The good, the un-good and the ugly of Thrashers first five games

Five games into an 82 game schedule is not a heckuva lot of time to pick up on trends, let alone become overly worried about any negatives. But we’ve got a few days before the 3-2-0 Thrashers play host to the 1-4-1 Buffalo Sabres, so now is as good of a time as any to take pause and reflect back on the opening days of this 2010-11 Thrashers season. Thus, I offer up this entry of “The Good, The Un-Good and the Ugly”.

Or, for those of the P.C. persuasion… “The Good, The Un-Good and the ‘Aesthetically Challenged’”.

The Good

The winning Record, (DUH5): Well, let’s begin with winning three out of five games and collecting six of a possible ten in the standings. While some may not tout this as a ferocious start, considering that the last two were on the road, in back-to-back games and won after trailing by two goals in both… a very good showing indeed.

In fact, all three victories have come in games that Atlanta trail. They were down 1-0 in the season opener against the Capitals.

Anthony Stewart has been an early season surprise with 4 goals in 5 games (AP Photo/Lori Shepler)

Anthony Stewart has been an early season surprise with 4 goals in 5 games (AP Photo/Lori Shepler)

Also, consider that a team that plays 3-2-0, 2-1-2, or any other combination of 6 points in five games consistently through the course of a season, will end up with 96 points after 80 games played with two more left to sure up their playoff positioning.

I’ll take that.

Anthony Stewart the Scoring Machine: What more can one say about Anthony “You Can’t Stop Him, You Can Only Hope To Contain Him” Stewart. By scoring four times in about a 24-hour period this past weekend he not only finds himself as the team’s leading goal-scorer, but he also doubled his career total. Coming into this season he had found the net four times in 105 NHL games.

Moving Stewart to the line with Ladd and Little…very good, considering the results.

Fantastic Fourth Line: By far the most consistent forward line has been the Eager-Thorburn-Burmistrov fourth line. They have accounted for 4 goals, 2 assists and are a combined +8. It’s little surprise that when coach Craig Ramsay tweaked the lines after the loss in Los Angeles this one remained in tact.

Eager has been everything we had expected him to be, Thorburn has excelled above and beyond what many thought he was capable of and Burmistrov has done just about everything he needs to in order to stick around here beyond nine games.

All this is certainly good news for everyone. Everyone, that is, except maybe Eric Boulton. If they continue to play well, the only action we could see Boults in anytime soon is if someone cuts in front of him in the press box buffet line.

Never Say Die Attitude: As stated above, all three of the Thrasher’s wins have come via the come-from-behind nature…the last two after trailing by two goals. In the loss to Tampa Bay, they had even cut a 4-0 deficit to 4-3 before ultimately falling 5-3 to the Bolts. These are the kind of efforts that help the “gelling” process on a team with so many new faces.

It also shows that this coaching staff headed up by Craig Ramsay has a good ability to not only determine what needs adjusting when things go wrong, but also possesses the ability to remedy it in time.

Chris Thorbur, Ben Eager and Alex Burmistrov have celebrated 4 goals with each other so far (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Chris Thorburn, Ben Eager and Alex Burmistrov have celebrated 4 goals with each other so far (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

The character of this team, thus far, is being shaped and molded by the men behind the bench as much as those on the ice.

Boris Takes Bad News Like A Big Boy: I will say up front here that I am 100% in favor of the decision made to waive Boris Valabik. The time had come to fish or cut bait with the 6’-7” defenseman, especially given the talent available for this team on the blueline. He wasn’t claimed off the wire and now he’s found his way to the AHL Chicago Wolves.

But I have to give Boris some props for having the right attitude when faced with the situation. He didn’t whine, cry or suggest he was not treated fairly…like so many professional athletes tend to do after being given this type of bad news.

“If no team claims me I will go to Chicago and work on my game”, he told Chris Vivlamore Thursday. “I have some work to do but mostly I have to play…I know when I’m on top of my game I can be very successful”.

Valabik acknowledges he has work to do to improve his game. And by saying, “when I’m on top of my game”, in essence admits he wasn’t.

This is where any self-improvement project must begin; understanding the responsibility for where you find yourself is yours and acknowledging you have to work to improve the issue.

Very good, Boris.

