Still just preseason, but a Thrashers win this weekend would be nice

Since the preseason began last week I have stated many times here that I was not concerned at all that the Thrashers have failed to produce wins. These games don’t count in the standings, give players a chance to work out the offseason kinks and exist to provide the coaching staff a chance to look at players during pseudo-game like conditions. They then take that information to help them evaluate who should be on the final roster and which players should be paired up with each other.

Whether a team goes 0-4 or 4-0 matters little after this weekend when each team sets their meters back to 0-0-0 to start the regular season.

However, all that being said, I will admit that these last two games of the exhibition season will carry just a little more weight with me than the previous ones. True, they count just as much as the other four…zero…but I’ve always thought the last couple preseason games mean a little more than the first few.

Ben Eager reacts to scoring one of his two preseason goals in Nashville Monday night (AP Photo/Frederick Breedon)

Ben Eager reacts to scoring one of his two preseason goals in Nashville Monday night (AP Photo/Frederick Breedon)

My reasons are simple. Last week we saw many players on the ice that we know would not be around Thrasherville past last weekend. They were getting their time in during training camp but once Craig Ramsay and his coaching staff were satisfied with what they saw, off they went to the AHL Chicago Wolves or elsewhere.

But now, the team that’ll be iced this afternoon in Carolina and tomorrow evening in Columbus will resemble more of a regular season lineup than before. The roster has been paired down to the point where only a few players are competing for a couple of open spots. That, plus those remaining have played with each other before and certain amount of “gelling” should have taken place. As such, they need to find a way to work out a W or two as they set their sights on the opening of the 2010-11 NHL campaign.

Don’t get me wrong, no one is going to have to pull me back off a ledge if they don’t win at least one of the two games, but it sure would be nice to see this group show they can grind out a victory…preseason or not.

So what have we learned so far after two weeks of training camp and four make believe games? Well for one, it sure looks like Freddy “The Fly” Pettersson will be in Atlanta this time next week when the Thrashers open up against the Washington Capitals. And given what Ramsay had to say about last June’s first round draft pick, it seems like Alex Burmistrov could be as well. Even if it’s just for a few games until Jim Slater’s mystery wrist ailment heals.

Anthony Steward and Nigel Dawes have each performed well so far. They’ll be making their last push to make the final cut.

Of all the Chicago boys that came this way last summer, the one who has impressed me most in Ben Eager. He’s netted a pair of goals and is just plain nasty in front of the opponent’s net. Love having this guy on the team.

Personally, I’m not as concerned about Dustin Byfuglien playing defense as I was a few weeks back. He’s looked good on the blueline thus far and brings a brand of toughness that has been lacking in our defensive corps for some time now. Correct me if I’m wrong, but has a goal been scored on the Thrashers when he’s been on the ice? I don’t think so.

Ron Hainsey has looked in mid-season form…unfortunately its mid-PREseason form.

Boris Valabik hasn’t played in a game since the exhibition season opener, and that’s just fine with me. Honestly, there is too much talent on the blueline now…especially given the way Freddy Meyer has performed…for him to be on the ice opening night.

Speaking of the defense, I think it’s safe to assume it should be better than what we’ve witnessed here in many, many moons. The 30 shots on goal that were allowed last Wednesday were the most of the preseason. In the recent past, we’ve greeted 30 SA/G almost as a blessing.

That, plus there is a certain level of comfort that comes with having Chris Mason between the pipes. If he just has a “normal” Mason-type season and the defense allows 30 shots per game or less, I don’t think the playoffs are out of the question.

As for Ondrej Pavelec…well, he’s still Ondrej Pavelec. You could get a great game from him or you might get a very in-good one. Ya just don’t know. But I’m hoping that another year in the NHL without the pressure of being forced into the number-one role will do him a world of good. That plus having a goalie coach…er, uh, goalie consultant, I mean.

But then there’s the goal production worries about this team. This is what has most Thrashers fans feeling a little queasy at times. They’ll no longer have a 50+ goal scorer to rely upon to get them through. Instead this team will look to a number of players to consistently put the put in the net.

