Thrashers pass early ‘gut check’ test in win over Caps

In any sports season, a team is going to be faced with adversity and must find a way to deal with it…to overcome it…if it is to succeed. These are known as “gut check” times because it is how the players and coaches deal with these situations that tell you a lot about what these guys are made of…find out who is there to play and who is there just to get paid.

For this edition of the Atlanta Thrashers, that time came shortly after 8:00 pm Friday night. Brooks Laich had just taken a pass from Tomas Fleischmann and deposited the puck into Atlanta’s goal. It came at the 3:18 mark of the opening period. Laich had slipped in behind Toby Enstrom and was left all alone to make the play.

Mediacal staff call for the stretcher as Ondrej Pavelec lat on the ice. His Thrashers teammates would then rally for a 4-1 win over the Washington Capitals (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Mediacal staff and officials call for the stretcher as Ondrej Pavelec lay on the ice. His Thrashers teammates would then rally for a 4-1 win over the Washington Capitals (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

If Enstrom and the rest of Thrashers looked a little lost when Washington scored that goal, its because just moments before they had just seen their young goaltender, Ondrej Pavelec, carted off on a stretcher. After just 2:25 of play, Pavelec fell backwards, hit his head on the ice and lay spread-eagle on the ice…motionless.

We heard later on that Ondrej was awake and alert, asking for game updates, and today Chris Vivlamore reports he’s resting in the hospital after suffering a concussion from the fall. But at that time…just after he was wheeled off and Laich scored the goal…there was an eerie, uneasy feeling in the air of Philips Arena. Concerned for Opie, yes…however, there was still over 56 minutes of hockey to be played and the men in blue found themselves down a goal to the high-powered juggernaut known as the Washington Capitals.

Indeed it was an early gut check call… a test of this team’s character. And we were going to find out real quick whether or not these Thrashers were going to have the same label of “fragile” hung around their necks as teams of the recent past had.

Consider the test “passed”.

Chris Mason, who stepped in for Pavelec, stopped 29 of the next 30 shots he faced, Evander Kane scored twice and the entire team played some of the most intense, focused, inspired hockey as has been witnessed here in many moons. And Atlanta came away with a 4-2 opening night win.

Kane’s equalizing goal came just before the 8-minute mark of the first as he acquired the puck center ice, then craftily weaved his way over the blueline. He then beat Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth with a blast from between the circles. Later in the game Evander converted a penalty shot which put his team up 3-1. This came just over three minutes after Andrew Ladd deflected in a Johnny Oduya blast at 15:43 of the second period.

Freddy Modin would take a Nik Antropov face off win to blast home the Thrashers’ fourth goal. It put them up by the winning margin with exactly five minutes left to play.

This was a great team win…solid defensive work, capitalizing on opportunities on offense, timely saves and good effort killing off all four Washington power plays. All this after seeing Opie carted off and the Caps take an early lead.

The Thrashers answered this season’s first “gut check” call. Let’s see if they can carry that ino tonight’s game in Tampa.

61 comments Add your comment

Alan R.

October 9th, 2010
1:51 pm

Errata: Caption of the photo incorrectly spells “lay,” and the score of the game was actually 4-2. :P

Minor typos, I’m sure. Get better soon, Pavelec!

waffleboy

October 9th, 2010
1:54 pm

Great team win.

Rawhide

October 9th, 2010
2:00 pm

Looks like Ramsay will stick with the same players than won the game last night. C-Viv tweets the healthy scratches again are Bolts, Boris and Meyer.

Alan R.

October 9th, 2010
2:11 pm

Agree with those scratches. We’re starting a long road trip now, so let’s come out and win! we should take three out of the next four.

hoosier_hoser

October 9th, 2010
2:23 pm

Rawhide!

Who is getting called up to backup Mason?

Rawhide

October 9th, 2010
2:25 pm

Who is getting called up to backup Mason?

hoosier_hoser – Drew MacIntyre. He’s being flown to Tampa and is expected to join the team this afternoon.

