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 hustled himself into the right position to tip the puck away just in the nick of time.

Later in the game, after Atlanta had increased the score to 4-0, Burmistrov scored one of the prettiest goals you’ll see in quite a while. His moves through the left side of the Capitals defense to cap off the night’s scoring was filled with twists and turns that left Caps defenseman Jeff Schultz and goalie Michal Neuvirth searching around the net for their athletic supporters and other various protective gear.

Of the two plays, which one do you think people are more apt to remember four months from now?

Well… the logical answer would be the highlight reel goal, of course. But if the Thrashers are to find themselves in the thick of playoff contention when March rolls around, it will be because of plays like the first one I described… the hard-working, all-out-hustle type of play that rarely, if ever, gets air time on any sports programming.

“Nobody’s a natural. You work hard to get good and the you work hard to get better” – Paul Coffey

Back checking plays like Burmistrov’s can get overlooked during blowout games like the one the Thrashers enjoyed two night’s ago. But during close games decided by one or two goals, they stand out like one of Don Cherry’s outfits in a boardroom full of corporate suits and ties. Unfortunately, so too do glaring mistakes, untimely mental lapses and inattentiveness to detail…see also, the three previous games last week prior to the win against Washington.

The same can be said of hard work and hustle that many times begin plays that ultimately lead to goals.

Ben Eager celebrates a goal Friday night with Nik Antropov. Just the game prior he had seen reduced ice time due to his play but seems to have gotten the coaches message (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Ben Eager celebrates a goal Friday night with Nik Antropov. Just the game prior, Eager had seen reduced ice time due to his play...he seems to have gotten the coaches message (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Case in point, take the first of the five goals that were scored by Atlanta Friday night. Nik Antropov got the puck to Ben Eager who was stationed in front of the net and he knocked it home. But moments before, Eager had executed a solid check along the boards near the goal line. Instead of admiring his work or coasting into position, he quickly moved to put himself where he needed to be and scored the all-important early goal to put his team on top.

Yes, attention to detail and hard work…doing the little things that sometimes go unnoticed. Those are the ingredients that go into a winning formula for any hockey team looking to make a serious run at the postseason. And it’s the teams that perform these tasks night in and night out that find themselves in a good position to play beyond the regularly scheduled 82 game season. Not just when teams are ramping it up a notch during the final stretch towards the playoffs…but also in November and December when, last I checked, the games still counted just as much as they do in March and April.

They also pack those playing habits in their lunch pales regardless of who the competition is. Sure, you can see how a team like the Thrashers can get juiced when the team with the leagues’ best record comes to town, as was the case with the Capitals. But when the team sitting on the other bench has the fewest points in the standings and is riding a twelve-game losing streak…like today’s opponent the New York Islanders…you still have to be willing to put in the same effort, (DUH5).

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit” – Aristotle

The question is… how does a coach get his players up for such a game when it’s so easy to throttle it down a notch? May I suggest the word, discipline?

Going back to Ben Eager’s goal-producing check…what I found very interesting about that play was that it came on the very first shift after he had found himself on the wrong end of a short bench during the third period of the game before. He and a couple other Thrashers had earned the extra sitting time in the second period of the 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers, and coach Ramsay skated those he felt would give him full effort during the final 20 minutes.

Coach Craig Ramsay has shown he's not against sitting a player in the seat of shame if their perfomance on the ice merits it (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Coach Craig Ramsay has shown he's not against sitting a player in the seat of shame if their perfomance on the ice merits it (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

As he told Chris Vivlamore, “I feel bad for the guys that don’t play, but if they aren’t demanding ice time that the nature of the game.”

It was the type of disciplinary action not seen in Thrasherville since the days of Bob Hartley, who had no qualms whatsoever in placing a deserving player in timeout. He was even known to put in the seat of shame this young gun that goes by the name of Ilya Kovalchuk when he decided to dog it for a shift or two. To Hartley, if you didn’t want to work hard shift in and shift out…then you just didn’t want to play.

