Thrashers and Penguins and Caps… Oh my!

Good morning Thrasherville! Here are just a couple quick notes and thoughts regarding the Thrashers, the loss to Pittsburgh and this afternoon’s matchup in Washington D.C.

First off…if you cast your vote for Brent Sopel to be the last Thrasher off of Schnide Island, pick again. His blast at 2:41 of the first period gave Atlanta an early 1-0 over the Penguins, and came just 20 ticks of the clock after Chris Thorburn and Michael Rupp were put in a 2-minute time out for not playing nicely with each other.

Shortly after Sopes slipped off The Schnide, Dustin Byfuglien came painfully close to putting the home team up 2-0, taking a Rich Peverley pass from the left wing and snapping off a shot from close in. But Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made a great play moving to his left to get his skate out to block the shot. It was the first of several very good save he made to keep the Pens within one goal…including one against Andrew Ladd, who was able to find himself alone in front of Fleury after turning Kris Letang inside-out in the left wing face off circle.

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleurymakes a save on Dustin Byfuglien's wrap-around attempt (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury makes a save on Dustin Byfuglien's during Saturday's 4-2 win over the Thrashers (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

As it turns out, it was just what they needed.

After the Thrashers outshot Pittsburgh 7-1 in the first four minutes of the game, the Penguins slowly began to turn things in their favor and Ondrej Pavelec was then called upon more often to try and continue his work of late.

Then in the mid to late stages of the second period, Pittsburgh turned the physicality knob up to 11 and started hitting anything that moved on the ice. It lead to Evgeni Malkin’s first of three goals, which came with 6:28 left before the second intermission…a quick snapper that went five-hole on Pavelec.

Malkin then scored twice in the third period for the hat trick…the fourth that Atlanta has surrendered to an opposing player so far this season. His second goal came while Pittsburgh was on the power play. He redirected a ricochet off the boards behind the net past Pavelec and then potted an empty netter to provide the 4-2 final score.

Sidney Crosby had deflected in a Deryk Engelland shot to tie the game at 1-1 less then three minutes into the final period.

On both goals in the second period, Malkin’s power play one and Crosby’s game-tying tally, Zach Bogosian was…er, uh, well…let’s just say he was “in the vicinity” of defending against the goal-scorers.

After the game, Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay gave high praise to the Penguins scorers say, “They’re not both just talented they’re strong. Malkin is a monster and Crosby is as strong on the puck as there is”.

Pavelec echoed those thoughts. “Those guys don’t need many chances to score goals,” the young netminder said. “They may be the best players in the NHL”.

Evander Kane knocks Pittsburgh's Deryk Engelland off the puck. The Thrashers will play in Washington Sunday afternoon and Kane has scored 4 goals against the Caps so far this season (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

Evander Kane knocks Pittsburgh's Deryk Engelland off the puck. The Thrashers will play in Washington Sunday afternoon and Kane has scored 4 goals against the Caps so far this season (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

“It’s tough to play them for 60 minutes, but if we want to make the playoffs, we need to shut down those guys”.

As for the game itself…I thought it was an overall good effort by the Thrashers, they came out with a great deal of jump and life in their game. But the Penguins simply took this game over halfway through and grinded the win.

Now, the Thrashers wing their way to D.C. for the third matchup this fall against the defending Southeast Division champs. That’s a tough way to rebound against a hard loss, if you ask me. But Atlanta has found a measure of success against the Caps, earning 3 of a possible 4 points against the division foe in the previous two meetings.

Evander Kane has scored four of his seven goals against Washington, 2 in the 4-2 season-opening win and another pair in the 4-3 overtime loss on October 23.

Chris Mason is expected to get today’s start in goal for the Thrashers. He is coming off the 5-2 loss in Ottawa last Tuesday and is 4-0-1 against the Caps in his career with a 2.25 GAA and .924 SV% in six games played against them.

The Capitals find themselves once again atop the division standings. Their 25 points are 8 more than Atlanta and 7 more than second place Tampa Bay.