The Un-Good

Still Can’t Shake The SA/G Bug: You can give me all the “It doesn’t matter how many shots are taken, it’s where they come from” lines all you want, but 36.4 SA/G is far too many…and it must begin improving soon or un-good things will surely happen. This is a lesson we here in Thrasherville know all too well.

Now, if you do feel the need to sprinkle some sugar on this bitter stat, look at the fact that the Thrashers are finding a way to get off 30.8 S/G themselves.

But even so, that’s a SF/SA gap of –5.6. Un-good.

Scarce Top-Line Scoring: After just five games, it’s not unusual to have a handful of players that have yet to notch their first goal. Normally these are defensemen, lower-line forwards…maybe even the odd top-sixer or two.

But when you see such names like Nik Antropov, Bryan Little, Nic Bergfors and Rich Peverley rolling goose eggs in the goals column…well, it certainly is not good.

Rich Peverley, seen here trying to poke the puck away from San Jose Sharks Patrick Marleau, has yet to score his first goal this season (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Rich Peverley, seen here trying to poke the puck away from San Jose Sharks Patrick Marleau, has yet to score his first goal this season (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Now, in their defense…Antropov is playing reduced minutes, topping 15 minutes TOI only once so far. He’s working his way back to 100% following his hip surgery last summer, and given time will once again be a big presence on offence. Little has shown good hustle and has chipped in with 3 assists. Bergfors seems to have gotten any message that was intended by sitting him out Friday, but he’s still with only 2 assists on the young season. Rich Peverley had yet to gain a point and was a –3 heading into this past weekend’s action, but after being moved to the line with Andrew Ladd he earned assists in both the Ducks and Sharks games and was a +1.

So, I’m not “overly” concerned with the lack of scoring from these top-line players. However, these are guys that need to kick their offensive game in high gear and start introducing frozen vulcanized rubber to twine soon.

Or, of course, we could just continue to rely on Stewart and Thorburn to score for us.

Not-So-Special Teams: The Thrashers converted four of their seven power play chances in Anaheim and San Jose. However, they had failed on 13 of their first 14 of the season. The lone exception being a 5 on 3 job in Tampa. Hopefully the weekend trend will continue.

On the other side of the ice, they’re 71.4% penalty kill efficiency is better than only Dallas, (70,0%), Carolina, (68.4%), and Nashville, (64.3%).

The Ugly

Opening night…only 2:25 into the game…the play had just been blown dead at one end of the ice. But then all eyes turned to other end where Ondrej Pavelec lay motionless, spread-eagle in front of his goal. Though he needs to recover from the concussion suffered from striking his head to the ice, thankfully all indications are that Opie should be fine with all tests on his heart and brain coming back negative.

But the feeling we all got seeing Ondrej Pavelec down on the ice, crest-up, spread-eagle on opening night, not knowing what was wrong, why he went down and if he was going to be OK…simply ugly.

101 comments Add your comment

World Be Free

October 18th, 2010
7:55 am

Nice post Rawhide, you hit everything right on. Looking forward to Wednesday night when my old team, the Buffalo Sabres come to town. There is no such thing as an “ex-Sabres” fan, but I have to say I have moved on from the Swords to the Thrashers. Petty soon I will be an ex-Bills’ fan too, which goes back even farther than the Sabres.

Josh McGrew

October 18th, 2010
8:09 am

Good read, an right on. I continue to have high hopes for the team this year and can’t wait to get down and see them in action. I think they are gonna turn some heads and surprise a few more along the way, I’m sticking by my first thought that the motto this year should have been “our time is now”

Dr. Feelgood

October 18th, 2010
8:17 am

Winning covers up bad stuff. Beat the slugs.
What a novel concept, adjust DURING the game and between periods. Something that WTF dude could not do. Who would of thought that Atl. could overcome 2 goal deficits and win without a sniper.
WBF, I cant even call myself an ex-Eagle fan, even with Vick there. I’ll never be an ex-Phillie, 76er or Flyer fan either.

glovesave29

October 18th, 2010
8:34 am

Well, as we sit in the 6 spot in the conference – I think it we are past due in beginning a discussion on how the team matches up against the Islanders, who hold the #3 seed in the East. With only 77 games remaining, I can’t imagine much will change.

