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 Canadiens Friday night with Andrew Ladd (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

In the past eight nights, the Thrashers have gone up against division leaders Washington, Detroit and Montreal. Between the three of those teams, they had a combined record of 41-14-4 at the time they came into town to take on our boys in blue. The lone “gimme” on the slate was a New York Islanders team mired in a losing streak that had reached double digits.

But as it works out, the one “nail-biter” was the 2-1 overtime win against the Isles.

Not only that, but the Isles were able to score just as many goals in that one game as the three powerhouses did in their three games combined…one. That’s right, in 66 and a half minutes New York equaled the offensive production of the Caps, Wings and Habs during 180 minutes of play.

One lesson these Thrashers are having to learn is how to play with leads. Obviously, this is something they haven’t had too much opportunity to gain experience in over the past several seasons. But it’s coming pretty easy to them, it seems. They get an early lead, keep the pressure up and continue to play their game. During this current four game win streak, they have trailed for only 2:38 and have not relinquished a lead once they’ve taken it.

The latest victim to fall prey to these new and improved Thrashers was the Northeast Division leading Montreal Canadiens, who managed to get as many pucks past Ondrej Pavelec as the Southeast Division leading Capitals did last Friday…none, zero, zip, nada, nil, not-a-dad-gum-thing.

Pavs turned aside 25 shots to make the Habs the second team to join his personal “You’ll Get nothing and Like It” club this season. His record now improves to 5-4-2 with a 1.68 GAA and .946 SV%.

The Thrashers outshot Montreal 47-25…23-4 in the second period alone… and the 25 shots against were the fewest the defense has allowed this season.

On the other end of the ice, the Thrashers offense continues to get balanced scoring. Friday night it was Rich Peverley scoring twice as Toby Enstrom notched his third of the season. This comes after Wednesday night when Atlanta benefited from goals by Dustin Byfuglien, Anthony, Stewart, Bryan Little, Andrew Ladd and Chris Thorburn. Sunday it was Nik Antropov tying the game with Buff winning it in overtime. Last Friday they got five goals from five different skaters in the 5-0 pounding of the Caps…Antropov, Ben Eager, Evander Kane, Byfuglien and Alex Burmistrov.

Ondrej Pavelec has two shutouts in the last four games. He's now 5-4-2 with a 1.68 GAA and .946 SV% (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Ondrej Pavelec has two shutouts in the last four games. He's now 5-4-2 with a 1.68 GAA and .946 SV% (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

“We are playing a full 60 minutes”, Peverley said after Friday night’s victory. “In the past we have had some lulls in the periods and I think we’ve done a good job of maintaining our consistency and focus”.

And while these Thrashers have outscored their opponents 15-2 in this current winning streak, have gotten great work in all three zones consistently, beaten some very good teams and have given Thrasherville possibly the best week of hockey ever…the big story here has been the play of the man between the pipes, Ondrej Pavelec. And the goalie’s play of late has given his skaters a great deal of confidence as well.

“I think it starts with Pavs. He has been playing awesome for us”, defenseman Zach Bogosian said. “It’s definitely comfortable for a guy like myself playing against some top lines and he’s behind you stopping a lot of pucks”.

Even if you go back to Atlanta’s last loss, Opie only allowed two goals on 34 Panthers shots. Since Mason got the hook in D.C. two weeks ago, Pavelec has stopped 161 of the 166 shots face during roughly 5 and 2/3 games. That’s an amazing .970 SV% during that span.

It’s kind of hard to lose when the other team can’t score on you. And opposing teams are finding it very, very difficult to score on this Thrashers team lately.

Whoa…I can’t believe I just typed that.

Of course, if coach Ramsay’s teaching of fundamentally sound hockey continues to be well received by this team and they continue to apply those lessons on the ice… just as they have lately…I may have to just learn to get used to typing that line more often.

94 comments Add your comment

Nuts for Boults

November 27th, 2010
1:32 am

Any info on the Bennings?

Nuts for Boults

November 27th, 2010
1:39 am

I like seeing “purpose” in their play, unlike the haphazard play I watched last year.

Alan R.

November 27th, 2010
1:42 am

What an awesome stretch of hockey for Blueland! I really think the stuff Ramsay’s been teaching has finally gotten through to the team, and they’re playing lights out. At this rate, we are definitely in for some action in the latter parts of April (at the very least)!

