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

kracker

October 2nd, 2010
10:55 am

It’s nice out here on the ledge….cool and peaceful. I’m not going to jump and miss Opening Night. After that, we’ll see.

Smoothie

October 2nd, 2010
11:46 am

Is now the time to offer up Pavelec, Peverley and Kulda to Philly for Jeff Carter? Problem is, we’d have to sign Carter immediately before a slow start sours him on ATL. Then turn around and trade a middle round pick and a prospect to San Jose for Thomas Greiss.

I LOVE Rich Peverley but with Duds as GM, anything is possible!

And Go Stew Cink and the US of A!!

Brendan

October 2nd, 2010
12:09 pm

LAC, you’re in at 71-points, 5th and 14th in the Conference. Good luck.

Re: Pessimism for the season, try to imagine this scenario. Let’s say the Thrashers start out 0-2. Still with me? What if they win the next game?? Say it with me, “Then they’re 1-2, with 79 more games to play.” I wouldn’t exactly call that situation, “over.”

Now, that doesn’t mean that anybody should be burying their heads in the sand about the deficiencies that exist within the Atlanta Thrashers, with a salary cap payroll that is approximately $3.6 million over the FLOOR. Said another way, “It’s a little bit hard to expect grandeur, at that pay scale.” For $46,666,666 … I happen the think the Thrashers have fielded a good club for the money. Does fielding a good club for the money mean … they’ll make the playoffs? No. Not necessary. I probably wouldn’t put money on it. But this ownership likes GM’s who say, “I think we can get it at about the floor. We’re THAT GOOD at what we do. Give us the minimum, and we’ll score you a playoff season.” The owners sit there thinking, “Okay!! Sounds good! Make it happen!” Meanwhile, the GM must sit there wondering, “I can’t believe they bought that … AGAIN! This is frekkin’ TIMELESS material. I think I’ll hold a seminar for my fellow GM’s about how to hoodwink ownership.” When, uhhh, actually, I’m not too convinced that ownership was ever hoodwinked. They just like minimum budgets and stocking the shelves with high-end draft picks … to make the team more attractive for investors or resale. And, uhh, to be able to say, annually, “We’re moving in the right direction, now.” (Copyright 2004-present, Atlanta Spirit, LLC, all rights reserved.)

Thrashers27

October 2nd, 2010
1:52 pm

Brendan, my entry is 89 points, 3rd in the conference 8th in the division.

Thrashers27

October 2nd, 2010
1:54 pm

Oops, I mean 89 points, 3rd in the division, 8th in the conference.

Brendan

October 2nd, 2010
2:17 pm

Thrashers27, you’re in at 89-points, 3rd in SE Division, and 8th in the Conference. Good luck.

I’ve been looking at the first 17 games (21% of the schedule,) and there isn’t a whole lot of fodder there to be found. Eight home games and nine road games. We get the Sabres twice, at home, the Bolts twice (here and there) and the Caps twice, (here and there). In terms of fodder, we get the Blue Jackets here on the 4th of November. We go to MSG to take on a Glen Sather GM’d team. We’re at the Cats, in Sunrise, FL, on the 3rd of November. Is Tampa fodder, still?? Who knows what to expect from Ottawa, but we play them on the 9th of November, at Ottawa. Is Buffalo still a good team?? We tend to play them well. It’s a big game for both Dudley and Ramsay, as former Sabres. Anaheim shouldn’t be a joke. The Kings aren’t a joke, but the silver lining there just might be that we’re catching them before they get their “sea legs” under them. Same deal with San Jose. It’s tough to start a year on a Western road swing. The Kings, Ducks, and Sharks won’t be any picnic at the park. Truthfully, I see 14-points in those 17 games. I guess that’d be okay, in the grand scheme of things, with three-fourths (3/4ths) of the season remaining. Sidney Crosby will be here on the 13th of November. And, of course, Ovechkin’s first appearance is opening night. Will that be his first game that counts since the Capitals were eliminated by Montreal?

Nate

October 2nd, 2010
3:00 pm

Brendan – Put me down for 78 pts, 4th in the division, 13th in the conference. Lack of scoring will be this team’s downfall. I don’t care how good a team’s defense is, you can’t win if you can’t score.

R. Stroztradamus

October 2nd, 2010
3:20 pm

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

Brendan – Read my words carefully, I stated

I’m waiting to make my point and standings prediction until the final roster provides more clarity.

The final team roster is in April, isn’t it?

Rawhide

October 2nd, 2010
3:33 pm

Tonight’s Thrashers lineup vs. Columbus per Ben Wright:

Forwards
Ladd- Little- Thorburn
Kane- Peverley- Bergfors
Modin- Burmistrov- Dawes
Boulton- Rissmiller- Stewart

Defense
Enstrom- Meyer
Kulda- Hainsey
Zubarev- Bogosian

Goal
Mason
Pavelec

EB

October 2nd, 2010
4:10 pm

Just like the Thrashers to change so many things and still can’t score enough goals or win games. This is starting to get a bit ridiculous isn’t it? Maybe we’ll get lucky and the losing will stop once the regular season starts, oh wait our first game is against the Caps!!! Wonder which team lost all their preseason games and then made it to the playoffs?