Dependable goaltending, respectable defensive play and a “cross your fingers” offense…all are certainly a different concept that what we’re used to here.

Regardless, these next couple of days is all that’s left to work out whatever needs to be worked out to prepare for next Friday. And while they will count just as much, or little, when preseason is over…it’s be nice to see if they can iron out the “how to win a game” kink before they do start counting.

195 comments Add your comment

Red Light

October 1st, 2010
10:31 am

Not sure Freddy will make the team!

A note: the current Thrashers player with the most recent ha trick is Andrew Ladd. He potted a trio against Detroit March 7, 2010. The Blackhawks lost!

So far, here are the 12 predictions

Rawhide
Kane Columbus 11/4/10

Joe Friday
Ladd Florida 11/17/10

Spud Webb
Little Florida 11/17/10

five hole
Bergfors, Minnesota 11/11/10

Tony C
Peverley Ottawa 11/6/10

Dwayne
None this year

Derrick
Kane Tampa Bay 10/22/10

Brendan
Thorburn NY Rangers 10/27/10

Badger Bob
Antropov Toronto 12/20/10

JB
Dawes NY Islanders 11/21/10

Rob
Bogosian Ottawa 11/09/10

Red Light
Little Edmonton 2/19/10 *In his hometown!

Rawhide

October 1st, 2010
10:34 am

Red Light – Which Freddy? Petterson…Meyer….or Modin? :cool:

Zoomo

October 1st, 2010
10:37 am

Ranallo’ed! … just so my prediction counts

I’ve been a perennial optimist when if comes to the Thrash (baaah), but I dunno, I have a bad feeling that we are going to have a number of things go in the toilet this season.

I’m convinced we are doing the right thing, building with gritty, character players, but I predict the lack of scoring will be diluted even more with some key injuries, etc. and it will take a huge toll. In the end, the projected scoring from Little, Bergy, and Kane turns woeful.

Oh how I hope I’m wrong.

79 Points (35-38-9) 4th and 12th

hip czech

October 1st, 2010
10:37 am

Here is the official roster for tomorrow afternoons 1:30 pm game in Raleigh against the Hurricanes.

Forwards (13)
80 Antropov, Nik
18 Bergfors, Niclas
49 Burmistrov, Alex
15 Dawes, Nigel
21 Eager, Ben
9 Kane, Evander
16 Ladd, Andrew
10 Little, Bryan
19 Modin, Fredrik

56 Pettersson, Fredrik
47 Peverley, Rich
22 Stewart, Anthony
27 Thorburn, Chris

Defensemen (7)
4 Bogosian, Zach
39 Enstrom, Tobias
44 Kulda, Arturs
24 Meyer, Freddy
29 Oduya, Johnny
3 Sopel, Brent
51 Zubarev, Andrey

Goaltenders (2)
50 Mason, Chris
31 Pavelec, Ondrej

Add Thorburn as the 14th forward, Buff instead of Zubarev and (gulp!) Hainsey instead of Kulda and that’s the opening night roster.

Would management have the guts to keep Kulda over Hainsey?

hip czech

October 1st, 2010
10:40 am

HT prediction:

Little, 10/22 vs. TB

Sherry Taylor

October 1st, 2010
10:41 am

A win would be nice. Very nice. I agree about Boris, the one time I saw him in action it was as if he was back to his first season with the Thrashers. Not impressive, let’s just say. Ben Eager has impressed me also, as has Pettersen (his habit of tucking his jersey in so that his pads are on the outside irks my Canadian husband, but at least it helps me identify him without looking at the program, and it shows individuality). I’m still to be sold on Chris Mason, but Pavelec has a long way to go yet, so Mason is it. (I miss calling Moooooooooose after a save, but life moves on).

We have said the same thing at the end of every season since the days of Bob Hartley, ‘one more year’ hoping to see a winning team and, dare I say it, a play-off berth, and we did it again last April, but this might just be it–the last of the ‘one more years’. Ten plus years as season ticket holders needs some reward from the ice. Here’s hoping this is THE ‘one more year’.

