Before we get into discussing Wednesday night’s game, allow me to apologize for seemingly shirking my blogging responsibilities of late. As many of you know, I’ve been away on a business trip to Miami and just got home tonight in time to watch the action at Philips Arena from the comfort of my couch. I’ve made several such trips during my 3+ years of hosting this online forum, but never before has one been so busy that it prevented me from getting some sort of blogs posted.
This trip, though…well, let’s just say I’m lad to finally be home.
Speaking of being home…that’s exactly where the Thrashers will be for the next couple of weeks. Beginning with tonight’s 2-1 loss, they’ll play six straight in Thrasherville. For the month of November 10 of 14 will be played in the friendly confines of Philips, and not until they travel to Denver on the 30th will they again don the white away jerseys.
And getting the homestand kicked off with a win would have been nice, however…
For the third time in a row, and second time in as many home dates, the Thrashers dropped a closely contested game…this time by the score of 2-1. The Panthers got a great game from goaltender Tomas Vokoun, who stopped 38 of the 39 shots Atlanta took on him.
Florida erased a 1-0 Thrashers lead in the second period with goals from Stephen Weiss and Radek Dvorak. This was after Zach Bogosian spotted the Thrashers to an early lead. Bogey got his ticket punched to leave Schnide Island at the 7:18 mark of the first opened the night’s scoring and was the first goal scored by the 2008 first round draft pick since March 25.
But the Thrashers certainly had their chances to level the score in the third period. Unfortunately, Vokoun robbed them at every turn, kicking out all 18 shots he was called upon to save.
Gotta give big kudos to Chris Thorburn how gutted a great performance during his last shift of the first period. He had just blocked a shot with his left leg and had lost his stick falling to the ice. But the Panthers kept the puck in the zone for about a minute after the play…probably on of the longest minutes of Thorburn’s life. He was visibly hobbled by the shot taken, but he stayed with the play, even with no stick, and even moved into position to block a shot if he needed to once Florida got the puck back out to the point.
That, my friends, showed a great deal of grit and determination from the Thrashers forward and is the kind of inspired play that will pump teammates up to match that level of performance and desire to do whatever it takes to win.
Prior to Thorburn’s painful shift, defenseman Dustin Byfuglien had also taken one for the team as he took a shot high on the leg close to the blueline. It was the last play of the night for Buff as he was unable to return to play due to the “lower body” injury.
Ondrej Pavelec was the tough-luck loser of the game, allowing but 2 goals on 34 Panther SOG. Despite his 1-4-2 record, Opie has a very solid 2.33 GAA and .928 SV%. Given the lack of back-to-back games until the second weekend of December, Chris Mason may not see a lot of ice time for quite a while.
In the latter half of the game, coach Graig Ramsay shortened his bench to get Kane, Burmistrov and other on the ice for longer periods of time. Ben Eager only saw 8:58 TOI, Eric Boulton had 8:15 of ice time while Jimmy Slater skated for just 6 minutes and three seconds.
During the post-game presser, Ramsay lamented the play of his team in the second period. He was especially displeased with the way Florida netted their game-winner late in that period as the Thrashers again fell victim to sloppy play in their defensive zone. Ramsay looks to the leaders in the locker room to help address this problem. He believes that coaches can go over these breakdowns with the players over and over, but until the guys in the locker room decide to hold each other accountable for these plays, there’s only so much the coaching staff can do.
“We go over it all the time”, Ramsay told Chris Vivlamore. ”We talk about it. We show the video. Until the team takes charge of their dressing room, it’s not going to change.”
I guess this would be the perfect thing for the Thrashers team captain to discuss with the rest of the team as they…oh, wait…sorry. Never mind.
Things don’t get a heckuva lot easier for Atlanta. Friday night the Washington Capitals pay Thrasherville a visit, then after the Islander come in Sunday it’ll be Detroit, Montreal and Boston heading to town. That will bring to a close the 10 home games month of November.
So far, they are 1-3-1 in the first five of those 10 games at Philips and 3-5-1 overall at home for the season.
Ah yes…there is nothing like home, sweet home.