LAC

October 2nd, 2010
4:34 pm

Brenden, If they move Buff to forward, I would add 8 points to total at this point.

Do you think there will be a trade for a proven scorer ?

Darkhorse

October 2nd, 2010
4:42 pm

It’s funny how a lot of us have said over the years, ‘I don’t care how many goals we score, if you don’t play good D and stop the puck, you’re not going to win many games’. Now we have the opposite problem it seems, and won’t win enough games because of that.

Brendan-With the conundrum that is the ‘10/11 Thrashers I am going with 88pts, 3rd in the division, 9th in the conference. Hope I am wrong in a good way, but still feel the top six is lacking a difference maker.

Cornbread

October 2nd, 2010
5:07 pm

I watched the pre-season first place Maple Leafs get killed by the Red Wings last night. They got outplayed and outmarted by an older and far superior team. I have yet to see the pre-season last place Thrashers play like that. And from what I’ve seen and heard so far, they won’t get run over anymore by teams like the Red Wings. In case anyone has not noticed, the Thrashers have been one of the better teams defensively during the pre-season. Defence wins games and championships. Just ask the Red Wings.

I’m not ready to jump off the edge yet. A month from now and they’re still not scoring maybe. But, the Thrashers have far too much scoring talent not to score. When lines get settled and everyone is familiar with the system, which will happen soon, I expect people to start singing a different tune.

The Thrashers are not the Islanders who can’t score or the Leafs who have scored but also can’t keep the puck out of their net. That was the Thrashers of the past couple of seasons. So what if they still had Max and Kovy? The end result would still be the same; the scores would just be 4-5 or 6-7.

The Thrashers will be much more competitive this year and not an easy team to play against like last year. Put me down for 93 points, 2nd in the SE, and 7th in the East.

Brendan

October 2nd, 2010
5:26 pm

Cornbread, you’re in at 93-points, 2nd, and 7th. Darkhorse, you’re in at 88-points, 3rd, and 9th. Nate, you’re in at 78-pts, 4th in the division, 13th in the conference. Good luck, gents.

Rawhide

October 2nd, 2010
5:30 pm

A couple of quick notes here gang.

First, I’m working on a post which should go live tomorrow morning. It’s a conversation I had with the Thrashers on-air personalities about the upcoming season. Lots of good stuff from Matt McConnell, Darren Eliot, Dan Kamal and John Kincade.

Thanks in advance to all of them.

Also, keep in mind that this blog is hosting a Thrashers viewing party at TJs Bar & Grill next Saturday night, Oct. 9. Game begins at 7:30 and Tim has reserved the non-smoking room for us to enjoy the game. I already have a number of people who have told me they plan to attend and I hope to see many more there too.

Brendan

October 2nd, 2010
5:36 pm

LAC, I do think the Thrashers are going to try to pry Zajack away. But if the Devils can successfully stash Bryce Salvador, for the season, on longterm IR, they may not have to move somebody good. I’m just so “fed up” with salary cap circumvention.

I have never agreed to perennial stockpiling of talent by the wealthy and committed. If the goal, as stated by Bettman, is “30 healthy franchises,” then they’ve got to share the wealth. Which means, what? Well, if they go sign Kovalchuk, they should have to ditch someone like a Zajack to make room for Ilya, ANNNND … to allow some of the other LESSER markets to gain from that. Obviously, the Phoenixes, Nashvilles, and Carolinas of the league CANNOT successfully bid on Kovalchuk in Free Agency and land him. But New Jersey can. And did. Well, there’s a cap for a reason. Or so I thought. Not only do the Devils land Kovalchuk on “fraud,” and bee honest, a cap hit of $6.66 million is still fraud, but now … they get to retain players, too, with IR exemptions? It stinks. I understand. “It’s bending, not breaking,” but c’mon … give the folks in steerage a chance to make it to a lifeboat.

LAC, I have to honest, though. I wouldn’t put any money on the Thrashers doing anything more than they have. But, they should TRY to do more. And they should ANNOUNCE that they did TRY to do more.

Brendan

October 2nd, 2010
5:40 pm

LAC, welcome back, by the way. Hope you’re in top form again. Byfuglien at forward would be a move I totally support. Unfortunately, we cannot make “conditional” point total picks. The rule is … a final answer is due by puck drop. The Budget contest ended on the 20th of September. And the rule there is … “It is what it is … at the time that it is.” Which means, what? It means that if certain players get 9-game auditions … we don’t retroactively re-figure what the cap was for Opening Night. And we’re using http://www.capgeek.com this year, as our determiner.

