Thrashers just can’t seem to help themselves

They came into this final stretch of games knowing they needed some help. They were just a couple points out of a playoff spot, but the teams they were trying to catch had a game in one hand and tie breakers in the other. Even if they won out, Atlanta needed Montreal, Boston and/or Philly to get tripped up.

Wednesday night, they got some of that much-needed help in Montreal as the Carolina Hurricane slipped past the Canadiens 2-1. Then, as the Thrashers played in Washington, they were received not one, but two gifts in other places. In Boston, the Panthers made a Keith Ballard goal in the first period stand up for a 1-0 Panthers win over the Bruins…and on Long Island, the Flyers were in the process of getting smacked around by the Islanders.

With that, Atlanta found themselves in the same position they’ve been in a few times already of late… all they had to do was take care of their own end of the bargain and they would pull themselves even in the standings for that final coveted playoff spot. Win, and they would match the 82 points that Boston, Philly and Montreal have.

But once again…they just couldn’t find a way to help themselves.

Now…unlike the 4-0 steaming pile of FAIL they plopped on the ice against the Bruins two weeks ago when they had a chance to pull themselves up into a playoff spot and the 4-1 disappointment last Monday against Carolina…on this night the Thrashers played very well against the NHL’s best team. They played solid defense, didn’t make a lot of egregious mistakes, got a good performance again out of Ondrej Pavelec, kept the leagues best power play in check by allowing them but one chance on the man advantage and held the high-powered Capitals offense to just 24 shots on goal.

But still, it just wasn’t enough as they came up on the short end of a 2-1 decision.

The game winner was scored halfway through the third period when Matt Bradley knocked Chris Chelios away from the puck in the corner…then drove it in toward the net from Pavelec’s left side and crammed it past the Atlanta netminder.

The Thrashers had tied the score at one-all late in the second when Tim Stapleton scored his first goal as an Atlanta Thrasher…his second ever in his brief NHL career. It was set up by a nice play in front of Atlanta’s net as Johnny Oduya moved the puck out of the defensive zone and found Stapleton…who banked it into the attacking zone off the left sideboards. Colby Armstrong returned the puck to his linemate who found himself all alone with only Washington goalie Semyon Varlamov to beat.

And beat him he did.

With the loss, the Thrashers remain in the same predicament they were before…at 80 points, two behind three teams, but with one less game to play and holding no tie breaking scenarios.

Tomorrow night, Montreal and Philadelphia will square off against each other…and because NHL rules demand it, one of those teams will come away with points numbers 83 and 84. We in Thrasherville can only hope that the other team doesn’t also pocket an overtime loser point as well.

Then the Thrashers will play in Pittsburgh Saturday afternoon before the Habs welcome in Buffalo and Boston plays in Toronto.

And don’t forget those Rangers who’ll play in Tampa Friday and Florida Saturday. They’ll be looking for some help from the Penguins against us in order to try and work their way into the ninth place position we currently hold.

So, as you can see, if it wasn’t easy before…it’s even that much un-easier now.

99 comments Add your comment

R. Stroz

April 1st, 2010
10:21 pm

Rawhide, stop slapping Cheli’s head.

J(Z)

April 1st, 2010
10:50 pm

5 games now Chris Chelios has played…care to guess how many of those 5 we’ve won??? 0. Since his call up, in games he’s been scratched we’re 6-2-0. Can we PLEASE give Kulda a callup?????

Tom (Capital T Tom)

April 1st, 2010
10:51 pm

I love Cheli for all he has done for hockey, and that there is a player in the league older than I am keeping me from having to deal with another milestone, but he was owned tonight.

His look after the goal just scream “I need to retire.”

Just sayin…

urm...

April 1st, 2010
11:01 pm

Ba hum bug…….

Thrashers Fever

April 1st, 2010
11:02 pm

The Thrashers have a fever, and the only prescription is more Cheli!

Yung JB from MTL

April 1st, 2010
11:10 pm

OMG cheli… i think Kulda is coming up… PLEASE NO MORE CHELI! I love him, but he doesnt get the job done

As for playoffs… look at the bright side, which is dimming: Philly sucks badly

Now, we probably have to win the last 4 games… darn….

