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

Derrick

October 1st, 2010
3:50 pm

Smoothie

October 1st, 2010
3:50 pm

Damn 4 on 4 curse continues! Damn you Ward! Sounds like Little had a golden oppty…oh well. Good resilience once again. But how do you let them score on a rush off a F/O in the def zone? Prolly Pavs’ fault!

Jeff97

October 1st, 2010
3:55 pm

baby steps i guess…..maybe this means we will get a win tommorrow.

Derrick

October 1st, 2010
3:56 pm

lol yeah maybe Jeff

J.B.

October 1st, 2010
3:56 pm

well, at least we made it to OT today…

…damn

Rawhide

October 1st, 2010
3:56 pm

Rainman

October 1st, 2010
3:57 pm

Derrick

October 1st, 2010
3:59 pm

It isn’t Pavelec’s fault that the team could only score one goal and that being once he was pulled for the extra skater. It’s not realistic to expect a shutout every game.

Jeff97

October 1st, 2010
4:00 pm

Lets just hope we get the defensive system down to keep us in games and the offense will follow..eventually…before New Years…..

Alan R.

October 1st, 2010
4:00 pm

Sigh.

How did the game go? I didn’t have a chance to listen to the radio (online or otherwise), so I spent the afternoon following along using ESPN’s scoreboard page. I saw Kane had a ton of SOG (7? 8? Just wow), but nothing to show for it…

Derrick

October 1st, 2010
4:04 pm

Yeah Kane was all over the place, we just couldn’t get anything past Cam Ward until the last minute of the game. Then Skinner scored his second of the game on 2 on 1 breakaway in overtime.

EA

October 1st, 2010
4:06 pm

Cam frickin Ward. He had done it to us twice now in the preseason.

Sage of Bluesland

October 1st, 2010
4:06 pm

…Come on, now, sheeps–you have to wait another four years into our third “Five-Year Plan” before you can expect to see significant improvement…

Be patient. Would Donny, “Duds”, and the old guy behind the bench steer you wrong? Would the ownership not actually have your best interests at heart as they deliver a “product” to you?

(Oh, yeah–the ownership is delivering a “product” all right…For the life of me, I cannot understand why anyone would pay for it, it being so pitiful and shoddy through neglect and mismanagement…)

Derrick

October 1st, 2010
4:07 pm

I meant Sutter not Skinner

Zombie Steve

October 1st, 2010
4:09 pm

How many SOG did Pav face? Sounds like he was getting the business today…

J(Z)

October 1st, 2010
4:11 pm

Wow Pavs sucks! We can’t even score unless he’s benched!!!! :)

Flagstaff

October 1st, 2010
4:14 pm

Just for the heck of it, I’ll say Antropov, 11/17/10 VS the Panthers.

Rawhide

October 1st, 2010
4:16 pm

Sage – Dude, don’t waste all your good material in the preseason…wait until the real games begin. Pace yourself.

OK gang, here’s the Thrashers box score:

Player/ TOI / G / A / +/- / SOG / PIM
N. Antropov / 14:29 1/ 0/ +1/ 1/ 2
N. Bergfors / 13:54/ 0/ 0/ 0/ 3/ 0
Z. Bogosian / 24:45/ 0/ 0/ -1/ 1/ 0
A. Burmistrov / 12:31/ 0/ 0/ 0/ 0/ 0
N. Dawes / 15:23/ 0/ 0/ 0/ 0/ 0
B. Eager / 10:35/ 0/ 0/ 0/ 0/ 0
T. Enstrom / 22:27/ 0/ 0/ +1/ 2/ 0
E. Kane / 18:38/ 0/ 0/ 0/ 7/ 2
A. Kulda / 14:26/ 0/ 0/ 0/ 1/ 4
A. Ladd / 15:02/ 0/ 0/ 0/ 2/ 0
B. Little / 15:26/ 0/ 1/ 0/ 3/ 0
F. Meyer / 19:43/ 0/ 0/ +1/ 2/ 0
F. Modin / 15:23/ 0/ 0/ 0/ 4/ 0
J. Oduya / 23:57/ 0/ 0/ -1/ 0/ 0
R. Peverley / 17:44/ 0/ 0/ 0/ 2/ 0
B. Sopel / 17:10/ 0/ 0/ 0/ 0/ 0
A. Stewart / 12:44 /0/ 0/ 0/ 3/ 0
C. Thorburn / 13:33/ 0/ 1/ +1/ 0/ 0

Opie stopped 28 of 30 shots.