World Be Free

October 18th, 2010
8:47 am

Dr. Feelgood-it is tough to remove youirself from your childhood team. It still follow the Sabres as much as I do the Thrashers; I was a regular contributor to their BuffaloNews blogs until recently. I have a closet full of Sabres-wear. But the Thrashers are my primary team now. It will be easy to be an ex-Bills’ fan when they move to California after the old man passes.

thebigharybeast

October 18th, 2010
9:07 am

Agree with all the points. But on a purely its Monday, Im gumpy, at work this morning, underwear too tight kinda of day, the use of “ungood” is becoming redundant. How bout instead of ungood we use toddwhitish, or maybe rhodesques?

DWTOO

October 18th, 2010
9:33 am

Have to admit I was one of those who wanted to see Stewart sent to Chicago and bring up Petterson. Now I know why I’m not the GM even though I share the initials of the esteemed previous GM. Maybe that’s the problem?

Rawhide

October 18th, 2010
9:35 am

Well, as we sit in the 6 spot in the conference – I think it we are past due in beginning a discussion on how the team matches up against the Islanders, who hold the #3 seed in the East. With only 77 games remaining, I can’t imagine much will change.

glovesave29 – LOL! :lol: …And not to mention the Presidents Trophy winning Toronto Maple Leafs. Why, it’s hard to have imagined wayyyyyyy back last summer anyone even suggesting they would even make the playoffs.

How bout instead of ungood we use toddwhitish, or maybe rhodesques

thebigharybeast – I shall take that under advisement.

WBF – Please see above reply to GS29.

J(Z)

October 18th, 2010
9:38 am

glovesave29 – I’m worried about Boston having a couple of games in hand on us, we can’t slip any further or we’ll have to face the Stanley Cup Favorite, undefeated Toronto Maple Leaves

Smoothie

October 18th, 2010
9:52 am

Hey Buffalo Sabres! Don’t worry, there’s a light at the end of that tunnel! Too bad its a freight train known at the Thrash Train comin’ your way! Its comin!

This train is gaining momentum and it will soon run over the hopes and dreams of failure expessed by a certain SOB.

In Rammer We Trust.

five_hole

October 18th, 2010
9:57 am

I’m not overly concerned at this point in the season. More than half the team is still getting their facebook friends invites from the others. It takes time to develop chemistry, especially in hockey.

I’m more concerned about the TV schedule (or lack thereof).

World Be Free

October 18th, 2010
10:02 am

Mr. Rawhide is leaning heavily on his prediction that the Tronna Maple Leafs would make playoffs this season. Long way to go, not that I have anything against The Buds, but their fans have yet to get whiopped into their usual frenzy yet. That frenzy push will put alotta pressure on the boys in blue, especially if they take a slid in any way. This will be an interesting season indeed.

DWTOO

October 18th, 2010
10:07 am

Have to wonder if the fat guy Leafs fan, who regularly posts on YouTube from his mothers basement, is blustering yet? Can’t recall his name, but, on the other hand the muscle relaxer I took this morning is making it all moot.

Red Light

October 18th, 2010
10:21 am

The last two of the undefeated teams will lose tonight. Tampa Bay over Dallas and the surging Isles over the Leafs!

Stewart can now have a 10-game scoreless streak without fear thanks to his play during the West Coast swing.

CHIEF OF SMOKE

October 18th, 2010
10:31 am

WOULD BE FREE… I like you am a Native Buffaloian but have made the Switch from the Sabres to Thrashers….

However, No chance of me ever becoming an Un Bills Fan

sisu

October 18th, 2010
10:32 am

I am pleasantly surprised at the team having a winning record, this with the big boys not scoring yet, very positive indeed. As to building chemistry, I think this road trip help speed things up in a positive way. Stewart, what can I say, he is a great presence in front of the net and works for his goals!

kracker

October 18th, 2010
10:37 am

As you mentioned to open this blog, Rawhide, and as I was telling my co-worker Al this morning, the body of work thus far is too small to draw any real conclusions about the Thrashers. That said, and again as your blog stated, enough of the trends fall into the “good” category for us to feel cautiously optomistic.

If this is a new-identity team, the transformation into a Ramsay team of the present and the future, the gritty, determined play will continue. If this team is to be the same ole Thrashers, then they will flop at home on Wednesday and Friday, maybe eking out a point and then get hammered by the Caps on Saturday.

I don’t see this team really flopping. They may get beat but they are made to compete, if the first couple of weeks are any indication. Beat the Slugs Wednesday, payback for the Bolts Thursday, then fight it out w/ the Caps this weekend. Is this one on SS?