Alex Ovechkin leads their overall scoring with 23 points…9 goals and 14 points…while Alexander Semin’s12 goals are the most for that team. As with Malkin, Semin is one of four players to get the hats flying against the Thrashers. Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos and St. Louis’ Jay McClement are the other two.

214 comments Add your comment

Alan R.

November 15th, 2010
9:28 pm

I’m interested in your thoughts on the Colin Campbell thing, Bill. Thoughts?

Hokie P. Clisters

November 15th, 2010
10:17 pm

Mr. Rawhides, I know you want to put up a new blog since this one’s gone haywire. Your exactly right………its not time to go off the deepend yet……………
Regarding a new bog – What about a picture with the 4 horsemen of the Apocalypse? You can have Sage and Stendek on the ends with Pavs and Mason (or as Stendek says “Marshmallow”) in the middle. OK, maybe that’s a little too much………………..looks like I’m going off the deepend.

World Be Free

November 16th, 2010
7:43 am

DWTOO-yup, that was them. The line was unstoppable, 3 guys that could shoot the puck, hit and take a hit to make a play-Robert could fight too. Just goes to show you the value of good drafting (Perreault and Martin) and great trades (Eddie Shack for Rene Robert). Though I have to say that I did miss Eddie shack, THE most entertaining hockey player I have ever seen. What a nut.

Ay Stendek had to throw in a political statement. That stuff catches on with others, dude.

A27-Boris is probably working a McDonalds somewhere, not sure who would want him now but he is certain to eventually get another chance somewhere. I give Dudley credit for making the Boris evaluation, determination and cutting the guy loose.

Acer

November 16th, 2010
8:28 am

Dwayne, I think that you are correct about Washington. The lack of experience of all three Caps goalies will be a problems in the playoffs. McPhee needs to acquire an experience goalie á la Roloson for the playoffs.
Also, I don’t like the group in front of three G’s. Judging by 2010, I’m not getting my hopes up that D.C. will try to add solid defensive Dman at the TDL. Acquiring the likes of Jurcina and Corvo had disaster (lack of success) written over them. How can a (IMO) defensively challenged franchise like the Caps acquire Corvo (a well-know offensive Dman with a questionable defensive game?) IMO. that move alone is one of the reasons why McPhee isn’t a Top3 GM.
Why did McPhee re-sign Fleischman after he disappeared in the playoffs? Semin is another questionable playoff performer.

Based on this points, I don’t see Washington moving past round three.

P.S. I agree with RL on the Bruins being a favorite for the Cup.

Spud Webb

November 16th, 2010
9:31 am

Lol, I hate Boston, but they do look good.
Rusk on their bench? Guy played lights out last year (I thought). He’s gotta be cheap also? They letting tiiiiiiiiiiimy play out the contract and holding Rusk as the future? Anyone know? RL?

Red Light

November 16th, 2010
10:00 am

Rask is signed for this season and next at $1.25 million and then becomes a free agent. Thomas has this and two more seasons at $5 million per.

Red Light

November 16th, 2010
10:01 am

Should have said restricted free agent for Rask.

Red Light

November 16th, 2010
10:10 am

Acer:

Prior to last year’s playoffs, Semin had played in 21 career playoff games and and had 8 goals and 14 assists. You can’t judge a guy on one seven-game series and Fleischmann had his best regular season ever last year with 23 goals and 28 assists.

Corvo was acquired for soon to be UFA Brian Pothier (now in Switzerland), Oskar Osala (3 NHL games) and a 2nd-round selection in 2011. What was the harm in that rental?

Red Light

November 16th, 2010
10:28 am

World Be Free:

It appears Vanek has awakened from his early season slumber. Maybe he was too worried about his wife’s pregnancy with twins, who were born yesterday? Anyhow, he has two goals and four assists in his last 4 games and is +5 in those games. Say what you want about Pominville, but the Sabres has nine points in his last five games (which is concurrent with Stafford’s absence) and are 4-2-1 since Pommy’s return. Coincidence?