And that lack of discipline around here over the past few years has lead to some sloppy, uninspired, lazy…sometimes even just flat out embarrassing…play. The record speaks for itself.

Holding players accountable and providing swift and effective corrective measures is essential to a team’s overall success. And in the example of Ben Eager, it’s easy to see the results when a message is sent, received and taken to heart.

Hopefully that received message…and Friday night’s effort and attention to detail… make a repeat showing tonight against the Islanders and forms into a habit with these Thrashers.

69 comments Add your comment

R. Stroz

November 21st, 2010
8:21 am

Mr. Heat Miser

November 21st, 2010
8:36 am

Hoping the team doesn’t get too cocky. Keep the hammer down Rammer.

BG33Brown

November 21st, 2010
9:02 am

Today’s game is exactly the type of game we would lose last year. If we want any shot at the playoffs, we have to put away the Islanders today.

Matt

November 21st, 2010
9:05 am

This is a dangerous game tonight. I’m more worried about losing tonight’s game than I am against a team like the Caps or Penguins! Though hopefully the players are as worried about it as we are and take the game seriously. Somebody’s gotta be the team that loses to the Isles, hopefully it’s not us!

Dwayne

November 21st, 2010
9:10 am

This just in, Ladd is named Captain and Opie just fainted, we will win now!!!

Sara

November 21st, 2010
9:48 am

I dunno about remembering the goal way more than the great back-checking play. I still remember vividly when Enstrom chased down Lecavalier on a breakaway his rookie year – still makes me smile too. :)

I too am worried about today’s game. Can’t be playing down to the level of our opponents and that team has got to be getting desperate for a win. Can’t take anyone lightly in this league.

mikey da mug

November 21st, 2010
9:50 am

Rawhide – nice, and appropriate quotes. Let’s hope the team starts a new good habit of consistently hard work

Hoof Arted

November 21st, 2010
9:59 am

Like BG33Brown said, this is the kind of game last year’s team would lose. Weak team on a losing streak coming into town two days after a big win, but a poor effort cost them points.

Starting today the Thrashers must turn these siruations into the kind of games we say things like, “This is the kind of game THIS year’s team will win”.

Go Thrashers!

Darkhorse

November 21st, 2010
10:28 am

It’s funny how most of the fans with decent hockey knowledge, or better, can easily recognize the Thrashers lack of hustle and smart defensive positioning/doing the small things as to a big reason why they having been playing more repulsive than good lately. If the casual fan sees that consistently, why can’t each guy on the ice. They do I would think, and it just comes down to a lack of commitment and determination for playing for the team and not the individual. I’m very happy to see Ramsay holding guys accountable. I know it’s a marathon, but you are getting paid a lot of money to give it your consistent best each night at the very least.

On another note, I hear to expect another small crowd tonight. I think they are doing a kids night promotion, but sounds like the adults are still too scared of this team to get many kids down there. This team will have to start winning on the ice for a while before the city will even notice, especially when you have owners that don’t spend any money to promote the team around town, or know how to. But it starts with the product on the ice as long as we are stuck with this ownership group. The players all need to realize when they stink it up on home ice and whine the crowds suck, they keep solving their own reasons as to why. If you asked any of the Thrashers on their off day from work to pay 50-100 bucks to go eat at a notoriously crap restaurant and then go watch a movie with horrible reviews from critics and fans(any Julia Roberts movie for example) at the theater, they would tell you no because it sucks. When the home games keep turning into that example more times than not, the blame goes right back to the effort they gave on the ice in front of people starting to ask themselves why they’re spending $$ to watch that crap.

To sum up, I am worried about tonight’s game also.

Nice article Rawhide.

Presidential Timber

November 21st, 2010
10:40 am

For any of you going today, I ask you to do a head count in your section after the 1st period and tell us either tonight or tomorrow if there were enough people in your section to have a competitive game of Charades.

