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.
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”.
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?
Total Voters: 90
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