is almost as good as hockey and I gotta say I am a huge Braves fan. Ted, Bobby and 3 great pitchers or better put, 3 guys that could make plays. That’s what the Thrasher’s need is guys like Max who can make plays.

Hooky-Kane is almost a force at 18. What will he be when he hits the weights this summer and adds some muscle?

Brendan-gotta admit I am building a great deal of respect for Sydney Corsby. He’s a playmaker. Tronna is playing pretty good right now, think the Toronto media will get off of Ron Wilson for being an American?

Sage-nice post, great insight

World Be Free

March 28th, 2010
9:56 pm

Brendan-Dave Tippett should be the hands down winner of coach of the year. I was very impressed with Phoenix when they came through here. I think the West is going to be a blast to watch in this year’s playoffs, the way these teams are all playing right now.

Right now, if I were starting a playoff team, I’d have Pavel Datsuk as my number one skater. He has the best all around game in the league right now. All the time for that matter.

Viking

March 28th, 2010
10:01 pm

My first time I saw a Baseball game live was in 1990, a little more than a year after I moved here. As we drove down I-75 and while the game had already started, my wife suggested we should check out how Dale Murphy & Co were doing.

It was very easy to get good seats for cheap by scalpers outside the ballpark. Well, the Braves sucked and the attendance was likely something in the neighborhood of Rawhide’s illustration above! When we got into our seats they were already behind by many runs. I can not remember how many runs they got or who they played, but whoever they played scored 23 runs! (A record perhaps?)

Not fun at the time, but little did I know that I would next season experience the sight of my wife jumping up and down in the sofa in a crazy Tom Cruise fashion when it was clear that they made it to the World Series. Then ticker tape parade on Peachtree… The worst to first experience was unbelievable!

Smoothie

March 28th, 2010
10:23 pm

Figures NJ would beat MTL when we needed them to beat Philly more. Thanks Kovy, loser. Thrash have to take care of their sh-tuff in the next 4 games winning at least 3 to have any shot. Odds are very much dwindling.

World Be Free

March 29th, 2010
9:09 am

Sabres have 4 forwards injured for tonight’s tilt with the Brunes.
Some hungry kids from the farm will be up for tonight’s game.

ChippersLoveChild

March 29th, 2010
9:15 am

Let’s get right back at it tonight! Time for a repeat performance. We really have to win these next two games to have any shot. Play with heart boys! Right when they pull me back in with hope they find a new way to disappoint. Hopefully we stay strong tonight and play a complete game…. Side note, when Bergy scored it was Antro on his side, not Max, if I recall correctly.

Red Light

March 29th, 2010
9:34 am

WBF: Was thinking about Datsyuk last night. In years to come, he and Ovechkin could/will be remembered as the best Russian players ever to play in the NHL. So, while we’re on that vein, I’d like to hear your nominees for the other European countries.

Russia: Fetisov, Datsyuk or Ovechkin?
Sweden: Lidstrom, Salming, Forsberg, Sundin, Backstrom or Per Svartvadet (OUCH)?
Finland: Selanne, Kurri or Tomi Kallio (HAH)?
Slovakia: Stan Mikita, Peter Stastny, Hossa, Chara, Gaborik or Lubos Bartecko/Ivan Majesky (ZING)
Czech Republic: Jagr, Hasek or Petr Buzek?
Austria: Vanek?
Germany: Walt Tkachuk, Dany Heatley, Jochen Hecht or Uwe Krupp?
France: Huet!
Switzerland: Streit or Hiller?
Nigeria: Rumun Ndur!
Poland: Mariusz Czerkawski or Wolski?
Slovenia: Anze Kopitar!

smokemonster

March 29th, 2010
9:45 am

I’m looking for the LOST blog. Can you help a smakemonster out?

No playoffs = Nothing = Who Cares = Don Waddell’s Contract Extended

d

March 29th, 2010
10:19 am

We’re looking to make the Cane’s game tonight – is anyone aware of any ticket price promotions, perhaps similar to what was offered last week? Thx.

puckhead

March 29th, 2010
10:29 am

Last (non k or h) Hat Trick I remember was Brian Little’s against Carolina and then Eric Stall had one in the third period to beat us 5-4. Wasn’t that Dec 2008?

Badger Bob

March 29th, 2010
10:44 am

Good post, Sage. WBF, will you be there tonight?

Good win, pushing our earliest potential “eliminated from the playoffs” date back to April 2. On the other hand, if everything happens right this week, we could be back in control of our destiny by April 2.

Badger Bob

March 29th, 2010
10:52 am

Shoot me right now for this post, but Brendan asked on 3/27 11:28PM “Then again, who “figures” on injuries?”. The answer? Our foresight-ful GM, none other than DW, who said one reason he got the General and R2 was for depth at forward in case of injuries during our busy March. By March 25 we had only 11 of our 15 forwards healthy enough to dress.

Amazing he can have the foresight to predict injuries, but can’t tell when his “son” Kovy is BSing him about his desire to stay in ATL.

I’m betting Rutherford Sydell, absent from the last couple games, reappears tonight since a) we are on a 1 game winning streak and b) this could be our last home game before elimination from the playoff race.

Savannah Blueland Fan

March 29th, 2010
10:58 am

Ah, yes….the wonder years of 1980’s Braves baseball. I love hockey, but I LOOOVE baseball! I can remember foul balls plunking down on the picnic tables that were set up along the foul lines at the old Fulton County stadium and the surprised looks on the picnicers’ faces, “Oh, look, there’s a game going on!”. I also remember the now imfamous “Sid Bream slide from second” game and how I was at work and the Scrooge of a boss would not allow us to bring a portable TV to work, so we smuggled in a small radio and hunched over listening like Londoners during a bombing raid, completely ignoring customers that insisted we do some actual work. By the 8th inning, we had shooed everyone out of the store, turned out the lights, and slapped a sign on the door claiming their had been a power outage and we would reopen “shortly”.

The point is we were fans of the game. FANS! We watched and listened and cheered for the team even though they sucked and we knew it. Too bad it seems as though the Thrashers do not have the same type of fans. The Thrashers may have more than their share of moments when I throw my remote at the TV and scream. I can’t change the channel quick enough after a loss. I mope the next morning and tell myself it’s hopeless and I’ll never watch another game. But two days later, I’m racing home to watch again. Everyone should do the same.