I have a question though: lets say we finish at 82 games tied with one of Philly BOS or MTL, do we have the tie breaker against one (if they all also played 82 games)

J(Z)

April 1st, 2010
11:17 pm

the first tiebreaker is games won – which we’d lose that tiebreaker to PHI or MTL.
the second tiebreaker would be H2H – which we’d lose that tiebreaker to BOS

So we need to finish with more points than one of those three. Our chance is for someone – I nominate Philly – to completely collapse and finish the season 1-4-0, then we’d need to finish out the stretch 2-1-1 and that’s really our only reasonable chance

Yung JB from MTL

April 1st, 2010
11:19 pm

yeah your really right… im praying from now on.

J(Z)

April 1st, 2010
11:23 pm

LOL – if we go 3-0-1 and Montreal finishes 0-0-5 we’d win the tiebreaker with them :)

ThrasherFan

April 2nd, 2010
12:31 am

Wouldn’t it be nice if we woke up the day after we miss the playoffs and Wadell and the entire coaching staff has been fired?

Wayne stuck in AL

April 2nd, 2010
12:47 am

“Wouldn’t it be nice if we woke up the day after we miss the playoffs and Wadell [sic] and the entire coaching staff has been fired?”

It’ll be more likely Lindsay Lohan will be clean and sober before Waddell and Anderson will finally be canned.

stendek

April 2nd, 2010
2:34 am

A team with heart would have found a way to win! A team with pride would have found a way to win. A team with desire would have found a way to win! Played team with most points in NHL. Boo hoo! Irrevelant! The Caps dam coasted to give the quitters an opportunity for two points. Trashers said no thanks. We will let Pavs Lehtonen allow just enough goals to lose and net an obligatory goal but ensure no more by missing the net on prime scoring chances. Trashers in their pink uniforms had Caps covered! Crapitals and their fans appreciate the cooperation scumballs. Another disservice to your own fans. A few of the more braindead ones who shelled out big bucks to watch you frauds play out the string! All of you except Johan Moose Hedberg are prima donna jerks ready to start your off season. I KNOW IT! ANY FANS WITH ANY SENSE KNOW IT! So spare us your one goal loss drivel. What do 1-0 and 10-1 defeats have in common? They are losses which result in no points. Zilch. Zippo. Thanks for nothing bums. Do us all a favor and stay in Washington. Being with lazy corrupt politicians seems to suit all of you save one. Sorry you were sentenced to NHL purgatory in Atlanta Moose! Hope you bolt to winner next season. Hope rest of team just dam bolts. Anywhere! ++STENDEK++

ben

April 2nd, 2010
4:45 am

This team is baaaad. I mean really bad. I’d rather miss the playoffs. I mean Kovy’s in the playoffs. You know, an SJ – NJ final would be sweet. Really sweet.

Sage of Bluesland

April 2nd, 2010
7:19 am

Boring…No identity…Little leadership…Uncaring ownership…Incompetent GM…Minor-league coaches…Folks who still make excuses…

Yep, this is YOUR Atlanta Thrashers! (well, those who continue to subsidize this egregious incompetence under the vain label of “being a fan”…an enabler moreso in my book…)

This organization is an abomination from top to bottom.

World Be Free

April 2nd, 2010
7:58 am

19 shots against a defensively challenged team and a goalie that’s still trying to regain his confidence? Blame Chelios all you want, and you would be partially correct. You need offense when you are deperate for a win.

jimbo

April 2nd, 2010
8:02 am

Sage of Blueland and Stendec- I couldn’t agree more. We have talent but absolutely no leadership from the ownership down to the team captain. The owners and Teflon Don have no clue. Anderson has no motivational spark and no real “strategy or system” and the captaincy was handed down to Kovy in an attempt to pursuade him to stay. Now we’ve got a directionless bunch of young guys trying. It’s HOCKEY BY HOPE. What in the world is a 98 year old reitred D-Man doing in the NHL. If Chelios was here for the full season he’d be a -100. He may have been goood decades ago, but he is pathetic now. Give him his Medicare card and send him off to a home.

