Just as I did after Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to Columbus, I want to open up by saying that Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Carolina was just a preseason game…nothing more, nothing less. However, unlike the first preseason game, this recent one gave us a lot more good than un-good to talk about.
First on that list of good things is the play of newly acquired goalie Chris Mason. He stopped 28 of the 29 Hurricane shots in his first performance as a Thrasher and deserved a better fate in the outcome. That he looked this sharp in his first preseason contest is not totally unexpected, he’s a veteran and looked like he came into training ready to go.
Another vet that looked like he was ready to get the season underway was Freddy Modin. He led the Thrashers with 5 shots on goal and looked very comfortable with linemates Rich Peverley and Fredrik Pettersson. Combined, the trio accounted for 12 of the 32 total shots Atlanta was able to get off on Cam Ward.
Unfortunately for Atlanta, Ward was yet another veteran who was on his game.
Ben Eager impressed me once again. He’s a hard worker on both ends of the ice and makes his presence known each shift. Love the way he badgers defensemen who are trying to work the puck out of their zone.
The penalty kill was very impressive this night. They denied the Canes on all 6 man advantage opportunities, including 40 seconds worth of a 5 on 3. After two games Atlanta has killed off 9 of 10 penalties. Chris Thorburn and Freddy Modin stood out in particular tonight, as did each of the defensemen.
As for Fredrik Pettersson…simply put, after two preseason games I think he’s got the best shot of all prospects of making this team. Fast, scrappy, slick and crafty…I like him more and more every time I see him.
Alex Burmistrov improved upon his first outing… seemed to get his nose into more of the action. He played well killing penalties and his 3:52 TOI during the PK led all forwards. I’m still not convinced he’s ready for the NHL yet, but he’s has shown signs of the player he potentially could be.
Also, I have to point out the overall team defense again as they again held the opposition to under 30 shots on goal. Carolina was allowed but 4 SOG in the first period…only 1 in the opening 14+ minutes. This is the type of play Craig Ramsay was brought in to teach and so far after two preseason games it looks like we’re seeing signs of hope here.
This is one of the stats I’ll be watching most as the season gets underway. The more it goes below 30 SOG the better our chances of making the playoffs.
What were your first impressions of Dustin Byfuglien on defense? He certainly brought a nice edge to his game, very physical and aggressive. He swept the puck away from in front of our goal a number of times and had no issue stepping up into the attack. His 3 SOG led all Thrashers defensemen who took 10 total for the game.
Unfortunately, he was also involved the play that sent Carolina forward Sergei Samsonov off the ice on a stretcher. Buff tripped the Russian winger as he raced toward Atlanta’s goal and he crashed into the boards. He suffered a strained neck form the impact of going in headfirst.
The good news is that the Hurricanes have indicated that Samsonov does have full feeling in his extremities.
As for the un-good…
The lone goal of the game was the result of sloppy play behind the goal early in the third period. I couldn’t quite tell from my angle if the puck was played poorly off of Mason’s stick behind the net or if Zach Bogosian muffed it in the corner. But either way it ended up back out in front of the net and was put in by Jeff Skinner, who was selected in last June’s draft just prior to Burmistrov.
Chris Thorburn at center? Color me unimpressed after one game.
And of course there’s the goose egg on the scoreboard next to the Thrashers goal total. That’s never good to see. I know scoring 2 goals in a loss followed by 0 goals will cause some to start the wailing and gnashing of teeth regarding scoring concerns, but Atlanta got their opportunities but were just unable to figure out Mr. Ward.
The power play went 0 for 5 and is just 1 for 12 in the two games played.
But again, it’s just preseason folks.