Yes its just preseason, but Boris was brutally bad

Yes, yes, yes…it was only the first of six preseason games. So really, there isn’t too much that should be taken from the 5-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday night. The coaches got to see how several prospects looked in a pseudo-game situation and new game plans were worked on. This will help to make some roster decisions and other game plan tweaks…so, it is what it is.

But there were a few standouts of note from last night, but of the good and un-good variety. And I’ll begin with the positives.

Bryan Little was by far the best Thrasher on the ice last night, and not just because he finished with a goal and assists. He was “on it” every shift and looked very good on and off the puck. If this is what we can expect from Little on a consistent basis this season, he and we will be just fine.

I liked what I saw from Arturs Kulda as well. He’s not a “flashy” player by any stretch of the imagination, but he put in a solid performance. Kulda was one of two Thrashers that finished on the positive side of the +/- rating. He and Freddy Meyer were both a +1 and Meyer chipped in offensively with an assists as well.

A lot of hustle came from Freddy Pettersson and Nigel Dawes too. Freddy “The Fly” scored once from a nice cross-crease pass from Little, had an assist and led the way in shots on goal with 4.

Evander Kane looks like he’s ready for the season to get underway. He didn’t fact in the scoring but had 3 SOG and really stood out on the attacking end of the ice.

And not to be overlooked here is the fact that the defense only allowed 26 shots to be taken on Ondrej Pavelec. I saw some flashes of this thing I’ve heard of called “team defense”…fascinating, really. I’m looking forward to see that develop some more as we move into the regular season schedule.

And now for the not-so-good…

First off there’s Pavelec’s 5 goals on just 26 shots…2 on the first 6 in just the opening six-plus of play. While Opie didn’t have a “good” night to be sure, the fact is that he had in front of him several skaters who will not be on the opening night roster. Some may not even be around for preseason game number two Saturday night.

But for me, last night was really more of a continued process in my loss of faith in Pavs game. He’s kinda the Forrest Gump box of chocolates type of goalie. You just don’t know what you’re gonna get nightly with him.

Simply put, the kid simply does not exude a great deal of confidence when placed between the pipes. This is why I like the Chris Mason signing so much. You’re just going to get a more reliable, dependable, solid performance between the pipes for him.

As I told World Be Free last night, if you’re the kind of person that offers up petitions to the great thunder-maker in the sky, then say some nightly prayers for the continued health of Mason. I simply do not want to have us faced with having to count on Opie for any extended stretch of time.

Again, that’s not based solely on last night…it’s preseason and can be forgotten.

But by far the worst performance of the evening was put in by defenseman Boris Valabik. His –2 doesn’t even start to describe how bad he was out there. He was positioned poorly too often and was just… s…l…o…w. Even by Boris’ standards.

Making Valabik’s showing even that much worse is that if the Thrashers were of mind to deal him away, using preseason to showcase his worth, he didn’t exactly do himself or Dudley any favors.

Trying to be fair, it is possible that he’s still experiencing the effects from his surgery over the offseason. But if that was the case maybe he shouldn’t have been out on the ice.

Regardless, Boris had a bad time of it last night…a brutally bad time.

I’ll repeat what I said at the beginning, though. It was just a preseason game and it served its purpose by giving the coaching staff insight as to where certain players are at this stage of the game. So there shouldn’t be a great deal of wailing a gnashing of teeth as to the overall outcome or any individual performances.

And finally… I was making my way over to section 119 to visit Hockey Biltong and his lovely bride last night when I passed up Cowbell Corner in section 222. Someone from that gang hollered down at me to have a look at something. When I looked up at him, he tuned his back to show he was wearing a Todd White #12 red alternate Thrashers jersey.

Aaaaagghhh…my eyes!! MY EYES!!!!

Anyway, I wondered why in the world someone would have not only purchased a #12 White jersey, but would have kept it after he was finally traded away. But this morning the logic became clear.

Cowbell Corner…cows.