Trash

April 2nd, 2010
8:03 am

Sage. . . . you are wise!!! (Can a coach behind the bench seem to be more disassociated from a team more than Anderson ? Not just last light but year long ?)

the fish

April 2nd, 2010
8:11 am

Oh Canada…my home and native land….true patriot love……………….

Fish (Verse Two)

April 2nd, 2010
8:18 am

Oh Canada…my home and native land….true patriot love……………….

I love to use my hand…

EA

April 2nd, 2010
8:21 am

Chelios needs to call it quits. He has cost us a few important games. Moose provides mature leadership in the room. We have that role filled. Washington is one of a few elite teams right now. We played with them and came up one goal short. Not enough to win, but enough not to bash them today.

DB

April 2nd, 2010
8:22 am

So our “top” 2 lines disappear against a mediocre Caps’ defense yet it is Chelly’s fault? Sorry, I’m not buying that.

A27

April 2nd, 2010
8:33 am

When Stapleton is your best player on the ice…you know your in trouble and that’s not a knock on the little guy. Also Slater looked like the Slater of old, especially when he missed a wide open net. Man what a frustrating team…they drive me nuts.

GaVaHokie

April 2nd, 2010
8:47 am

That was pathetic… what’s Varlamov’s GAA? And all we could get was a goal from a minor league call up?

Why does the team, all of a sudden, want to play the game along the boards? We suck along the boards… Washington probably noticed that from the Carolina game. Force Atlanta to play along the boards and they’re hopeless.

Badger Bob

April 2nd, 2010
8:55 am

GVH – we have given up on the passing and puck possession game and turned in to a dump-and-chase board grinding team. Can’t do that with the average size of our guys. Lack of heart, lack of identity, lack of leadership.

Ignoring the troll… and the fish…

joedaiceman

April 2nd, 2010
9:15 am

The Thrashers could say they played better last night and I would agree. What a winner would have done is find a way to get the win no matter what. They seem happy in their mediocrity and it is a shame to the players on that team that really care.

Pittsburgh Pirate Fan

April 2nd, 2010
9:17 am

Pretty obvious the players are not responding to or not capable of playing the system the coaches are pushing. Change the players, change the coaches or both.

fish-you remind of a good Caandian fish, it’s called Sheephead. Sheepheads are ugly, greasy and generally good for nothing-just like you.

Savannah Blueland Fan

April 2nd, 2010
9:27 am

JA couldn’t muster one measly WTF???? I really needed a shot of tequila during that game! Although I must be honest and admit that I kind of tuned out after Washington’s first goal. I’m tired of getting my hopes up just to get crushed.

Savannah Blueland Fan

April 2nd, 2010
9:29 am

BTW–a joke for our friend fish……..What do you call it a basement with 10 Canadians? A whine cellar. Ba da bump

Buzzeng

April 2nd, 2010
9:33 am

Jeepers – it sure would be nice to see the Thrashers TAKE a playoff spot instead of backing into it… Thanks for the help Philly, Boston, etc.

Rawhide

April 2nd, 2010
9:40 am

SBF – Yes…only one John Anderson Whiskey Tango Foxtrot bomb. Last Tuesday I believe I saw three such dropped on the officials while the SportsSouth cameras were on him.

Hmmm…3 WTF bombs in Toronto, 3 goals scored. One WTF bomb in Washington, 1 goal scored. Could there be a connection?

Kevin

April 2nd, 2010
10:00 am

Wow, I cant believe I watched the same game as Stendec. Of course I am not sure that he ever really sees the game. Washington coasted? They were on a losing streak. They did not play badly, the Thrashers played a completely different game against them then they had ever played in the past. The came out and played DEFENSIVE hockey. I was shocked myself. If Washington would have taken the night off the Thrash would have won that game. Too bad they couldnt figure out how to play like for a few of the last bad losses against Toronto, The Canes and the Bruins. This game would not have meant so much.

I agree with Chelios being a liability. He got out muscled, and out hustled and it cost us the game. Bottom line is we are a young talented team that is not in the same league as the Caps. They are the cream of the crop in the East and now one of the top 4 teams in the league year in and year out. They have more roster depth in the system too that is NHL ready and that is scary.