HonkyTonkHero

November 27th, 2010
3:15 am

Anyone else notice how instrumental Antropov was in winning board battles? Its like he finally has learned how to use his long reach to cobble up the puck and his large frame to shield it. The patience being shown with the puck is another thing we have not seen in Blueland before. They used to spaz out and toss it willy nilly. Oduya made a great patient play tonight and it lead to an excellent breakout during a two man press. The guys have been clearing our zone very well and good gravy did they tie up the neutral zone defensively tonight! THere were sticks on the ice which lead to many timely deflections and turnovers. These last few weeks have been alot of fun as a Thrashers fan. Even the earlier losses to Chicago and Pittsburg were entertaining and full of hope.

Go Thrashers!

Smitty

November 27th, 2010
6:34 am

Starting to look like we can play with a physical edge too. That was a great scrum with Kane having to take on Plekanic and Lapierre (sp?). It looked like PK did not want to have anything to do with Bogey, Maybe that will quiet PK down a bit. I wish I understood French. It would have been interesting to hear what the Canadien announcers had to say about the game.

OmniFan

November 27th, 2010
6:51 am

The up and down flow looks like the best of Atlanta Flames hockey. Hope we keep it up and hope more folks get to see it live at the Bulb!. The blue line keeps to maintain offensive pressure have been instrumental in our scoring and SOG balance. Used to think that was a rare HOF skill (Ray Bourque comes to mind) but Ramsay’s got everyone doing it. A thing of beauty, a joy forever.

English Teacher

November 27th, 2010
7:28 am

Wow! I finally see why there was so much optimism for Pavelec. This trend of unbelievably great play can’t be a fluke. I wonder how much Ladd’s being named captain has helped the team’s play, considering the how it coincided with this streak.

Matt

November 27th, 2010
8:33 am

Just the most dominating period of hockey I can ever remember seeing from the Thrashers. 23-4 shot differential is just incredible. Ditto to Honky about the Thrasher getting out of their own end quickly and easily last night. How many odd man rushes did that create? Awesome game, just awesome!!

Zoomo

November 27th, 2010
8:56 am

We might actaully have a hockey team here, ladies and gents. What a thorough butt kicking last night, They really dominated all aspects of the game. Lots of puck possession and great work covering the defensive lanes. Pavs? Stops 161 of the last 166 shots. That stat is ridiculous.

The play of Bogo and Oduya has been a real difference maker. They are looking much more solid these past few games and that has solidified the D. I thought Oduya had a great game last night. He seemed to be everywhere.

If the team can bottle the current formula and play like this with consistency, I think they would be one of the top 4 or 5 teams in the conference. It’ll be interesting to see how they bounce back from the next loss. That’ll be a big key to their maturation. They can’t afford any long losing streak like in the past. Even with this run of 4 wins, the record is still not where in needs to be. A losing streak of substanital length would be crushing.

They really made Auld work hard last night. Auld played well. 47 shots, and I swear they were stuck on 39 for awhile as the next 3 or 4 shots were not registered. They had 2 get though on a scrum in front, Buff had a shot that went right across the crease and Auld tipped it with his stick, Nice offensive pressure all nightl. That Burmy, Antor, Eager line works had to win battles and maintain the puck.

Loved every minute of it.

Zoomo

November 27th, 2010
8:58 am

What actually happened with Kane a Plekanic? Kane and Bogo were jawwing the entire time they were in the box. Kane even threw his glove into the Habs side of the box. Never seen Kane so ticked about anything.

Tom

November 27th, 2010
9:05 am

How is this for a quote that we have never seen in these parts, ever…

“They obviously had a great second period and capitalized,” Auld said. “They’ve been playing well and when a team like that gets a lead, it’s hard to battle back.”

WHEN A TEAM LIKE THAT GETS A LEAD

This is a great day in Atlanta when someone makes a statement like that about the Thrashers and the Canadian media does not get whiplash.

cousin Eddie

November 27th, 2010
9:16 am

That game was Priceless! Was also looking forward to Kane clocking Plekanic’s turtle neck wearing @$$.

World Be Free

November 27th, 2010
9:21 am

Honky-I noticed the same thing about Antro, especially in the 3rd period. Stewart had another good game too. I was waiting for the 2nd period slumber that turned into a 20 minute “power play” for the Thrashers.

Two plays stood out to me- Burmistrov’s defensive play on his opposing number 4 minutes in kept the game scoreless. Ben Eager’s out hustling a Habs defenseman with 3 ½ minutes to go in the game to cancel an icing. Both plays reminded me of Craig Ramsay, the player and typify how this team is playing together.

What other coach would have the sense to create the Oscar Madison-Felix Unger Line, Antropov, Burmie and Ben Eager. Three guys that wouldn’t’ go out for a beer after a game if the world was ending are playing great together. The Odd Couple Trio is playing a great all around game.