Zombie Steve

October 1st, 2010
4:23 pm

Once again – seems like our inability to bury the biscuit has bitten us again.

R. Stroz

October 1st, 2010
4:30 pm

This team lacks a finisher.

Jeff97

October 1st, 2010
4:31 pm

Is there a legitimate reason why the TV schedule has not been released yet? We are only a week away from opening night? I hope they were not basing it on the pre-season play :)

da' boomer

October 1st, 2010
4:42 pm

tommyt4

October 1st, 2010
4:48 pm

Bill,

Does Mason have a nickname, do we know? Should we just change the “Moooose” chant to “Maaaase?!” Could make for an easy transition! Her’s hoping for better results once they start counting.

Hockey Biltong

October 1st, 2010
4:54 pm

baaaaaaaaaaaaah……baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah……

ben

October 1st, 2010
5:01 pm

At this point i’d say they win 25 games. the only long term hope is that they get new owners

Cornbread

October 1st, 2010
5:46 pm

Sounds like Ward won them another game. The Thrashers had their chances and Kane was on fire. Pavs played another fine game. Bergfors is not getting a lot of time. What’s up with that? Face-offs were terrible in the key zones, going 6-16 in the attacking zone and 4-12 in their own end. You only win 25% of the crucial face-offs and don’t control the puck, good things don’t happen and bad does. Win half like they did in the neutral zone and the outcome may have been different.

Still, another solid effort from the Thrashers. They will not be an easy team to beat. The scoring will come.

Barry

October 1st, 2010
5:53 pm

So anyone else missing Mad Max? Two games against Carolina and we can only muster one goal? Are you kidding me? In those two games we mostly played regular line up guys. Our lack of scoring has me really concerned. I’m glad this team is playing better defense for the most part but it doesn’t do any good if you can only average about 1.5-2 goals a game.

Putting On The Foil

October 1st, 2010
6:16 pm

Hat Trick Bergy 10/20 vs. Buffalo

R. Stroztradamus

October 1st, 2010
6:32 pm

Here’s my hat trick prediction for the season: NONE.

Brendan

October 1st, 2010
6:33 pm

Red Light, you’re in at 80-pts, 3rd in SE division, and 11th in the Conference. And you’re locked into LESS than 14/56 on Modin, otherwise known as “under.”

Phil Foley - Atlanta Thrashers Examiner

October 1st, 2010
8:56 pm

FYI – The Thrashers have never finished an exhibition schedule without a win. Not even in the lean expansion years. Their worst season was 08-09 when they finished 1-5-0 in John Anderson’s first year as coach.

http://www.examiner.com/atlanta-thrashers-in-atlanta/thrashers-preseason-history-picture

rob

October 1st, 2010
10:04 pm

Foil,
You must be penning Lalime in for that start right? LOL

Former Atlanta Resident (and Flames Fan)

October 1st, 2010
10:18 pm

Sat in the 2nd row at today’s game. Ward played like it was Stanley Cup time. Luckily for Atlanta, Carolina missed an uncontested shot at Atlanta’s empty net, just before Antropov scored.

I thought Atlanta looked good until the breakdown that caused the OT goal.

Former Atlanta Resident (and Flames Fan)

October 1st, 2010
10:19 pm

Oh yeah, I should add that Kane is a beast.

The Real Thrash

October 1st, 2010
10:43 pm

Lost the face-off battle 25-17.
Not good

The Real Thrash

October 1st, 2010
10:48 pm

Rawhide

October 1st, 2010
11:26 pm

This team lacks a finisher

R. Stroz – Yes…but we all knew that when we got rid of Kovy. 50+ goal scorers don’t just grow on trees. Many were happy to have a new “team oriented” system that relies on multiple 20+ goal scorers.

That said, the guys are going to have to step it up once these games start counting for real.

So anyone else missing Mad Max?

Barry – 7 goals in 5 preseason games. Yup…I miss him. But I think that plays into what R. Stroz says about a lack of a finisher.

Is there a legitimate reason why the TV schedule has not been released yet? We are only a week away from opening night?

Jeff97 – I haven’t seen one yet.