This team is not going to the playoffs. The famous words we are close are going to be uttered again but I think the team needs a total enema from top to bottom. Do you really think the Thrash would win a playoff game against Washington?

DWTOO

April 2nd, 2010
10:02 am

Sometimes I wonder which is more frustrating – when the Thrashers come out flat like they did against Boston and Carolina or last night when they played a pretty good game and still came up short? Well gues I’d rather see them actually in the game.

Smoothie

April 2nd, 2010
10:03 am

Y’all want to blame that 2nd goal on Chelios!? Pavelec was worse on that play than Chelios. Yeah, Cheli got bumped off the puck because he took a bad angle, but Pavelec must stop the shooter there as Enstrom had the player in the slot covered. No need to worry about the pass as that is Enstrom’s responsibility…Pavs must focus on the shooter. Five hole?? C’mon, you’ve got to make him do better than that from in tight!

Last three games versus the Caps, who allow over 3 goals per game, the Thrashers have mustered only 4 goals on 104 shots. An avg of 1.33 goals per game on 34.67 shots / game. That’s a SV% of 96.2%!! Varlamov and Neuvirth are good young goalies, but please. When a team that averages nearly 3 goals a game themselves, they’ve got to light the lamp against Washington who gives out goals like Halloween candy.

j nes

April 2nd, 2010
10:58 am

I had remained delusionally optimistic until last night, but the reality is that this team has lost 10 more games than they have won. A 34-44 record is not playoff worthy, and personally, I find it insulting to Lord Stanley’s cup that such mediocrity is allowed to compete for such a prize. In the NHL a team does not even have to be in the top half of their conference to make the playoffs. That makes this franchise all the more utterly pathetic for their one abominable performance over 10 years. In a way, I think I am glad that the organization is not going to rewarded for ineptitude.

NorthFork

April 2nd, 2010
11:16 am

Right on, Kevin. stendek is often wrong, but never in doubt. Anderson realized that he couldn’t win a run-and-gun game with the Caps, so he tried to button it down, and win the game off of defensive miscues by the Caps…but the Caps only made one that ended up in the back of the net…Poti moved too far toward Armstrong, who was already covered by ShaMo, and away from Stapleton…and one goal wasn’t enough…Caps may lose in the first round this year if they don’t get it more together than they been recently, but it won’t be to the Thrash…put a fork in ‘em…they’re done….

R. Stroz

April 2nd, 2010
11:34 am

Hello Everyone – Pardon the Interruption: HOWEVER

Unfortunately, I wrote the post season off with the loss to the Bruins:

HOWEVER,

There is still something extremely positive that can be salvaged from another Thrasher deja vu all over again season.

WHAT YOU SAY:

Well, if you haven’t done so, there are still 5 hours left to submit your Seventh Man nomination in for the Bennings, the elderly couple who appear on kiss cam.

Here’s the link:

http://thrashers.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=35532&navid=DL|ATL|home

Lets get this done

jimbo

April 2nd, 2010
11:53 am

Smoothie- you post makes it sound like the game is played in slow motion. Chelios blew the check and let his man QUICKLY get to the front of the net. Pavelec who played a good, solid game didn’t cover the five hole quickly enough. In a tight game like last night, it’s often the one play that spells the difference. Chelios blew it big time as he has on a couple of other nights. Another dumb, dumb move by dum’n'dumber Donnie Boy to bring him up. He’s added nothing on the ice or in the clubhouse and has cost us big time.

Smoothie

April 2nd, 2010
12:04 pm

Since the 5 – 2 drubbing at the hands of the Rangers, the Thrashers have only allowed 25 goals over the last 11 games or a GAA of only 2.18 if you don’t count the late EN goal by Carolina on the back end of the B2B. The average shots on goal allowed has been 31.63, which is very good for a Thrashers team that started the year giving up nearly 35 shots on goal in the first 34 games of the season.

But if they can only muster 10 goals over the last 6 — 4 of which came in one game — then it’s damn near impossible to win hockey games. We might as well be the Boston Bruins with our paucity of goal scoring. It’s not like they aren’t getting chances, but the players aren’t finishing. Over that same 11 game stretch, they are only converting on 8.7% of their SOG. In the last 6, it’s much worse at a clip of only 6.2% of SOG.

