Ramsay experiments with lines in search of right chemisty

Bob Hartley…you remember him don’t you? He used to coach this Thrashers team of ours back in the middle part of this past decade. I know, I know…the mere mention of his name is sometimes enough to send some of the Thrasherville townspeople into a near-riot. But I still like the guy.

I once heard Hartley talk about how he would break seasons up… dissect them, if you will…into segments of seven games. He came up with that number because that’s how many games are in a Stanley Cup playoff series if it were to go the distance.

Not that we here in Thrasherville have any idea what that might be like.

Coach Craig Ramsay appears to be putting on his lab smock and experimenting with his lines (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Coach Craig Ramsay appears to be putting on his lab smock and experimenting with his lines (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Anyway…Hartley figured that if you condensed your focus down into each passing seven games or so and played well in them, after ten or eleven such “series” went by you would be in position to nab a playoff birth in the last few games.

He also used this “seven game plan” as a timeframe to evaluate how the team was performing…individual players, special teams, defensive parings and forward lines. If adjustments needed to be made after that, he figured a proper amount of time had been given and, if the situation warranted, he made changes.

In stark contrast, the most recent head coach employed by the Thrashers organization must have been a chemist or mad scientist in a former life. John Anderson would mix things up as fast and frequent as your local pharmacist and would experiment with line combinations seemingly from game to game. Sometimes he wouldn’t even wait until a game ended to don his lab smock, using intermission to try and conjure up some on-ice chemistry instead of waiting for the next day’s scheduled practice.

Of course, many times this was out of necessity as he found his team down 2-0 or 3-0 after one period as they had come out of the locker room seemingly ill prepared to play, flat…some might even say, dead. In these cases, the word “experimenting” was less meant less along the lines of a pharmacist and more like Dr. Frankenstein as he was attempting to inject life into a lifeless mass.

And now there is Craig Ramsay. He’s got all of three games under his belt as head coach in these parts, but to date he’s been the model of consistency in regards to his lineups. From one game to the next he’s penciled in the same lineup.

This is in line with something he told me prior to training camp…that he likes to give adequate time for chemistry to be created and for players to gel with one another. He said he would have liked to set lineups during preseason and allow them that time to come together as a unit, but that would not be fair to all of the prospects that had a legitimate chance of making the squad. So, these first few games have acted as the “getting to know you” portion of the season for so many newly acquired Thrashers.

To be honest I agree with the philosophy of not trying to “over-tweak” the lines, instead giving linemates enough time to work out the kinks together and get to know one another’s tendencies. But after two road losses and a few days out west before the next, we are getting word that this weekend may possibly bring with it a change or two. Chris Vivlamore has informed us that Ramsay and Co. are using these few days before their date with the Anaheim Ducks to mix and match some forward lines, though he won’t make a decision on any changes before Friday.

Andrew Ladd, seen here in action Tuesday night against the Kings, has been playing on left wing with Bryan Little centering. The two may be joined by Anthony Stewart (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Andrew Ladd, seen here in action Tuesday night against the Kings, has been playing on left wing with Bryan Little centering. The two may be joined by Anthony Stewart (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

The Eager-Burmistrov-Thorburn line remains unchanged…no sense fixin’ what ain’t broke, ya know…but Evander Kane, Nik Antropov and Rich Peverley have been placed together. Anthony Stewart moved up to join Bryan Little and Andrew Ladd while Jim Slater has begun practicing between Freddie Modin and Nigel Dawes.

Kane-Antropov-Pevs…Ladd-Little-Stewart?

IT…COULD…WORK!

ahem

Slater is reported to be returning to the lineup by Friday’s matchup with the Ducks, but a roster move would have to be made to clear way for that.

C-Viv also indicated that Nic Bergfors practiced with Eric Boulton, who has sampled the food from the press box buffet for the first three games of the season. Bergie’s been a no-show throughout preseason and much of the trio of games played so far. So maybe a little time reviewing the game from the press perch high atop the arena is the right Rx for the young Swede.

Coach Ramsay may also be faced with changes on the blueline as well. Zach Bogosian did not practice Wednesday due to a shoulder ailment and is listed as day to day. If Bogey is unable to go in Anaheim, that would be mean Freddy Meyer or Boris Valabik could see their first action this fall.

Actually, that didn’t quite come out right…allow me to “tweak” that last line. If Bogey is unable to go in Anaheim, that would mean Freddy Meyer would see his first action of the fall, while Boris Valabik is sent to Chicago or the injured reserve to make room for Slater.

There…that looks better.

Regardless of any possible changes, however, one aspect of the Thrashers that I think simply must be tweaked, adjusted, shuffled…or just flat out blown up…is the power play unit. They just haven’t been getting the job done.