In case you missed it, Montador is now at a league best +13.

Acer

November 16th, 2010
10:36 am

RL, which Semin will it be? The 2008 & 2009 version or the 2010 version? That’s why I said questionable above. Solid regular season performances don’t automatically translated into solid playoff performances. The Corvo deal wasn’t my point of criticism.

Joe Friday

November 16th, 2010
10:57 am

“The lack of experience of all three Caps goalies will be a problems in the playoffs. McPhee needs to acquire an experience goalie á la Roloson for the playoffs.”

I don’t know, the Caps goaltending may turn out ok. Any one of them can get hot and the club can ride them in the playoffs. Look what Philly did last year with their goalies, who thought they’d go as deep as they did? Their goaltending didn’t really bite them in the butt until the Cup winning goal, not bad for the poor schlubs they had in net.

Red Light

November 16th, 2010
11:04 am

And, lets not forget Niemi, who proved just good enough last year to win the Cup. It’s not the goaltending that’s the problem in Washington, it’s the Caps’ penchant for offense!

litz

November 16th, 2010
11:06 am

I thought the word on Valabik was he was going to stay in Chicago and play with the Wolves (at least for the time being) …

Smoothie

November 16th, 2010
11:08 am

Yes indeed litz, Boris has been laboring as a Wolf in Czech’s clothing as a member of the Chicago Wolves.

Joe Friday

November 16th, 2010
11:15 am

Here come the giveaways, but I’m happy that they’re trying to get people in the house, please take advantage if you can of the Thrashers Facebook offer for free tickets ($.50 fee per ticket) to tomorrow night’s game:
http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/0E004506F556BA2C?did=facebook&camefrom=NHLTHRASHERS_1011_FB

World Be Free

November 16th, 2010
11:31 am

Red Light, Pominville makes the Sabres special teams better on both sides. Vanek and the entire team have picked it up, especially at home. Sabres FINALLY won a home game over Washington Saturday and Vancouver last night. Montidor’s low point this season was getting smoked by Big Buff on his Bobby Orr rush in OT a few weeks back. Steve is a steady defenseman, kinda like me back in the day.

J-F/Neuwirth seems to be edging closer to the #1 in Washigton, though I can’t say I am too confident in any of those guys to steal a game. Washington has the luxury of having an offense which hides their OK defense and “C” goaltending. I have a feeling they will go out and get a quality #1 stopper in the offseason, especially if they do not make it to at least the conference finals this year. The window of oppotunity to win the Cup will start to close especially with the cap.

Semin will have an excellent year because he is playing for his next contract. Sparky Anderson was right about having a team made up of players in the last year of their contracts.

Red Light

November 16th, 2010
11:35 am

The Caps will make it to the Conference Finals and lose to Boston, unless Sid and Malkin will the Penguins past them!

The Rangers Ryan Callahan had the “Gordie Howe hat trick” last night.

alex

November 16th, 2010
11:35 am

did you heard asg thrashers ad on 680 am fan “thrashers re charged re loaded and ready for Stanley cup contend” i got better idea for add “thrashers re cheap re lied by poor owners to confuse remaining supporters and ready for spot in lottery draft despite good job from current gm and coaches”.

Smoothie

November 16th, 2010
11:42 am

Joe – indeed. Let’s hope that even a couple thousand of the 11,000+ that “like” the Atlanta Thrashers on Facebook decide to take advantage of these specials this week. Beat the Panthers, steal one against Wash and the house could fill back up to around 14-15 k strong by T’giving.

Joe Friday

November 16th, 2010
11:52 am

“The Rangers Ryan Callahan had the “Gordie Howe hat trick” last night.”

Hell of a game to watch, that was a nice tilt he had as well. Can’t believe your goaler breaks his stick, chucks it taking a 2 minute, and then Staal comes right back and ties it up shorthanded, what an ending.