A big part of the problem is the sheer number of shots that miss the net. Over that 6 games of miserable scoring, they are only getting an avg of 27.0 shots on goal, which is completely unacceptable. When you are getting outshot 4 and 5 shots a game despite giving up only 31.5, your margin of error is still too high.

Some of this stems from their tendency to always try to be too perfect rather than put it low on a pad and crash the net for a rebound or a greasy goal. The other part of it is that they have too many soft forwards who can’t play grind-it-out, cycle-the-puck, consistently aggressive forechecking hockey. When more than half of your forwards refuse to battle in the corners or lose battle after battle along the half-wall, you know you have too many guys who are either too small (Peverley, Little, Bergfors etc) or too lacking in determination and passion (Armstrong, White, MacArthur).

We aren’t that far away as there are sufficient pieces to build around, but we need 2 or 3 more players up front to truly contend. Now I am not delusional enough to think we are set on the blueline, but they have been playing much better of late, especially Hainsey, Popovic and even Bogosian. Folks want to blame Chelios and I’ll grant you that it would’ve made more sense to bring up Kulda, but when he’s only playing 9 or 10 minutes and has a different partner every time, I think his mistakes are grossly exaggerated.

Hell, Johnny Oduya has played excellent hockey for the past month, but his boneheaded play in the 3rd against Carolina at home led directly to the 3rd and decisive goal and his inability to box out Backstrom (hardly a net crasher) last night cost us on the 1st goal. But overall, the play of the blueline has been good enough to win. The ones deserving of the blame for their inability to take this 8 seed by the throat are the Top 9 forwards for their erratic play and lack of consistent scoring.

Badger Bob

April 2nd, 2010
12:12 pm

j nes – I’m with you that the kind of mediocre play we’ve seen from the Thrashers shouldn’t be rewarded with a playoff shot. Heck, in the Western Conference we’d have only the Oilers and Blue Jackets below us and we’d be realistic about how far this team is from being competitive night after night.

The sad thing is that at least three undeserving teams will make the playoffs from the east. Boston, Montreal, Philly or the Rangers have all had multiple periods of hapless play and don’t deserve those spots much more than we do. I’ll be far more interested in the Western matchups in the early rounds.

ThrasherTim

April 2nd, 2010
12:15 pm

Once again the voice of reason…Smoothie. Thanks for an intelligent post.

Smoothie

April 2nd, 2010
12:24 pm

Tim – thanks, ‘preciate it.

jimbo – I’m not trying to defend Chelios just for the sake of defending Chelios. My bigger point is that every defensemen we have has made a couple or several knuckle-headed plays at some point over the last 11 games which has cost us dearly. There is plenty of blame to go around, but look to the forwards if you want to find the real reason we’re losing key games.

World Be Free

April 2nd, 2010
12:26 pm

Very nice Smoothie-you da man

Arty is about the only guy driving the net right now.

And remember folks, it could be worse-we could be the Philadelphia Flyers, saddled with 2 massive superstar contracts in Briere in Pronger, two players that aren’t anywhere near being superstars. Tampa has the same problem with their century-long deal with “Vinny”.

It could be worse.

Hookyboob

April 2nd, 2010
12:38 pm

suck ..suck .. they bloody well suck…

Badger Bob

April 2nd, 2010
12:40 pm

Excellent diagnosis, Smoothie. We do need 2 or 3 key pieces up front. We are full up of small fast guys, so Krog, Stapleton or Sterling aren’t part of the improvement. I assume Klingberg and Cormier won’t be ready next year, so all that can potentially be counted on internally is Machacek. Most here agree we need to target a Blackhawk or two. What other UFAs fit the puzzle?

Smoothie

April 2nd, 2010
12:57 pm

WBF / Badger – thanks, just trying to provide more than a rant about Chelios being 48 y/o. Too easy to scape goat one player. You could just about do that every game and I’ve done it with Afinogenov. However, Fins has a longer track record of maddening inconsistency. Kind of like his breakaway last night…brilliant and ridiculously disappointing all at the same time. I don’t care if the puck is bouncing a little, a better player with good hands at least elevates the puck forcing the goalie to do a little more than that.

