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.
Well, you get the picture.