Archive for November, 2010

A Thrashers winning streak…what is it?

If I had told you just two weeks ago the Atlanta Thrashers would today be one of the hottest…if not THE hottest…teams in the NHL, you would have sworn I was hitting the holiday spirits a little soon. They had just dropped a tough one to Florida, had lost three straight and six of their last seven. They were playing sloppy, making critical mistakes too often and dropping stinkers on the ice regularly.

Many thought they could improve and play better as a team eventually. But seeing teams like the Caps, Detroit, Montreal and Boston on the horizon…well, things looked like they wouldn’t be getting too much better any time soon. And as for any discussion of taking five consecutive by a combined score of 19-3…well, surely you can’t be serious.

But as it turns out, that’s exactly what they’ve done…and don’t call me Shirley.

Yes, the Thrashers have treated their fans to some of the best hockey ever seen around these parts. In contrast to what we’ve become accustomed to around here for …

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Doing the little things consistently contribute to big Thrashers wins

Ding-dong, the streak is dead.

Before Sunday night, Atlanta had not beaten these Bruins since December 29, 2007 when Kari Lehtonen shut them out 5-0. Since then, they have lost ten straight to the Big Bad Bruins.

But behind another stellar performance by goalie Ondrej Pavelec as well as goals by Evander Kane, Dustin Byfuglien, Jimmy Slater and Nic Bergfors, Boston became just the latest victim to fall to the Atlanta Thrashers.

Byfuglien also contributed with 3 assists on the night.

Jim Slaters scores in the first period of Sunday night's game against the Boston Bruins. He was quick to credit Dustin Byfuglien for setting up the play (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

Jim Slaters scores in the first period of Sunday night's game against the Boston Bruins. He was quick to credit Dustin Byfuglien for setting up the play (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

But there are other factors contributing to the Thrashers success besides quality goaltending and highlight reel goals…things that head coach Craig Ramsay wants to make sure do not go unnoticed.

Just as the post-game press conference was wrapping up Sunday night, Ramsay wouldn’t let the reporters assembled leave without …

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Thrashers seem to be learning what coach Ramsay is teaching

Last summer I asked the newly named head coach of the Atlanta Thrashers what he thought his main job was when it came to his new team. His response had little to do with on-ice strategies or evaluating player’s physical talents. Instead, he said his role here was to teach these players how to play the game and “Hopefully to make them the smartest team in hockey. And that’s what I consider my ‘job”.

“They’ll be better players, we’ll be a better team”, Ramsay went on to tell me. “And that’s what I think teaching is all about”.

He also explained that there would be a certain time needed to “un-teach” bad hockey practices that many on this team had slipped into over the past few years. And these Thrashers have proven to be quick learners…or should I say, quick “un-learners”…to his lessons as they have taken those lessons and have applied them to their work on the ice.

The results have been astonishing lately.

Rich Peverley celebrates one of his two goals against the Montral Canadiens Friday night with Andrew Ladd (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

Rich Peverley celebrates one of his two goals against the Montral …

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If your Thanksgiving turkey has no wings, there’s a reason for that

All around Thrasherville today, as family and loved ones sit down to enjoy their Thanksgiving turkey…they will find certain parts of the bird missing. Well…there’s a reason for that. You see, last night the Thrashers devoured the wings.

The Detroit Red Wings, that is, as the Atlanta Thrashers ate them alive to the tune of 5-1.

In yesterday’s blog we discussed how the Thrashers could resists the Big Red Borg’s attack. I mentioned that Atlanta would need to take on some of the characteristics of the visiting Red Wings if they were to be successful.

Chris Thorburn celebrates his goal that gave the Thrashers an early 1-0 lead against Detroit Wednesday night (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

Chris Thorburn celebrates his goal that gave the Thrashers an early 1-0 lead against Detroit Wednesday night (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

They would need to continue their recent trend of not committing untimely errors in the defensive and neutral zones…check.

They had to find a way to match the Wings speed and physical play…check.

They needed to skate each shift, from the very first one to the final horn, as if everything rode on …

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Will resistance be futile as Big Red Borg invade Thrasherville?

As the residence of Thrasherville awake this morning and make their way out of their homes into the streets, they’ll look up and gasp in horor. Greeting them will be a massive mechanical cube hovering overhead. It is the vessel carrying the Big Red Borg, which has made its way here from the Detroit Quadrant if the NHL galaxy and tonight they will invade Philips Arena to battle our Atlanta Thrashers.

The Big Red Borg conduct their activities around one common purpose…to expand their ever-increasing dominance in the NHL, overtake ever NHL opponent they come across and to add the biological and technological distinctiveness of those other opponents into their own in pursuit of hockey perfection.

Or in other words…they’ve come looking to kick our collective butts, much as they have done to others all season long.

The Red Wings bring with them an awe-inspiring 13-3-2 record and lead the Western Conference with 28 points. Their offensive weaponry has scorched opposing goal netting …

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What if Kovalchuk had accepted Waddell’s offer?