But anyway, back on track. We really need to target Chicago in the offseason. Other than re-signing Kubina in the off-season, I don’t know if anything else should be a priority other than Frolov perhaps. But that doesn’t address the problems up front.

As long as your Top 6 includes Little, Bergfors, Peverley, Afinogenov and / or C-Mac, you are in trouble. Little may very well be a great 3rd line center and Peverley may be a solid contributor on a 2nd line with Kane and someone like a Patrick Sharp or Kris Versteeg who is going to balance out that line with another bona-fide scoring threat.

But other than Machacek, who else do we have to “bring the pain”. They will have to dig deep to find the right additions for this team. Hopefully we won’t overpay for more than 2 or 3 years since we have guys like Klingberg, Cormier, Morin, Kulda and Postma in the system. And they damn well better draft a power forward type with the Top 10 pick they will surely have.

Pittsburgh Pirate Fan

April 2nd, 2010
12:58 pm

You would think there would be one or two players that would emerge from “the system” to challenge for a roster spot next season. We have had enough high draft picks over the last 10 years! You have to overpay UFAs to come to Atlanta; this should be the tonic for improvement.

Nice suggestions guys, but we really know where the problem lies with this team, right?

Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot!

jimbo

April 2nd, 2010
1:02 pm

Smoothie- I agree that our forwards along with illusionary Anderson System are the key culprits to our failure to make the playoffs. When games get tight, it is often the team that wins the battles along the boards that come out on top. We have few guys who like to hit and dig. And, this will stir up some comments, few Europeans like to mix it up. Sol wjem we get a team that is willing to let us free wheel, we’re OK. Unfortunately, most teams know how to tighten up at the blue line or in the neutral zone. We do not. And, what ever happened to the notion of a checking line and a shut down defense pair? Most other teams still use to their advantage especially at home with the last line change opportunity. We don’t seem to. We need to change out the strategists (Donny and Johnny) and add a couple of good grinders up front.

Red Light

April 2nd, 2010
1:25 pm

Good stuff Smoothie, Badger, WBF, jimbo!

Personally, I think there are too many similar pieces on this roster. The exceptions are Kane, Hainsey, Antropov, Kubina, Reasoner, Slater and Afinogenov (there can be no equivalent for him). Little and Bergfors same type of player. Enstrom and Oduya similar. Army, Thorburn, White, Popovic, Boulton, Artyukhin, MacArthur and Kozlov all are expendable or worse, although I’d give Mac and Arty another chance given the right short-term contract.

Eight of the first 11 mentioned are givens for next season (Kubina, Afinogenov and Slater are UFAs). So, including Pavelec your core for next season are Kane, Hainsey, Antropov, Reasoner, Little, Bergfors, Enstrom and Oduya, so that means you have 13 spots, including Moose or another back-up goalie, to figure out between now and July 1.

You need two or three defensemen depending upon what you want to do with Valabik, and you need seven forwards. Let say one of the kid forwards comes up, you still need another six.

That’s a big roster makeover unless you intend to re-sign some of the UFAs. Depending upon your point of view, that could be a luxury or a curse.

I’d take any of these seven in a minute for the right deal but Paul Martin is my main target!
Paul Martin
Anton Volchenkov
Shaone Morrisonn
Raffi Torres
Matt Cullen
Martin Biron
Antero Niittymaki

Hockey Biltong

April 2nd, 2010
1:27 pm

e’s pushing up daisies!!!!

Russian

April 2nd, 2010
1:36 pm

I just checked NHLNumbers.com and I saw that we got lot of UFA. I have few players with contract. Let me show you how I build a team for next season. Next Season is , because 2009-2010 is over.
x- Antro -x x-means we have to get a player.
Berg-Pever-Little
Kane-White-Arthur
Thrombon-Reasoner- x

Toby – x
Hainsi – Oduya
Bogus – Valabik

Pavs is BACK up. Please do not tell me that he will be number one.
Number One Goalie – X

How is about that???? We have to do lot of things at Summer. We will have a money for UFA market. BUT if HEAD coach (Anderson and coaching team) and GM (Waddell and mamagment team) remain on Atlanta Thrashers we will get same CRap as every year. :-(