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

Brendan

April 2nd, 2010
1:40 pm

Lots of nice, lengthy posts. Just how I like ‘em and think they should be. Good job Smoothie, Red Light, WBF, and Kevin.

Smoothie

April 2nd, 2010
1:58 pm

Red Light – good breakdown, but we’re “stuck” with Thorburn. But that’s okay because he has transformed himself into a fairly decent defensive stopper on the 4th line and a solid penalty killer. I’ve noticed a lot more goals getting scored on the 4th line when Thorbs was out. And last night, Reasoner was on the ice with Army and Slater for the 1st goal. I’m a bit concerned about Marty finally hitting the “age” wall, but he’s had to work very hard on the PK all year and has played with less skilled players compared to last year. Although his ability to hit the back of the net has certainly suffered more this year. Assuming we keep Arty, we’re fairly set on the 4th line. How would y’all fill these voids if the lines shook out like so:

Bergfors – – Antropov

– Peverley – Kane

Slater – Little – (Machacek?)

Arty – Reasoner – Thorbs

World Be Free

April 2nd, 2010
2:00 pm

Red Light-I’ll do more tonight when I am off work!
My feedback-
Paul Martin-good player, but i want to make sure his arm is OK before we give a long term comminment.
Anton Volchenkov-pass, just something I don’t like about him
Shaone Morrisonn-5th D man at best every since he came from Boston.
Raffi Torres-not consistent enough, 3rd liner if he can stay healthy. He’s done nothing in Buffalo, ziltch.
Matt Cullen-system player and not many systems can bring out the best in him.
Martin Biron-Marty’s a great guy, great teammate-but he’s a backup at this point in his career though he wants to be a starter. Philly may gun for him.
Antero Niittymaki-a stiff except against us.

Smoothie

April 2nd, 2010
2:05 pm

Sorry about the spacing, let’s try that again this way:

Bergfors — new center — Antropov (let’s face it, Nik is not good in the F/O circle and would shoot more from the wing)

new LW(?) — Peverley — Kane (unless Little regains his scoring touch and confidence, I’m thinking he’s better off centering the 3rd line)

Slater — Little — Machacek(?) (this could end up being a pretty good puck possession 3rd line if we can find a guy who can cycle and crash a la a Raffi Torres…we will offer Colby but he will prolly walk)

Arty / Boults – Reasy – Thorbs

Russian

April 2nd, 2010
2:12 pm

**to Smoothie**
What’s about White? Buy him out?
Slater played good with Kane. I do not want to break them. Slater is better center that Little.

Russian

April 2nd, 2010
2:13 pm

Oh one more thing. We do not need Bolts. He is a good person, but he is not doing his job lately.

Smoothie

April 2nd, 2010
2:15 pm

WBF – I don’t know man, Volchenkov blocks a ton of shots. He could be a very nice complement to Zach Bogosian as he is a bona fide stay-at-home D-man. If we could get a guy like that AND re-sign Kubina, we would have a ton of balance on the blueline. Kulda and Pops rotate as your 7th D-man and your pairings look like this:

Kubes – Enstrom

Oduya – Hainsey

Volchenkov – Bogosian

The only problem is convincing Volchenkov to settle for 2nd pairing minutes while paying him too much money I reckon. Plus, isn’t his agent ass-head Grossman. So I guess he’s out. Getting Martin might be nice since he’s used to playing with Oduya, isn’t he?

The bigger key is Bogosian overcoming this crappy year and taking his game to a Top 4 level where he can manage the 22-24 mins / game without being a constant liability. If you don’t pay Kubes the big bucks and you go after a Volchenkov-type stay-at-home D-man, then you must hope that Bogosian takes the next step in his development to justify his 3rd overall selection and big salary.

Smoothie

April 2nd, 2010
2:22 pm

Russian –

On White, waive him and if no one claims him, then let him play every 3 or 4th game as your 4th C to give Marty a break. White is capable of playing on the PK and could probably provide some value if he turns his focus to defense strictly. But that’s a ton of dough to pay a 13th forward. He’ll probably get bought-out.

On Kane, perhaps you’re right about his chemistry with Kane because speed kills. I would rather have Slater on the wing because he’s strong in the corners. Why not let Little center the two of them and let him be 3rd man high. He’s a great passer and can slip the puck to the two net crashers when D-men collapse on him. He’s a better passer than shooter so that might be your 3rd line solution.