Brendan

October 9th, 2010
2:40 pm

I suspect Mason will start. Silver lining? Well, if a goalie has to do “back-to-back” games, now’s the time of year, while he’s so very fresh. It’s harder to do that, if it’s game # 79 and # 80.

Good job, Mason. Good job, Thrashers. Good job, Medical Staff. And good job, fans across the league, who displayed a lot of class by taking the time to come here and post well-wishes for Pavelec. Hockey fans … are the BEST fans … of all the sports.

Mr. Heat Miser

October 9th, 2010
2:41 pm

HIT THE MIDGET!!!!!!

Cornbread

October 9th, 2010
2:46 pm

This was a very big win for the Thrashers for many reasons. I think the biggest is because they are now a team and not a bunch of individuals. They came together after the initial shock of seeing one of their comrades go down, faced further adversity, and responded. A team does that, individuals of the recent past would not have.

I can’t blame the two Caps goals on any individual but will chalk them up to it being early season mistakes and deprogramming that Ramsay has been talking so much about lately. On the first goal, Kane and Peverly both got affixed on the puck carrier and went to him even though Toby had him covered. This left a 2 on 1 for Buff to cover. Some quick passes and who do I take next confusion resulted in the goal. On the second goal, Oduya pinched low and the high forward Dawes followed him down the ice instead of going to the vacated point. I yelled at the TV when I saw him do it. This of course led to a 2 on 1 and an easy goal. These are easy things for a team to fix once everyone is deprogrammed and on the same page. I have confidence in this team and coaching staff that it will be quickly. The individuals of the past, not so much.

Friends of mine at the game, ex pros, said, “the Caps looked terrible.” I reminded them that it was the Thrashers’ play that made them look bad and they agreed. The Caps are not going to have the cakewalk through the SE that they did last year. I think they realized that last night.

Kane is going to make some noise this year. By far the most dominate player on the ice. I thought my hat trick prediction of Kane in game 1 was going to come true. It almost did as he had some great chances to get that third.

Some very good things came out of this game. But, they were built upon all 6 of their pre-season losses. Losses in which they played very well as a team. Listening and watching all of games opposing teams’ broadcasts suggested that they were going to be a very different and good team. Others are going to find that out quickly.

HookyBob

October 9th, 2010
2:46 pm

Gut check #1 passed,..but no time to enjoy or relax,…gut check #2 is but 5 hrs away against a fresh Bolts team. Since they have given us problems in the past and are considered by many to be “one of the most improved teams for 2010-11″ it should be a good measure of our “boys in blue” as well as the coaching staff.

Last night, this team was radically different from any other Thrashers team I have ever seen. Even though it is only one game,…. what I saw last night makes me optimistic that this team’s game plan, and coaching, willl have them competing hard every night.

They will not only compete,…Duds additions will assure that the opponents feel some “grit” every night.

Go Blue.

Brendan

October 9th, 2010
2:54 pm

And, before the moment passes entirely, Congrats to Craig Ramsay and John Torchetti for starting out the “games that matter” with a 1.000 pct.! It was nice to see some “team” effort, out there. Ovechkin was held to just a point.

Didn’t someone, in Red Light’s “hat trick” contest, have Kane with a “hattie” vs. the Capitals? If so, it almost happened, as the Caps net was empty, at the end of the game.

Tonight, in mere hours, is another Southeast Division game. So, it’s two big points, even if it is October. The Bolts are revamped, just like many teams. I’ve always said, from 2007 on, “we need to compare ourselves against teams in similiar situations around the league, to see how we stacked up, down the road.” Well, it’s several years later. We added Kane, Bogosian, and Burmistrov in the draft, with UFA signings like Hainsey, Modin and Mason, and trades (Eager, Sopel, Byfuglien, Ladd, Bergfors, Oduya, Cormier). The Bolts got Stamkos, Hedman in the draft, and UFA signings (Kubina), and trades (Simon Gagne). Who did better? Tampa’s not the ONLY club we need to compare ourselves against, but you get the point. This is a “litmus test” game. Okay, yes. It’s game # 2 in the schedule. It’s not “do or die” time. But it is a chance, in the same situation, to see how far we’ve come. Or not. A lot of people have Tampa finishing 7th to 10th by season’s end. We could help them a little bit closer to 10th, than 7th, with a win in the St. Pete Times Forum.