Zoomo

October 1st, 2010
10:42 am

For the Hay///I’ll go Antropov at Dallas Jan 15th 2011

hip czech

October 1st, 2010
10:42 am

Whoops, have to add Peverley in…so make that Peverley instead of either Thorburn or Burmistrov, though I think Burmistrov gets his 9 games up here

Zoomo

October 1st, 2010
10:42 am

That should say hat trick

hip czech

October 1st, 2010
10:45 am

Ugh…not enough caffeine yet…make that Boulton instead of Peverley (I knew I was missing somebody)…either Boulton or Thorburn and Burmistrov sticks (for good if Slater doesn’t get back)

Back to my hole…

Matt

October 1st, 2010
10:47 am

Lovely little Vent that the AJC choose to display on the Sports front web page, ain’t it? I just get so very, very, very tired of people bashing a sport that their feeble little brains apparently can’t comprehend. (Drop the puck already!!!)

That said, Bill, gotta agree that this team needs to win at least one of these games. Sure it’s preseason, but players want to win no matter what the circumstances and need to get into the habit of winning. Confidence is contagious.

Red Light

October 1st, 2010
10:54 am

Bill: Pettersson

Rawhide

October 1st, 2010
10:56 am

I don’t know if they’ll be a Carolina radio feed or not for today’s game, but their flagship station is 99.9 FM The Fan ESPN Radio. So maybe check in there at 1:30 to see.

One thing though…today’s game is the free admission game the Hurricanes planned for this preseason.

Free admission to a game that doesn’t count…to help promote their team/product. Wow, what a concept.

five hole

October 1st, 2010
11:01 am

Ron Hainsey has looked in mid-season form…unfortunately its mid-PREseason form.

Now, I have to admit that so far I haven’t seen a preseason game. Right now I’m stuck in cow country, far far away from Atlanta. However, based on what I’ve been reading, shouldn’t this be “unfortunately its offseason form”?

J(Z)

October 1st, 2010
11:06 am

Alex Burmistrov vs New Jersey 11/07/2013

I wish I wasn’t serious. Do we still not have a TV schedule for this season yet?

Red Light

October 1st, 2010
11:14 am

J(Z) I was expecting more of these kind of answers. Since there is no long-range schedule, I have you down for Nov. 2013 with no team!

J(Z)

October 1st, 2010
11:18 am

LOL, come on! I said New Jersey :)

Red Light

October 1st, 2010
11:22 am

New Jersey might not even be in the league if they keep screwing around with long-term contracts, demotions, etc.

rob

October 1st, 2010
11:23 am

I will be the first to admit the whole Buff on D thing had me upset and none to happy given what we saw in the playoffs from him. But I find myself intrigued now. What will it be like to have a defenseman of his size out there looking to torpedo people, and has the added bonus of being able to help on the O side of things too. Will he be that nasty, better keep your head up or else dman that you HATE to see other teams have? I don’t know, but if he can, and if Bogosian has bulked up and brings the game we think he is capapble of……well then I wouldn’t mind that at all. Who knows though, what the future holds around here.

Dwayne

October 1st, 2010
11:52 am

If Buff on D keeps Doris in the the booth or Chicago, I’m all for it.

World Be Free

October 1st, 2010
12:06 pm

Matt, don’t pay attention to the Sports Vent idiots-they can’t help themselves.

Red Light

October 1st, 2010
12:21 pm

rob

That might be one of the most insightful posts I have read in awhile. Intrigued is a great way to put the Byfuglien “experiment” because he could become a great defender and punishing hitter. My problem with it is that I don’t want to see him skating out of position, a la Exelby, looking for a big hit and leaving his defensive partner vulnerable. Seen it too often around here. I think Bogo will be fine with another year of experience under his belt and it’s tough to remember that he’s only 20. Who knows what the future holds is right on the money. I think 99 percent of us want to buy in, but being a skeptic at heart I need to see proof.