But then we need to re-sign Afinogenov AND still ink 3 Top 6 line forwards…that’s a tall order. There just aren’t enough UFA’s out there. That’s why Chicago’s pain may end up being our good fortune. They are already $10 M over the cap and that’s without re-signing their 7 or 8 RFA’s….OUCH!!

Smoothie

April 2nd, 2010
2:27 pm

Wait a minute, I forgot that Duncan Keith’s contract is front-loaded so they aren’t $10 M over unless they do try to re-sign all of their RFA’s and a UFA or two. Looks like Madden, Burish, Johnsson and Boynton will be looking for work.

How about Nick Boynton as a 6th D-man? Prolly get him for less than $2M.

Midfield

April 2nd, 2010
2:31 pm

So, when is the next town-hall meeting and/or Waddell’s and/or Levenson’s brain-washing session? Since any hopes for having a hockey team in this town have come to naught, we could at least enjoy a lengthy comedy sitcome called, say, The Spirit Suites, eh?

R. Stroz

April 2nd, 2010
2:43 pm

Although Volchenkov’s points stats aren’t impressive, he was the only defenseman on the Russian Olympic team that reminded me of the old Soviet Red Army team’s tough team defense.

If Volchenkov is available at a decent price, the Thrashers would do well to have a real defensive defenseman. The guy plays with guts and grit.

R. Stroz

April 2nd, 2010
2:46 pm

However, Volchenkov’s agent is Grossman, such an appropriate name.

Smoothie

April 2nd, 2010
2:52 pm

Stroz – Seidenberg, Tallinder and Boynton may be good substitutes for Volchenknov. At any rate, we need a defensive-minded D-man so Valabik doesn’t have the pressure of being the only one who isn’t a puck mover.

World Be Free

April 2nd, 2010
2:53 pm

Smoothie-not sure, Volchenkov plays for Ottawa, which is enough for me to dislike him.

I think we need to concentrate on a goaltender.

MB

April 2nd, 2010
2:59 pm

As you guys are twirling around the merry-go-round of potential line combinations, all that came to mind is how very sad it is that this is where we find our team after ten seasons and twelve first-round draft picks.

Like every other season, we STILL do not have enough talent among our forward corps, we STILL do not have a true (dependable) #1 goalie, and we apparently don’t have players in the pipeline able to take minutes away from the likes of Todd White and Chris Chelios (at 48 years old).

And our big hope is to back into the playoffs. Like I said, sad.

TableHockey

April 2nd, 2010
3:05 pm

Per Chris Viv – Army gets a two game suspension for the hit on Perrault.

Smoothie

April 2nd, 2010
3:13 pm

Good to see Army get the hook for 2 games. Not because he’s necessarily deserving as a dirty player, but the NHL needs to be consistent with doling out punishment for needless hits to the head. Would’ve been a good hit had he kept his arm down or simply put his hand in his chest.

MB – not making excuses, but how many expansion teams, other than Florida and Buffalo, had such good success (consistent playoffs or Conf Finals appearance) within their first 5-10 years of existence. I certainly want a new direction (new GM) as much as the next guy, but the next two years may end up being the most crucial for this franchise’s future success. Screw up this re-build and we might be mired in the basement as long as the Panthers have been. Oh wait, but at least they had one good year to recall fondly.

Badger Bob

April 2nd, 2010
3:28 pm

Back to Smoothie’s original point, our greatest weakness is at forward. Our top 6 look like crap against any other Eastern playoff team’s top 6 (except perhaps Buffalo). We need two more top 6ers so that the likes of White (if he’s here) and Little can make our bottom six look strong, not make our top 6 look even weaker. So if I’m spending money, I’m adding 2 quality forwards and 1 quality goalie. I don’t like the looks of our third D pairing for next year, but I dislike tying up $5M in Kubina even more. I’d make a run at Nabokov for 2 years while Pavs improves his overall game.

Midfield

April 2nd, 2010
3:44 pm

I can just see Waddell and Levenson running away with the new motto: the next two years will decide the future of the franchise. If you’re not in, shut up and get out of the way. Let the real pros do the job.
Right. Pass the koolaid, please.

Sage of Bluesland

April 2nd, 2010
4:11 pm

“As you guys are twirling around the merry-go-round of potential line combinations, all that came to mind is how very sad it is that this is where we find our team after ten seasons and twelve first-round draft picks….”

Well said. This is my nomination for post/intro of the year.

Twirling around indeed…the very definition of insanity…Laughable.

Smoothie

April 2nd, 2010
4:21 pm

Sagacious wisdom indeed. The dead horse says “thanks, but I’m already dead”.

