Thrashers playoff hopes on life support after overtime loss in Pittsburgh

If the Thrashers slim playoff hopes were in serious condition coming into the game in Pittsburgh Saturday afternoon…they are now on life support after blowing a lead late in the third and then losing 4-3 to the Penguins in overtime.

The Thrashers had lead 3-2 late in the game and help 1-goal leads three times in the game…1-0 , 2-1 and 3-2.

 With the score 3-2, Jimmy Slater was whistled for a holding call with 2:27 left and the Penguins capitalized on Sergei Gonchar’s power play goal with just 1:14 left before the period ended. The Thrashers then watched the much-needed second point skate away with the Penguins as Jordan Leopold scored 2:50 into the extra time…Sidney Crosby set up the goal with his 3rd assists on the day.

Maxim Afinogenov opened the scoring with 48 second remaining in the first period. It was his 24th of the year, setting a new career mark for goals scored. That’s right…24 goals from a player so “hurting” to sign with a team last summer that he came here for a measly $800,000.

Nicely done, Max!

After Evgeni Malkin tied the score at the 12:05 mark of the second, Tim Stapleton scored his second goal for the Thrashers…just two days after scoring his first. Pittsburgh struck again early in the third on Tyler Kennedy’s 12th of the season, but Rich Peverley put Atlanta up 3-2 just 1:04 later. It was number 22 for the Pevs Dispenser.

Johan Hedberg stopped 31 of the 35 shots he faced and his record is now 10-15-6 on the season.

Two of the Penguins goals came with a Thrasher sitting in the sin-bin, snapping Atlanta’s steak of nine games without surrendering a power play goal…they were 23 for 23 during those games and coming into today’s game had killed off 25 straight since last allowing a power play goal in the first period of their 4-3 win over Buffalo back on March 16.

Going into the today’s game, the Pens and Devils were ties for the Atlantic Division lead with identical 4-26-7 records. The Devils will play tonight against the Hurricanes in an attempt to equal Pittsburgh’s result this afternoon and remain deadlocked with the Pens. The two will not play each other in the remaining four games left on the schedule.

With the consolation overtime loser point, the Thrashers now have 81 for the season. This means the most they can amass is 87…and that’s only if they win all three of the remaining games on the schedule starting Tuesday when the New Jersey Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk come to town. But by that time, it could be all but over for the Thrashers ever-fading playoff aspirations.

The Canadiens have 84 going into tonight’s game against the Sabres and win there would give them 86. They will then travel to Long Island on Tuesday. Three points earned in those two games would mathematically eliminate the Thrashers from being able to finish as high as 6th in the conference.

Boston has 82 points with two games before Tuesday night…Toronto tonight and Washington on Monday. And the Flyers go into tomorrow afternoon’s game with the Red Wings also with 82 points…they will play in Toronto on Tuesday evening.

And then the Rangers will play in Florida tonight. New York will look to take over sole possession of ninth place with a win against the Panthers…moving the Thrashers to tenth in the Eastern Conference.

Going into tonight’s action…Montreal and Philly have four more games while Boston and the Rangers have five. Atlanta has three.

So…the Thrashers aren’t officially “dead” yet…but they are on life support, in serious need of help, the family has been called to the room, a priest has been called and the bugler stands by to play taps.

172 comments Add your comment

Red Light

April 5th, 2010
1:42 pm

Good stuff by Rich Chere of the Newark Star Ledger about Kovy’s return to Atlanta. Quotes by Anderson, Kozzie, Hedberg.

http://www.nj.com/devils/index.ssf/2010/04/thrashers_coach_john_anderson.html

Brendan

April 5th, 2010
1:44 pm

LAC, see Red Light’s 7:48 AM post, re: the lottery draft, and Atlanta’s possibility to be in it.

Somaatl95

April 5th, 2010
1:51 pm

Well folks, sad to see that a season that had such promise at the start turned into this. We can all debate and dream and say “What if…” but that doesn’t do much for us but think of what could have been.
Will the 2010 – 11 Atlanta Thrashers Season finally be the season where they get it together? Will we see the end of D-Wad as GM? Will JA continue to be thrown under the bus? Will Atlantas population finally show the hockey world what is possible when a team is winning? Will this be the year that Execute, Perform & Polish become the norm for our heroes? Will there be a player that hijacks the locker room with talks of pay and contract term? Will we finally have a goaltender that can stay on top with a top notch defense that performs well? Can the owners act more “Octo” than “Cluster”???

All this and more will be asked on the Season Finale of “Atlanta Thrashers 2009-2010 Season: All Pucked Up” Its a cliffhanger folks. See y’all in October!

Brendan

April 5th, 2010
1:56 pm

Jimbo, we are in a better place, NOW, than we were in 1999, when we drafted Stefan. In those days, we had Ray Ferraro and Steve Staios, and not much more. Today, we have Antropov, Finny, Hainsey, Enstrom, Bogosian, Kane, Pavelec, etc. We are better off today, then when we were at Square One.

In the system, are Kulda, Kaip, Klingberg, Grant Lewis, Peter Mannino, Angelo Esposito, Tim Stapleton, Spencer Machacek, Rily Holzapfel, Eric O’Dell, Daultan Leveille. If we can just keep Kane and Bogosian when they reach free agency, I think we have the potential to get better.

But Step #1 is … fire Waddell. Clean out the desk. Don’t promote him. You cannot keep a guy who has been in charge for 11 years … and think he doesn’t still hold “informal” power. He does. He’ll still have a ’say-so.’ So, it’s got to be complete removal, for real change to occur.

