The calendar may show that autumn is upon us, and the NHL schedule indicates that the preseason begins Tuesday. But a quick check of The Weather Channel shows that summer isn’t exactly going to go away without a fight, as tomorrow will bring temps in the mid-90s in Atlanta. That night the Columbus Blue Jackets and Thrashers will get all Tangled Up in Blue(land) to kickoff preseason 2010.
The dry, hot conditions have been the rule here in Thrasherville for the entire month of September, and it’s in stark contrast to what we were dealing with at this time last year. Then we were about ready to build an ark as the floodwaters rose in and around Atlanta. Streets were under water, a high school in Cobb Country literally became an island, yards were washed away and every ride at Six Flags amusement park became a water ride.
The year prior to that we were struggling through a gasoline shortage. Do you remember paying well over $4 a gallon…that is, when we were lucky enough to find a station that actually had the product? The pumps didn’t work not because the vandals took the handles, but because a hurricane disrupted supply coming through pipelines from the gulf region.
So while the seasonal winds of change have yet to come to Thrasherville, there is indeed change Blowin’ in the Wind down at the Duluth Ice Forum.
Head coach Craig Ramsay told Chris Vivlamore this past weekend that he’d like Bryan Little to play center, sliding over from right wing. Little played the pivot in 2006 while with the Barrie Colts and was drafted by the Thrashers. He played there with the Chicago Wolves during his AHL days. But this fall will be the 4th Time Around for Little at the NHL level and he’s been out on the right wall for the past two-plus seasons.
Rich Peverley will then transition to RW under Ramsay’s plan. He’s play center for the Thrashers since they snatched him up off the waiver wire in January 2009.
Yes Thrasherville…the times, they are a-changin’.
Also, the Thrashers ship is listing quite a bit to port as there are several left-wingers skating with the team in camp. Nic Bergfors played there primarily after coming over in February, then there is Andrew Ladd, Freddy Modin, Nigel Dawes and Ben Eager. Given that, I could see another change coming by moving Bergie over to the right wall. If so, the he could have Evander Kane playing opposite him with Nik Antropov in between. Completing the top-six then could be Little centering Ladd to the left and Rich Peverley to the right.
All of this comes in the wake of Dustin Byfuglien making the change from offense to defense.
Given such a scenario, that sets up quite a battle for the third and fourth lines. From what I have seen during rookie camp and the opening days of training camp, my speculation is that maybe Modin and Fredrik Pettersson play on either side of the third line. Then you might see Eager-Slater-Dawes Rollin’ and Tumblin’ on the fourth line.
As for third-line center, as I wrote last weekend maybe Alex Burmistrov can take advantage Patrice Cormier’s broken foot and earn his way into centering there. But if he fails to take advantage of this Simple Twist of Fate, then where is the other centerman coming from?
Well, that takes us back to Little and Peverley. Maybe those two fill the second and third line pivots, then Pettersson moves to second line RW with Thorburn there on the third line.
And none of this even addresses where players like Eric Boulton or Patrick Rissmiller or prospects like and Angelo Esposito and Spencer Machacek might play into the equation. Maybe Bolts and Rissmiller could man the press box while Espo and Spencer return to the Wolves?
Another obvious change from past years is the size of the Thrashers. Gone are the days of having so many Smirfs as Dudley and Co. have embraced the ‘bigger is better’ approach. Hopefully this will bring about a style of play in which opposing teams will need to need to be warned, “Look out kid ‘cause you’re gonna get hit”.
There’s been a few health issues to speak of already, however. The first of which was the aforementioned Patrice Cormier suffering a broken foot Thursday. Bergfors left the ice holding his hand Saturday, but has since returned. And Antropov and Angelo Esposito have sat out since then recovering from effects from their surgeries. But that’s sometimes a part of training camp ya know…get sick, get well, hang around the rink a spell.
Good thing the Thrashers roster is much deeper than those of years gone by, eh?
Of course the big question is whether or not all of this change will bring about more Ws than Ls this season.. I think it will, to be honest, but only time will indeed tell if being a Thrashers fan will no longer mean being a Man of Constant Sorrow.
Regardless, things are certainly changing here in Thrasherville… at least when it comes to the Thrashers. As far as any change in the weather is concerned, well…I’m sure eventually the heat of summer will give way to autumn’s chill.
But then again you already knew that. After all, who was it that said, “Ya don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows”?