Milk…milk carton.

Milk carton….

Well, you get the picture.

120 comments Add your comment


September 22nd, 2010
9:29 am

Thanks for the recap, Bill. Wish I could’ve made it last night.


September 22nd, 2010
9:29 am

Preseason – yes. But Columbus wasn’t loaded with their NHL caliber players either. Pavelec should have done better. Preseason is the time to work the kinks out. Out of the system, the chemistry of lines and even maybe surgery repaired bodies. I didn’t see a lot of improvement out of JA when these kinks showed themselves. This will be a good test of Rammer and Torch to see how they adjust to what they see in preseason.


September 22nd, 2010
9:30 am

Let’s create a Kulda Korner to pressure management to give the kid a shot.


September 22nd, 2010
9:34 am

haha. Excellent read! Thank you for the info about last nights game. Listening to another teams broadcast of a preseason game is like watching paint dry. I was so bored.

Alan R.

September 22nd, 2010
9:41 am

But for me, last night was really more of a continued process in my loss of faith in Pavs game.

Yeah, he had a bad night playing behind skaters who’ve been in Ramsay’s system for …oh, how long now? Three days? Four?

It’s the first game of preseason. Really, this kind of stuff holds no water at this point. With yesterday’s high of 96, I’m surprised there was any ice to skate on in Philips as it is.

World Be Free

September 22nd, 2010
9:47 am

Boris Bourret
Boris Titanic
Boris White
- nuff said


September 22nd, 2010
9:50 am

Guess all that work with our new strength coach has really paid off for Boris. Thought he was supposed to gain a step or two.

I’m not so worried about Pavs. He had a pretty bad defensive group playing in front of him. Yes we kept the number of shots down, but I thought that a number of the shot were good chances. He will get his timing back and have more chances to make THE save when our regular 6 are in front of him. Clearly I’m not referring to Boris when talking about our regular 6. That said, I still don’t think Pavs is ready to carry the load of a number 1 gig in the NHL. Unless he pulls a rabbit out of his hat this year, we are either looking at a platoon between Mason and Pavs, or Mason carrying a larger workload.

Pettersson really stood out. I like his chances of cracking the roster if he keeps it up.


September 22nd, 2010
9:51 am

Ya the ice must have been horrible. There were players falling down all over the place and sometimes those led to turnovers. I totally agree about Boris. He was just plain terrible. He was constantly getting beat, turning the puck over, or had horrible time passing the puck. I like to think he’s still trying to get back into game shape after his surgery. Practicing is one thing but this is the first time he’s played in a game since his surgery. If he plays Saturday and he’s still not looking good then it’s time to trade him or send him to the Wolves. I was also impressed with Petterson. I really hope this kid makes the team. Little and Kane both looked good and they definately looked like real NHL players compared to some of the other guys. I also thought Zubarev had a pretty solid game. He’s not flashy but he seems to make smart solid plays. Those guys that played last night definately need some time to practice and play together more. Little’s line is the only line that seemed to have any chemistry and looked like they were on the same page. Everyone else looked like they were all going in different directions and players having to take too long to find plays to make. Looking forward to Saturday and seeing who plays and how this team starts to take shape.


September 22nd, 2010
9:53 am

Thanks for the recap, Bill. Wish I could’ve made it last night.

Zoomo – Had a good time with the group I was with…your precense would have been welcome too.

This will be a good test of Rammer and Torch to see how they adjust to what they see in preseason.

biscuit – Agree totally.

Let’s create a Kulda Korner to pressure management to give the kid a shot

Tom – I like that idea.

Listening to another teams broadcast of a preseason game is like watching paint dry. I was so bored.

TrueBlue – Could not agree more. I am so not looking forward to having to listen to feeds from the other team when he go on the road next week.

Alan R. – As I indicated, yes it is only preseason…and Opie didn’t have exactly a playoff caliber defense in front of him. But that’s not completely an excuse…he looked bad on a couple of those goals.