We can all hope for change on April 11th or 12th. Till then, enjoy the Masters and the final home games…and this beautiful weather. Why lament the obvious in the meantime? Till the ASG proves us wrong (that they do have the guts to make a change), no harm in discussing what the team needs in order to compete.

Badger Bob – I agree that I’d rather spend $5 – 6 M on a goalie of Nabakov’s caliber over Kubina who will probably slow down more and become even more susceptible to injury. But I think Dan Ellis is a much more realistic target for us. And we’ll probably have to get used to a healthy rotation of Pavelec and whatever UFA we sign till he is ready…if he’s ever ready. He’s already shown signs of improvement as his positioning and rebound control have been better overall. But he’s still prone to lapses. Luckily, he’s only 22. We’ll know for sure by the time he’s 24.

Hopefully, our franchise won’t be on Gary Bettman life-support when that time comes.

rob

April 2nd, 2010
4:36 pm

Badger,
I like the idea of Nabokov for 2, and by then one of our freakin numerous picks better be ready. I see Bogo has played with a wrist injury the majority of the season?!?!?!?! WTFWTFWTFWTFWTFWTF is wrong with this f ‘ed up team? No wonder we don’t have anyone in the minors ready!!!!! We don’t utilize them when we need them, and when we do need them, we bring up……Chelios…….. There isn’t 1 ounce of common sense or hockey knowledge in the whole group. Peverley needs someone consistantly with him he can gel with. Kane may leave the 3rd line for 2nd next year, and I see Arty on 3rd line. Bring Kulda and another young, HUNGRY, Dman up, don’t drop money on Kubina, and go sign 2/3 forwards.

MB

April 2nd, 2010
5:06 pm

Well Smoothie, I think it could be safely argued that San Jose, Ottawa, Nashville, Minnesota, and even Tampa Bay had more success in their first 10 seasons than we’ve had here. Basically Columbus is the only squad among the more recent expansion teams that has struggled as much as we have.

And a key point to consider, several (most?) of those teams saw their fortunes improve after parting ways with apparently ineffective general managers and coaches. Just sayin’.

I don’t disagree that we have some good young players, and I am excited about their potential. Problem is I’ve seen lots of potential for this team in previous years, too, and I’m just tired of giving Don Waddell the benefit of the doubt. Is a new GM a panacea? Of course not. Could a new GM do worse? In real terms, hardly.

Chris16

April 2nd, 2010
5:14 pm

We all know what is going to happen Kovy and the devils are going to set up the thrashers for a tee time. We can not take care of our business.This team looks like they do not care about playoffs.

Savannah Blueland Fan

April 2nd, 2010
6:19 pm

rob! Seriously! WTF??!? I’m drunk enough as it is! HAHA

HookyBob

April 2nd, 2010
9:11 pm

So tomorrow’s game is at 1:00 PM. I don’t know about you folks but I’m having a tough time deciding if I want to give up 3 hours of a beautiful spring weekend day to watch “the tease” known as the Thrashers.

Perhaps they’ll end up tied for th place in points,..and miss the play-offs because they are on the short end of the tie-breakers. That would be the epitimy of “Unleasing the futility”,…eh?

Yep,..I feel the outdoors calling,..time to move on.

mrtn36

April 2nd, 2010
9:53 pm

And I feel just the opposite – I’m planning my outdoor time around the game. The Thrashers need to hear me cheering them on to a win! I can’t hear that lady singing yet!

Red Light

April 2nd, 2010
11:17 pm

Canadiens 1 Flyers 0
Rangers 5 Lightning 0

Montreal 84 points, 38 wins • 4 games left
Philly 82 points, 38 wins • 4 games left
Boston 82 points, 35 wins • 5 games left
Rangers 80 points, 35 wins • 5 games left
Thrashers 80 points, 34 wins • 4 games left

The noose is tightening! New Jersey and Pittsburgh have the same record, which can’t be good news for the Thrashers either.

Final thought: How does Holmgren keep his job in Philly? After all, it turns out that the Laviolette and Emery experiment didn’t work, and how can he justify getting rid of Niittymaki and Biron, when they combination would have cost him just a little more than Emery did. Shocking hindsight!

Brendan

April 3rd, 2010
12:14 am

Red Light, Holmgren keeps his job since he’s the one who took them from 56-points to 95-points, and the Conference Finals, in the space of a season. But yes, those decisions in net were regrettable. And let’s not forget something else, on the topic of Holmgren. The “rumor mill” had him interested in Kari Lehtonen at the 2009 trade deadline for James vanRiemsdyk. Boy, would that have been a good trade for Atlanta. Of course, it was only a rumor.