Finally, the PHYSICAL game we have been looking for. Good that Bogo avoided Subban’s sucker punch. Subban wouldn’t drop the gloves then decided to be a coward. Looks like PK is learning from Lapierre, the other Montreal coward.

Mr. Heat Miser

November 27th, 2010
9:25 am

Looks like Subban is another Avery in the making. Whatta punk.

Mike

November 27th, 2010
9:29 am

I’ll just put it this way – you know it was a damn good game where the only negative thing you can say about it was they were only 1 for 7 on the power play. I loved the way Bogey had Subban looking horrified when he ripped his helmet off. Loved every minute of that game. For anyone else there, didn’t it seem like more than just 13k in attendance like it has listed? The atmosphere was one of a sold out crowd

docsbro

November 27th, 2010
9:29 am

I think the biggest thing about this homestand has probably been the ability to really get on the ice for some good practice time without having to worry about catching planes and packing and all those distractions. I am sure coach has been able to focus and teach much easier being at home. I am so excited about what this TEAM can be. They are playing with so much confidence and “jump”. The energy is amazing!!

jen

November 27th, 2010
9:58 am

One things Darren and Matt pointed out about the scrum last night was that after Kane’s fight with Cooke last year, no one wants to take him on. Thought that was hilarious.

Schedule isn’t doing us any favors over the next couple of weeks. Key now is to sustain this type of play and keep it going. I wonder if Mason will get a start any time soon. But its been a real pleasure to be a Thrashers fan this last couple of weeks. Definitely feels like they’ve turned a corner. There was another comment last night about everyone buying into the system, and I think that’s the real difference maker – last few seasons you’ve had some holdouts and me players that didn’t play the system being taught. Its amazing what a difference a team concept makes.

Dwayne

November 27th, 2010
10:01 am

Ladd is 4-0 as Captain.
another game with no minus players…duh
what where the schedule makers thinking? Let’s give the Thrashers a 6 game home stand, but send some of the best teams to Philips. Then we will send them on the road to play top teams too. Thank You very much.
The last game I saw in person was last years Boston 4-0 debacle, I’ll stay home for this one. Go Thrashers!!!!

Dwayne

November 27th, 2010
10:03 am

Keep Mason on the bench, give him a game the next time Thrash have a back to back. Pavs is young, he can handle it. Ride ‘em while he is in the zone!!

Dwayne

November 27th, 2010
10:07 am

4 back to backs in December.

rob

November 27th, 2010
10:30 am

What a bunch of punks the Habs are!!! How mortified the canadien hockey gods must be to watch such a sorry excuse be wearing the sacred uniform! Plakanec and his cheep slew foot on Kane at the blue line, hitting him from behind twice, and then grabbing him from behind in front of the net and NOT fighting him……plain COWARDNESS and I hope he gets what is coming to him the next game. As for PK, the whole league just saw him for what he is, a punk too. Down 3-0 that late in the game and you don’t even drop the gloves to try to send a statement?!?! Tuck your tail between your legs and crawl back to Montreal, all of you HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
After 3 such dominating wins and an OT gut check, no excuses can be made by any of the other teams about being an “OFF” night. We just kicked your collective butts right here in the ATL! Keep it up boys, there are more butts out there waiting to be kicked by the Thrashers!
If this trend continues, there will be some people eating a lot of crow because just 2 weeks ago I seem to recall a bunch of people crying about Ramsey not knowing what he was doing. Good to see these guys coming together and learning they can rely on each other and everyone putting in a complete effort. Hockey just may be back in the ATL.
LET’S GO THRASHERS!!!

Darkhorse

November 27th, 2010
10:47 am

Best stat of all for me….we’ve scored more goals(73) than allowed(71). When’s the last time you remember saying that for the Thrashers after 23 games? Can’t be too many times.

Red Light

November 27th, 2010
10:51 am

Last night marked the Thrashers first four-game home win streak during the same homestand since March 2-7, 2007. After that homestand ended, they went on to win three more, increasing the home streak to seven in a row before losing to San Jose on March 22. Lehtonen won the first five games and the 7th game of that win streak.

Apparently, Subban is now known around the NHL as being a constant chirper, but he isn’t too interested in backing up his incessant chatter.

Red Light

November 27th, 2010
10:53 am

Not sure that you all noticed Enstrom’s goal last night, but it was in the air so long that I saw Auld try to signal for a fair catch before he lost sight of it.

Alan R.

November 27th, 2010
11:35 am

Not sure that you all noticed Enstrom’s goal last night, but it was in the air so long that I saw Auld try to signal for a fair catch before he lost sight of it.

I caught that on the replay. It looks a bit like an innocent dump-in type of thing, then Auld just loses it.