Again, this is where I think Ramsay may need to resemble more of a Dr. Frankenstein than an apothecary given that this power play seems to have assumed room temperature…kicked the oxygen habit…sometime over the weekend.

Last Friday I thought it actually looked good for a while, although no goals came from their efforts. The puck was moved side-to-side and in toward the net…none of this ring-around-the-rosy crud looking for some Russian sniper to one-time it from the point.

But it has digressed from that point, scoring only once in 14 chances, scored by Toby Enstrom while on a 5 o 3 in Tampa. Tuesday night in Los Angeles, it went completely Tango Uniform as the Thrashers could hardly keep the zone while on the man advantage. Many times they were relieved of the puck while attempting to cross the blueline.

Possible “tweak” suggestion here…oh, I dunno. Maybe if I were allowed to put on the lab smock and try a crazy experiment, I’d get that big frame of Dustin Byfuglien involved in the power play. For the experiment to be a success, however, he would have to park his large body in front of the goalie. Maybe…just maybe, that would work.

One thing would go without saying, though. It would have an enormous…scoring potential.

95 comments Add your comment

Moses

October 14th, 2010
6:03 pm

A Thrashers Blogger’s 10 Commandments

Thou shalt not test free agency or request a trade.
Thou shalt not utter the names Kovalchuk, Heatley, Savard or Hossa.
Thou shalt not under-perform regardless of irrational expectations.
Thou shalt not ever endure a rough stretch of games during an 82-game, six-month long regular season.
Thou shalt not rely upon a coach’s discretion three games into the season despite his 40 years of playing and coaching in the NHL.
Thou shalt not keep lines or defensive pairings together after two or more consecutive losses.
Thou shalt not covet thy division rival’s top center.
Thou shalt not take Waddell’s name — except in vain.
Thou shalt not subsidize the never ending reign of incompetence (credit Sage of Bluesland)
Thou shalt not exceed the word count of any of Brendan’s posts.

:)

Smoothie

October 14th, 2010
6:23 pm

Slater has already earned his spot with his play last year and he’s a Rammer kind of player. I don’t think its so much a decision of Slater over Bergie as Slater was probably penciled into the 3rd line before TC, afterall, they did give him a 2 year deal worth $2 mil.

Bergie either doesn’t have his head screwed on straight or Ramsay thinks he’ll get pushed around by the Ducks big and physical first line. Remember, on the road, you don’t get to choose your matchups and Rammer prolly figures the Ducks are gonna be super physical. Hell they finally won and they beat a tough, physical VAN team.

Anyway, as for Bergie, I think his Swedish mates will help him get his head around things soon. Look at how much more positive Oduya is and he spent a lot of time with his Swede mates during camp. Bergie missing pre-camp really set him back but I would advise Rammer to let Nick play with big Nik whom he had really good chemistry with last year – a line of Bergie-Burmy-Antro might be very good later on.

Mr. Heat Miser

October 14th, 2010
6:23 pm

Maybe Ronsey can go on maternity leave too.

Sage of Bluesland

October 14th, 2010
7:11 pm

….Well, I finally got Moses to listen to me…Now if I could only get the old man and more of his sheep to listen all would be well in the figurative joke otherwise known as “Blueland”…

Don’t worry, folks, I’m planning to wait about 15 games before I point out the obvious…yet some still refuse to bewieve (by wanting to bewieve so baaadddlllyyyy).

Oh well, reality sucks for some…

Hockey Biltong

October 14th, 2010
9:06 pm

Naaaaah. why would I bother????

mike

October 14th, 2010
9:52 pm

hi SHERRY welcomE one more russian hater, mr. stendek for some reason silent i am enjoing read you expertise. alow me correct you, in fact russians have nothing to do with hartley demise. kozzy been player hartley most admired. do you remember nicname “professor”. it’s tru that hartley benched couple times kovy, but first who support hartley in hard time been also kovy. they had mutual respect because hartley saw what a talent kovy and kovy call hartley great coach. this easy to find to confirm. about kane for captain total crap. please find out how long for real stars krosby and ovy taked to be captain. who is kane work in progress.

Brendan

October 14th, 2010
10:02 pm

Ovaltine?, Herr Doktor?

Brendan

October 14th, 2010
10:05 pm

Unnd, how do we know … he’s not following in his father’s foostehps. Huh?? (thumping the ground) Foostehps! Foostehps!!

Abby Normal

October 14th, 2010
10:09 pm

Ahhh, sweet mystery of life … at least I found you!

Brendan

October 14th, 2010
10:21 pm

We’ve got a nailbitter finish between Nashville and St. Louis. It’s in Nashville. It’s 4-3, Preds, with just minutes left in regulation. Ottawa beat Carolina for us, in regulation time, 3-2. Philadelphia didn’t help us out any, with Tampa Bay, in a 3-2 regulation time loss.