LAC

November 21st, 2010
12:14 pm

Right Rawhide, But this has to happen every game to be effective and a LETDOWN today would be terrible, Because with Detroit/Montreal/Boston coming in, it will be NO picnic for sure !

Smitty

November 21st, 2010
12:17 pm

After the debacle with the Panthers last Wednesday, I thought Friday’s game would be pivotal for the remaining games in this home stand if not the season. With Detroit, Montreal and Boston coming in for the holidays, I felt a poor outing against the Capitals would only be reminiscent of last years November fall from playoff possibility into what do we get for Kovy.

Obviously with the third period benching of a few players and perhaps the naming of Ladd as Captain, the strong message sent was received. I just hope they remember the message for the rest of the season,.

ThrashFan80

November 21st, 2010
12:18 pm

What is this? A freaking history lesson? Quotes by Aristotle, Jefferson…

Red Light

November 21st, 2010
12:38 pm

Thrashers can take a meaningful step in becoming a more consistent team with a win over the Islanders today.

http://sportssoutheast.com/index.php/red-light-report/59-nhl/228-thrashers-struggle-for-consistency

Downtown Atlanta

November 21st, 2010
1:45 pm

That back check play gets even more impressive. After he skated the length and helped spoil the break-away he joined the rush and was on the other end of the ice in the golie’s face when the whistle blew about 5 seconds later. It was like there were two of him. If their “Russian Machine never break” our “Russian Machine never stop”

World Be Free

November 21st, 2010
2:18 pm

A direct correlation to giving Ladd the “C”?

I said it before – Burmistrov is my favorite Thrasher, he was before the highlight goal. In case everyone missed it, Burmie’s goal was the # 1 highlight on ESPN Sportscenter Saturday morning. The same goal didn’t even make HNIC’s list of top 10 Saturday night.

Red Light

November 21st, 2010
3:12 pm

WBF: That list of HNIC’s didn’t include any goals from Friday night. It will be included next week for sure. It takes videos a little longer to get to Canada, like prescription drugs! LOL

Brendan

November 21st, 2010
3:20 pm

Well, folks. This is a “litmus test” type of game. Are our Thrashers going to show up … UNPREPARED to play? Or, will they play hard, responsibly, and defeat one of the perennial “bottom-feeder” type of teams in the NHL?

What’s at stake?

Answer: .500, and keeping pace with the rest of the conference. I haven’t peeked at the standings, truthfully. I must volunteer that. But I’m guessing that the Thrashers are outside of playoff position, as I post this. My guess is that they are somewhere around 10th to 12th in the Conference. Unless the Thrashers want to remain there for the rest of the season, they must bank 2-pts tonight. I don’t even care if they toss a “pity” point back to the Isles, who CLEARLY need one, at this point, having recently fired their Head Coach, in the midst of a 12-game losing streak. My bottom line is … will they get the win? Yes or no? The Islanders are not a top notch team. But they are desperate for a win. Do the Thrashers … have what it takes … to push the Islanders to a 13th-straight loss? Do the Thrashers have the ability to (1) get the lead and (2) play with the lead, for a win?

These are the things on which Ramsay must focus. We’ll need goaltending, too. I don’t know who will get the start. Might be Mason? If it is, he’s got Tavares and Josh Bailey, and Matt Moulson with whom to contend. Let’s get a win, to close out the weekend.

Brendan

November 21st, 2010
3:26 pm

I want people to know … that I meant no disrespect to the Islanders and their fans with that bottom-feeder comment. The Thrashers have resembled that remark, as well. I didn’t mean to cast stones. I have always blamed Charles Wang and the ownership moreso than the Islander players. When the Isles landed Tavares in the draft, I felt really happy for them. They could have really done something stupid, like trading him away for three (3) 20-goal scorers, in their 30’s! But, they didn’t. They did the right thing. If someone other than Charles Wang could come to own the Islanders, I’d bet that they would have much greater success.

Rightshot

November 21st, 2010
4:40 pm

Any chance the games is on the net today?