Then it’s in the net.

That had to be extremely deflating for the Habs. Good.

Joe Friday

November 27th, 2010
12:18 pm

I saw something I have never seen at a Thrashers’ game last night. After the Thrashers completely dominated them in the 2nd, and imposed their will on them, I saw the Habs quit. They flat out quit as they were being outworked and couldn’t do anything. I have seen Thrasher clubs quit before, many times, when the shoe was on the other foot, but I’ve never seen us do that to someone else.

We have a real hockey club, people.

Mr. Heat Miser

November 27th, 2010
12:24 pm

Auld wasn’t signaling a fair catch. He was waving the white flag of surrender.

rob

November 27th, 2010
12:31 pm

Next time we build a sizable lead, I suggest a chant counting the number of goals we have (1…2…3…) followed by We Want (4). And as strange as it might be here in the ATL, if this continues, how about We Will…….We Will…….ROCK YOU!!! with about 2-3 minutes left!
Still heard the bass drowning out the chants on the TV a few times, but the crowd seemed into it. Anyone who was there shed more light on if Thrash and the music guy were playing more crowd involved type stuff?
Figures of all the games this home stand to get to see…….the Mrs. and me were at the Fla. game! LOL oh well, maybe that 3rd period was the beginning of this roll we are on!?!?

shoot it

November 27th, 2010
12:48 pm

It would be very interesting to see the time of puck possession for the thrashers the last 4 games.

Alan R.

November 27th, 2010
1:00 pm

I saw the Habs quit. They flat out quit as they were being outworked and couldn’t do anything

Isn’t it amazing? Out-shot 23-4 in that period, and I don’t think they even won a faceoff in the second frame. We actually made another team our bi… err, we actually dominated the other team to the point where they bowed down to our supremacy.

As this homestand continues, my optimism for this team does as well. It’s a wonderful feeling, really and truly.

Hoof Arted

November 27th, 2010
1:38 pm

Absolutely the best two weeks of hockey ever seen here since the Thrashers entered the NHL. It has all started from good, no make that great goalkeeping and then very solid defensive effort.

Quality defense coupled with qulaity defense. Gee who would have ever thought that would be a recipe for success?

Always Hoping

November 27th, 2010
1:41 pm

Since I’ve already decided we’ll be challenging Tampa Bay for second place I decided to take a peek at the Bolts schedule. Low and behold what do I see but a TWELVE game home stand that begins 1/23/11 and ends 2/25/11. When all is said and done they’ll have a stretch of 16 out of 19 at home. They do finish the season with 9 out of 14 on the road. But having 12 in a row at home….WOW!!

JR

November 27th, 2010
1:45 pm

LITTLE IS PLAYING AS WELL AS HE HAS SINCE THE SEASON BEFORE LAST.

GO Thrash GO

November 27th, 2010
2:33 pm

Over the past 7 days, we witnessed the Thrashers play hockey like they never have before. Ever.

the third

November 27th, 2010
2:52 pm

its fun to watch a team that can make something happen on any shift. responsible, and gettin rewarded. that enstrom goal used to go against us.

Alan R.

November 27th, 2010
2:59 pm

On that second Peverley goal, the Hab in front of him didn’t even step in to challenge. As a matter of fact, he was more like “Oh, you want to shoot the puck? Here, let me get out of the way for you…”

Rawhide

November 27th, 2010
3:33 pm

OMG!! In overtime in New Jersey, Zajac put the puck on Kovalchuk’s stick for the game winner at point blank range and…

WHIFFFFFffffffffffffffff…..

It now goes to a shootout.

What a disaster that signing has turned out to be for the Devils.

Alan R.

November 27th, 2010
3:47 pm

I watched that game, Bill. I’m sorry, but I think the Devils are seeing “the not so good” side of Kovalchuk. They look fondly to highlight videos of his goals, and say “where is THIS Kovalchuk?” But they didn’t see all of what we saw.

Until this year.

I like how he got molested like he was a traveler going through security in the first period at the blue line by four Flyers.

Sorry, but this Atlanta team is much better without him. I’m thankful for that.

Lou Lamoriello

November 27th, 2010
4:57 pm

I still feel that paying what I did to keep Kovalchuk in New Jersey is of benefit to this organization. Even if that benefit is simply the rest of the roster can look to him as an example as to how to handle playing for a team at or near the bottom of the standings, given he has so much experience doing so.

