Pavelec returns while Mason continues crash course in being Thrashers goalie

The fourth weekend of the Thrashers 2010-11 campaign is upon us, and with it comes the fourth straight Friday/Saturday back to backer. Tonight will see the 3-6-1 Buffalo Sabres returning to Thrasherville for the second time in a week and a half. Tomorrow night will be in St. Louis where the 5-1-2 Blues will be waiting. They blanked the Nashville Predators Thursday nigh behind Jaroslav Halak’s 24-save effort.

Halak is now 5-1-1 with an impressive 1.55 GAA and .939 SV%. He also has a pair of shutouts as well. The Blues’ netminder has benefited from playing behind a defense that has allowed a league-low 25.5 shots on goal per game.

As we in Thrasherville are painfully aware of, not all goalies are so fortunate.

With all that in mind, as the weekend’s action unfolds, one place on the ice I’m going to be paying a little more attention to than usual is the blue area just in front of the Thrashers’ goal. I’ll be doing so for two different reasons on both nights.

The area in front of Chris Mason's goal has been a very busy place this fall. The Thrashers netminder has faced an NHL-high 311 shots so far (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The area in front of Chris Mason's goal has been a very busy place this fall. The Thrashers netminder has faced an NHL-high 311 shots so far (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

First off, Chris Mason will be making his ninth start in ten games this evening. But in reality it will be his tenth consecutive game seeing how he played in all but the first couple of minutes of the season opener. He was, however, relieved after one period of play last Friday after Tampa Bay had built a 3-0 lead.

I’ve been hearing and reading concerns that Mason’s high GAA so far this season is the result of being overworked. As stated above, he has started eight of the nine games plus 57-plus minutes of the one he didn’t begin the game in. But it’s not just total ice time at play here.

The veteran netminder has had a crash course these past three weeks on just what being a Thrashers goalie can mean. Mason has had to face an NHL-high 311 shots during the first month of the season. Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller is second on that list with 294 total shots against…and he’s played in 10 games so far.

Third on the list, someone who is very familiar with this extreme SA/G dilemma…Kari Lehtonen, who has seen 283 shots so far during 531:49 TOI. His record is now 5-4-0 with a 2.93 GAA and .908 SV%.

To put the workload of Atlanta’s keeper in some perspective, facing 311 shots in 501:06 TOI is being forced to stop a puck every 96 or 97 seconds. And, if you break his ice time down into 60-minute increments, Mason has been facing 37.3 SA/G.

That’s way too many, (DUH5).

If I may take liberties with a line from the late, great Madeline Kahn in her role as Lili von Shtupp in Blazing Saddles…”Let’s face it boys, this goalkeeper is tired! Give him a break…don’t you know he’s poop?”

In contrast to Mason’s miseries, Halak has faced 179 shots during 424:36 TOI. That means he’s been called upon to kick out the puck once every two 2:25 or so, which equates to having just under 25 shots taken on him every 60 minutes worth of play.

Wednesday night in New York, though, the Thrashers did provide their goalie with a bit of relief, allowing only 28 SOG and Mason was able to turn aside 24 of them in the 6-4 win. This is made even more impressive when you considered that Atlanta was outshot 7-1 in the first several minutes of the opening period. They outshot them 26-21 from that point on.

Limiting the Rangers to but one power play chance certainly helped matters.

Then there will be Saturday night’s return of Ondrej Pavelec, who coach Craig Ramsay has said will be ‘tween the pipes tomorrow night. If so, it’ll be the first time since the young Czech fainting shortly after the puck dropped on opening night.

While very happy that Pavs is well enough to resume play, once back on the ice my focus will once again turn to his performance during games. Opie entered the season with some doubts circling around him regarding his NHL “readiness”, as his career 20-28-7, 3.32 GAA and .902 SV% would attest. But he finished off training camp/preseason on a positive note, stopping 28 of 30 he shots faced in Carolina in his last exhibition start and 29 of 31 before that in Nashville.

