Ah, yes…late March-early spring in Atlanta. It’s a beautiful time of year in these parts…a time when we, among other things, pull the cover off of the grill that’s weather through the winter on the back deck and prepare it for another season of outdoor cooking.
You name it, it gets flamed up on the grill here in the south…burgers, hotdogs, steaks, chicken,chops, ribs…mmmmmmm, meat is good!
But ya know what else got grilled around here recently…the playoff chances for the Atlanta Thrashers. Yup, with the giant flameout on the ice of Philips Arena Monday night they all but went up in smoke in the night skies of Thrasherville. And I assure you, the smell that permeated around the intersection of Marietta Street and Centennial Drive did not smell as sweet as what will surround the cul-de-sac I live on this weekend.
Oh sure, the Thrashers are not mathematically eliminated and technically they remain within “striking distance” of Boston, Philly and Montreal…but the 4-1 loss to Carolina last night pretty much puts the Thrashers on the side of the NHL grill where ya put the “done” meat…no, make that the “well done to the point of charred” meat.
Put a fork in ‘em, folks.
Although the box score will show their only goal was via a power play, for the most part of the evening the Thrashers performance while enjoying the man advantage left the paying customers at Philips steamed and sizzling mad. After Nic Antropov put Atlanta up 1-0 on the first power play of the night, they simply looked lost and confused on the subsequent five they were afforded the rest of the way.
The penalty kill, however, continued it’s strong work of late…killing off all three Carolina power plays. Over the last seven games, Atlanta has gone 20 for 20 when facing being down a man.
Southern hospitality was again the order of the day as the visiting team won …as was the case in the previous five matchups between the Thrashers and Canes. Atlanta took all three in Raleigh by a combined score of 15-7 while the Hurricanes took all three here and outscored our team by a total of…now get this…13-3. In the last two it was 8-1.
Making matters even more frustrating was the fact that we got a nice serving of “help” smothered in Buffalo sauce as the Sabres downed Bahhh-ston for us…the score of that game hovering above us all night like the blue light of a bug zapper that served only to illuminate Carolina’s grilling of Thrasher meat below.
I tell ya…rooting for the Sabres sorta gives me the same feeling in my gut as eating a jar of potato salad after it has sat out on the back deck in the sun for an entire week…but it’s worth it when they take care of the Bruins for us like that. Of course, it wouldn’t feel so bad if the Thrashers had done more to help themselves. But right now, I think I need a stomach pump.
And so, if last night’s game was considered a “must win” in regards of keeping hope alive for the playoffs…the one tonight in Toronto has to be considered a “must-er win”. Because after that we are down to those final five with three of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference…three teams that the Thrashers are collectively 1-8-0 against so far this season.
Ugh…there goes my stomach again.
And Speaking of Southern Hospitality…
I met a pair of fairly cool Caniacs last night…Liz and Sydney who had driven down from Carolina to enjoy the game, (and unfortunately, “enjoy” the game is just what they did). They sat a few rows in front of myself, Rightshot and “Lola the Lurker”.
When chatting with the pair, Liz showed me a picture of her favorite Thrashers fan…it was none other than our very own Mr. Heat Miser. The picture was taken last weekend during the Thrasherville invasion of Carolina. After the game, MHM was gracious and kind enough to chat with them, even though it was obvious he was still seething from the outcome.
Cool, classy guy that Heat Miser.
Anywhooooo…Liz and Sydney share our passion fro hockey and agreed with me that the two fan bases always have a good time together when visiting the other. We can go, cheer our team, and enjoy the good times in and around the arena without being a group of obnoxious %$#&#@!.
Nice to meet ya both, Liz and Sydney.