Tom

November 21st, 2010
4:54 pm

Rightshot – http://www.channelsurfing.net/ if you are so inclined.

Mrs. Zoomo

November 21st, 2010
5:28 pm

Ticketmaster isn’t helping fill the seats either. Zoomo tried to get the kids day discount online around 2:45 pm and it wasn’t available anymore…despite being able to print out the tickets at home – WTH?
However he was able to get $10 seats at the box office and he and little Zoomo are sitting in our ticket plan section because no one is there.

iamtheratio

November 21st, 2010
5:52 pm

If you don’t mind paying 6.99 you can stream it on http://www.hockeystreams.com.

It’s MUCH MUCH better quality then channelsurfing or any other crappy streaming site.

iamtheratio

November 21st, 2010
6:26 pm

These Islander commentators are so annoying, blaming everything on the Islander’s struggles rather then the solid play of the Thrash. Pavs just made an incredible save and they never once said how amazing it was, the response was “That’s what happens when you just can’t score.”.

Thrashers27

November 21st, 2010
6:28 pm

Well, Brendan, I gotta say the boys are failing the “litmus” test to this point. They should be far ahead of this terrible team. To this point keeping this game even is on Pavs’ shoulders. He’s playing well and battling.

LAC

November 21st, 2010
6:38 pm

I guess we need to name a new capitan each game to get the “message” through.

Now we are behind to THE WORST team in the NHL and their goalie is Hot.

I have a terrible feeling we are heading for a VERY VERY VERY Bad loss.

They look unfocused and not following through, cannot believe it after last game…

A loss to these guys would be as BAD as it could get !

Hoof Arted

November 21st, 2010
6:42 pm

I’m watching the game on Center Ice and a funny thing happened during a timeout in the first period. It was a commercial break only the TV didn’t break away. You could hear the announcers talking and one asked “Is is spring training yet”?

Later, he commented, “wake me when this game is over”, then added, “Not like I care anyway”.

Red Light

November 21st, 2010
7:35 pm

Buff does it again! Another lukewarm effort and Pavelec saved their bacon in the 3rd.

LAC

November 21st, 2010
7:52 pm

Good comeback, hate tight games against an inferior team, bottom line 2 points in our bank…
Wednesday will NOT be easy… Good Win and Buff Does It Yet Again !!!!

ilya WHO ????????

LAC

November 21st, 2010
8:05 pm

Quick one, got this on our former #17. Having QUITE a year !!!! Worth about league MINIMUM from these stats.

17 L Ilya Kovalchuk 19 4 6 10 -10 11 1 0 2 56 7.1

He is a -10 and his 10 points make him an ABSOLUTE ZERO for NJ. First Class team ilya ????

Look at the standings, way behind your Atlanta Thrashers !!!!!!!

Tom

November 21st, 2010
8:05 pm

Hoof, I heard that too. I was amazed that the Islander announcer said that out loud.

A win is a win but that was a painful win. Can we get Bogo a tutor to teach him how to connect a pass or get a shot through? He seemed to be perpetually hitting a body or putting the puck on an Islander’s stick.

Dwayne

November 21st, 2010
9:00 pm

Did not get to see game, did Atl. play bad? Brendan, you are getting on the same wave lenght as Stroznadamus, you saying you wouldn’t even care if the islanders getting the pity point

Flagstaff

November 21st, 2010
9:06 pm

Hoof and Tom: So, was that heard on TV as well? Or just the online feed?

glovesave29

November 21st, 2010
9:29 pm

You miss a lot watching the game on TV vs. being there. Big duh, I know…but I was there this evening and thought the effort was really there. The forecheck, neutral zone support and good passing on the breakouts were a pleasant change of pace for a Thrasher team. I will give the Isles credit…they came to play.

Loved the crunching hit Hainsey laid on Tavares. Too bad he didn’t draw the penalty for the trip 91 gave him as he lay, dazed on the ice.