cousin Eddie

October 9th, 2010
3:18 pm

I stand by my “102″!

jcwhitingjr

October 9th, 2010
3:36 pm

I’m chalking the first goal up to the boys being out of sorts still from Opie’s incident. Simple as that and really, who can blame them. The second goal was a break down in coverage, nothing to panic over.

All in all, a refreshing performance and TEAM effort. Play like this will get fans excited and back into the Bulb, not a lone superstar.

ex-ex-STH

October 9th, 2010
3:48 pm

That was one of the best TEAM games I have ever seen the Thrashers play. Good ridence to those Kovalsucks and Hossas of years past who always wanted to only play for themselves. One thing I did notice there last night was how important the ex-Chicago players contributed with their leadership and team play. I was at the game and came home to watch it again last night and this morning on the dvr. I read today that Buff stood up in the locker room at the end of the 1st to rally the troops to win this one for Pavs and Ladd had the presence of mind to pick up the game puck to hand to Mason after his 1st win with his new team. Duds is brilliant for bringing in these inspirational “team” players who know what it takes to win. Ladd should be named captain today and Duds should sign him to 5 – 10 year contract that makes him the highest paid Thrasher first thing Monday. Buff should have an “A” on his sweater immediately. Any interview or anytime he is talking, he has that inspirational arrogence with the experiance to back it up. Watching the video of the game also shows what a great teaching coach Ramsey is as well. Duds, you are a genius! Great team win and hopefully keep it up. Best wishes to Pavs.

Lee

October 9th, 2010
3:57 pm

What channel is the game on???

Cornbread

October 9th, 2010
4:00 pm

Tampa is not unlike Thrasher teams of the past, two top lines that can put up big numbers and 3 good D-men. Everyone else is a little suspect. They are half a team.

The Thrashers may not have the high powered lines of the past or like the Bolts do now but they have far more top to bottom depth. As was shown last night in shutting down Ovie, The same strategy will be used against the Bolts’ top two lines. Frustrate them, force them to make mistakes, and capitalize on them.

If Ramsay gets the visiting team match-ups right tonight, Atlanta’s four line depth and mobile D should be able to outwork their D and weaker 3rd and 4th lines. That’s what I’ll be watching for the most tonight.

Rebecca

October 9th, 2010
4:16 pm

The game is being televised on Center Ice during the free pass period. On my Comcast, it’s channel 779 – tonight at 7:30pm.

five_hole

October 9th, 2010
4:18 pm

My thoughts from last night:

* The new name for our goalie should be the masonary wall.

* I was impressed by several of the new forwards; especially Ladd and Dawes. Imagine having forwards that can play defense.

* Pavelic has a goals against of 0.0. Best wishes and a swift recovery.

* Couldn’t believe I was seeing our power play where we put a forward (Ladd/Andropov) in front of the goalie!?!?!?! What a concept.

* We gave up 31 shots, but 16 were in the final period. Against the Crapitals? I thought it was impressive.

* Bogosian struggled in the 3rd period, but played strong in the 1st & 2nd.

* We used Bermistrov on the PK. A rookie, playing his 1st game. That’s a vote of confidence by the coach.

* Big Buf looked like he glided out there, but at a low speed. And I’m a little afraid of saying that anyone that big ‘glides’ (sounds a little gay). (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

* Oduya stepped up his game.

And finally, today John Lennon would have been 70. A great songwriter, performer and humanitarian. Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try. No hell below us. Above us only sky

Lee

October 9th, 2010
4:39 pm

Thanks Rebecca….