Brendan

October 14th, 2010
10:23 pm

Florida is up on Calgary, 2-0, after one period.

Brendan

October 14th, 2010
10:29 pm

Preds, 3-0-0, now. STL falls to 2-1-0, in the battle of the unbeatens, coming into tonight’s action.

R. Stroz

October 14th, 2010
11:37 pm

Assuming Buff stays on defense, the line combinations appear fairly simple.

Little-Antro-Bergfors (Worked Last Season)

Kane-Peverley-Ladd

Dawes-Modin-Slater

Thorburn-Burma-Eager

With that stated, if Dudley is pushing for Stewart to stay in the NHL, Dudley needs to step out of the way and let Ramsey do his job.

If Ramsey is responsible for these three decisions,

1) Putting Antro and Modin on the same line

2) NOT putting Buff in front of the net on the power play

3) Benching Bergfors while playing Stewart

Then Ramsey hasn’t shown an ability to best utilize his players calling his critical decision skills into question.

This isn’t rocket science, heck it’s so easy, a Frankenstein could do it.

Brendan

October 15th, 2010
12:01 am

It’s a final. Panthers 3, Flames 0. That … was a SNOOZEFEST … for the Flames fans. It probably even bored the Panther fans, too! No passion from the Flames. They need a heart transplant.

Brendan

October 15th, 2010
12:05 am

It’s pronounced, “FronkenSchteen.”

Tony C

October 15th, 2010
2:04 am

Would you trade Bergfors for Mueller (and before yall go gettin all excited about contracts disparity-clearly it’d have to be conditional upon agreeable terms being reached)???

Also, would you trade for Milan Lucic and then put him on your blueline?

I will take back some of my comments re: Byfuglien-he does show some ability as a blueliner. He does indeed have a hard shot….and it was nice to watch Capitals players start to pull up when they saw the circle…..He skates better than I’d thought he would…this does not mean I’m at all cool with the decision to have him play there. I mean, we’ve all been concerned about a lack of scoring ever since this move was announced by Duds-what also hurts is the loss of Morin(spl?)-a guy IMO will someday soon be a guy you can pencil in for 30-odd goals a year in the NHL….we gave up a lot for a game-changing power forward… not a gifted-but-quite-there-yet defender.

I have seen flashes of things that could make me change my mind… but I’m convinced Big Buff can dominate up front

Oh yeah, I hear they’re not happy with production on the Power Play….I remember seeing this guy with the Blackhawks last spring….

Tony C

October 15th, 2010
2:06 am

P.S.-Congratulations Ron! best wishes to you and Mrs. Hainsey!

English Teacher

October 15th, 2010
2:31 am

“Werewolf!”
“Werewolf?”
“There wolf. There castle.”
“Why are you talking like that?”
“I thought you wanted to.”

The Real Thrash

October 15th, 2010
6:59 am

Support the new staff but miss Hartley. The only real NHL coach the team has had until now.

Red Light

October 15th, 2010
7:46 am

“Wait, where are you going? I was going to make espresso!”

Red Light

October 15th, 2010
7:48 am

“So it was your cigar burning in the ashtray, Frau Blucher?”

waffleboy

October 15th, 2010
7:54 am

Thrashers won’t have to make a move toi make room for Slaters because Hainsey is on leave from the team. But they will have to move someone when he gets back. Valabik and Meyer will make that decision for Ramsay.

World Be Free

October 15th, 2010
7:57 am

Tony C-we know Buff will be up front again at some time,. I just hope the change is made before it is too late.
Brendan-Panthers/Flames game is like alotta games I have seen so far this year. We need to get the boring out of hockey, we need a game with 8-10 goals and a couple fights-so ESPN has some hockey to report on.

Putting On The Foil

October 15th, 2010
8:00 am

Who’s brain is this? Abbey. Abbey Normal.

jimbo

October 15th, 2010
8:43 am

EYEgor: Put D-buff in front of the goalie on the PP. What a unique idea! Letting him choose D was akin to letting Jeter play right field because he likes grass better than dirt. Sorry but Rammer ain’t lookin like Dr. I.Q.

Red Light

October 15th, 2010
9:02 am

The quality of most NHL games, particularly inter-conference games with little or no venom, is typically miserable until Jan. 1. The season is just too long and the big problem for most fans is that the last games they watched in June are nowhere near the going-through-the-motion type we see early in the season.

There’s a lot to be said for rivalry games, division games, etc. early in the season because the quality of play always is better when familiarity breeds contempt. Keep tabs on the differences in rivalry games vs. non-rivalry games.

The defending champs have played four games this season and all have been decided by one goal. Why? They have a target on them after winning. Philadelphia has played four games too, and only one (4-2 Philly over Colorado) wasn’t decided by one goal. I don’t think this is a big mystery.