Hockey Biltong

October 18th, 2010
10:37 am

ululululululululation.Geaux Thrash!!!!

kracker

October 18th, 2010
10:55 am

BTW, I am one of the most optomistic guys on these boards but let’s keep in mind that on two of Stewart’s goals, if each one was an inch or two to the right and left, respectively, then Stewie doesn’t even get credit for a shot on goal much less two goals. We need our ’scorers’ to begin scoring this week.

litz

October 18th, 2010
10:58 am

Heh … who woulda though back when we were all screaming about the TV schedule, that after we finally get it, we discover half of it is actually blacked out or unavailable due to Fox’s squabbling with its carriers over carriage fees.

What a weird wacky world we live in.

Zombie Steve

October 18th, 2010
10:58 am

Bolts game is Friday, yes?

Smitty

October 18th, 2010
11:10 am

Say it aint so WBF

kracker

October 18th, 2010
11:17 am

Very ungood. Mason can’t play them all.

ajcthrashers No Ondrej Pavelec at #Thrashers practice. Peter Mannino still here.

Is that goalie that got waived on opening day, I think it was, still available? Probably not. I can’t remember his name but he had really good stats for a goalie put on waivers, with about 75 NHL games experience.

kracker

October 18th, 2010
11:24 am

Is this just a precaution w/ an extra day off or does this mean more?

ajcthrashers Modin, Bogosian wearing non contact red jerseys at #Thrashers practice.

kracker

October 18th, 2010
11:31 am

Now Chris Viv says Pavelec will practice tomorrow. Do we want to try him again against the Caps, assuming he is concussion-free and in game shape?

Red Light

October 18th, 2010
11:40 am

The Modin Over/Under Watch…

Four games played…one goal.

The first hat trick contest is over…Anthony Stewart at Anaheim. No one guessed it of course.

R. Stroztradamus

October 18th, 2010
11:42 am

When did Anthony Stewart legally change his name to no one?

A Frustrated Hockey Fan (aka Rhythmpenguin)

October 18th, 2010
11:53 am

Thanks for the analysis Rawhide! =)

Rhythmpenguin

October 18th, 2010
11:54 am

Oops! Forgot to change my name from my last post. =P

Dr. Feelgood

October 18th, 2010
12:05 pm

Play Opie against the Caps, if he passes out again, we win.
Sh!tsburgh has 5 points in 5 games. That translates to 82 for the year. :-)

Bart

October 18th, 2010
12:11 pm

Add the TV blackouts not being lifted for the road trip to “un-good”. 5 games into the season, 4 on the road…sure would’ve been been great to see those road games in full (via Center Ice, which blacked out the other team’s feed each time, but as there was no Thrashers broadcast the blackouts really should have been lifted) rather than just NHL On The Fly highlights.

World Be Free

October 18th, 2010
12:17 pm

CHIEF/Smitty, turned to the Thrashers because I like their approach, Dudley and Ramsay are a step up. Sabres are same old and that will not change. The days of Punch Imlach are long in the past. Chief, went to my first Bills’ game in 1968, Bills/Jets and Joe Willie Namath in his prime; that was the Bills’ only win that season. Family had Bills’ season tickets from 1966-90, Dad played for UB in the early 50’s. But 10 years of losing badly and the eventual move to L.A. has soured me on my hometown team. I have prepared myself for the ultimate heartbreak of them leaving town.

I’ll cheer for both teams Wednesday, how’s that?

World Be Free

October 18th, 2010
12:25 pm

Johan Hedberg has played in one game so far; what’s the over/under on how many games he will play this season? Devils are paying him a million bucks to sit on the bench, alotta money to pay a backup not to play on a cap-stressed team. Kovy has 5 points in 5 games, but is a minus 3.

iamtheratio

October 18th, 2010
12:26 pm

I’ll cheer for both teams Wednesday, how’s that?

ILL ADVISED!! :)

City of Buffalo

October 18th, 2010
12:37 pm

Please stop calling my hockey team the “slugs.” This year our logo is as cool as bleu cheese on hot wings.

VAThrasher

October 18th, 2010
12:42 pm

Put Mason’s steady performance in the “good” column. He’s given the defense the confidence to jump into the play without fear of giving up softies.