I love the Ramsay hire. I like Dudley too, but as Sage has so aptly put it many times, is he really getting all he needs from ownership and his predecessor to do what he really wants and needs to do. I didn’t like the Modin signing and will definitely say under in the 14/56 pool. I really liked the Dawes signing but it remains to be seen if I am right about him. I see Lombardi in Nashville and I’m envious. I see the Hornqvist 3-year deal in Nashville and I am bewildered by his Swedish counterpart Bergfors here in Atlanta and why he was signed for one year and likely will go to arbitration.

I liked bringing in Ladd, Eager, Sopel and Buf, but realistically I look at the fact they all are under a one-year deal. Yes, we hold Ladd and Buf’s RFA rights for longer than this year, but then I wonder if Eager and Sopel will be around longer than this season. To me if you make a big deal, you want to sign the guys you acquired for a longer term, to ensure you didn’t ship a first rounder and Morin off for just two guys. That’s shortsighted in my opinion. Same goes with the Bergfors deal, yes, you have Oduya and Cormier soon, but let them develop here together.

I’m willing to put the past behind, but am continually reminded about it because of the poor attendance. You couldn’t get a good poker game going in the section where I sit! I don’t like the in-game promotions and videos (what am I 10 yrs old?) and I would love to get some energy in the building on a nightly, not sporadic basis. It will not only help the team, but the atmosphere for the fans too. I’m sure as many say that winning will cure a lot of these ills, but I’m not sold on the fact that this team can win just yet.

They took veterans like Afinogenov, Reasoner, Kovalchuk and Kubina (don’t forget coach extraordinaire Steve Weeks) off the roster from last season. Yes, the pieces they got in return could be very valuable, if they stick around, in the very near future, I just don’t think this is the year to fully expect a huge improvement in points. Yes, the play and competitiveness should be much improved, but others in the Eastern Conference improved themselves on paper too. I hope Rammer can pull it off, but I have my doubts as it concerns the current season.

I hope I am wrong…80 points • 3rd in the SE • 11th overall

mikey da mug

October 1st, 2010
12:26 pm

Rawhide interesting you say “Dependable goaltending, respectable defensive play and a “cross your fingers” offense” is new here, which I agree with. I seem to recall Ramsay mentioning at the Season Preview Event last week ‘the trap’ teams use, and how we will not play boring hockey. If it’s a cross your fingers offense, then while it may not be boring, it may be very rare we get to cheer. I thought the team has looked progressively better from game to game – let’s hope it continues.

Thrashers27

October 1st, 2010
12:27 pm

Anybody else find it shameful that we’ve had to rely on other teams resources to follow our team for the pre-season…every-single-game!

Sage of Bluesland

October 1st, 2010
12:38 pm

“Anybody else find it shameful that we’ve had to rely on other teams resources to follow our team for the pre-season…every-single-game!”

No, I’d call it the ASG. Get ready for more incompetence, lack of attention, lack of caring, lack of accountability…

(and yet they still get money out of some people’s pockets continuously! Amazing, isn’t it? Well, more like Clownish…as I think of those who paint their hair or wave the silly wittle fwags…Wow…)

hip czech

October 1st, 2010
12:48 pm

So Sage, what are you going to do for fun when the Thrashers move to insert name of Canadian city here after we boycott all things Thrashers?

I’m as frustrated with the state of the Thrashers as anyone else but I’m a hockey fan first and foremost. I’d rather see ‘bad’ NHL hockey than no NHL hockey at all.

LAC

October 1st, 2010
12:51 pm

Bill, It’s been awhile for me, but a win or two would be a nice trend setter for the start of the season.

Rawhide

October 1st, 2010
12:53 pm

LAC – So great to see you post again…I hope you are doing well and recovering back to full health!

Smoothie

October 1st, 2010
12:53 pm

Pettersson will make the team. No reason not to carry 14 fwds if necc as it does Dawes, nor Freddy any good to play in the AHL. They both can be effective players at this level. Maybe not every nite but that’s why you carry 14 fwds and 7 D.