Rawhide

October 15th, 2010
9:35 am

C-Viv is up early again out on the west coast. And this morning he tells us to expect roster moves (plural) to happen prior to the game tonight.

Joe Friday

October 15th, 2010
10:17 am

“Ramsey hasn’t shown an ability to best utilize his players calling his critical decision skills into question.”

No, no he hasn’t. It’s perplexing, why is it so easy for us to see, yet they’re continuing to try to fit square pegs into round holes? Tonight’s Ducks’ feed on CenterIce?

Joe Friday

October 15th, 2010
11:21 am

Just wait till his groin goes out or he loses focus again. He started out every year looking great the first 5 games or so, but then he always breaks down, but they are loving them the 3-0 2.57 GAA .922 SA% % so far: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/spt/stories/101510dnspoheika.2a5af30.html

Smoothie

October 15th, 2010
11:51 am

I am soooooo over Kari…great for him, but he’s still a complete ______. I hate bashing players but he was Mr. Glum Gus at Casino Night, when EVERYONE else was having a good time (even Kozlov and Whitey) after the 8-1 shellacking by the Craps. Like Joe says, they’ll come to know the real, under-achieving Fin that stendec(k) loves so well!

Joe Friday

October 15th, 2010
12:32 pm

“they’ll come to know the real, under-achieving Fin that stendec(k) loves so well!”

Clock is ticking on him. I always pegged him for 5 or 6 quality starts at the beginning of the year (or when coming back from one of his long injury layoffs) where he’d look like an All Star, and then inevitably the head went go south and he’d break down mentally and eventually break down physically . . .rinse, repeat . . .

Red Light

October 15th, 2010
12:46 pm

Thrashers Activate Forward Jim Slater from Injured Reserve and Place Defenseman Boris Valabik on Waivers

Smoothie

October 15th, 2010
12:53 pm

Ahhwoooooo! Sorry Boris, but you just don’t fit here no more. Bobo will land on his feet…uhhh, okay, perhaps not. But seriously, good luck with whomever claims you off waivers. Guess the Ducks didn’t want him in a trade, which seems laughable cuz he’s perfect filling-in for Andy Sutton, is he not?

Joe Friday

October 15th, 2010
1:00 pm

“which seems laughable cuz he’s perfect filling-in for Andy Sutton, is he not?”

Sutton can actually play a little bit, not the greatest, but he can play. Waddell was the only “GM” that saw anything in Valabik . . . we can all put down the pipedream of Valabik turning into the next Chara, I wish it could have been as well, but we were just dreaming.

Smoothie

October 15th, 2010
1:05 pm

Ha! I never once saw him as the next Chara, but I did see him developing enough to be the next Andy Sutton! HI-evah, Andy can actually skate a bit (in fairness to him), but like Byfuglien, Sutton should probably be a power forward as well.

TrueBlue

October 15th, 2010
1:09 pm

Relax folks, he may clear and just be with the wolves…Who knows.

Russian

October 15th, 2010
1:14 pm

I hope that Boris will stay in Chicago. He can play in NHL, but he needs time to develope.

Red Light

October 15th, 2010
1:16 pm

Once had a discussion a few years back about Boris with a certain broadcaster who said Valabik could be a Pronger type. I eventually stopped laughing! He’s a good claim for Sather. Just watch.

Rawhide

October 15th, 2010
1:19 pm

TrueBlue – That’s my question. Will he indeed go to CHI if he clears waivers…or was he waived with the intent to release?

Red Light

October 15th, 2010
1:33 pm

Under normal circumstances, since Valabik has a one-way contract, I assume they’d rather release him. Given the fact, their cap number is so low, they might just want to keep him. But, he’s only 24, some team will pick him up on the cheap.

Rawhide

October 15th, 2010
2:12 pm

OK kids…let’s discuss the Thrashers waiving bye-bye to Boris in this new blog. In addition to today’s roster move news, they have a couple games to play this weekend too.

michael

October 15th, 2010
5:30 pm

novel idea, maybe were trying to play stewart and trade him off?

Brendan

October 16th, 2010
12:41 am

Michael, Stewart’s having quite a night, out in Anaheim!

Frau Blucher: “Yes! Yes! Yes!! He was … MY BOYFRIEND!!” (Thunder, lightning! Horses neighing!!)

R. Stroz

October 17th, 2010
8:10 am

Barry

October 17th, 2010
12:20 pm

Little and Ladd is not going to get broken apart nor should they be. They have had instant chemistry from the get go. Bergfors showed a little signs of life last night against the Sharks. I think for now putting Kane with Antro and Peverley is fine until Antro becomes 100% then maybe switch it up. I like the Ladd-Little-Stewart line. Stewart has seemed to find his groove last couple of games and if that line continues to make plays and score goals “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.