However, last Wednesday Opie played in Chicago during a conditioning start with the Wolves. He allowed 3 goals on 22 shots during the 4-1 loss to the Oklahoma City Barons. Not exactly the “springboard” one would want to re-enter NHL play on.

But I temper that with what the whole meaning to the start was for, “conditioning”… to see if he’s physically ready to play again.

Regardless, having him cleared to play again is obviously great news. The sooner he gets back on the ice during an NHL game, the sooner this whole bizarre fainting episode can be placed behind him and things can return to some sense of “normalcy”…for Opie and the team.

If nothing else, having Pavelec back will allow Ramsay to provide Mason with a bit of rest from time to time, as was the plan prior to opening night’s odd occurrence.

235 comments Add your comment

fes

October 29th, 2010
10:13 am

I’m not entirely sold on Pavs yet, but at least this will allow a night off for Mason.

Mike

October 29th, 2010
10:13 am

Why they would start him against st.Louis instead of Buffalo is still beyond me. Makes no sense at all.

Hockey Biltong

October 29th, 2010
10:15 am

Thrashers27

October 29th, 2010
10:17 am

Well, the Avs version of Stewart got a hat trick last night. Let’s hope our Stewart will respond with some tallies of his own.

He’s a great goalie, but I’d love to see our boys chase Miller tonight?

Do us proud, boys!

Hockey Biltong

October 29th, 2010
10:18 am

The coach has to put OP in the direct line of fire. The sooner the better. We all find out what he ’s got and what he needs to refine. You can’t hold back. No sense in waiting till mid season.Malarchuk can mold him after a taste of prime time hockey…

Alan R.

October 29th, 2010
10:19 am

By saying Mason gets the start tonight, you might be putting the horse in front of the wagon, Bill.

Either way, we need to come out tonight and kick some Buffalo ass. They’ve never won twice in a season here in Atlanta, and by the Gods we should keep it that way.

Rawhide

October 29th, 2010
10:22 am

Why they would start him against st.Louis instead of Buffalo is still beyond me. Makes no sense at all.

Mike – If I had to phathom a guess, I would say it’s to allow Opie to start on the road, away from any extra pressure and fanfair in front of the home fans…shrugs… Again, just a guess.

By saying Mason gets the start tonight, you might be putting the horse in front of the wagon, Bill.

Alan R. – How so if Ramsay has already indicated Pavs starts tomorrow in St. Louis. Ynless, that is, you think Opie’s slated to start both nights.

matt

October 29th, 2010
10:24 am

I’d probably faint too if I knew how many shots I’d be facing…

Rainman

October 29th, 2010
10:30 am

Pavelec Sucks

Alan R.

October 29th, 2010
10:31 am

Mason very well might get the start, and I know Ramsay “indicated” that Mason would probably start. I just don’t find it very logical to start Mason after playing nine straight. Hell, give the man a night off, now that the man being paid to back him up is back in town.

Nate

October 29th, 2010
10:32 am

Barry

October 29th, 2010
10:33 am

LOL Matt that is so true. Poor Mason. He’s had to to be guinea pig while this Thrashers team learns how to play Ramsay’s systems, learn each other’s tendancies, and find their identity early on in the season. Hopefully things will settle down as the season progresses. Pavelec can be real good when he’s on his A game. I recall some games against Ottawa last season where he stood on his head all night long. His flaws are rebound control and being consistent. Of course playing consistent has been this whole teams bugaboo for a while now. Hopefully Ramsay and Co can get all that straightened out with this team. Hopefully Pavs can start taking some more starts and give Mason a break. We have two pretty good capable goalies but we gotta keep them both fresh.

Nate

October 29th, 2010
10:34 am

“I’d probably faint too if I knew how many shots I’d be facing…” LOL

Thanks Matt. I needed that.

jen

October 29th, 2010
10:44 am

The burning question is if Burmistrov is in the lineup….any news on this yet? I think he’s definitely played well enough to earn a spot, but I’m still concerned about size and durability over the course of a full NHL season. Not sure if it’s worth it to burn a year off the entry level contract. We can always bring him back for playoffs if need be.