Red Light

November 16th, 2010
11:57 am

That’s not the kind of game that team usually wins. Great theater and an unreal finish. Dubinsky has had a great start to the season and Staal looked like one of his brothers in the slot on the game-tying goal.

Brendan

November 16th, 2010
12:15 pm

How does one properly explain the Rangers winning record, at this point of the season, given their roster and injuries? Is it all Lundqvist?

Joe Friday

November 16th, 2010
12:22 pm

RL, I watched that whole game and then my wife walked in right before the Pens tied it up, and I said “you’re good luck for your club” and then they take the lead and I say “really good luck!” and then that ending, great game to watch and the reason I get CenterIce every year is for games like that . . .

Red Light

November 16th, 2010
12:46 pm

Brendan:

It may not be all Lundqvist, but I can tell you they are 9-1 when allowing two goals or fewer this season. Combining this season and last, the Rangers have played in 54 games in which they have allowed two or fewer goals and have earned 86 out of a possible 108 points, a record of 40-8-6.

Acer

November 16th, 2010
2:13 pm

Joe & RL, you make good points about Philly’s and Chicago’s goaltenders. The problem of the Caps is that they don’t have a Pronger + Timonen combo or a Keith + Seabrooke duo in front of Neuvirth/ Varlamov.

But hey….it’s just an opinion. Maybe one of the G’s will be lights-out and a guy like Carlson or Alzner will emerge a top-flight blueliner.

@not_CThorburn

November 16th, 2010
3:15 pm

Coach says one more game like that and we all have to shave off our Movember ’staches. Some of those guys need to get it in gear because their ’stache is all they got! Not everyone can have hair like mine. Chris

Red Light

November 16th, 2010
3:44 pm

Acer: Schultz is very solid (+88 in his career) and has a Pronger-like body. Carlson is improving every day but I have my doubts about Alzner.

TrueBlue

November 16th, 2010
4:15 pm

Acer

November 16th, 2010
4:50 pm

Being on an offensive & NHL powerhouse like Washington will spike up your plus-minus numbers, even if you aren’t a solid Dman. Boris Valabik almost has a Chara-like body. Valabik’s body size doesn’t automatically translate into Chara’s talent…..again…how about we meet again in June to see how the Caps did in 2011? ;)

Red Light

November 16th, 2010
5:03 pm

Acer:

Agreed. But, I gave you Boston as my Eastern Conference champ, so what team are you advocating?

Brendan

November 16th, 2010
6:33 pm

Red Light, it’s an excellent trait for a team to have … to win tightly contested games. If the Rangers can only allow their opponent two goals or less, for most of the season, they’ll be in the playoffs. That’s a great stat to have, 9-1. So is 40-8-6, in such contests.

Dwayne

November 16th, 2010
10:02 pm

Hey Guys, when the Thrashers start giving up 2 or fewer they will be 41-2-11. Once again, I have no stats to back up my statement.

Red Light

November 17th, 2010
1:36 am

Actually, the Thrashers are 24-5-5 in their last 34 contests giving up 2 or fewer goals (2009-10 and so far this season), which means they have allowed 2 or less 20 fewer times than the Rangers have over the same time frame.

Red Light

November 17th, 2010
1:36 am

They are 3-0 this season when doing so.

kracker

November 17th, 2010
7:57 am

capgeek tweet: …Summing up, our estimates indicate the #bruins need to cut $4.9m in full-season cap hits to get Savard and Sturm off LTIR.

Help ‘em out and work a trade for Krejci?

Alan R.

November 17th, 2010
7:58 am

nice research, RL!

Larry E

November 17th, 2010
8:48 am

It is make or break time for the Thrashers. They cannot fall behind any further. They are suppossed to be professionals and there are really good players on the team. It comes down to putting out a great effort each time they step on the ice, have some pride, not just a paycheck. The leaders of the team should call out the players that are not giving the effort to win. This is basic sports leadership. Get off your as&#@% and play

Smoothie

November 17th, 2010
10:48 am

Wow, too quiet around here! Perhaps we need to have our butts chastised by stendek to get everyone whipped into a frenzy for tonite! :cool:

Anyway, whatta y’all think of the Uggla trade?? Since there’s nothing to talk about really. I like it, but I’ll miss Omar!!