Tom

October 9th, 2010
6:26 pm

via CViv Tweet “Just got off phone with Pavelec. Doesn’t remember anything after National Anthem. Story soon.”

Tom

October 9th, 2010
6:30 pm

more CViv on Pavelec “Pavelec says when he awoke in ambulance he couldn’t feel his legs.”

English Teacher

October 9th, 2010
6:44 pm

I could get used to this kind of play.

FRENZY

October 9th, 2010
7:37 pm

GAME BLACKED OUT ON DISH CENTER ICE PREVIEW>>>

BlueHard

October 9th, 2010
7:38 pm

Heres to Pavs! Get well soon big guy.

R. Stroz

October 9th, 2010
7:44 pm

Blacked out on Comcast channel 779.

Rebecca

October 9th, 2010
7:53 pm

Found it on Comcast Channel 848 – hope that helps.

lola

October 9th, 2010
8:27 pm

I have it on Fox Sports South!

sisu

October 9th, 2010
8:45 pm

ungood 4 – 0 deficit! Not enough clears of guys in front of the Thrashers net…couple of unlucky posts…

Alan R.

October 9th, 2010
8:57 pm

It’s time for another … POWER PRAY!

R. Stroz

October 9th, 2010
9:27 pm

Thanks lola.

Comcast has the wrong event listed for the current time slot on channel 48.

Flagstaff

October 9th, 2010
9:50 pm

…Well, that was disappointing.

Brendan

October 9th, 2010
9:56 pm

Stars win the shootout over the NY Islanders, after the Isles battled back from 4-2, very late in the 3rd period. And they lost Tavares in this game. Nowwww, I find the game on Channel 48. I’m ready to wring Comcast’s neck.

Brendan

October 9th, 2010
9:58 pm

Thrashers made a nice comeback, to make it, 4-3. I was watching on the Mosaic Channel on Center Ice, what little I could. We talked about it, statistically, that when the opposition scores goal # 3 … that this year’s club is probably headed for the “L” column, maybe able to salvage a “pity point.” It’s 5-3, now, in favor of Tampa Bay. Tampa has looked better. Yes, they’re fresher, but I’m not looking to make excuses. General Rawhide said there’d be none of that, this year.

Brendan

October 9th, 2010
10:02 pm

Kovalchuk loses another one, as the Capitals own the Devils, 7-2. The Devils couldn’t hold a lead vs. Dallas, the other night. The Stars are now 2-0-0, in the season, with overtime and shootout wins to start the season, on the road.

Nate

October 9th, 2010
10:22 pm

Same %^&% different year. 67 shots allowed through two games. Yeah, that’s not gonna get the job done.

Brendan

October 9th, 2010
10:53 pm

So far, we’ve scored 7 goals. That’s an average of 3.5 per game. We’ve also surrendered 7 goals, for an average of 3.5 goals per game. It’s early. It showed character that this game didn’t end, 4-0.

BlueSpark

October 9th, 2010
10:54 pm

I thought Enstrom looked awful tonight, despite the goal.

JLH

October 9th, 2010
11:02 pm

Totally agree BlueSpark…….. Nice effort from the “4th” line……… Brian Little still looks awesome ……

Flagstaff

October 10th, 2010
5:17 am

Nate

October 10th, 2010
10:57 am

Brendan – I’m not worried about the goals allowed so much as I am the shots allowed. This is the same crap we’ve seen for the franchise’s entire existence. So while it’s only two games, it’s also ten-plus years. A large enough sample size in my opinion. And zero excuse for 20 shots on goal in the first. The traveling team shouldn’t be tired until the third, if it all considering it’s only game two. Glad they didn’t roll over and die after 4-0, but I really just don’t care about moral victories anymore. This team is no longer an expansion team that can/should be satisfied with that.

kracker

October 10th, 2010
11:39 am

I want a do-over against TBL and get that first penalty completely killed. Another 15 seconds, it’s killed and it’s a different game, with maybe the same outcome, maybe not.