Does Mason have a nickname, do we know? Should we just change the “Moooose” chant to “Maaaase?!” Could make for an easy transition!

tommyt4 – I’ve read where some call him “Masonry”….but if he can maintain a 2.65-ish GAA and a SV% over .910 consistently, I don’t care if they call him the Queen of England.

Brendan

October 1st, 2010
11:37 pm

R.Stroztradamus, I thought you were going to say that you wanted to delay your vote until the 82nd game of the season.

Alan R., you’re locked-in to 91-points, 2nd in SE division, and 8th in the Conference, with no over/under on Modin.

Spud Webb, you’re registered at 96-points, 2nd in SE division, and 6th in the Conference, with no over/under on Modin.

Zoomo, you’re confirmed at 79-points, 4th in the SE Division, and 12th in the Conference. Your guess is the 2nd lowest made in the contest. East Point Bob has 60-points, with no division rank or conference rank.

Tom, if you’re out there, I have no SE division rank for your guess of 97-points and 5th in the Conference.

Picks may be made and changed up to “puck drop” of the Thrashers 1st regular season games. After which time, the contest is closed. Still, you’ll see people try to weasel-in with a pick at Christmas. AS IF it would count. Never seems to stop them from trying, though. Reading and comprehension are some of the better hallmarks of Western Civilization.

Joe Friday

October 1st, 2010
11:51 pm

1 goal again. Houston, we have a problem here . . .

Tom

October 2nd, 2010
12:39 am

Brendan, Let’s go with 2nd. I am tempted to change my numbers looking at the offensive production in the preseason but I think this team is deep and wide, not a couple shining points of light.

Brendan

October 2nd, 2010
12:51 am

Tom, I’ve got your down for 2nd place in the Southeast Division.

Joe Friday, one of the things Scott Burnside pointed out in his recent article on the Thrashers at ESPN.com was … how fast the Thrashers could learn Ramsay’s game plan. He pondered, aloud, whether the learning curve might bury the team in the early portion of the season. I thought that was a salient point. This team must bank points in October, in my opinion. Now, if Burnside is correct about the Thrashers being a playoff team, then he’s probably figuring that this team will gain steam in the 2nd half of the season. That’d be a welcomed change. Playoff teams rachet it up after New Year’s Day. If Atlanta can be such a team, I’d love to watch them peaking in March and April, primed for a run into the playoffs.

Brendan

October 2nd, 2010
1:03 am

Nikki Zherdev … seems “comfortable” in Philadelphia. He seems like a good acquisition for them. Remember when, last offseason, he was working out with Kovalchuk … and the speculation was that Ilya might convince Zherdev to come here? Well, at least Ilya got Antropov here for us.

Brendan

October 2nd, 2010
1:09 am

Burnside thinks Chris Mason will be the real deal, # 1 goalie for us, and will push young Pavelec to be a better goalie. I hope so.

goose

October 2nd, 2010
1:41 am

I predict we will lead the league again in one goal losses

Tony C

October 2nd, 2010
4:49 am

Boy, you know it sounds like the club could use one more “legit” scoring forward… didn’t we trade away Morrin and a 1st rounder for a Cup winning power-forward?

I know I’m being a broken record, but damn, that’s a high price to pay for a physically imposing, so-so (at best) defender. I mean don’t we already have one of those (Valabik)?

World Be Free

October 2nd, 2010
7:27 am

Real Thrash-facoffs
Which is why I pushed for Malholtra last season and getting Belanger this season. You need players that can win faceoffs, period.

AThrasherfan13

October 2nd, 2010
9:34 am

OK everyone. Off the Ledge. I’ve said it before…..they need time to gel, get their timing and to get to know each others tendencies. This is what we should expect:

October:

AThrasherfan13

October 2nd, 2010
9:48 am

Damn fingers…lets try again:

October: 2 and 9……..Lets face the reality here.
November: 5 and 9
December: 6 and 10
January: 7 and 4
February: 7 and 4
March: 10 and 4
April: 4 and 1

Season: 41 and 41

82 Points 3rd in the division and 12th

But one thing is for sure…..I will be cheering them on all the way…..starting in OCTOBER!

Will you?

Tony C

October 2nd, 2010
10:14 am

They need time to gel? Fine. They have one week.

LAC

October 2nd, 2010
10:19 am

Brenden, 71 pts. Last in SE, 14th in East, Just does not look all that promising at this point.
Hope we improve soon.