My comment was to say that I simply have no trust in the kid right now…haven’t seen much progress in his development over the last couple years. Last night was simply a continuation of that.

Hopefully having a goalie coach…er, uh…consultant around will help him out.


September 22nd, 2010
9:55 am

Regardless of who was in front of Pavelec, he is still considered an NHL goalie….he was playing against a bunch of prospects, etc. He can be the most brilliant goalie one night and then look lost and confused every other night. We need some consistency out of our “future # 1 goalie”.

Diego from Lilburn

September 22nd, 2010
10:02 am

hahaha! the milk carton is back! Looks like you can put Boris on the milk carton this year. Let me know if you need some photoshop work done.

Sooooooo glad I didn’t shell out big bucks for last night.

James Brown

September 22nd, 2010
10:04 am

Thanks Bill for the great insight… usual of course…………..I just can`t imagine that Pavs and Boris will be that bad when the real games get underway. I`m hoping that most of the kinks will be worked out. I`m gonna try and make practice Friday and see the latest edition of the team……….Ramsey had a couple of good things to say about Burma???


September 22nd, 2010
10:05 am

Pavs ain’t the future. He’s barely the present. When Mason gets a shot, then we’ll get a better understanding of the team. But this is an AHL caliber team. Unless some trades happen, this is a bad year.


September 22nd, 2010
10:08 am

Goalies in pre-season are like pitchers during spring training – they try out new stuff. I’ve long been concerned with Pavs on a positioning / play reading level. The skill are there – now let’s see what Malarchuk can do with him.

Not surprised Cement Foot was beaten often – personally, time to cut and run on old Boris. Maybe can get a new stone for the sharpener for him.


September 22nd, 2010
10:16 am

I tend to agree that it was a bad showing last night from number of players…the biggest issue I have is this. I know it is preseason and there are a total of 6 games to work things out BUT the team plays one game home and right away they go on a road trip for 4 games. What worries me is the fact that there is a new coach(es) and a new system and new players. So will this be the same problem as with Andersons system? I do not believe the team has the luxury of a slow start?


September 22nd, 2010
10:18 am

Scariest thing about last nite was that the Who Jackets led by Atlanta castoff DMac and a brand-new minor league coach, Arniel, seemed much better prepared than our bunch who had the benefit of a top flight teaching coach. Let’s hope it was a case of first night follies. Bobo made you wish for the return of Andy Sutton and Pavs no flinch on the Columbus blue line goal brought back painful pangs of Lehts never seeing long shots. Plenty for the coaching staff to work on for Sat nite.
Kulda was more solid than the ice surface. I thought Zubarev was mostly invisible, but after review of other comments about him this AM, isn’t that what a really good defender should be? Kudos to Freddy Meyer-played like he really wants a job. Burma got outsized and outstrengthed on offense but was fairly effective on the backcheck as advertised. Dannick Pacquette needs more size and weight before he tries another NHL fight.
More negatives than positives, but, agree far too early for widespread panic. Mark it down as a learning experience.

Joe Friday

September 22nd, 2010
10:26 am

Great to hear Little looked sharp, he’s a key to this season.

Not suprised at all on Boris, he’s just not going to turn into a Chara guys, not gonna happen. Pavs is Mr. Inconsistent, I doubt he’ll play much this year (let’s pray!) and let’s also pray the goalie consultant can get him some better positioning and change his style of play.

I want to see them cut down to the final roster quickly, I think that’s key to getting off to a good start seeing how we are going to have so many new players a new system. I want the final roster to have at least 3 or 4 preseason games together to gel.

Red Light

September 22nd, 2010
10:28 am

OmniFan & Rawhide…

Great point about Kulda. The last thing you want for a young d-man is for him to be noticed on the ice. You could watch an entire game with former d-man Nic Havelid and barely notice him, which means he rarely got beat and rarely turned the puck over. That’s a very positive sign!