Smoothie

November 17th, 2010
10:49 am

Aha! Now I know why it’s so quiet in here…the blog monster is eating everyone’s entries! It just ate mine. Testes, testes…1, 2, three?

LAC

November 17th, 2010
10:53 am

I just want to see much better DEFENSE these next two weeks, Plain and SIMPLE.

We have proven we can score, OK, not let’s start trying to keep it out of our net.
We simply cannot continue to play like we have, The GA has got to go DOWN. NO two ways about it.

I would rather see 3-2 or 2-1 games as long as WE WIN. Who cares if is not the most exciting game, 2 points is 2 points and that is what counts if this team EVER wants to make the playoffs.

Dwayne

November 17th, 2010
11:19 am

Thank You R/L

Dwayne

November 17th, 2010
11:31 am

games-11/ goals-2/ assists-8/points-10/ +4, Kreci numbers.
Good 2 way center. Missed 4 games due to concussion. Who do we trade?
Didn’t Krejci just sign a 3 yr 11.25 million deal?

Smoothie

November 17th, 2010
11:44 am

Dwayne – I don’t think BOS would trade Krejci. We’d be better off going after Blake Wheeler don’t you think? We need depth at RW and his speed and energy would fit Ramsay’s system to a ‘T’. If they demote Ryder to get his $4 M off the books, they’d still be over by $900 k or so. Perhaps Bergfors would be a target by Chiarelli due to the price-tag.

World Be Free

November 17th, 2010
11:46 am

LAC-agreed, better defense is the difference between this team making and not making the playoffs. That may sound simplistic, but just think how many more games this team could win if we were to cut out 1 goal per game?

Smoothie

November 17th, 2010
11:54 am

WBF – I hope the improved shot margins speak to our improved overall play and will start bearing the fruit of fewer goals. It has not helped that Mason has been dreadful in his last two starts. But over the last 4 games, we’ve only given up an avg of 30.75 SOG and we’ve had 8 more shots than our opponents. Prior to that, in the previous 10 games, we were giving up an avg of 38.6 SOG and only getting an avg of 26.9 to the net. Remarkably, we went 4-3-3 during that 10 game stretch. Hopefully, despite losing 3 of the last 4, the system is starting to click and the results will start to manifest themselves in the form of wins and not just reduced shot margins.

Dwayne

November 17th, 2010
12:03 pm

Here is my problem, I can’t look at any Thrasher that I would want to trade, it’s the same thing, he’s young, dmen take longer to develope, he’s this, he’s that. But why would we not depart with some of these players? we are 7-8-3, another losing season ahead if the defense/GAA don’t get better. Maybe if some Don Wadell clone GM would take slates and pretty boy off our hands for Wheeler or Krejci or a bag of pucks, I’d be happy.

World Be Free

November 17th, 2010
12:26 pm

Smoothie-it’s all about turnovers, reducing them and avoiding them. These guys are still not playing well enough together to avoid giving the puck away. They gotta use the glass if they are not sure and I agree with you on Mason-he has to get better.

LAC

November 17th, 2010
12:42 pm

Right WBF, I said at start of season, IF we cut down 50-60 GA, we would make playoffs most likely.

But at this rate, doubtful. Look at Carolina… 15 GA in last TWO games… Geez…

World Be Free

November 17th, 2010
2:03 pm

Same issues as last year-turnovers in the defensive zone, not covering the points (like Minnesota does) and poor 2-way play from our centerman. Defense is all about TEAM play and we are not there yet.

Dwayne

November 17th, 2010
2:51 pm

So our collective team stinks on defense regardless of the players? Isn’t that the coaches fault? Kind of simplifying it, aint it? Whens the cutoff for the team to learn Ramseys, for the lack of a better word, defense? And we thought we wouldn’t score any goals.