There are no do-overs, though, there are only next times. Maybe Coach will have the men executing a proper line change where there is no too many men penalty to begin with.

Thrashers27

October 10th, 2010
12:16 pm

It has to be said, “Yeah, Buff, you looked a little lazy out there last night.”

Kracker, I’d love a do-over too and this time maybe Toby doesn’t choke in the open net. There again, completely different game if he buries that one.

I think Sopel and Dawes oughtta sit out the next game. Dawes couldn’t handle the puck and Sopes was passing very poorly.

I couldn’t count how many times I saw Bogie and Buff miss the net with the cannon from the point. Hell, at least shoot it right at the goalie and force him to make a play.

Otherwise, not a terrible effort. wipe out the first ten minutes and that last goal from the blueline and we walk away with two points. I’m still impressed with the team effort and overall scheme of play. Let’s hope it continues to improve and evolve.

alex

October 10th, 2010
12:57 pm

impressed by burma so far he looked legit, kane and modin dissapeared, stewart, berg. not existed. buff. great guy playing on wrong position, made couple big mistakes because of that. c’mon dud and ram, you unlike don understand this game. why you shoot youself in the foot. you got a lot off holes on offensive and guys like meyer, kulda going to make back more reliable. win, win situation. but you are stubborn. how many loses you need to make obvious.

Flagstaff

October 10th, 2010
1:11 pm

I think that Bogosian and Byfuglien have shots similar to RPG launchers: very powerful, but not always very accurate.

Cornbread

October 10th, 2010
2:16 pm

Not as crisp of an all around effort in TB compared to opening night. The timing appeared to be off with passing, shooting, and checking. Not a bad game, certainly not a blow-out or one of domination, but definitely one of big momentum swings. It looked like early season mistakes due to lack of communication and unfamiliarity, especially in a big road game. Most teams will suffer from this in their first 10 games or so. The better ones will learn from it.

What I liked: Toby’s Pronger like minutes, Toby shooting the puck, Buff and Bogo’s cannons, the Thrasher’s top to bottom depth, the fourth line, the effort to come back on the road, the new guys sending a message to old guy Kubina at the end of the game.

What I didn’t like: Toby’s PK minutes, Toby’s weak shot, Buff and Bogo’s wild shots, Kane getting shut-down, several missed chances to bury the puck, TB’s chances to tip pucks in the shooting lanes, neutral zone turnovers, terrible face-offs, lack of hits on the road.

TB’s shot totals seemed a little inflated to me. Homer score keeper favoritism?

Thrashers27

October 10th, 2010
3:53 pm

Looking at the tuesday game at L.A….does anyone else make the assumption that it is going to be aired on NHL network.

It says: TV: NHL-CA.

Curly

October 10th, 2010
5:15 pm

CA – In Canada.

Thashpuppy

October 10th, 2010
6:00 pm

TB was obviously up for their home opener like we were the night before. I had also expected us to take a few games to get a rhythm going all around and I think that is a lot of what happened last night.

Yes, allowing that many shots in the first is not good or acceptable. But even though these guys are professionals, they had been on a real emotional roller coaster the previous 24 hours. So I can accept that they are human too and attribute the first period collapse to that.

What was encouraging was that they did not give up when they were down 4-0. I knew something was changing when TB, even though up by a commanding lead, went from no penalties to several in a row. We were making them nervous in spite of their lead. Then we took advantage of the penalties and started scoring and got back in the game. That really gave me encouragement for the future of this team. They don’t just quit when things seem overwhelming.

So overall, in spite of the disappointments of last night, I’m still encouraged for this season for this Thrasher’s team. I think this is and will be an improved Thrashers team overall over previous seasons. JMHO.

R. Stroz

October 10th, 2010
9:22 pm

Brooks Conrad will never have a career as a NHL goalie.

Rawhide

October 10th, 2010
10:00 pm

Former Thrasher Marty Reasoner has 2 goals so far for the Florida Panthers iin their season opener in Edmonton. The Oilers lead 3-2 in the third, however.