Before we back up the laundry truck and toss Boris in it, lets remember he’s coming off a tough injury. Send him down, let him play a month or two in Chicago, and if there’s no improvement…pfft…the Eastern front!


September 22nd, 2010
10:29 am

Rawhide – totally agree with your assessment of last nights game. Unfortunately, the thing that stood out for me was also how bad Boris played, he was actually boo’d a few times last night. Its pretty bad when you get boo’d during the first preseason game.

Pettersson looked like he might be a player along with Dawes. If for nothing else, it was good to get back to seeing hockey again…what a long summer.

World Be Free

September 22nd, 2010
10:32 am

Little was by far the best player on the ice last night for either team. The ice conditions were poor, though Little had little trouble moving. I am still concerned about Petterson’s overall size. He makes Mike Stapleton look big.


September 22nd, 2010
10:40 am

Great recap Bill, and other bloggers. Although it was the first game and there was obvious rust on players – as well as bad ice – I am concerned that Boris and a few of our prospects looked slow. I think it’s time to cut bait with Boris…remember Boris was drafted in the old NHL when size and clutching and grabbing were the norm. Now the new NHL is about size and speed, and I don’t think he’ll adjust. He also has a tremendously slow first and second step.

What I did like: Bryan Little and Evander Kane were the best players on the ice – you can definitely see the difference in skill level. I was very impressed with Freddy Pettersson..I think he’s got to stay. I thought Anthony Stewart had a great game….Very strong on the puck. I also think Arturs Kulda played a very solid game..he’s NHL ready but I do agree with the sentiment of having him play every night in the AHL compared to sitting in the press box at the NHL level. Nigel Dawes and Freddy Myers have gotten a lot of press, but nothing about them overwhelmed me. But I think they are solid depth players. Burmistrov got better as the game went on – you can see he has the hockey skill – but he looks like a boy among men. Zubarev didn’t stand out, but he’s a fluid skater and he always seemed to make the right play.

Pavelec does concern me. He makes a lot of technical errors. One of the goals went in between his blocker arm and body. One of the later goals (a deflection) would have been stopped if he was more square to the shooter. And he needs to think more strategic about playing the puck. At least once he dumped the puck into the corner but out of the reach of his defenseman (Columbus recovered the puck). I think it would be wise for Dudley and Ramsay to not hesitate to call-up McIntyre or Mannino in case Pavelec does not perform at expectations. Just put a little pressure on the kid and not let him think this is “his” NHL job.

Machachek didn’t show me much, nor did Hozapfel (sp?). I thought Danick Paquette and Akim Aliu got much better as the game went on, especially along the boards.

Can’t remember too much else from the players.

Savannah Blueland Fan

September 22nd, 2010
10:42 am

My guess is that the Todd White jerseys were 12 for a dollar. You should never pass up a good deal.


September 22nd, 2010
10:52 am

Boris has always been a slow starter. He may be a long term project, but as long as he keeps working hard and trying to improve we should keep him. It costs almost nothing to keep him in the AHL for extended seasoning. He’s got a fantastic work ethic. He’s handles adversity well. Give him a little longer.

Red Light

September 22nd, 2010
11:00 am

So much for the Esposito wishes!

“The Atlanta Thrashers have released six players (forwards Angelo Esposito, Michael Forney, Danick Paquette and Jared Ross and defensemen Paul Postma and Mike Siklenka) who are scheduled to be assigned to the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League, according to General Manager Rick Dudley. The team also released forward Andre Deveaux and defenseman Kyle McLaren from their try-out contracts.”

Sherry Taylor

September 22nd, 2010
11:19 am

Felt like we spent a lot of money to watch a scrimmage, and a bad one at that. I thought it was just me thinking Boris and Pavelec weren’t present on the ice. Boris played like he did when he first joined the team, badly. He’s always been a bit clumsy, but before he was injured last season, he seemed to come into his own, but last night he should’ve been in the stands. And Pavelec, has never been consistent enough to be a starter. I’m hoping Chris Mason, fingers crossed, is healthy, healthy, healthy and consistent.

