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

Hockey Biltong

October 10th, 2010
10:39 pm

go to bed, Rawhide!!

Brendan

October 10th, 2010
10:45 pm

Oh, c’mon R.Stroz. He’d be a fine goalie. If pucks were beach balls.

Tom

October 11th, 2010
1:44 am

Stroz, actually I got word Steve Weeks started working with Conrad about 2 weeks ago.

HookyBob

October 11th, 2010
7:07 am

Does anyone have an over / under on the Devils putting Brian Rolston on long-term IR?

Joe Friday

October 11th, 2010
9:28 am

Nice comeback in that game, when they were down 4-0 I was ready to throw in the towel, but they came back. That’s ok, they need to make a good road trip. Word is that Mason can play long stretches, he’s going to get his shot to prove that over the next week or so . . .

Brendan

October 11th, 2010
9:40 am

**Blog Comment of the Year Nomination** for Tom’s 1:44AM comment on Brooks Conrad working with Steve Weeks.

kracker

October 11th, 2010
9:47 am

My internet at work is now being filtered so I am reading on the droid. Well it is better than nothing. Tomorrow’s game will be too late for me so y’all talk it up on Wednesday, please.

Red Light

October 11th, 2010
10:55 am

The Panthers lost the game to the Oilers last night despite allowing just 13 shots on goal.

There are three games being played this afternoon, and you can watch them free of charge online.

https://gamecenter.nhl.com/nhlgc/secure/gclsignup#&intcmpid=nhln-button

Diego from Lilburn

October 11th, 2010
11:04 am

It was great meeting so many of you (Rawhide, Kracker, DWTOO, and more!!!) in front of Gorin’s on Friday! Very nice to meet y’all!

Aside from the Pavs scare that was a rockin’ game!

I liked the comeback against Tampa – it showed a lot of heart. Toby will be dreaming about that empty net he missed for weeks. :(

When it’s all said and done, I’m pretty excited to watch the team this year. They still need to come together but the pieces are great and show lots of promise. Good things to come!!!

Rawhide

October 11th, 2010
11:09 am

Diego from Lilburn – Same back at ya.

OK gang, lots happening with the Thrashers after opening weekend….let’s discuss it all here.

R. Stroz

October 11th, 2010
4:16 pm