B. Thenet

November 21st, 2010
9:37 pm

That save by Pavelec was insane

Brendan

November 21st, 2010
9:42 pm

Annnd, I don’t care that the Islanders got the “pity” point. Are we going to wind up tied with the Isles at the end of the year? Shaking my head, “No, probably not.” The Isles need every point they can get. I’m afraid that they’re bound for the lottery draft. I can only hope the Isles will make the most of that pick. God Bless them, is all I can say. I don’t hate Islander fans. They have my sympathy.

Look, folks. They (wins) don’t all have to be pretty. There was the possibility of zero points, one-point, or two-points, coming into this game. Which one did they get? Well, the answer is the very best outcome of all. I’m just frustrated that the Thrashers keep playing to the level of their opposition. They needed to get an early lead, build on it, and use “killer instinct” to bury them, by the end of the 2nd period. This didn’t exactly go that way.

But hey … we kept pace. We’re prolonging our season. We’re putting ourselves in a position … to at least … possibly … THINK about making a trade either before or after the Christmas roster freeze, that could “theoretically” place this team in a position to make a run at the playoffs. We don’t have cap issues. We just have ownership cheapness issues.

Hockey Biltong

November 21st, 2010
9:42 pm

I’ll take the win as ugly as it was.Mute is a wonderful button when you know how to use it…

Brendan

November 21st, 2010
10:06 pm

Tom & Hoof, I wonder if the Islander announcer blunder will be dealt with? Imagine if Darren Eliot or Matt McConnell were to say, during a break, “Gosh, are the Thrashers the most pathetic team in the league, or what? How many more years are we going to endure this kind of hockey? This transcends pathetic. Oops, looks like we’re back in 20 seconds. Time to put your ‘happy face.’” I would think they’d be in some trouble. ‘Trouble’ not being specifically defined, but some form of punishment or other.

Thrashers27

November 21st, 2010
10:25 pm

Anyone else notice the Islanders announcers talking about Zach Bo”GAY”sian? OMG! Seriously, that’s how they were pronouncing it. Also, one of the guys actually referred to the Atlanta team as the “Flames”. Wow!

With a team like the Islanders, I guess I can’t blame ‘em for drinking on the job. Only trouble is that our beloved Thrashers should have won that game in a more convincing manner.

AtlFlamesFan

November 21st, 2010
10:51 pm

Good point. We should not accept “moral victories” (last week’s efforts vs. Pens and Caps), so by the token, we should not complain about close wins. Overall, I thought the Thrash played well.

Alan R.

November 21st, 2010
10:53 pm

I heard the broadcasters’ gaffe at that first commercial break. It was rather amusing. The camera, facing an empty lower deck, and the announcers trash talking both of the teams. Priceless, really.

As far as MSG is concerned, the situation was already dealt with. They apologized on-air during the second intermission, and pretended like it was just a simple mistake with “the truck.” Gotcha. What a bunch of pompous jerks.

Rawhide

November 21st, 2010
11:00 pm

Thrashers27 – Yeah, I heard that to. Come on guys…it’s pronounced the way it’s spelled…BogOsian. There is no A after the B-O-S.

I heard one on ‘em call Toby Enstrom…EIN-strom. Really?…seriously?

I guess the bar in the club section was open early this afternoon.

As for the on-air comments during the “commercial break”, I gotta laugh out of it. I was waiting for one of them to possibly say something REALLY embarrassing, though….you know, like “Hey, buddy. Thanks for the suggestion about the topical ointment. Bumps are all gone, now”.

Didn’t happen. Oh, well.

Anyway….glad to get the W tonight. Wasn’t pretty, but ugly wins still beat the snot out of ugly losses.

There was a lot of good happeneing out there for the Thrashers. Like glovesave29 said above, the play in the neutral zone and passing were very good. I liked the way they came out of the locker room with a great deal of jump, too. DiPi had a great game for The Isle and he kept ‘em in it early.