Spud Webb

November 27th, 2010
5:27 pm

“Its like he finally has learned how to use his long reach to cobble up the puck and his large frame to shield it.”
I think Nik is finally feeling better, he wouldn’t say if he was hurt or not, but I think He’s finally at 100 %.
Team is playing hard, competing, I love it! And I love seeing NO naysayers on this blog! I’m sure they’ll be back when we lose one!!! Great job Ramsey!!! woooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Brian

November 27th, 2010
5:37 pm

Folks- this is arguably the best, most entertaining, and dominating stretch of Thrasher hockey ever. That said, I am really concerned as I am hearing strong rumors again that the team is on the block due to the Spirit’s financial situation. And there are no shortage of Canadian suitors. Have heard a settlement with Belkin is imminent, and that that has been the only impediment to putting the team up for sale. I hate to be posting this because I have shared in a season ticket package since day 1, had to deal with losing the Flames as a boy, and am thrilled at our current direction. We need to get fans in the arena to support this team and hope that someone local steps up(hopefully Gary Bettman will step in as he did with Phoenix too). If Atlanta loses hockey a second time , we wont get it back.

Ferris Bueller (could also be R. Stroz)

November 27th, 2010
5:44 pm

Batter, Batter…Sweeeeing, Batter, Batter

Words for Kovy to live by….

Alan R.

November 27th, 2010
5:44 pm

That said, I am really concerned as I am hearing strong rumors again that the team is on the block due to the Spirit’s financial situation.

“Strong” rumors? We’ve heard that for years.

HookyBob

November 27th, 2010
6:08 pm

No doubt Mr Kovy is squeezing the stick a bit tightly these days. Crunching some #s ,…at his current rate of production he’ll end the season with 35 points, at a cost of about $190 K /point (measured against the cap hit, not this year’s actual pay). Meanwhile, Bergie is on track for over 50 points which comes to just over $17 K /point.

Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know Duds got the better end of that deal. Throw in Johnny O and Cormier and the term “fleece” comes to mind.

But you know what…Ilya still has 15 years to turn his poor performance around. :) Not withstanding the fact that even if Ilya does start producing the Devils can’t dress a full team if healthy. Oh,..the gift that keeps on giving. Lou,..what were you thinking?

Not long ago we were all salivating about which Devil we might pick up because Lou had to make a trade to stay under the salary cap. Tonight, I’m not sure I want to change a thing with Thrashers,..how about you,.. fellow bloggers?

Alan R.

November 27th, 2010
6:22 pm

Hooky – I agree with you on the not changing anything front, for now anyway. There’s still a lot of hockey left to play, and maybe something will come up at the deadline that we might want to jump on.

As for Kovalchuk being Lou’s doing… I don’t know if I’d be too sure. The Devils are owned by an eager guy who wants to win now. Lou might take all the credit/blame for bringing Kovalchuk into the fold, but I’m more than willing to bet that owner had a lot to do with it.

Nate

November 27th, 2010
6:30 pm

Anybody heard anything about Cormier’s rehab stint in Chicago?

Hockey Biltong

November 27th, 2010
6:32 pm

Brian and others concerned with the sale of the team.
Whether it is a minority stake or wholesale purchase the team will stay in Atlanta and Benefit greatly from an infusion of owners who are passionate about hockey and who will increase the financial reach of the team.
ASG wants help. They are basketball fans not hockey fans. I wish David McDavid had bought the two franchises a few years ago. Deep pockets and no 9 headed monster creating a cluster stick of directionless owners.Kind of like Arthur Blank!!!!
So bring on the passionate owners with some brains. Better marketing for the fans.Better players.
Better atmosphere for players and fans.
I like the changes made, from Dudley on down, so now all we need is a reasonable budget to go with our leaders wishes….
Keep the faith!!!!
Go Thrashers!!!!!!

HookyBob

November 27th, 2010
7:38 pm

Still etched in my mind from the last time the Bruins visited Philips,..1)They beat us badly along the boards,..2)They controlled the neutral zone,..and 3)We failed to clear our zone many times (once we had the puck). I believe we had very few scoring chances and were shutout,4-0.

So what are we going to have to do to beat them tomorrow? What are the keys to the game? (Hint,..play our game.)

Isn’t it nice to have something to reference when “Thrashers Hockey” is mentioned?

Go Thrashers,…beat the Bruins.

Brian

November 27th, 2010
7:40 pm

Alan R.- unfortunately my “strong rumors” come from someone who knows well and speaks with one of the AS principals regularly. I realize that this has been chat board fodder for years.

Hockey Biltong- you are right except I am not hearing there are locals who are interested and willing to step up…I was wondering about McDavid myself. Didn’t he win his lawsuit against TW for breach of contract?

Alan R.

November 27th, 2010
8:00 pm

We’ve heard that before as well.