I’m ready to see some of what we’ve been promised all summer, hockey with promise.


September 22nd, 2010
11:20 am

I wonder why they kept Pavs in for the whole game? Could have split the game between the two goalies like Columbus?

Alan R.

September 22nd, 2010
11:23 am

My comment was to say that I simply have no trust in the kid right now…haven’t seen much progress in his development over the last couple years. Last night was simply a continuation of that.

I understand where you’re coming from, I just don’t quite see it this way. I see it as preseason. A time to grow, become accustomed to one another, and get adjusted to the new system, players, and prepare for the upcoming season. Pavelec should have made some of those saves last night. I think the score should have been closer to 3-2 than 5-2. However, I don’t really see a reason to dog the kid at this point in time. As we both said, it’s preseason.

If he lays stinkers like this in mid-November on a consistent basis, then I’m more inclined to agree with you.

Red Light – So we’ve cut the roster to 38 now? I guess that’s a good step forward.


September 22nd, 2010
11:31 am

sisu – same thought here. Figured we’d see McIntyre (sp?) in for at least teh 3rd period last night. If only because we might need him/someone down the road this season and would be good to see him during pre-season.


September 22nd, 2010
11:32 am

Unfortunately another bad start last night. Something we have grown accustomed to here.

I am hoping Boris is just getting his legs back after a long layoff due to the injury. But he really did look bad last night. Too bad about Espo. Maybe another year in Chicago will give him the time to strengthen that knee.

Dawes plays a lot bigger than his size. He goes into corners and he is not bashful about going to the front of the net. Good thing Commodore took it easy on Paquette. He might have needed an ambulance to take him to Chicago.


September 22nd, 2010
11:33 am

So I take it that last night’s game was not a “brutally good time”?

Well like you said its just preseason so people shouldn’t get their panties on a wad over it. But I have to say that I concur with your thoughts about Pavs. He just doesn’t seem to be progressing as he should. I hope Mason gets the bulk of the starts.

Boris? Done with him. Time to move on. We don’t have more time to wait on people to “develop” here. We have some really good talent in house that can keep his spot warm while he works things out in Chicago.

Decatur Blue

September 22nd, 2010
11:37 am

The comment about White’s jersey made me think.
I do not want to end up a jersey foul on puck daddy, so when is it acceptable for me to where my Kozlov jersey again to games?
Last year was not a good one, nor was the departure from Atlanta. But for my money though, he was the best overall, most reliable Thrasher for years and will be remembered as such. Do I hang it up for a year? 2? or for good?
Not trying to start a memorial post for #13, just a jersey etiquette question.


September 22nd, 2010
11:42 am

ahem…ahem…Doris a slow starter??? lmao…he’s a slow finisher.


September 22nd, 2010
11:44 am

Decatur Blue – Given Kozlov’s overall contributions to this organ-I-zation, I would think there should be no moratorium on proudly wearing his jersey in Thrasherville. He’s still one of my all-time favorites.

Zombie Steve

September 22nd, 2010
11:55 am

I agree with Thrashhead – Pettersson keeps it up and he’ll have a spot on this team.

Zombie Steve

September 22nd, 2010
11:58 am

I’ll I saw from Machachek was a couple of dumb penalties…I liked Akim Aliu’s speed for his size; he’ll be interesting to watch progress


September 22nd, 2010
12:00 pm

Red Light

hahahaha … Eastern Front … hahaha

You just made my day. It is time for Boris to defend Stalingrad!

Alan R.

September 22nd, 2010
12:25 pm

personally, time to cut and run on old Boris.

I hear Jersey needs to cut some salary… ;)


September 22nd, 2010
12:36 pm

And Boris is slow in the middle also.

hip czech

September 22nd, 2010
1:02 pm

ditto all the comments on Boris…I was hoping he was among today’s cuts.

Pettersson makes this team.