Monkey

October 29th, 2010
10:45 am

I smell Slugs and White Cups.

Alan R.

October 29th, 2010
10:52 am

The burning question is if Burmistrov is in the lineup….any news on this yet?

It was announced yesterday that Burmistrov is definitely staying in Atlanta. Good times!

Rawhide

October 29th, 2010
11:10 am

I just don’t find it very logical to start Mason after playing nine straight. Hell, give the man a night off, now that the man being paid to back him up is back in town.

Alan R. – I completely understand your logic. Of course, the opposite side of that coin is that by starting Mason tonight it gives Opie one more day to fully recover.

The burning question is if Burmistrov is in the lineup….any news on this yet?

jen – Ditto what Alan R. said above.

I’d probably faint too if I knew how many shots I’d be facing…

Matt – Very well played, sir.

Smoothie

October 29th, 2010
11:11 am

WBF – I may be busting out of work early to play some golf today so I don’t think 6:30 is doable. I can meet your for a beer in front of a designated location between periods if you don’t want to do BoftheW befor the game. Just let me know what portal and I’ll come down and meet you b/w periods 1 and 2. K will prolly wanna go for a smoke anyway so that will work better.

Rawhide

October 29th, 2010
11:14 am

Per Dan Kamal and Ben Wright tweets… Zach Bogosian plays tonight.

Smoothie

October 29th, 2010
11:15 am

Modin is the healthy scratch! Hooray!! I’ll drink to that!

Key to tonite’s game is to HIT HARD AND THEN HIT SOME MORE!! Knock these midget slugs so hard they don’t wanna get up. Time for Boultsy, Eager, Buff, Thorbs et al to issue some payback.

Alan R.

October 29th, 2010
11:15 am

Bill – If he’s been called back up, and doctors have cleared him to play, then I don’t see why he needs “one more day” … you know? I get what you’re saying, but I still don’t understand why he sits if he’s ready.

TableHockey

October 29th, 2010
11:19 am

Jen – I’ve not heard word beyond the news a few days ago that Duds and Ramsey were 99% certain he would be staying.

I did hear that Bogosian is playing tonight – hope he’s 100% and hasn’t rush back too soon which I suspect is what is affecting Antrpov.

Dwayne

October 29th, 2010
11:42 am

No Swedee Modinee??? How is he supposed to over the 14/56????

Rawhide

October 29th, 2010
11:42 am

C-Viv varifies Modin and Welch are scratches tonight.

Tony C.

October 29th, 2010
11:48 am

You don’t start Mason against St. Louis because they know the guy-he played with over half their lineup last season…so you have to expect they know his tendencies/weaknesses. As an analogy: Remember how the Braves would light up Glavine whenever he pitched against them (as a Met) until he got the cutter in his last year (as a Met)?

Plus, last time OP started a game @ The Flatscreen, he fainted. Let’s get him through a whole game first before we start worrying about Mason eh?

World Be Free

October 29th, 2010
11:51 am

Smoothie-where is beers of the world in the arena? See you there between first and second for sure.

I think we have a better chance of beating Buffalo than STL. Blues are playing well so what the heck, let’s see what Pavs will do against them.

Glad to hear Bogo and Jimmy are in tonight. Modin and his walker will take a long time to make it to the press box.

Dwayne

October 29th, 2010
11:52 am

Opie faints, Thrash win. Its a proven formula.

World Be Free

October 29th, 2010
12:00 pm

Rawhide, great Lilly reference. I may have to watch “Blazing Saddles” again soon, for about the 100th time. Thought we would hear from lola after Bolts goal the other night, maybe she is waiting for an even even larger to happen in tonight’s game.

Buffalo came in here last week desperate for a win and they got it. They wet the bed in Philly earlier this week, so they will be up for tonight. We need a couple heavy checks early in the game tonight to wrinkle their dresses. This is not a tough team. If you are a Sabres’ fan, you gotta be looking for a change in either the GM or coach; they formula isn’t working there anymore.