Brendan

October 2nd, 2010
5:44 pm

Rawhide, I hope that Darren Eliot will not continue to say things like, “You’ve got to think you’re ‘real close.’” To Darren’s credit, I’ve never heard him say anything like, “The fans of the Atlanta Thrashers have to think the ownership has just done an OUTSTANDING job.” I understand that Darren likes his job, and wants to keep it. But there are lines and limits. I appreciate optimism. Certainly, I do. But patronizing is another matter. I hope we won’t see that in the Darren Eliot quotes.

swede

October 2nd, 2010
6:09 pm

Will tonights game be on radio?

Rawhide

October 2nd, 2010
6:17 pm

swede – I’ve been given a link to listen but it doesn’t play.

Here it is if you wanna try.

Anyway, it’s 1-1 after 5 minutes of play. Fredy Meyer with Atlanta’s goal.

swede

October 2nd, 2010
6:18 pm

Watching the game ;)

Rawhide

October 2nd, 2010
6:21 pm

Oh…got a link for us or is it on you TV network?

swede

October 2nd, 2010
6:24 pm

It´s a stream. Not the best though but its better than nothing ;)
Link :
http://www.channelsurfing.net/watch-nhl-3.html

Rawhide

October 2nd, 2010
6:33 pm

SA-Weet, swede….thanks.

Thrashers27

October 2nd, 2010
6:37 pm

Very sweet! Thanks, Swede!

iamtheratio

October 2nd, 2010
7:08 pm

Swede FTW! Thanks!

iamtheratio

October 2nd, 2010
7:23 pm

Ladd just got rocked, I hope he’s alright, it didn’t look too bad. I loved seeing Stewart fight Boll asap though to stick up for Ladd. I don’t remember seeing that much fight in us before

Brendan

October 2nd, 2010
7:49 pm

Can you believe, that on Bobby Cox appreciation day, that the Braves would drop a playoff-critical game by the unimagineable score of 7-0? Okay, back to hockey. Let’s hope it’s not foreshaddowing of the Atlanta sports weekend yet to come. Go Thrashers!

Brendan

October 2nd, 2010
7:51 pm

By signing up for Center Ice “too early,” I’ve already just made my 1st payment installation. There is something to be said for procrastination, after all. Maybe I should follow Don Waddell’s lead?

Baldheaded Thrasher

October 2nd, 2010
8:03 pm

Brendan,

89 pts, 2nd, and 8th…oh yeah and a win tonight!

Rawhide

October 2nd, 2010
8:05 pm

Nigel Dawes scores!!!! 3-2 Thrashers in 3rd

iamtheratio

October 2nd, 2010
8:07 pm

Dawes didn’t give up, love it. I think he took 3 shots until the puck finally went in!

Dwayne

October 2nd, 2010
8:23 pm

iamtheratio

October 2nd, 2010
8:24 pm

Ugh.. 4-3 Columbus…

R. Stroz

October 2nd, 2010
8:25 pm

OOPS! No wins in the preseason. A Thrashers first.

Dwayne

October 2nd, 2010
8:28 pm

u should have known that Stroznadamus

Joe Friday

October 2nd, 2010
9:04 pm

Is it true that no forward scored tonite. Hey, o think cornbread is right , don’t worry, be happy! Everything will be just fine. Scoring? We don’t need no stinking scoring!

Rawhide

October 2nd, 2010
9:06 pm

Joe Friday – Two defensemen scored, Meyer and Enstrom. Nigel Dawes provided the third goal.

Derrick

October 2nd, 2010
9:10 pm

Well i didn’t get a chance to see or listen to the game but from looking at the boxscore it seems like everyone sucked except for the Modin Burmistrov Dawes line and the Enstrom Meyer D pairing. With goals in these last 2 games I have to assume that Meyer has locked up the last defenseman job.

Rawhide

October 2nd, 2010
10:06 pm

I was going to schedule this to post Sunday morning, but I wanna get this 0-5-1 preseason behind us as quickly as possible. So with that…

Here are the thoughts and opinions of Matt McConnell, Darren Eliot, Dan Kamal and John Kincade about the upcoming Thrashers season.

Brendan

October 2nd, 2010
11:12 pm

BaldheadedThrasherFan, you’re in at 89-points, 2nd in SE Division, and 8th in the conference.

Brendan

October 2nd, 2010
11:55 pm

R.Stroz, one preseason point isn’t how Ramsay and Co. drew it up coming out of training camp.

Cornbread

October 3rd, 2010
2:07 am

Glad to see the D pitch in. It’s about time! I fully expect a lot of points to come from the D-men. Goals from Bogo and Buff. Assists from Toby and Hainsey. Now that Myer has just about guaranteed a spot on the team, throw him in there too.

It was a great goal by Dawes. A hard working, bring the puck in along the wall, cut to the net, shoot, get knocked down, and score the rebound prostrated. If it’s not on the highlight real, it’s further evidence of Northern media bias against the Thrashers.

I like what I’ve seen. Smart, hard working, physical, blue collar hockey. It’s the type of hockey I like and, for a change, it’s nice to see the Thrashers finally playing that way. No more prima donna give me the puck hockey. Smart team play beats skill all day.

five hole

October 4th, 2010
3:27 pm

test – Valabik is big

five hole

October 4th, 2010
3:30 pm

test – this is green