The first 3/4 of the first period was brutal trying to get the puck out of our own end. Nothing worked. Could be the ice, could be rusty players, could be learning a new system…who knows.

I liked Meyer’s game when he was with the Islanders and still like his game. Zubarev does have a cannon for a shot…he let one go in the 3rd period that was a laser. Meyer and Kulda will battle it out for the 7th D man…unless Hainsey doesn’t step up (he was only marginally better than Boris IMHO).

Burmistrov was very good in the defensive end. He was very tentative in the offensive end but not entirely over matched. Give him a couple more games before making a verdict.


September 22nd, 2010
1:20 pm

I really want Boris to do well…just so the ladies can yell “We Love Big BoBo!”

The guy is huge…wish he would come around.


September 22nd, 2010
1:21 pm

Can our 4th line consist of the Rocketts?

Sage of Bluesland

September 22nd, 2010
1:29 pm

“…So I take it that last night’s game was not a “brutally good time”?…”

HaHa! Good one!

I know it’s only preseason, but I’m getting the impression our talent “pipeline” from the minors is, yet again, a mere trickle? Where are all of these prospects that some folks promise us will make a difference at the big-boy club???

Where are these “Legends of Blueland” I’ve read about from day-one of the organization???

(Sorry to hear about Boris…oh well, he was only a 1st round pick, which is all we seem to hit on anyway…)


September 22nd, 2010
2:04 pm

Sure I would rather have a win, but I am confident in this new coaching staff and hope that they will make the necessary changes to give our team a W when it really counts! Lola had a brutally fun time just watching hockey with my buddies!

World Be Free

September 22nd, 2010
2:14 pm

lola got the 35% off on goodies last night too.

Sage-I guess we can officially classify Boris as a “miss” for 2 reasons. He was a miss as a 1st round pick (#10 overall) and he plays like a Mrs.

Boris Bourret

Spud Webb

September 22nd, 2010
2:32 pm

Interesting, I wasn’t aware Savard was still having issues. Might explain nobody taking his reasonable salary this offseason…


September 22nd, 2010
2:57 pm

In the “for what it’s worth” department, here are the five players that slipped the puck past Opie last night and the number of NHL games they have played in:

Jonathan Sigalet: 1
Mike Blunden: 50
Oliver Gabriel: 0
Matt Calvert: 0
Tom Sestito: 4

In the combined 55 games played by these players, they had scored a total of 2 NHL goals, (both by Blunden). Last night they scored 5.

What does any of that mean?…shrugs


September 22nd, 2010
3:14 pm

We’re in TROUBLE!

World Be Free

September 22nd, 2010
3:16 pm

Rawhide-it means Opie needs to be riding the bus to Chicago next to Boris. Would anyone be shocked if Opie was dispatched to CHI town and the Thrashers signed Jose Thoedore? I won’t be-there’s plenty of cap room. If some of these kids continue to tank, would anyone be surprosed if Dudley pulled off a deal with a cap-strapped team for a vet?

Spud-I heard about Savard’s “head” issues last week. Broones have plenty of issues-Savard’s head, Thomas’ obligation and the upcoming potential free agency of Bergeron and Chara. Word on the street is that Bergeron will have to take a 1 – $2M pay cut to stay in Boston and “Z” will have to take a cut too. Do you think he will take a cut when he can make $8M/season on the open market? Remember what we went through last season with the Kovy situation hanging over the team’s head? I am not going to count out Boston, but I would not be surprised if the distractions had an impact on the Broones at some point this season.

R. Stroz

September 22nd, 2010
3:39 pm

My new nickname for Opie is Natasha.

Lets send Boris and Natasha to Chicago to reek havoc on the Wolves.

World Be Free

September 22nd, 2010
3:49 pm

as noted earlier, our concern is if Mason goes down. We stated several weeks ago that the Thrashers do not have an NHL-ready goaltender in our system. You to have at least 3 guys you can count on and we do not have 2!

Stroz-missed the cowbell last night; agree on Opie’s new name.