Smoothie

October 29th, 2010
12:00 pm

WBF – it’s upstairs on the way to the end of the arena where the Thrash attack twice…around the corner from Secs 316-320. However, if you are downstairs, I don’t mind coming to you cuz as I said, K will probably want a smoke and there’s only one place for that downstairs. I’m fine with either one though.

Your Mammy

October 29th, 2010
1:09 pm

So far I’m most impressed with Manino, I would give him the start and throw one of the others to the Wolves.

Buffalo Joe

October 29th, 2010
1:13 pm

I love baby Hasek and feel he will develop into the guy this team needs. I doubt he will ever reach his hero’s level because not many will, but close enough to the dominator is good enough for me.

PS. I hit the west end today and gave away my extra seats for tonight to some street folks. They also got a free Gilbert Perreault jersey and a flask full of whiskey to sneek in. In return they have to cheer LOUDLY for the Sabres. I can only hope they are sitting next to you and your wife !

Brendan

October 29th, 2010
1:22 pm

Dwayne, thanks for that 11:52AM post. It had me laughing.

Allright, the over/under on Modin is 14/56. How’s that lookin’ now?

World Be Free

October 29th, 2010
1:22 pm

Smoothie-meet you upstairs and get K away from those smokes!

Buffalo Joe-if you are carrying a flask, I have to assume you’re from Buffalo. Have not seen a flask or bota bag since I left Buffalo!

DWTOO

October 29th, 2010
1:23 pm

Sitting next to the street people is better than sitting next to you.

Buffalo Joe

October 29th, 2010
1:30 pm

World Be Free : You assume correct ! South Towns here. Horray for bota bags and hard cider from the mill ! If the temp would drop a lot more we could go with a thermos filled with the Rich Stadium (RWS) special.

Buffalo Joe

October 29th, 2010
1:38 pm

DWTOO : I decided not to shower since the 20th to carry over that “BLITZKRIEG” to tonight. I smell like a mountain goat and truly hope I am sitting next to you. That stuffed bird know’s who I am because he molested me. I should have called the lawyer representing that kid in Minnesota. Then you would have some REAL ownership here.

Does is upset you folks that both your Coach and GM get the tingles when they see that oldschool white 70s uni skating onto the ice ?

Flagstaff

October 29th, 2010
1:42 pm

Ssssssssssssoundssssssssssssss like a bunch of sssssssssssslugssssssssssssssss…

DWTOO

October 29th, 2010
1:56 pm

Joe – you’ll fit right in with the folks I sit with we don’t shower either. Please bring your goat skin/flask and fill it with some good brandy or other warming agent. We’ll have them crank up the A/C and make it feel like the cold north.

btw – I like the old school sweaters and actually saw a couple of games in the Aud in the late 70’s.

alex

October 29th, 2010
2:06 pm

it’s different subject, but cut my attention. yesterday on “around the horn” (you now this is ESPN panel talk program very popular but mostly about football, NBA, baseball, college and hockey tiny time) so i am been amazed that they mentioned thrashers in one of segments, that because of big black population in city of Atlanta to better sell hockey in tough market team roster including 4 black players. some panelist had agree with this strategy some not, but this not my point, they also mentioned that dw in interview with NY paper denied that strategy. 15 min ago i got thrashers e-mail with exactly what they talk yesterday on ESPN confirmation. why dw lied to NY paper, sorry he is doing this 11 years and to be continued.

Tom Lysiak

October 29th, 2010
2:08 pm

Joe – a couple of questions for you:

1) How does it feel to be in last place?

2) Does it upset you folks that Ramsay and Dudley are here and you guys are forever stuck with Lindy and Darcy? (See question 1 again)

Poor Ol' Family Man

October 29th, 2010
2:12 pm

Does anyone know who the Thrash’s #1 goalie was prior to the season opener fainting spell?