Way to go, Flames! Just got finished watching them on Altitude, winning 2-1, in regulation time, to tie Colorado for the 8th spot. Now, the Avs do have a game-in-hand. But this thing is up for grabs. Amazing, considering that the Flames were just losing to Anaheim, NY Islanders, and Minnesota, all non-playoff teams. Imagine if the Flames had banked points against those teams?

Let’s also remember something else … Colorado drafted 3rd overall last June. This is a remarkable turn-around for them. In the early portion of this season, Colorado was a the #1 seed in the West. For a while. But, they have cooled off substantially since December. And right now, they’re sputtering across the finish line. If the Avs do make the playoffs, how much is left in the tank?

If the Flames miss the playoffs, is it time to fire Darryl Sutter? Since 2004, the Flames haven’t won a playoff series, though they’ve made the playoffs every season since. If they do fire Darryl Sutter, do they keep Brent Sutter? Do they promote him to GM? Do they make him a GM/Coach?

Red Light

April 3rd, 2010
9:24 am

Brendan: That’s true, but he had been working with Clarke before Clarke stepped down, and the year before the 56-point season they had 101 points. He locked up Briere, Hartnell and Pronger and has no flexibility to get rid of those no-trade contracts. Their current lineup, not including the goalies, is top heavy. The Carter injury was devastating because he is their top forward (Richards?), but not only could he have re-signed his goalies from last season when they had 99 points and lost to the eventual champs in Round One, but he had plenty of options at the trade deadline to pick up a goalie. The reason he couldn’t? The cap limitations that he caused.

Red Light

April 3rd, 2010
9:28 am

Tough finish for the Flames: Chicago, San Jose, Minnesota and Vancouver.
Nearly the same for the Avs: San Jose, Vancouver, Edmonton and Chicago.

I think both Sutters get a pass this season, but next year is a different thing altogether. They still draw a great crowd, and it’s not like they tanked it.

Dwayne

April 3rd, 2010
10:17 am

Hello Thrasher fans from Indianapolis!!!! Red Light, your 11:17 pm post has made me realize we are done. Reality…aint it a bitch.

Rawhide

April 3rd, 2010
10:40 am

:!: 2010 RAWHIDE BLOG COMMENT OF THE YEAR NOMINATION!! :!:

Congratultions to MB as the “twirl around the merry go round” comment that was posted at 2:59 Friday afternoon has officially been nominated by Sage of Bluesland for 2010 Rawhide Blog Comment of the year!!!

Thanks Sage…and again, congrats MB.

Now…a little programming note here. I am in sunny Florida this weekend. As such, I will catch this afternoon’s game via XM Radio. I plan on posting something up either right after the game or after the other games tonight that effect the Thrashers ever-dwindling playoff hopes. However, it is not outside the realm of possiblity that I cannot get to it until I return home tomorrow evening.

Regardless,there will not be a Sunday Thrasherville Times in the morning.

Red Light

April 3rd, 2010
11:52 am

Rawhide: Why not let one of your posters do an “unofficial Sunday Thrasherville Times” tomorrow morning? I nominate Smoothie. He seems to be becoming verbose these days and he can tell us why a guy from Albany, NY, not ALL-benn-ee, Ga. compiles Excel spreadsheets on our behalf. And, he can tell us the odds of us actually playing past April 10. 3 percent???

Have fun in Florida. Sun block No. 35 for your fair skin!

HookyBob

April 3rd, 2010
1:02 pm

mrtn36: You might be wise to think as you are. This team seems to lose when in should win,…. and win when a loss seems inevitable. Playing the healthy Stanley Cup champs, in thier barn, no Kubina, no Armstrong, no Artukin,..couldn’t be much darker. Here’s hoping they pull it off.

Go Blue.

mrtn36

April 3rd, 2010
1:58 pm

They do look good today! Mad Max — Kane and Boulton are back — 1-0 Keep it up Thrashers for 40 more!!!

Thrashers27

April 3rd, 2010
2:30 pm

WHAT A GAME SO FAR!!! Wow! Our boys are showing great heart in Pittsburgh!

JTK

April 3rd, 2010
3:41 pm

I wish someone would behead Cindy Crosby. He’s such a classless, dirty, whiny tw-t.

R. Stroz

April 3rd, 2010
3:51 pm

Moose just Dunhamed any remaining hope for the season.

Tony C.

April 3rd, 2010
3:55 pm

You broke my heart, Fredo … you broke my heart

Also, I know that the refs are under orders not to make calls against Cindy, but damn.