Brendan

April 5th, 2010
2:02 pm

MB, the Thrashers burned an 8th overall pick to get the draft position used to select Chad Denny. Ouch. My rule is always, “Never trade a Top 10 pick.” It’s a good rule to have. :)

World Be Free

April 5th, 2010
2:17 pm

Smoothie-Bud Light stand at section 317, Mr Reasoner

Smoothie

April 5th, 2010
2:44 pm

Sounds good! See you after 1. This Bud’s for you! :-)

Pittsburgh Pirate Fan

April 5th, 2010
3:26 pm

Brendan-or get someone new to making the picking!

minus whale

April 5th, 2010
3:36 pm

but rawhide, why would they be having playoff ticket presales if they weren’t going to make the playoffs?????

ThrasherTim

April 5th, 2010
3:57 pm

Didn’t someone in the ASG already declare recently on the radio (or was it the STH meeting?) that DW isn’t going anywhere? I’m saying that if DW is running the team next season, you can bet that the Moose is signing here again for another year. DW loves the Moose — otherwise, he wouldn’t have traded Kari.

I couldn’t believe what Slater did when he reached out his arm on that puck chase. I threw my cap down on the ground in disbelief. You are playing the Stanley Cup champs – you will get that call against you every time. I still held out hope we could pull it out since the PK had been great lately. I had a feeling we would lose once it got to OT. 6-13 in the OT/SO this year. Despite all our losing streaks, losing Kovvy and our anemic Power Play production, we could still be in the playoff mix if the bonus time record was something decent like 10-9. Wasn’t last year’s pathetic 76 point team much better in OT/SO?

Smoothie

April 5th, 2010
4:14 pm

ThrasherTim makes a good point. Our OT/SO record is miserable this year. We have not won in OT or the bonus point for a SO win since January 7th vs the Rangers when Moose stoned all NY shooters I believe. Unbelievable. That makes 7 lost OT points in a row. We haven’t won in OT outright since December 17th vs Dallas when Rich Peverley deflected in a Max Afinogenov offering from the corner. I also heard on Saturday’s telecast that we are a -10, now -11 in 4 vs 4 situations and that includes OT obviously. Our +/- on the season just happens to be -10. So we can basically blame our team’s ineptness in OT for our lack of a playoff qualification this season. Nice.

Alan R.

April 5th, 2010
4:53 pm

So we can basically blame our team’s ineptness in OT for our lack of a playoff qualification this season.

Ineptness, yes. However, I daresay it’s not ineptness in overtime that we should be worried about. How many games *this season* have we blown in the final period, only to have to force overtime?

Smoothie

April 5th, 2010
4:59 pm

I would say its both Alan. And in OT with all the open ice is where we miss Kovy the most. But we lost about 5 OT games with him as well since beating Dallas in Dec. The PK slump didn’t help much either when we needed consistency down the stretch and was the main cause of our 5-game losing streak.

Red Light

April 5th, 2010
6:03 pm

Since you asked Alan R., the Thrashers have blown just (5) third period leads that resulted in an OT or SO game. They are 1-4 in those games, and have lost four straight.

Dec 14 against the Rangers and Atlanta won
Jan. 1 against the Sabres, blew a 3-1 lead and Atl lost in OT
Feb. 10 against Colorado, Atlanta up 2-1 going into the 3rd, Antro extended the lead to 3-1, Colorado scored the last 3 goals, Cumiskey the OT game winner.
Feb. 13 against Chicago, Atlanta down 3-1 after one, went ahead 4-3 entering the 3rd, Bolland tied it up and Toews got the SO winner.
April 3 against Pittsburgh

On the other side of the coin, in the first six OT/SO games, Atlanta tied up the game in the 3rd period and finished 3-3 in those games. They also tied up five other games when trailing in the third, and finished 2-3 in those games.

Pittsburgh Pirate Fan

April 5th, 2010
9:10 pm

Red Light see you before the game, dark blue Thrashers “no-name” jersey and hat at the Absolute Bar

Brendan

April 5th, 2010
10:53 pm

Ohhhhhh Gaawwwwd! It was WORSE than I ever could have imagined. Ugggh. There’s baseball all over my Center Ice channels. I wish there was a way to block that.

Pittsburgh Pirate Fan

April 6th, 2010
5:04 am

It’s the only excitement in town right now Brendan.
Kovy hopes he won’t get boooed-just like Tiger Woods at Augusta.

mrtn36

April 6th, 2010
7:21 am

I’m not wasting my breath on a BOO — negative attention is still attention. I only see BLUE! GO THRASHERS! I

Red Light

April 6th, 2010
8:24 am

See you tonight PPF. Looking forward to it.

From another article on NJ.com by Colin Stephenson of the Star Ledger.

Kovalchuk was told that some in Atlanta were upset at some of the things he said after being traded by the Devils. He was told that by calling the Devils a “first-class organization” he somehow implied the Thrashers were less than that.

He didn’t try to amend those remarks, however.

“No – you know what? To be a first-class organization, first off, you have to win on a consistent basis,” he said. “And that’s all different. And they got a lot of great young players who could be very good if they’re going to treat them right and work with them right. So everything’s in their hands. And I spent there, eight years, and I left everything (on the ice); every game, I played 110 percent. So, if I said something, it made sense to me.”

http://www.nj.com/devils/index.ssf/2010/04/kovalchuk_doesnt_know_what_to.html

Red Light

April 6th, 2010
8:27 am

Martin Brodeur has 599 career victories going into tonight’s game!

Bluenote

April 6th, 2010
8:30 am

Smoothie/WBF: I enjoy your insight and rants. Will look for you topside at the 317 Bud stand btwn periods 1-2. Look for the only Petrovicky jersey in the house..

Rawhide

April 6th, 2010
9:07 am

Good morning gang…E-Day in Thrasherville is upon us. Cue the fat lady.