World Be Free

October 29th, 2010
2:20 pm

Buffalo Joe-I am southtowns myself, happy to sit into the GA. Dome for football then sit in the Ralph and freeze watching a bad team.

Tom-yes, the Sabres are stuck with Lindy and the idiot GM forever. They call that “stability”.

DTWOO-the Aud knows my shadow, in just about every corner. great place to watch a hockey game, especially in the old reds and upper golds.

DWTOO

October 29th, 2010
2:38 pm

WBF – Used to live in NW PA and my girlfriend (now wife) went up there to see a couple of Sabres games (won’t mention who as it will stir another debate, let’s just say a team from SE PA) and also the Moody Blues. Always found the Buffalo fans to be real cordial, of course, there were only two of us and we didn’t act up. Also, some nice bars in the area of the Aud.

Flames

October 29th, 2010
2:41 pm

The Thrashers need to play a very PHYSICAL game tonight. I want to see some RED ICE tonight!!! G.A.T.A

R. Stroz

October 29th, 2010
2:42 pm

Wow, I didn’t think Buffalo fans ever showered!

Joe Friday

October 29th, 2010
2:45 pm

“You don’t start Mason against St. Louis because they know the guy-he played with over half their lineup last season”

This. And let Pavs try it away from home, I’m sure he’s embarrassed about what happened, so let him start one on the road.

“We need a couple heavy checks early in the game tonight to wrinkle their dresses.”

I like the sound of this as well. Who’s ready for a little Friday night hockey? Modin being sat as well? Bring the lumber, boys . . .

Buffalo Joe

October 29th, 2010
2:46 pm

Tommy Boy: Has does it feel that last place is two points behind the Thrashers and could all change tonight with a repeat of last Wednesday. How does it feel that the Sabres had dropped 5 straight before coming here and looking like Team Canada v Team China ? Yeah Lindy is the man. In Buffalo they don’t let ONE player with a bad attitude decide who the coach of the team is. Seems to happen in Pro Football here too. By the way, that Russian now plays for the real last place team in the East.

We love our past players like Rammer and Dudley and always wish them well. That happens in a TRUE sports city where the seats fill win or lose. ( Green Bay take note ) The four lost superbowls are glue to us and that’s why players who hate that place at first fall in love with it and us and do things like come to ATL a day early to and visit a fan club party in a mid-town bar like they did last year.

World Be Free: You will never sell me on DOME football. How can you possibly miss tailgating in a massive lake blizzard and dressing like a lumberjack to watch a game.

I pick my hockey seats based on what PUNCH said once about the best seats in a hockey arena. If you know the answer you’ll know where to throw your cups and half a hotdog tonight.

DTWOO: The Aud wasn’t old Chicago stadium, The Garden or Joe Louis but it was pretty darn close. My Father, Brothers and I were there the night #6 put the new franchise on the map.

Joe Friday

October 29th, 2010
3:02 pm

If you Buffalo boys haven’t, you need to get a copy of the book Big Russ and Me, great read . . .

Smoothie

October 29th, 2010
3:05 pm

WBF – upstairs it is next to BofW b/w first and 2nd per!

Tom Lysiak

October 29th, 2010
3:28 pm

BuffaBlow Joey – Guess we’ll see after tonight huh? Better yet, guess we’ll see at the end of the year. We have new coaches and half the team is new. We will get better as we go. You guys have no such excuses OR hope. Get used to the view you have now.

Maybe you guys need one player to step up and tell you your coach and GM suck and then pick new ones. Sure couldn’t be any worse. Guess it would have to be Miller since the rest of your team sucks. FYI, most of us are glad Kovy and Vick are no longer here. Bet they’re both even more glad they didn’t end up in Buffalo somehow.

Embrace that “glue” image you have of Loserville. I guess I’d try to turn chicken poop into chicken salad too if I lived in that dump. Four losses does mean you got there four times, but “glue”??? How are those Bills doing by the way. Oh, 0-6. Seems like a pattern here. The view never changes for a last place dog, does it? Give Chan Gailey all our best and you’d better start locating those snow shovels….