World Be Free

October 18th, 2010
12:43 pm

Anyone know if we are seeing Miller Wednesday night? Vanek has to get going for BUF, let’s hope he waits another game before he finds his scoring mo-jo. Thrashers have to come out smoking because the Sabres are having trouble scoring. Anyone know how many tickets have been sold for Wednesday night?

City of Buf-wish the Sabes would have sprung for the rights to the old AHL Buffalo Bisons Bottle Cap emblem for the 3rd jersey.

kracker

October 18th, 2010
12:45 pm

Dan Kamal confirms: “Ondrej Pavelec has been cleared medically and is scheduled to skate tomorrow.”

Alan R.

October 18th, 2010
1:00 pm

“if each one was an inch or two to the right and left, respectively, then Stewie doesn’t even get credit for a shot on goal much less two goals. “

I’m not entirely sure how this is relevant. And honestly, I mean no offense by that.

Hockey is a very fast sport. There are several factors you could look at, even with Stewart’s goals. Take his second goal in Anaheim, for instance. The puck squirts behind Hiller. What if Hiller gets the glove on it before Stewart can shoot at it? What if Peverley’s breakaway shot against Niemi went a couple inches higher? What if Kovalchuk re-signed with us in the off-season?

My point is, there are so many what-ifs in this sport, that it seems silly to trivialize an accomplishment like a hat trick from a relative unknown like Stewart, just because he was at the net to clean up the trash. There are a plethora of other scenarios that could have played out on his four goals so far. An inch to the left or the right doesn’t matter, because we got the goals anyway.

You’re still right, however, by saying our scorers need to pick it up and score.

Dwayne

October 18th, 2010
1:07 pm

If a frog had wings…..

J.B.

October 18th, 2010
1:15 pm

i believe in the one goal moose has appeared, he was not very good to boot.

Old Time Hockey

October 18th, 2010
1:17 pm

The best attribute a team can have is the “never-say-die” attitude. These are the most exciting teams and that’s worth a few points every year.

Big surprise that Kovy is scoring (5 points) and -3? Couldn’t see that coming. Good riddance you greedy ….

five_hole

October 18th, 2010
1:18 pm

. . .but let’s keep in mind that on two of Stewart’s goals, if each one was an inch or two to the right and left, respectively.kracker

They used to say the same thing about John Lennon & Yoko Ono. If Hinkley’s bullet had been a couple of inches to the right, he’d have been a hero.

World Be Free

October 18th, 2010
1:24 pm

Old Time on Kovy-right on brother I hope the NJ fans finally see what they have mortgaged their lives for in this selfish bum. I will be an old man before this contract expires!

Paminski

October 18th, 2010
1:56 pm

“the use of “ungood” is becoming redundant”

thebigharybeast – I agree we see the word often. However, it’s sort of a Rawhide trademark. Like egreeeeegious.

litz

October 18th, 2010
2:04 pm

Boy does this seem familiar : “Kovy has 5 points in 5 games, but is a minus 3.”

Par for the course, anyone?

Dwayne

October 18th, 2010
3:01 pm

No litz, thats an hole in one. Lou cant run Kovy out of town now….lmao!!! I wonder if Duds was telling DW and the Octotards to “please let him go, he does not fit what i am trying to do”!!!! How many times have you guys stated that Kovy will not fill the Bulb, winning will.

Tom

October 18th, 2010
3:13 pm

The Devils are a mess. They are 1-4-1, Jamie Langenbrunner is -6 and Arnott is a league low -7 . Kovy at -3 is not helping matters.

Hockey is all about chemistry. I have coached teams that have been close to amazing but 1 selfish player can create such discord the teams never find their footing. I think that is what is happening in New Jersey with Kovy.

By paying Kovy some good guys had to suffer. The locker room is not the same and the leaders are playing as if their heart is not in it. If this keeps up for another couple of weeks Lou will have to ax the coach and bring in a psycho hard ass to change the locker room’s dynamic. Hating a coach may be the only thing to bring this team together.

File this comment under the 100 million dollar curse.

kracker

October 18th, 2010
3:34 pm

Ok, fans, we have some election research to do!

AtlThrashers Vote for your favorite Thrashers Rinkside Reporter Talent Search contestant: http://bit.ly/csvcoZ

kracker

October 18th, 2010
3:45 pm

I think it would be difficult to do a “The good, the un-good and the ugly” blog without saying the word un-good a few times. :)