Last February as you’ll recall, the Thrashers dealt away their “face of the franchise” to the New Jersey Devils. The yearlong dance between Ilya Kovalchuk and then-general manager Don Waddell had finally come to an end and the organization’s hand was once again forced to trade away a marquee player…much like they had to do two years prior with Marian Hossa.

Kovy had strung the organization along for months, making it appear as though he wanted to stick around Thrasherville for many more years…even told a reporter who shall remain nameless prior to the season that a deal would be worked out. But when push came to shove, Ilya “pushed” the team into having to trade him and “shoved” the door wide open as he departed for greener pastures…or so he thought when he headed to the swamplands of New Jersey.

Kovy had departed Atlanta, even though Waddell had offered him as much as $10 million a season to stay.

Ilya Kovalchuk has had a devil of a time in New Jersey this season. His team is next to last in the conference and he has just 4 goals and 6 assists with a -9 rating (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Ilya Kovalchuk has had a devil of a time in New Jersey this season. His team …

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Byfuglien happy in his roles as defenseman and clutch goal scorer

Sunday night, just after blasting the puck through Rick DiPietro to give the Thrashers a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders, Dustin Byfuglien skated over by the glass in front of section 103 in celebration. He turn to display his left arm toward the cheering fans, took his right hand and lifted up the sleeve to display the A-T-L-A-N-T-A that runs down it.

Fans love that stuff, ya know.

Big Buff certainly seems to be happy securing wins for his new city, it’s team and their fans. And he’s also appears to be very, very comfortable with playing the role of Mr. Clutch. As coach Ramsay put it after the win, “He wants to be a difference-maker all the time”.

“That’s the biggest asset a hockey player can have … is to want to be the difference-maker, to want to be the guy, to be the man. He puts his hand up.”

Byfuglien has been putting his hand up a lot this season. The goal he scored 1:30 into overtime, sending the Islander away with the thirteenth consecutive loss, was his seventh …

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For Thrashers, success is in the details…that, and a little hard work never hurts

“I’m a great believer in luck. And I find the harder I work, the more I have of it” – Thomas Jefferson

In the latter stages of the first period last Friday night, the Washington Capitals found themselves on a fast break through center ice. The score at the time was 3-0 Atlanta and the visiting team looked to get themselves back into the game with a goal before the break.

The lone Thrashers defenseman back was Ron Hainsey and he opted to play the man with the puck as he raced into the zone on the right side. Hainsey had little option to do so, but it left the center wide open. Into that space, a forward was streaking towards Ondrej Pavelec’s goal. The puck was passed through, setting up a one-timer between the circles.

Rookie Alex Burmistrov has shown a great work ethic in his play with the Thrashers this season (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Rookie Alex Burmistrov has shown a great work ethic in his play with the Thrashers this season (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

However, racing back to break up the play was Thrashers rookie forward Alex Burmistrov. He was able to read the unfolding play perfectly and …

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29 saves by Pavelec and 60 minutes of solid play help Thrashers blank Caps

There are a lot of numbers and stats that one can choose to highlight from the Thrashers shutout of the Washington Capitals.

You could begin with the 5 goals scored by the Atlanta Thrashers Friday night, and the zero scored by the Caps…There’s also the 36 shots Atlanta took on the Capital’s goal while they in return launched 29 on us… Five different players scored for the Thrashers, nine players recorded at least a point while three had multi-point efforts…Three Thrashers finished a +3 for the game, Nik Antropov, Ben Eager and Alex Burmistrov… And seven finished with a +2 rating, Zach Bogosian, Dustin Byfuglien, Ron Hainsey, Evander Kane, Bryan Little, Johnny Oduya and Anthony Stewart.

It goes on and on…

Ondrej Pavelec stops one of the 29 shots he faced versus the Washington Capitals Friday night (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Ondrej Pavelec stops one of the 29 shots he faced versus the Washington Capitals Friday night. The shutout was his first of the season and third of his career (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

But the number that stands out most for me following the 5-0 whacking of Washington is 60…as …

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Yes, you. Stand still Laddy…while we put a C on your chest

The Atlanta Thrashers entered into the 2010-11 NHL season without a team captain, instead opting to rotate alternates while they decided just who should wear the C. They’ve gone 19 games that way and, given their 7-9-3 record, many had started to wonder if part of the problem was due to a shortage of leadership.

After all, how can you expect to win when the effort level isn’t there night in and night out?

And how can you expect effort when there’s no accountability?

How can there be accountability with no leadership?

How can you have leadership with a captain?

How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?

Andrew Ladd has made quite an impression on everyone in Thrasherville this season, so much so that he was named the eighth team captain in franchise history. Here, he makes an impression of Minnesota's Nick Schults on the glass with a nice check against the wall (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

Andrew Ladd has made quite an impression on everyone in Thrasherville this season, so much so that he was named the eighth team captain in franchise history. Here, he makes an impression of Minnesota's Nick Schults on the glass with a nice check against the wall (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

OK, while maybe that last question hasn’t been raised here in Thrasherville, I …

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