Unacceptable: (adj.) Not Acceptable. Unsatisfactory. – “The Atlanta Thrashers’ effort during the 4-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres was ‘unacceptable’”.
There really weren’t a lot of positives to take from Wednesday night’s “effort” against the Buffalo Sabres. And to a man, everyone seemed willing to accept their fair share of the blame for the 4-1 loss, one in which they were outshot 42-18.
But if you’re like me and care little for excuses, then at least you appreciated the words that came out of the Atlanta locker room following the game. Starting with the man behind the bench on down to the players who were on the ice, none were offered up and only words of accountability were expressed.
“We turned over pucks in the neutral zone. We gave up odd-man rushes. Our changes were horrendous”, head coach Craig Ramsay said following the lackluster performance. “It’s one of those games you want to throw away, you have to deal with, and it wasn’t fun after the way we played with a high pace against the teams out west. To come home and play at a slow pace was unacceptable”.
“We were just too darn sloppy. They picked us apart”.
Ron Hainsey has seen his share of stink bombs dropped by these Thrashers. And he wasn’t applying any sugar to the coat this one. “[The neutral zone] was a problem, but we were not good in most areas, except for goaltending,” the Thrashers defenseman said.
“It was an issue. We had turnovers in the neutral zone. That was a problem, turnovers in the neutral zone, but we were bad in most areas. It was one of those games where we weren’t that good”.
Hainsey even compared Wednesday B-slapping to on-ice failures of previous seasons, saying it was “sort of a flash back” to flush-worthy games of years gone by. Hmmm, I wonder if he ever wakes up in the middle of the night drenched by a cold sweat after his subconscious painted nocturnal visuals of the 8-1 drubbing by the Capitals last winter.
And don’t look for any whining about the travel to, around and from the west coast last week. “That’s a typical excuse you can use,” goalie Chris Mason said. “The travel in this league, everyone has to do it. There is no reason. Maybe the first couple of shifts, but there is no reason to have a whole game like that”.
That sentiment is very reminiscent of former coach Bob Hartley’s “If they are ‘tired’ from the travel, let them install windshields for a while” comment several years back.
Missing from any post-game comments, however …anything that had to do with “bad bounces”, “bad luck” or “a break, a break there” kind of tripe. They were flat out outplayed, flat out beat and, if nothing else, it’s refreshing to hear those responsible for the debacle man-up and hold themselves accountable for their part in it.
Accountability: (n.) The state of being accountable; liability to be called on to render an account; the obligation to bear the consequences for failure to perform as expected; accountableness – “The Thrashers players have expressed words of ‘accountability’ for their play”.
Now, if you are looking for any silver lining in the cloud that still emanates from the steaming pile of FAIL that the Thrashers dropped on the ice of Philips Arena Wednesday night, it’s that no team has ever been eliminated from the postseason after a loss in the sixth game of the season. As bad as it was…and it was bad…there are still 76 still to be played in season.
The first of those will occur tonight when the 4-1-1 Tampa Bay Lightning make their first of three trips to Thrasherville. The Bolts arrive in Thrasherville following last night’s video review-delayed overtime loss to the Islanders.
This next game, and the one that follows, will show just as much about who and what this team is than the events of two nights ago…if not more. While they won’t push them on the brink of playoff elimination if lost, the way the conduct themselves will show a lot about what kind of pride these Thrashers take in themselves and their team.
It”ll be a defining moment, if you will, in this still-young season.
If the coaches and players were truly embarrassed at the way the they were beaten…and they should be…then the way the come out versus these division rivals will say a lot about how they worked, how they practiced and how the committed themselves to insure the past does not repeat itself. This is even made all the more so given they were beaten in Tampa Bay 5-3 on the opening weekend of the season.
As we’ve taught our children…it’s one thing to simply acknowledge accountability and express remorse for being responsible for what took place. It’s another to hold one’s self accountable and responsible to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
By some accounts I have heard from people close to the organization, during a team meeting yesterday that it was made very clear by Ramsay and Co. that no player was exempt from being held accountable and responsible for their actions. No player…from the highest paid to the lowest…was above having to answer to their teammates and coaches for “unacceptable” play and no job was “safe”.
To that measure, Nigel Dawes, found himself riding the waver wire by the end of the day. If he clears waivers at noon today he’ll find himself playing in the AHL along with Boris Valabik, who himself was thrown to the Wolves last week. Dawes had no points and was a –6 in six games played. His game-winning shootout goal in Anaheim Friday was one of his few highlights.
But I would not at all be surprised if others find themselves on the “outs” if either game this weekend come close to fouling the air as badly as the last one did.
Responsibility: (n.) 1. The state, quality, or fact of being responsible. 2.Something for which one is responsible; a duty, obligation, or burden. – “Coach Ramsay will make it clear that the ‘responibility’ rests with every man on the team when it comes to their on-ice performance”.
Who could find themselves in danger of being tossed into Ramsay’s doghouse? Well, dare I suggest one Mr. Bryan Little? He has three assists and is a +2, but after six games has yet to crinkle the twine. This alone wouldn’t be all that troubling if not for the fact he is coming off a disappointing 13 goal just a season ago.
I mean, not to sound cynical, but just how long is Little going to be able to merit the “but he scored 31 for us in 2008-09” defense before his lack of scoring over the past season-plus starts to become a serious concern? The twelfth overall pick in ’06 needs illuminate the lamp.
Rich Peverley, the waver-wire steal of two seasons ago, has scored just as many goals this season as Little has…or you or I have, for that matter. Pevs has but 2 assists and is a –2.
Both are leading candidates to find their images on my Todd White Honorary Milk Carton this fall.
Then there’s Freddy Modin, who has been barely visible on the ice with one goal and a –4 in 5 games played. I honestly expected a little more from the veteran.
Are the above-mentioned three, or any other player… including Nigel Dawes… solely responsible for the beat-down at the hands of Buffalo or the atrociously high amount of shots taken on our goal? Nope. But these are top-line performers who are looked upon this season to perform as such.
Excuses need not apply here.
And while I don’t see Little or Peverley being sent packing, I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility that their ice time could be reduced in favor of those who are getting the job done.
Simply put, coach Ramsay doesn’t strike me as the type who places “player potential” or “past performances” higher in value than “on-ice effort” and “scoreboard results”.
Accountability and responsibility: Two virtues the players had better hold themselves to this weekend. If not, the Thrashers now have a coach who will indeed do just that… hold them accountable and responsible for their actions.