Opie was outstanding. Without that awesome save while on the PK late in the game, there is no OT for Buff’s game-winner. He’s been lights out ever since coming in for Mason last Sunday. Good for him.

Let’s not overlook the fact that when Antropov scored the PP goal in regulation to tie the game, the player that drew the penalty was…that’s right, you guessed it…Alex Burmistrov. The kid just draws penalties. Also, I liked Ladd’s skate-by screen on the shot. Nicely done, Captain.

Speaking of Captain Ladd…the Thrashers are now 2-0 with him wearing the C. Just sayin’…

One last thing. In case you haven’t noticed, the Thrashers have outshot their opponents in 6 of the last 7 games.

Alan R.

November 21st, 2010
11:22 pm

Corey Perry tries to center the puck for Anaheim tonight, and instead scores an own-goal on his empty net with about 15 seconds left in the game.

Worlds tiniest violin is currently playing in the background.

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=-7&id=84018

alex

November 22nd, 2010
12:17 am

exactly careless about point to nj, actually if that point help nj be in standing in front of thrashers at the end (if god forbid thrash going to be so bad) so lover number lottery means better player. but hope that in the end we are in playoff run not lottery pick run. in sports sometimes it’s ugly. go thrashers

Islandturds Announer

November 22nd, 2010
12:35 am

Well, our boys found a way to dump another game in the heaping pile of fail pit.

If only they could have pushed another black biscuit in the goal, they would have had something substantive to show for their effort. Oh well, another game down the drain.

Thrashpuppy

November 22nd, 2010
12:51 am

I think Burmistrov has a gift for reading the ice that is rare, especially in one so young. But he also seems to have a strong work ethic that hopefully will inspire some of his teammates too.

I was glad to see Ramsey sitting some guys the other night. They obviously needed that wakeup call. Hopefully as he continues to come down on them, there will be fewer players who need to be benched and he can keep it up with the ones who still do on occasion.

I wonder if Mason is hurting and just doesn’t want to say anything. He didn’t keep everything out early in the season but he played well enough to keep us from getting blown out in games when we probably should have been based on our defensive efforts back at that point.

I thought this was a very good blog. I liked the quotes. They fit well and made me think.

I thought we played a good game tonight too. Not great like we did against the Caps but pretty good. Glad to see we didn’t let down too far against a weaker team tonight. If DiPietro hadn’t had a better night than he’s been having lately, we might have won in regulation. Glad we got the 2 points in the end.

R. Stroz

November 22nd, 2010
1:11 am

Anyone else like to see Big Buff get a three to five year contract extention?

The same goes for getting Ladd re-upped after January 1st.

Smoothie

November 22nd, 2010
1:24 am

Bill – another fine blog. Loved the quotes and the thread of commitment to the little things woven throughout. I read it this morning but didn’t have a chance to respond. Instead, I used it, along with Ramsay’s PC quotes, as inspiration for my latest blog. I do hope you and others check it out!

Go Thrashers!!

Smoothie

November 22nd, 2010
1:27 am

Stroz – yes and yes! How about a Big Dusty Christmas for our young Ladds??

World Be Free

November 22nd, 2010
7:31 am

LAC-let’s hope Kovy has 10-12 more years like the one he is having this year. Serves him and Lou right.

Burmistrov our best defensive center, he knows how to come down low in the defensive zone and take away the slot. The kid is magic and alotta fun to watch whemever he is on the ice. I was right in line to see the Pavs save-I guess I was wrong about Opie and I am glad to see him prove me wrong.

The Islanders tried, they have a new system that reminds me of the trap. They gave up shots, but not alot of quality chances. The NY Islanders are a storied franchise, I hope they can make it back on top someday. Their teams were good for the NHL in their day.

Finally, it is time to say goodbye to Anthony Stewart. He is worthless, no hands, no hockey sense and not hitting for a big guy. We STILL need to hit more and get rid of the defensive zone turnovers-the turnovers are maddening!