Somaatl95

April 3rd, 2010
4:06 pm

TOO MANY MEN ON THE ICE FOR PITTSBURGH! 4 Extra as a matter of fact.

WORST OFFICIATING EVER!

Somaatl95

April 3rd, 2010
4:08 pm

Like they were the cons in the Hockey version of “The Longest Yard”.
We got screwed today. With no lube.

mrtn36

April 3rd, 2010
4:33 pm

Still a great game — and we showed up & played — Let’s stick with this lineup, Coach!!!

Rawhide

April 3rd, 2010
4:44 pm

:!: RANALLO WARNING!! :!:

This is your official 10-minute Ranallo Warning.

Red Light – Not a bad suggestion about Smoothie…not bad at all, but I got this one. I think he’d make an excellent blog host…

stendek

April 3rd, 2010
4:52 pm

Used to be apathetic to Trashers. Now I hate them. Every dam one of them except Johan Lehtonen. Moose is moving closer to my hate list after that obvious giveup job in Pittsburgh. The Tennessee Tuxedos were coasting! They were prime to be had. Trashers said no thanks! Any playoff appearances will cause havoc with our golf tee times. So they went bellyup with yet another totally heartless exhibition! Moose let one in shot from Scranton. Even Kari Lehtonen never did that! Painfully evident team wanted to lose. IF THEY CLAIM OTHERWISE THEY ARE DAM LIARS! Allow me to play Devil’s Adocate. I will fake being an apologist! Here goes. Team played well. Yawn. Led most of way. Ho hum. Had Stanley Cup defenders on ropes. Uh huh. Never gave up. Lie. Played with intensity. Lie. Played tough. Lie. Performed well on hostile ice. Zzzzzz. Got some terrible calls. Boo hoo. Team collected a point. Jump into Hell with that meaningless pity point! Now on to more important stuff. Trasher goaltender allowed three marshmallow goals. Three! A KL effort if ever I witnessed one. A high school netminder would have stopped those three goals. No gripe on first power play tally. Hope somebody puts that SOB Malkin in hospital! ASAP. To all apologists. I was goimg to say go to Hell but I have a better solution. When the Trashers pack up for their journey to Hamilton then pack up and join them. Atlanta does not need the Trashers nor its apologist fans! I am dam tired of these gutless quitters representing my state. To Hell with all of them! ++STENDEK++ Happy Easter to Rawhide, Chris, Moose and all fellow fans who know Trashers are uncaring oxygen wastes who quit on fans months ago!

Thrashers27

April 3rd, 2010
5:03 pm

Hey Stendek! Did you drink too much to notice, or remember the multiple acrobatic, quality saves that Moose made. He is the reason our boys got the one point they did! Why do I get the feeling you’d find a reason to gripe even if The Thrashers somehow made it to the Eastern finals this year? You’re just a grumpy, old a-hole, aren’t ya?

stendek

April 3rd, 2010
5:22 pm

Thrashers27. Was going to let your bullshet comment slide in honor of Easter but since I am in a pissy mood after choke job I just witnessed I will not! Ask Moose who was at fault. Johan will be man enough to tell you the truth. Hedberg cares. The other Trashers do not! That is a fact you nor any other apologist can alter! Players simply do not give a shet. True fans realized this months ago. Apologists continue to follow the party line like the clueless brainless sheep they are. Grumpy old a-hole? Probably. Content with heartless losses? No! Nor will I ever dam be. ++STENDEK++ Best of Easters Moose. You are still the man to me. Teammates should have put up seven goals. Four misses were easy tap ins a blind guy could have made. Not the gutless playoffless Trashers! If they fail to defeat Illya Kovalchuk at Loseland they can depart for Hamilton the seond the game ends!

Brendan

April 3rd, 2010
5:27 pm

Red Light, point taken. When a GM locks a guy up, with a no trade clause, he can’t run away from it. In his view, he was locking up “essential pieces” for the coming years, playing ‘percentages’ that these players would, more years than not, get the team into the playoffs.”

Briere’s deal is a tough one. As Pronger ages, his deal will be costly, too.

Thrashers27

April 3rd, 2010
6:00 pm

Stendek, it just doesn’t make sense for you to berate Moose and slander him in your previous post and then compliment him in the next. You just bolstered my point.

That was a good team effort. The refs were no help and if any one person is to blame for the loss it would be Jimmy Slater for taking a stupid, unecessary penalty, but otherwise, he had a heck of a game and is playing with a great deal of heart and hustle.