Derrick

October 1st, 2010
12:54 pm

Smoothie

October 1st, 2010
1:01 pm

Bill – almost forget…heckuva good job encapsulating the concerns and issues of the pre-season…right on point and a good read! U da man.

Rawhide

October 1st, 2010
1:12 pm

Smoothinator – Aw gee…shux. Thanks, man!

mikey da mug – Personally, I don’t care if the win a ton of 2-1 or 3-2 games. As long as they win ‘em. I can appreciate a well played defensive game just as much as a high-scoring affair.

Derrick – Awsome! Thanks for the link.

Smoothie

October 1st, 2010
1:13 pm

Thanks Trixie for fixing my snafu!

Derrick – thanks for the audio hook-up…work just got a whole lot better!

Thrashers27

October 1st, 2010
1:14 pm

You could say that, Sage, but the fact of the matter is that this one, for the most part falls on the broadcasting entities. No radio coverage and no TV sched. WTF?

hip czech

October 1st, 2010
1:34 pm

anyone else find the Salvador ‘concussion’ a little fishy? Salvador all of a sudden going on LTIR means they can exceed the cap by his salary….hmmmm.

Thanks for the link Derrick!

Smoothie

October 1st, 2010
1:35 pm

Damn I love Chuck Cayton’s (Kaiton? Caiton?) voice. Takes me back to the days of listening to the Whale on AM radio in Albany, NY just for a hockey fix or when the Sabres were playing HFD. Let’s go boys!

Freddy P and Zubarev are the scratches. And Ondrej the Giant in net.

Smoothie

October 1st, 2010
1:36 pm

Starting line: Eager-Thorbs-Stewart back together. Our 4th line next Friday I bet as well.

Derrick

October 1st, 2010
1:36 pm

Rawhide and Smoothie No problem! Always happy to help :D

Derrick

October 1st, 2010
1:38 pm

Oh and you’re welcome too hip czech!

Smoothie

October 1st, 2010
1:41 pm

Obviously the free admission worked because the building is a rockin’!

World Be Free

October 1st, 2010
1:42 pm

rob-the fact that Buff has hospitalized two opposing players with relativley clean plays will be noticed by the teams on the Thrashers’ schedule. What will happen when and if this guy ever gets pissed?

Smoothie

October 1st, 2010
1:42 pm

Atta boy Zatchel! Way to press the issue and create…POWERPLAY!!

glovesave29

October 1st, 2010
1:43 pm

I’ll take boring, hard-hitting, winning hockey any day! I wouldn’t mind following the NJD recipe for success…the trap tends to make opponents very frustrated as they cannot operate in the neutral zone to mount an effective attack…thus leading to mistakes and stupid decisions – counterattack – and score. If we win bunches of games 2-1 or 3-2…hell, a win is a win. Teams that play the trap tend to be very smart, opportunistic and have a “team first” mentality.

Thrashers are ready to break out. I still think they miss the playoffs this year, but I have more optimism for the future…the moves in the front office remind me of when the Braves brought in Schuerholz and put Cox in the dugout where he belongs…or the Falcons taking personnel moves away from McKay and giving it to people like Smith and Dimitroff.

This is fwag waving sheep #349578B, signing off. It’s better than being a fair weather fan ANY day!!!

Derrick

October 1st, 2010
1:43 pm

Lets go power play!

Smoothie

October 1st, 2010
1:43 pm

PP UNIT: Pevs, Kane, Dawes, Bogo and Tobes?

Smoothie

October 1st, 2010
1:43 pm

Sorry Oduya, not Enstrom.

Smoothie

October 1st, 2010
1:46 pm

gs29 – word to your mutha!!

2 shots on goal for the PP, but no real good chances it seems. But sounds like their getting looks fairly easily.

Smoothie

October 1st, 2010
1:49 pm

Lots of sloppy play in both defensive zones! Early afternoon starts always seem tough for the Thrash. Another PP coming up thanks to B-Lits!

Derrick

October 1st, 2010
1:50 pm

A lot of pressure by the Canes but at least Little was able to create a penalty

Zombie Steve

October 1st, 2010
1:50 pm

power to the sheeple